A Bit of Catchup

June 30, 2013

Soon I’ll probably be writing more! And different stuff! And not just links!

Why? Because I’m no longer homeless! Still waiting on my disability decision but a friend of mine needs a tenant yesterday, so I’ve spent today begging everyone I know for money, well almost everyone I know for money, to move in soon. And this is part of the reason I’m writing this post.

While I know I don’t have a lot of readers right now, and I probably won’t have too many readers overall on my blog (no matter how important I could possibly get – statistically unlikely), I’m hoping that some of my readers are interested in my personal wellbeing.

To go over the relevant details, I live in one of the most expensive areas of the country for poor people to live in. Orange County, California has really high housing prices, pretty high food prices, and a terrible public transit system. I, myself, am poor. Because I’m disabled, disabled in a way that prevents me from working in IT every again and that prevents me from driving safely on most days. This pretty much nixes me for any job I can do with my experience and education. For the last two years I’ve been homeless, and totally without income for the last nine or ten months. While two months ago I did have my SSA disability hearing, I’m still waiting on that decision and that may require another appeal.

Which is why I’m need to ask you if you can spare anything, anything at all, to possibly help me make it through the month.

My rent at my new place is going to be around $600 a month after utilities. I already have help paying for food, so it’s just that $600 I need to come up with consistently. I don’t have a lot of people I can ask for help around me, as most of the people I know are just as broke as I am and my family either can’t afford to help me at all or doesn’t care if I disappear. I know a lot of you think you can’t make a difference and that I’m just one person, consider something small. It only takes a hundred and twenty people at the cost of a large coffee to pay my rent. Even if I don’t make all of that, or most of it, that $5 you might be able to spare just this one time can make a huge difference. And that’s just you – if you know anyone else who might be able to spare a cup of coffee or a burger on someone in need, that helps me out even more.

So please, if you’re feeling generous, consider sending me a couple bucks while I transition from being homeless to having a home again, while I transition from having no income to having my disability insurance, and as I transition from tired and worn out to being able to work and write again.

Thank you,
Daniel A. Samuelson

You can donate through the button on the right side of the page or, if the link isn’t showing up for you, by clicking here.

Skepchick | Dialects Aren’t “Ignorant,” You Are.

 

Take Note – This is important to understand about language and it’s uses. What we consider “poor language” is probably, in fact, a dialect. Just because it’s not a “foreign language” doesn’t mean there aren’t dialects.

[Note: This essay speaks largely to my personal experience as a white cisgender woman. I don’t wish to speak for the experiences of others here; I invite your experiences in comments.]

[Trigger warning for quotations encouraging sexual assault and racist quotations.]”

“I’m in ninth grade, in the same seat, shoulder against the wall, trying to take notes. He reaches over and takes a paper off my desk. He’s watching me.

I snap.

I stand up so fast I knock my chair backwards; I’m stepping forward, against the chair between us. He’s using it as leverage for his reach – I unbalance it. It crashes into him. It pinches his hand, it bangs his shoulder. He yelps.

My hands are fists. I say, “Touch anything of mine again and you’ll pull back a stump.”

The class has gone silent. The teacher has turned around.

She says, “What’s going on here?”

I say, “I’m dealing with it.”

I spend two hours in the principal’s office. The reason on my slip: “Violent outburst against another student.””

via Genevieve Valentine – Dealing With It.

This is why “Deal With It” can be a form of misogyny. This is why when we turn women into externalities, we teach men to feel entitled. Not just to space, not just to objects, but to attention. Affection. Over time, sex. Relationships. Love.

Society teaches men to expect this from women. Society does this when men and boys take something or act out and the repercussions is telling women to deal with it. Women, in this behavioral model, pay the price for men’s actions.

Go read the post.

Other Nuanced Approaches

June 17, 2013

I thought it might be prudent for my position to link to posts essentially taking the same position I am, especially since I agree greatly with both of them.

The first is Greta Christina’s post about the CFI statement. The most important part is this – “I will continue to support local CFI groups, as they are largely independent of the national organization.” It is important to understand that local CFI organizations are more like franchises than chapter houses of the national (US) CFI organization. Just like how CFI Canada is a separate entity.

Keep supporting the good work by your local CFI organizations, especially those that put on conventions that challenge the narrative that the national response is catering to.

The second is from Amanda Marcotte at Pandagon. She wonderfully tears into CFI and Lindsay’s actions and responses, again, and explains why the national organization is alienating the progressive (and growing elements) of the atheist movement. She also notes, though, “To be clear, their staff is still the same great group of people they always were, and I hope people don’t take this out on them.”

It is important to keep our responses nuanced for this reason. Without CFI’s various cons and get togethers throughout the nation, there would not be a strong speaking circuit for up and coming speakers to cut their teeth on. This will lead to a lack of diversity at “big name” cons since there’s just fewer cons to go to. Big Names will concentrate at the other cons and new, up and coming voices will find it difficult, if not impossible, to break into the business of being an atheist activist and speaker.

Please, please, keep the atheist convention space alive and support a diverse, complex, and ever growing speaker’s circuit. We need everyone’s voices. Even, occasionally, the voices of those who are wrong. At least so we have someone to talk about on the internet.

