Wednesday, June 19, 2013

An unsatisfying victory

Last month I wrote a brief post in support of Ronald Lindsay, CEO of the Center for Inquiry, who was caught criticizing privilege-invoking discussion killers. Well, the board of the CFI met to decide if they would give in to demands to fire Lindsay. They released a statement this week declaring they did not.

Sort of.

The actual statement is reproduced below:

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 purposely-unspecific language is what George Orwell warned us about in his essay Politics and the English Language. It has a point to make, but it hopes to soften the blow of that point with cowardly dodges and demands that the reader navigate a maze of innuendos and hints.

Was the intention to keep the Easily Offended Community from flipping out the moment they deciphered the message? If so, that plan failed miserably. Of course. Did anyone think they wouldn't?

This statement is an example of how not to make an important announcement. Would it have killed them to add a sentence where they spell out their actual position? I can understand being diplomatic, but they did so in a way that no one can support.

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