An Apology from Ron Lindsay

It’s almost as if he read my last post on this issue and decided to take some advice.  Of course I’m just an unknown and unread blogger, so that’s damned unlikely.  But Ron Lindsay has responded, finally, with an apology.

“I am sorry that I caused offense with my talk.  I am also sorry I made some people feel unwelcome as a result of my talk.  From the letters sent to me and the board, I have a better understanding of the objections to the talk.

I am also sorry that my talk and my actions subjected my colleagues and the organization to which I am devoted to criticism.

Please accept my apologies. “

Well, okay then.  That’s an apology.  That’s a recognition of responsibility, without blaming or attacking those who were offended, and an expression of regret for his own actions.  Perhaps Ron Lindsay had a teachable moment and learned something from it.  I’m sure many will read a grudging tone into this, somehow.  I prefer not to.  He says, in his own stiff words, essentially what I wanted him to say, though perhaps not in quite the supporting detail I suggested.  It’s enough.

“Ron Lindsay has apologized to CFI staff for his actions at Women in Secularism 2. He has written an apology here. I’m sure it will not be satisfactory to everyone. I know that I wish more was said. I know Ron. I know that not everyone does, though. This was written after an day and evening of intense discussion and debate. Sometimes there was yelling and tears, but I think we made a breakthrough. I believe this type of personal apology doesn’t come easy to him. I believe that he is sincerely sorry for his speech and further actions at Women in Secularism 2. This is coming from his harshest critic.” ~ Melody Hensley”

This is real movement.  I hope everybody will just accept the apology and move on.  Now I can take part in CFI activities again, and support the good work the organization does.  I also hope that Skepticon can now accept CFI sponsorship, and that the sponsorship will still be offered.  If they got a few extra bucks out of this whole sorry affair, with people donating to them in reaction to their refusal to accept money from the CFI, that would be some good that came of it.

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Clarification on the CFI Issue

For the record, I am not calling for Ron Lindsay to be silenced, nor am I calling for him to be fired. If I was on the board of directors of the CFI I would be putting forward a motion of censure, if not a motion to can his sorry ass.  But that’s not really what I want.  This is what I want from the board of directors:

We’re really sorry our CEO acted badly at the Women in Secularism II conference.  We think he was a poopyhead.  But we forgive him because he’s human and everybody makes mistakes and because, given his age and the culture he comes out of, his attitude is understandable.  We have asked him to change his attitude, and we expect to see some improvement.  Now we would really like to put this whole mess behind us and get back to doing what we’re good at.

And this is what I would like to hear from Ron Lindsay:

I hope everybody will forgive me for being such a pompous fool at the Women in Secularism II conference.  I have read all the criticism of my speech and subsequent public statements and I get it.  I really do understand that I pissed off  a whole bunch of very smart people, I understand why you all got upset, and I feel like a complete idiot for sullying the name and reputation of the CFI.    I do not support harassment, stalking, or threatening of anybody.  I have seen the appalling death and rape threats received by women in our organization, and I am sickened by the behaviour of the perpetrators.  Such people have no place in the CFI.  I am willing to offer my resignation to the board of directors, but I really hope they will believe that I have learned my lesson and let me stay on as CEO, because I still think I have a lot to contribute.  Please support me in this, and I promise you will see a change in my attitudes.

If the board of directors were to reword this statement into acceptable corporate speak, without watering it down, i.e. replace “a poopyhead” with something like “lacking the mature judgement required of a leader”, and if Ron Lindsay were to say something the equivalent of this to the community, I can guarantee that the whole shitstorm would die away, leaving nothing but a lingering bad smell.

This is what we have hoped for, and what we’ve been waiting for.  This, I believe, is all anybody wants.  And what is so fucking difficult about saying this?  Why are you guys resisting the obvious?  Ron Lindsay was a pompous asshat.  That doesn’t mean he’s a bad person.  We’re all willing to forgive and forget.  But we are not willing to accept the goods as delivered.

I guess the real problem is that these two statements have to be what the board of directors, and Ron Lindsay, actually believe, not just more stomping on the bag of flaming shit currently on their front porch.  So far it doesn’t look like it.

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We Reveal Ourselves in our Humour

A relative sent me this “joke” today, and it brought out some thoughts.

