American Atheists have announced the speaker lineup for their 2014 convention in Salt Lake City and I have to say I am a bit disturbed by it. Two of its headliners are known promoters of the infighting that has plagued our movement. I am of course speaking about PZ Meyers and Greta Christina from Freethought Blogs. Atheists who have continuously used their popularity and platforms to promote the idea that some of us are worse than others by misrepresenting their fellow Atheists (such as unfounded accusations of racism to detractors or PZ’s infamous attack on a heroic figure like Justin Griffith ) and misrepresenting our movement by claiming that it is hostile to women. This infighting has turned many new atheists away from our common cause and made us look like a joke to some of our theist adversaries.
Because of the fact that I cannot support those who are responsible for harming our movement I plan to skip this convention, and it would seem I am not alone in this line of thinking. Atheists forums across the internet are talking about this. Here are a few quotes I sampled from across Facebook.
“I was waiting to see who was speaking. Now I know and have made my decision. Not going. I am not going to give an iota of credibility to rage bloggers that attack other atheists and I am surprised that David Silverman is doing so contrary to his stated position”
“PZ’s entire “career”, at least within the past couple years, seems to be about fucking everybody else over.”
“PZ and Greta HAVE done talks that are not infighting or A+ talks. They are old and tired, but not just A+. If I hear “Why are Atheists Angry” one more time I may get up on stage and do it for her. Why are we wasting our money on the same old PG crap from these hatemongers?”
“Dave explicitly states that he does NOT condone atheists that attack other atheists. So he needs to be asked why he is having these people.”
Dont think for a minute that I am calling for a boycott. Despite the choice in speakers, I remain a huge supporter of American Atheists and its mission. After all I can thank this group and its founder for the fact that I wasnt forced to pray in public school and many other things that have made my life as an open Atheist just a bit more tolerable. I also have to admit that some of the other choices in speakers are quite appealing. I would love to see Sarah Morehead and Tracy Lockwood on stage, both are brilliant Atheists with years of service to our cause. I once watched Tracy speaking to her home city council about respecting the rights for worshipers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and did it with a straight face.
All in all I am disappointed that some of our major groups continue to look the other way when popular speakers damage our community. We have quite a large list of Atheists who are willing and able to speak well at these events and who have never sullied their good names in the muck that is our infighting. Let us also not forget the fact that many of them have quite large followings of their own.
If you are planning to attend this convention you may want to consider skipping those talks. Empty rooms speak volumes.