Last month I was lucky enough to go to Women in Secularism 2. I met quite a few people who I have read, idolized, and agreed with. I rubbed elbows with people I now consider close friends and participated in conversations I could have never had without this opportunity. For all of that, I have to offer my sincerest gratitude and thanks to Melody Hensley and the rest of the CFI team in Washington DC.

However, the whole event was kicked off by actions I can only describe as asinine. Ron Lindsay, in his infinite wisdom as an aged man of some success, thought it was a good idea to approach a room that was at least half full of women, at a conference explicitly framed around the lack of inclusion and equality between the genders in the Atheist/Skeptical movement, to chide feminists on whether they might have gone too far.

His opening remarks were not only asinine, as I said, they were also childish and irrational. The cause of equality between the genders is feminism. Part of understanding the inequality between genders is Privilege, the dirty word he railed against. To any informed individual that is not prejudiced by irrational positions, his opening remarks were both wrong and churlish. He insisted that his feelings be protected while happenstance puts him on the wrong side of the equality equation.

In response to this, there was several reasoned criticisms of CFI. There were letters sent asking the board to take a stance on this, and in fact it could be said that people asked them to take any stance. To declare, one way or another, whether the cause of women’s equality is actually of importance or interest to CFI as an organization. Or, perhaps it could be said, to the leadership of the organization – we already know that several important parts of CFI do believe equality is important since it is evidenced in the very fact that Women in Secularism exists.

So, after the letters were sent and the board met, this was their response.

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.

This isn’t a statement. It is, essentially, meaningless and it is self-contradictory.

The first statement, that CFI being an organization devoted to reason, freedom of inquiry, science, and humanist values, might have been true at one time. So long as Ron Lindsay can ignore the science of Sociology, however, this is a falsehood. It is also contradicted later on this scant hundred and some odd word response.

When the second paragraph begins with dedicated to advancing the status of women and women’s issues, I was hoping for an injunction against Ron’s words and his actions as CEO pending investigation into the organization’s purposes and goals in regards to his leadership. Instead, however, we got a statement about how the CFI board is disappointed with the fact that people were upset with Ron. This not only violates the very idea of the board being interested in reason and science (since it endorses what Ron said in regards to privilege being used as an invective and not a descriptive form of jargon), it countermands the very statement made before that sentence about women’s issues and position in the movement. This not-pology sets women back by saying that their experiences, their value as human beings, and the sciences that examine the structural social elements that continue to disadvantage them all over the world (including in developed countries), are less important than one mans’ feelings.

The last statement is a throwaway remark that they’re endorsing well meaning debate and discussion. While that’s a good thing, it only matters if they’re listening. Which we now know the board is not.

However, in response to this, Rebecca Watson has called for a ban on CFI. This, I think, is the wrong move.

At least among my friends I have a long standing agreement with Rebecca on a lot of things and I’m generally a supporter of everyone on the Skepchick network. This, however, I feel is an irrational response to another irrational response, and the reason why I think so is rooted in CFI’s decentralized nature.

I do think we should take CFI to task over this. I do think that we should be asking local organizers, like Melody Hensley, to make statements denouncing the actions of their own board and calling for Ron to actually apologize, but we shouldn’t be cutting off their funding. One reason why is that CFI hosted Women in Secularism. Twice. None of the other major organizations (I’m looking at you Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists) have included feminism or gender equality as an explicit conference with a focused speaker lineup in any other capacity. The Center for Inquiry stepped up and hosted Women in Secularism.

Twice.

This is because CFI is not a top-down organization in the same way that the RDF and the JREF are. Both of those organizations have structural problems because of their leadership. Their actions and focuses are determined by their leadership. On the other hand, CFI’s local affiliates and chapters have much more autonomy. You can tell because CFI hosted Women in Secularism. Twice. These individuals, the local organizations, deserve our support. Melody Hensley, especially, deserves our support. This support should come with a caveat that we’re supporting the work of the rational, the scientific, and the inclusive feminist parts of the organization instead of the irrational, fear-based, and anti-feminist leadership but the support should continue.

The support should continue so that, if for no other reason, Melody Hensley can put on Women in Secularism 3.

One thing I think we can agree on, however, is boycotting CFI’s leadership. Consider this my principled stand against Ron Linsday and the CFI board. Consider this my vote of no confidence, as an attendee and a voice in the movement, in the leadership capabilities and qualities of CFI. When an organization called Center for Inquiry believes it is in their best interests to ignore scientific fact and reasonable critique, it is time for a change in the board of directors.

In the coming days, weeks, and months I hope many of you can join me in a more nuanced position while helping repair the damage that CFI has already, and will continue, to cause to the goals of the atheist, skeptical, and humanist movements.

Why Don’t You Try This?: In Case You Missed It, Government Confirms And Reports That Marijuana Prevents Or Cures Certain Cancers.

I’d love to have a serious conversation on legalization of marijuana, especially because of the clear health benefits to large segments of the population.

However, for right now, I’m going to insist that it is at least medically necessary (especially for me) in the treatment of chronic pain, AIDS related eating disorders, and various cancers. THC and CBD, along with the thousands of other cannabinoids, serve very valuable functions to people.

Achievement Unlocked: Women’s Rights Advocate | Ferrett Steinmetz.

This is one of the best explanations for the mentality of allies that fail at being allies that I’ve read in a while.

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