The Haircut

A teenage boy had just passed his driving test and inquired of his father as to when they could discuss his use of the car.

His father said he’d make a deal with his son: ‘You bring your grades up from a C to a B average, study your Bible (Say what? DH), and get your hair cut. Then we’ll talk about the car.’ (Notice, no commitment from the father here. He’ll just be open to more begging and pleading. DH)

The boy thought about that for a moment, decided he’d settle for the offer, and they agreed on it.

After about six weeks his father said, ‘Son, you’ve brought your grades up and I’ve observed that you have been studying your Bible, but I’m disappointed you haven’t had your hair cut.

The boy said, ‘You know, Dad, I’ve been thinking about that, and I’ve noticed in my studies of the Bible that Samson had long hair, John the Baptist had long hair, Moses had long hair ~ and there’s even strong evidence that Jesus had long hair.

You’re going to love the Dad’s reply: (Don’t count on it. DH)

scroll down


(Sure, make me scoll down to get your predictable punch line. D.H.)


Did you also notice that they all walked everywhere?” (Because cars hadn’t been invented yet, shithead. DH)

generation gapGrrr.  I left home at seventeen because my dad got all bent out of shape about my hair.  That makes me sad.  Such a stupid reason to leave home, but at the time I felt I was forced into it. I wasn’t going to have anybody telling me that his values trumped my own, and allowing him to use money and power to enforce his neurotic authority just made me feel like a prostitute.

If I tried to think of a stupid reason to cause tension and conflict in a family, I’d have to think for a long time before I could come up with something stupider than trying to get your kid to fit your idea of what he or she should wear as a hair style. If that effort could be effective, we’d all be wearing high starched collars and women would still not be allowed to wear trousers.

We’ve come a long way since the fifties.

My father fired a sales rep back then because he wore a neatly trimmed goatee.  “Don’t send any bearded weirdo around to sell me life insurance.”

I have personally been refused service in a restaurant because my hair and beard didn’t fit the owners idea of proper style. Thank the FSM we seem to have left those repressive days behind us.

Peeling the onion down another layer, I can’t think of a better way to turn a kid into an atheist than to force him to read the bible, so full of genocide, rape, incest, adultery, and slavery, most of it either ordered by the Christian god or done in his name.   Should we approve of this father because he makes his son read the bible?  Why couldn’t he get his kid to read something of actual value, like Scientific American or Nature or maybe Mad Magazine?

We have “battle of the sexes” humour, reactionary versus counter culture humour, generation gap humour.  This is a great example of how we reveal ourselves in what we find funny.  What this reveals to me is a culture that has severely misplaced priorities, valuing appearance over substance, style over values.

I guess this “joke” comes from a culture that I rejected many years ago, and a mind set that I don’t have a lot of use for.  I’m sure I sound bitter and angry in this response to it.  I’m not, really.  I am bemused.  I feel like an anthropologist looking at a strange primitive tribe, and trying to understand how their thinking could be so fucked up.

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Christian Spin

I just watched a Chinese video version of the biblical story of Job.

It seems the Christians even misrepresent their own mythology when spreading it abroad.  The English introduction to the video said that Job’s afflictions were all done to him by Satan, i.e. it wasn’t God’s fault at all.

For the record, it wasn’t Satan unaided who inflicted poor job with boils, killed his children, reduced him to financial ruin.  It was all done with good old God’s permission and in  the case of “God’s fire which fell from the sky”, with his active participation.  Here’s the story as presented by Wikipedia:

The Book of Job tells the story of an extremely righteous man named Job, who is very prosperous and has seven sons and three daughters. Constantly fearing that his sons may have sinned and “cursed God in their hearts”, he habitually offers burnt offerings as a pardon for their sins.[3] The “sons of God” and the satan (literally “the adversary/accuser”) present themselves to God, and God asks the satan for his opinion on Job. The satan answers that Job is pious only because God has put a “wall around” him and “blessed” his favourite servant with prosperity, but if God were to stretch out his hand and strike everything that Job had (emphasis mine, DH), then he would surely curse God. God gives the satan permission to test Job’s righteousness.[4]

