Vacula Retreats

I’ve discussed on a few occasions how I considered the appointment of Justin Vacula to head up the Secular Coalition of America (too many organizations called “SCA” are in my life. It’s like dating fraternal twins) Pennsylvania division to be a really amazing misstep.

Now, I admit to liking at least one thing that Vacula has done in the past, when he had the idea of a bus ad that just said “Atheists” and a website link, which was rejected for being too controversial and proved a good point. However, he’s also written an op-ed for the cesspool hate site A Voice for Men, posted the home address of blogger Surly Amy on another hate site (as well as a picture of her home), and took the opportunity of Jen McCreight taking a break from blogging due to depression caused by online abuse to abuse her online on her way out.

Justin Vacula is an awful person. And he has quite the martyr complex, as exhibited by his letter resigning from the position that many people were upset about him being offered.

I don’t feel like going through every line of this extended symphony of whining, but let’s look at a few key parts, shall we?

The Secular Coalition for America was founded in order to “formalize a cooperative structure for visible, unified activism to improve the civic situation of citizens with a naturalistic worldview.” Unfortunately, some persons in this community who have been quite vocal in objecting to my appointment – and many who were quick to dismiss me — do not seem to be interested in that.

This is my least favorite argument, and it’s one that is made by people in power time and time again. “Don’t we have more important things to do?” The next paragraph expands on this idea, but that’s the gist of it. Vacula seems to think that because there are worse problems that people should have to roll over and accept whatever abuse he throws their way because at least he’s not a theocrat. He also seems to subscribe to the school of thought that suggests that equality means that those on the receiving end of oppression just learn to ignore the way they’re treated. It’s a rather neat little way to shut down a conversation, by suggesting that there wouldn’t be an issue if people would just stop complaining, as if silence just makes problems disappear.

Almost immediately following my appointment with the Secular Coalition for America, I was the target of a campaign of lies, character attacks, and distortions.

People said that you frequent and contribute to SPLC-designated hate sites, which is evidently true. They said you posted the home address of a prominent female blogger as well as a picture of the home to one of those sites, which is also empirically provable. They said you tweeted a comment making fun of Jen McCreight when she said she was taking a break due to depression caused by online abuse, which is easy to see that you did. What, exactly, were the lies told about you?

My detractors did not only brand me as an ‘enemy of the people’ in a similar fashion to the respective play written by Henrik Ibsen…

I see you got tired of people pointing out that the original word you used, “eponymous,” does not mean what you think it means in the original context, so you changed it to “respective”… which also doesn’t mean what you think it means. Also, you are not a character out of Ibsen and nobody called you “enemy of the people”. As the old joke goes, how do you get the third nail in?

I have indeed made some mistakes and handled some situations poorly in past months. These mistakes were errors of judgment and were not, by any means, coupled with malicious intent.

It’s like talking to a Christian apologist. He makes the exact same error in thinking that anybody gives a shit what his intentions are as compared to the results. Let’s pretend for a second that he really is so stupid that he didn’t realize posting a woman’s home address to a website full of people who hate her and “joke” about raping her wasn’t malicious (I can’t even think of a suggestion of what other motive he could have had that is remotely sarcastic enough), does that make it less of posting a woman’s home address to a website full of people who hate her and “joke” about raping her? That he has never, not once, expressed regret or offered apology for these non-malicious “mistakes” is the point here, and I don’t much care that they weren’t done with active disdain.

Part of the point is that Vacula is gone from that position, which is good, but it’s still disappointing that when the SCA was made aware of the problems with this appointment, they both supported their decision with political dancing and didn’t fire him. I still remain wary of the organization under Edwina Rogers as a result.

8 thoughts on “Vacula Retreats

    • I understand what you’re saying, and I sincerely hope that Justin learns from this, but I would be more inclined to believe that he has if he would take some steps toward actually addressing the mistakes he made. Offering up several pages of self-martyrdom complaining about his poor treatment but offering no evidence for why it’s unjustified, combined with his hyperbolic complaints of oppression (Ibsen? Really?) and refusal to show any sort of remorse for his past mistakes does not bode well for having learned anything. He has contributed to the movement in the past, but those contributions don’t exonerate him of the rather awful things he has done as well. Only some actual attempt at contrition can do that, and talking about how wronged he’s been doesn’t count.

  1. Pingback: Normalcy | Reasonable Conversation

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