Of the many members of the organized atheist movement that I have been privileged to read and hear speak, Dave Silverman is absolutely one of my favorites. The closest I’ve ever come to interacting with the guy was a conversation with a friend of mine who happened to be his niece that was passing messages between us over G+ a couple of Thanksgivings ago (she was in the room with him, I was at my parents’), but even then he seemed congenial and kind. Having just gotten into movement atheism, this simple interaction through a third party made me feel welcome.
I bring this up because Silverman has a wonderful series of tweets in which he specifically goes after the anti-feminist trolls in the atheist movement, especially following Ron Lindsay’s embarrassing opening speech at Women in Secularism where he proceeded to tell women how they should talk to men, then welcomed Justin Vacula (who has personally harassed some of the women there), then spent days making hyperbolic defensive posts where he compares being called out in pretty moderate fashion to being targeted by North Korean thought police. All in all, it has been a rough time for Lindsay, and the anti-feminists have been crowing, including the Vacula who keeps claiming that he supports women, just doesn’t want to “silence” people who don’t.
Ophelia Benson has several of the tweets screencaped, but I really want to focus on one of them.
@justinvacula can’t get into this now. One final word. If you can’t bring yourself to fight shit, you will be seen as approving it.
Yes. That. That thing he just said, right there. It sums up so many of my opinions.
The thing is, this doesn’t just apply to MRAs and their ilk. This applies to anti-gay protesters, this applies to religious wingnuts, this applies to advocates of corrective rape and the people imprisoning 50,000 children in the Congo on suspicion of being witches (there are no witches trying to cast black magic on you, assholes! If even one of those kids had magic, they would have fucked you up for imprisoning them by now! But they don’t, because black magic doesn’t fucking exist, you child abusing, superstitious fucksticks!).
And it’s not just Silverman, either. Dave Muscato, also of AA, made a statement on behalf of the organization specifically on their dedication to women’s rights and the rights of other minorities.
Although American Atheists’ mission is fighting discrimination against atheists, advocating for atheist civil rights, and addressing issues of First Amendment public policy, we care very much about feminism & social justice in the atheist activism movement and how these issues relate to and involve individuals involved in our collective efforts.
Meanwhile, the Vacula has done another interview with the creeps over at A Voice for Men (where he is a contributor). As per usual, he claims that he’s just trying to be fair to everybody, that all perspectives are valid, etc. The problem, of course, is that right now the rape apologists over at AVfM don’t really have a valid perspective, they have a skewed one that I have already gone into great detail about. And theirs is the dominate cultural perspective at the moment, at least functionally, so maintaining a neutral stance simply supports even the things that they say that the Vacula claims to oppose.
Neutrality and moderation have their place, but there are times when an opinion is so onerous and so entrenched that attempting to not choose sides de facto supports the oppressors. We cannot be silent about the horrors that happen around us. We cannot grant legitimacy to the illegitimate with inaction. Injustice requires action, it demands we be active, and anything short of that means functionally standing with it.