All Job’s possessions are destroyed: 500 yoke of oxen and 500 donkeys carried off by Sabeans; 7,000 sheep burned up by ‘The fire of God which fell from the sky’; 3,000 camels stolen by the Chaldeans; and the house of the firstborn destroyed by a mighty wind, killing Job’s ten children. Still Job does not curse God, but instead shaves his head, tears his clothes, and says, “Naked I came out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return: Lord has given, and Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”[5]

As Job endures these calamities without reproaching God, Satan solicits permission to afflict his person as well, and God says, “Behold, he is in your hand, but don’t touch his life.” Satan, therefore, smites him with dreadful boils, and Job, seated in ashes, scrapes his skin with broken pottery. His wife prompts him to “curse God, and die,” but Job answers, “You speak as one of the foolish speaks. Moreover, shall we receive good from God and shall not receive evil?”

Job and his boils.  His buddies think he must have done something to upset God, but no.  He's clean.Okay, maybe it wasn’t God himself who inflicted such horrors on Job.  The loving God just stepped aside and let it all happen.

That’s the kind of god you’ve got there in the bible.

Why did God allow such suffering to be inflicted on poor Job?  Why, to win a bet with Satan.  To gratify his godlike ego.  Of course, God being all knowing and omnipotent and all that, he would have known beforehand that he’d win the bet, so making Job suffer really wasn’t necessary.  But I guess the deity gets hungry for entertainment.  Maybe He had doubts, though doubts are a strange thing for an all knowing deity to have.

Of course it wouldn’t do to tell the heathens the real story.  That might turn them against your megalomaniac sky faerie.  So the God that is being presented to the Chinese is a Teflon god, a god with no responsibility.  And of course He makes it all up to Job in the end, though I’m not sure how that makes it up to Job’s first family, his original ten children.

So there they are, the Christians, selling their god to the Chinese. I suspect that the Chinese will be a hard sell.  They aren’t as credulous as medieval European peasants.

Reading more about this story, I realize that my understanding of its point has been very limited.  Apparently the message is that it doesn’t take anything to piss God off and make him smite you or your family a bit, or a lot.  You just have to accept that He has his reasons, and they’ve got nothing to do with you. You just have to accept whatever shit comes down, and don’t forget to love him anyway. If you can manage that, He’ll be nice to you eventually, unless you are one of the kids he’s killing as an example to your dad.

What a good thing it is that their god doesn’t exist.  I’d hate to have a bastard like that running the show.  And I do wish the Christians would stop trying to Teflon coat their big daddy in the sky.  I rather prefer it when they tell it like it is, and let us all know that their God hates fags and mixed fabrics and is okay with stoning rape victims.  That way we get a clear picture of their ideology, and any ethical person will avoid any contact.

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Goodbye to the CFI

If you’re not up to speed on this, here’s the back story:   Ron Lindsay, CEO of the CFI (Center For Inquiry),  inserted himself into the opening of the Women in Secularism Conference (which the CFI was sponsoring) where he used his position to lecture long time feminists on the error of our ways, in particular our supposed efforts to use “privilege” as a tool to silence poor abused white guys like me.  People howled in outrage.  Lindsay doubled down by attacking and comparing one of the speakers at the conference to North Korea.  Being a long time feminist, as well as a cranky old white guy myself, I wrote Tom Flynn and the board of directors a letter of protest.  Others commented extensively, and  the misogynist haters, stalkers and harassers cheered Lindsay on.  Then we all sat back and waited for something from the board of directors.  Some sign that they got our message.  But apparently not.

“The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences. The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

CFI believes in respectful debate and dialogue. We appreciate the many insights and varied opinions communicated to us. Going forward, we will endeavor to work with all elements of the secular movement to enhance our common values and strengthen our solidarity as we struggle together for full equality and respect for women around the world.”

I was profoundly disappointed.  Really this is a non-response, a refusal to comment, a cowardly evasion that did nothing to address the situation.  There was no suggestion of censure, or reproach, or even disagreement with Ron Lindsay.  There was nothing that inspires me with any confidence that the CFI is an organization I can support.

Being “unhappy with the controversy” is not the same as being unhappy with the actions or statements made by your CEO.  It’s more like being unhappy that some people disagree with him and found his remarks objectionable.  Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody could just agree that Ron Lindsay didn’t do anything offensive?  Then we wouldn’t have this nasty controversy that makes us unhappy.

From the statement:  “The Center for Inquiry, including its CEO, is dedicated to advancing the status of women and promoting women’s issues, and this was the motivation for its sponsorship of the two Women in Secularism conferences.”  I read this as: We stand by our CEO and can’t really see why there’s been any problem with anything he said or did.

I want the board of directors to recognize in some real way, whether by censure or call for apology or dismissal of Ron Lindsay, that there IS a problem and that Ron Lindsay is the source of that problem.  I want something more than corporate spin and bafflegab.

Much as I enjoyed my recent participation in the course given by Richard Carrier under CFI sponsorship, until I read a meaningful response from the CFI board of directors I shall have nothing to do with any CFI activity, including participation in any future CFI course.

I’m hoping to go to Skepticon this year.  For sure I’m going to send them a few sheckles.  Many groups are willing to protest, but not even Barack Obama turned down money from the bad guys.  If you can spare the folks at Skepticon a bit of cash, here’s the link.  I’m told every little bit helps.


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Oh fuck, Not My Dick Part 2 the Ultrasound

Many thoughts have been boiling through my brain since my last post, wherein I revealed my newly discovered Peyronie’s Disease which is making my dick look like I’m wearing an invisible cock ring when I get an erection, which hasn’t been all that frequent an event lately.  There’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that Viagra actually works, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t just the placebo effect.  Of course the flip side of that good news is that it seems I must pay Pfizer and assorted middlemen sixteen bucks every time I want a stiffy.  Maybe I can find the stuff cheaper someplace other than the first drug store I walked into.  But I have to say that the chemical solution to this problem does not make me deliriously happy, no matter what the cost.  I’d much rather solve it with diet and exercise, but maybe that isn’t enough.

Viagra, with the active ingredient actually called sildenafil citrate,  also comes in another form, marketed as Revatio, for the relief of pulmonary hypertension.  Revatil is sold as 20mg. round white tablets.  Purchasing Viagra in this form gets away from asking for the recognizable drug, which could embarrass some people, and avoids the distinctive blue diamond colour and shape.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the implications of ageing.  For one thing, there will be a last time for most of the things I enjoy.  I may already have had my last time exploring tropical reefs in scuba gear.  The last time I did that I found it so exhausting that I only had two of the three dives I had paid for.  I know a lot can be done to slow the decline, chiefly the aforementioned diet and exercise, and I used to laugh at the Viagra ad in which the chubby guy who didn’t look a day over forty came skipping out the door singing “It’s a Wonderful World”.  Of course you can’t get it up, idiot.  You’ve let your body fall apart.  I would never do that.  And for the most part, I haven’t.  I’m packing a few extra pounds right now, but most mornings I do get on the elliptical trainer for half an hour.  I have good energy.  I watch my diet.  I’m in good shape.

Warning: NSFW below the fold on this post.

Jack Lalanne claimed to be having a hot sex life into his nineties, but of course he owned and lived in a gymnasium.

“Sex at my age is like trying to play pool with a rope.” – George Burns at age 98.  Attaboy, George.  Yuk it up.  That’s what you were good at.

Nelson Mandela, one of the great statesmen of our age, just died (Oops. News of his death was exaggerated.) Surely he would have the best of medical care.  If it can happen to him, it’s most likely going to happen to me.   Charlton Heston died recently (this one has been confirmed), presumably with his gun clutched in his cold dead hand, another rich dude who seemed to keep himself in good shape and must have been able to afford the best of medical care.  All those upbeat TED talks telling me that if I can just live for another twenty years I’ll probably see four hundred… Nope.  Not bloody likely.

Mark Twain said that growing old is a privilege denied to many.  Indeed it is.  I’ve always promised myself that I will grow old gracefully, with a minimum of whining.  And then it hits me in the dick.

Okay, enough whining.  There’s more good news. I went in for the ultrasound today, which was plenty interesting.  According to the doctors there’s really very little wrong with my cock, and not enough to get all sobbing and bent out of shape over, if you’ll pardon the pun..  It’s not cancer.  It’s not, according to the doctors, even a big deal.

Ultrasound, the ultimate sex toy.  Not.

What the technology sees.

Of course that’s easy for them to say.  It’s not their dick.

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Oh Fuck! Not my Dick.

Every once in a while reality really bites.

Despite the fact that there’s some of it missing, due to an unfortunate event shortly after my birth, I have always enjoyed my dick. It’s been my best, if mostly hidden, feature. One former lover, some time after we had ceased to be lovers and while she was looking for a new lover, described my erect cock as “beautiful”. I kid you not.

So it was with some alarm that I noticed… what the fuck… notches in the base of my erection. Spots where the erection didn’t seem to be happening. This about the time that I noticed I was having more and more difficulty even getting an erection. My sex life has been withering on the vine, so to speak.

My erection has been chewed by beavers.I went to see a doctor. He put on disposable plastic gloves and palpated my member, noting a lumpy spot. He mentioned something called “penile induration” or possibly “Peyronie’s disease” . I’d never heard of either. So, naturally, it’s to the Internet. The results of my research are not encouraging, except for the news that this disease is very seldom fatal, and all fatalities result from suicide. The problem seems to be fibroid scar tissue that interfere with erection, so that the notches are like a band of tape around a balloon. Nobody is quite sure why the scar tissue develops, possibly because of an injury, too much of a bend in the wrong direction, maybe wanking with too much enthusiasm really has done some damage.

It’s almost enough to make me believe in God, the megalomaniac bastard of the Old Testament, the god who will really fuck you up. I have loved sex ever since discovering that it isn’t a bad thing. If there’s a god who is as anti-sex as the religious seem to think, a god who would want to punish me, hitting me in the penis is probably the best place to aim. No, second best. The brain is certainly a better target for a truly malevolent deity. But the penis runs a close second.

Of course I’m not going to ascribe any deeper cosmological meaning to a personal misfortune. Shit happens. Apparently this particular shit happens to as many as 10% of men over the age of 40. So my number just came up.  I should be thankful that my erections, flabby though they may be,  are not painful, which is something that is quite normal with this condition.

I keep telling myself that it could be worse, but then I always have to ask… How? The obvious answer is penile cancer. Something that requires a life saving dickotomy. That would be worse. But allow me a few minutes of “why me” and self pity. This is upsetting enough.

I’m trying to think of it as a built in cock ring, but that isn’t helping either.

As we get older, more and more things are taken away from us. Our youthful strength. Our sexual vigour. Our driver’s license. All of these things seemed so far off in the future. I’m only sixty-five he wailed. Does it have to start now.

I’m scheduled for an ultrasound next week. That should be interesting. I’m trying not to let my imagination run away with me, and I’m sure it won’t be painful. But the thought of that gel on my dick and the ultrasound generator… I wonder if it will give me a pulge.

Worth noting:
Peyronie’s Disease can be a physically and psychologically devastating disease. While most men will continue to be able to have sexual relations, they are likely to experience some degree of deformity and erectile dysfunction in the wake of the disease process. It is not uncommon for men afflicted with Peyronie’s Disease to exhibit depression or withdrawal from their sexual partners.  – Wikipedia entry on Peyronie’s Disease

Tell me about it.  The authors of this Wikipedia post seemed to think a citation was needed for this paragraph.  Really? If so, you can cite this post.  Devastating might be a strong word in my case, and I’ll try to avoid depression or withdrawal from my partner,  but it sure as hell is not good news.  No, maybe “devastating” is a good word.

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May is Masturbation Month?

May is Masturbation Month, and I almost missed it.  But that’s okay.  I celebrate masturbation every month.

I’ve been saying for years that masturbation should be taught in schools.

Masturbation has been with us for a long time.  Isn't it about time we celebrated it.And not just in sex education classes.  Masturbation should be celebrated.  Masturbation should be encouraged.  Especially for teenagers.  It’s our one and only truly safe sex.  As Woody Allen put it, it’s “sex with someone I love.”  Or it should be.

Mutual masturbation is a good, safe, alternative to full on PIV sex.  No risk of pregnancy.  No risk of disease.  Shared intimacy. A nice way for a couple to get to know each other.

There is simply no downside to solitary masturbation.  Not even the risk of emotional entanglement.  You don’t need to ask for consent from anybody.  You don’t need anything more than a few minutes of reliable privacy and possibly some Kleenex for the ejaculate.  In my case, no Kleenex is needed and I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to why.

In my early teens I felt terribly guilty about masturbating.  I worried that it could do me some harm.  After about fifty-five years of turning masturbation into my own personal art form, I’ve come to realize that there is no harm in the practice.  None.

And now, thanks to Mano Singham, I learn that there’s a whole month dedicated to the joys of the wank -  the Merry Masturbatory Month of May.  I shall never feel the same about this month again.

Mano also provides a link to an article by Hugo Schwyzer.   If you don’t have time to follow the link, here’s a taste of what you’re missing.

The view of masturbation as benign and beneficial is a new one. The Judeo-Christian tradition has long been hostile towards self-pleasure, at least for men. The Talmud compares spilling seed to spilling blood; the Zohar (the central work of Kabbalah) calls it the most evil act a man can commit. The traditional Christian view was no more tolerant; Catholic and Protestant authorities framed masturbation as a deeply sinful (though forgivable) waste of precious semen. Women were left out of these prohibitions for the obvious reason that most male religious authorities didn’t consider the possibility that women were capable of or interested in giving themselves orgasms.

The article gives a fascinating look at the history and rationale behind attempts to curb masturbation.  I have a particular bone to pick, so to speak, with the forces of sexual repression, those who tried to prevent what a pocket dictionary I once owned defined simply as “bodily self pollution”.

The campaign against masturbation became medicalized in the middle of the 19th century. Health reformers like Sylvester Graham (of the cracker) and John Harvey Kellogg (of the cereal) warned against the feminizing and enervating effects of male masturbation, describing it not as a sin but as a habit that could rob boys of their vital life force. At the same time, doctors began to warn of something theologians either hadn’t considered or dared to mention: the dangers of female self-pleasure. Beginning in 1858, Dr. Isaac Baker-Brown—the president of the Medical Society of London—began to encourage surgical clitoridectomies to prevent hysteria, epilepsy, mania and even death that would surely follow as a consequence of the stimulation of the clitoris.

The medical hysteria over the totally speculative and imaginary harm done by masturbation is one of the main reasons I’m missing a part of my body, my foreskin.  Circumcision was promoted as a “cure” for the practice.  I don’t think this worked for anybody.  As a cure it was a total failure in my case, and for any circumcised man I’ve ever met.  Certainly, circumcision reduces the pleasure of a wank.  But it’s only a reduction, and once lubrication is discovered, it’s hardly a “cure”, hardly an impediment at all.  And wanking off is one revenge against the assholes who called for a generation of mutilated dicks.’

Now, of course, comes the big question.  What is the most appropriate way to celebrate Masturbation Month, more than I usually celebrate I mean?  Hmmmm…. Let me think about it.  Maybe my wife would like to get involved. A mutual hand job could be a nice variation, and she tells me that she gets off better with manual stimulation than with straight PIV.

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What’s Wrong with an Apology

There should be a rule for leaders of organizations:  Thou shalt not contribute to divisive shit storms.

Since I’m not any kind of a leader, I don’t have to follow any such rule.  But I usually try to keep quiet about the Internet flame wars and other non-productive poo flinging that goes on in the blogosphere.  Sometimes I can’t resist getting an oar into the water, like the time I chastised my hero, Richard Dawkins, for being a stubborn and insensitive prick.  And here I go again.

When a leader gets a fairly mild criticism of his behaviour, the appropriate thing to do is to listen, recognize that you have pissed somebody off, and apologize.  It’s not a time to launch a counter offensive, invite all the enemies of the person you have offended to pile on with ad homs and ancient history.  It is not a time to double down or triple down.  It is not a time to go on a hyperbolic attack spree.  It’s a time to take the moral high ground, absorb whatever blow to the ego you have suffered, and sincerely apologize for whatever it is you did, even if you don’t feel that what you did was so terrible.  You offended somebody.  That is enough.  That is what you need to apologize for.  And a real apology, not a notpology.  Not excuses and evasions.  And definitely, but definitely, not an attack on the person who raised the criticism.  That just makes you look like a jerk and makes people question why you are in a leadership position.

No, I don't think this is funny.  But somebody does.

No, I don’t think this is funny. But somebody does. It’s part of the meme that women should shut up and let men be men. Flip the genders and men get very upset.

You know what this is about, don’t you?  Feminism of course.  Those touchy feminists are at it again.  Strident.  Trying to silence anybody who disagrees with them.  Trying to get a man fired for simply standing up for a principle. Screaming for blood.  Because some man dared to assert that men should be heard too.  So very unfair.

No.  That’s not the way it went down.  That’s not the issue.  Here’s the situation:

The senior white male leader of an organization that sponsored a gathering of women decided that he was the right person to introduce the event.  That’s a bad decision from the get go.

Instead of welcoming the women (and the forty percent of the audience composed of men) who had paid money to attend, he explained that he would not waste their time welcoming them because, well, you all know you are welcome, thus wasting at least as much time as he would have wasted if he had simply welcomed them.

Instead of expressing his excitement about their speakers, and their participation, he decided it was a good time to make some points about the relationship between the feminists and the men who don’t listen to them very well.

And then he proceeded to lecture them on their behaviour toward men.  Because, you know, men never get a chance to express their position about anything.  Men are always being told to shut up and listen.  Women are being strident and pushy when they point out white male privilege and tell men to shut up and listen.  You women didn’t know it but you’ve all paid money to have an old white man tell you that it’s wrong to tell men like me to shut up and listen.

When a prominent feminist referred to his speech as “strange” in context, he then went ballistic and used the home page of his organization’s website to launch an attack on her, filled with distortion and hyperbole, disparaging other prominent bloggers who support her position and attracting a horde of her enemies to support his.

In short, he not only contributed to a shit storm, he actually created one.

What is the problem with a simple apology?  What is so hard about saying I’m sorry?  I fucked up and please forgive me.  I didn’t fully understand your feelings about this and I did not mean to give you the wrong impression.  Why is that so damn difficult for these old white men to do?

I’m an old white man myself.  And I can be plenty full of myself at times.  I have been known to lecture a young gay guy about the history of gay pride.  That was arrogant, but the fact is he didn’t know the history.  He was dissing the pride parade and treating it with contempt.  He didn’t realize that the privilege he felt and exercised in coming out of the closet and announcing his orientation was won by the blood and bruises of a generation that preceded him. In other words, I knew more about the history of gay pride than he did.  I would certainly be more respectful if I were talking to, say, Dan Savage.  And if I were told that my comments were offensive, I would certainly apologize.  That’s easy.  That cools the conflict.  That avoids the shit storm.

Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins, and now Ron Lindsay need to learn how to shut up and listen, and then apologize if they have said something truly stupid.  It’s a sure sign of male privilege that they don’t understand this.

If you are interested in dissecting a shit storm, here’s Richard Carrier on the same subject.  Happy reading.

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Will This End Circumcision in America?

Sadly, no it won’t.  But it’s a good start and about fucking time.

Click for the video. William Stowell won a settlement from the doctors and hospital where he was circumcised as an infant.

Take a look at this video, and if you are young enough that the people responsible for your circumcision are still alive,  consider suing the doctor and hospital that cut off  your foreskin without your consent.

In the video, William Stowell talks about his successful circumcision lawsuit, against the doctor and hospital (that circumcised him as a baby), marching for genital integrity and inspiring others to get involved.

Things aren’t quite as simple as this video makes them look.  The case was not won in court.  It was an out of court settlement.  And the issue was not whether Stowell himself gave consent, but whether the consent given by his mother was valid.  His mother had been drugged on Demerol at the time, and that seems to be the point that won Stowell his settlement.

This should be a heads up for doctors, and hopefully they will begin to think twice before grabbing that scalpel, but the battle has hardly been engaged, let alone won.  The principle of whether a doctor can be sued for doing an “accepted medical procedure” on an infant with the parent’s consent, and even following the parent’s instructions, has not been tested in the courts.  My guess is the first case will be thrown out.

The argument will have to be made that circumcision is wilful malpractice, unnecessary surgery, and cannot be done even at the request of a legal guardian.  This test is still to come, but Stowell’s victory is a good start.

For those who might still be wondering how circumcision became so popular in America, this slide show is quite interesting.

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