Bravo, Lawrence Krauss

I’ll join the chorus of atheists and secularists applauding Lawrence Krauss for taking a stand against gender segregation at a debate over Islam and atheism in London. Krauss was invited to the debate but when told that single men and women would not be allowed to sit together and women would be seated in the back, he refused to participate unless that was changed. He wrote on his Facebook page:

Almost walked out of IERA debate as it ended up segregated (single men and women not allowed to sit together). I had been promised that would not be the case, and then saw 3 really nice kids being ejected for sitting in wrong place. I packed up my bags and walked out. They caved in, and let the kids back, not without complaints of course from some of the attendees.

And a woman who was there caught part of it on video. Kudos to Krauss for taking a stand. It reminds me of a story that James Randi told a few years ago on my radio show. In the 50s and 60s, Randi refused to perform his magic act for audiences that were segregated by race, as many theaters did at the time. He had it in his contract that the audiences had to be integrated. When he performed at a theater in Florida, he found out during the first intermission that all the black people were forced to sit in the balcony, he walked out of the show and hopped on a bus back to New York.

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  • eric

    Other blogs have covered this in extensive detail. It wasn’t a perfectly happy ending because it appears Krauss was somewhat fooled and the ‘desegregation’ they did afterwards was merely empty gesture. Short version: a “woman’s” row was first cleared of all women and only then were the protesting men allowed to sit there.

    But Krauss certainly tried to fix the issue rather than passively going along with it, which deserves credit.

  • I also heard the student group* who organized that fiasco has since been booted off campus.


    *If that’s really what it was.

  • No One

    The IERA is not a student group, it is an umbrella group that had under it’s wing at one time the underwear bomber.

    But they did get booted from UCL:

    Hopefully the word will get out and other universities will follow suit. The IERA ( and Tzortzis) are all about establishing a Caliphate via disruption and infiltration. This exercise (gender segregation) was about imposing islamic values on a secular organization.


  • Typical Athiests, not standing up to Muslins and there creeping Shania!

  • @ Modus

    I didn’t know Shania hated ‘Murka. I thought it was just the Dixie Chicks.

  • Dammit, I need new glasses. I read this headline as “Lawrence, Kansas“, and was expecting a COMPLETELY different story….

  • lancifer

    While I applaud James Randi’s stance on racial segregation he ended up short changing the African Americans, as well as the “whites”, for the money they paid for his show.

    At least he should have walked out on stage and told everyone why he was leaving.

    I mean they came to see a magic show right, and I very much doubt the theater reimbursed anyone for the missed half of the performance.

    I admire James Randi and I’m not offering any harsh criticism. Maybe I’d have to hear the rest of the circumstances. Maybe it was worth it to the African Americans, and other anti-segregationists, when they later found out.

  • Stacy

    lancifer, what the hell are you talking about?

  • Ed: Pardon the OT comment, but I’m now getting a message from “” saying “invalid website,” whatever the hell that means. Also, something is shrinking the font size in your OPs (after they appear in normal size for about a second), and making some of your links inoperative. The “Archives” link works, but the “Posts” and “Comments” links don’t, at least not in Firefox 19.0.2.

    It appears your adware is crossing the line to malware again.

  • While I applaud James Randi’s stance on racial segregation he ended up short changing the African Americans, as well as the “whites”, for the money they paid for his show.

    Because giving people their money’s worth is always more important than protesting a blatant injustice. (And why is “whites” in scare-quotes, and “African Americans” not?)

    I admire James Randi and I’m not offering any harsh criticism.

    No, just questioning his integrity and accusing him of ripping off his paying customers. Which isn’t all that bad in the eyes of libertarians, right?

  • Oh, come on Lancifer. It was a great disappearing trick.

  • dereklancaster

    The whole debacle is on Twitter under #AtheismOrIslam

    On there you’ll notice that there is a lot of Muslims saying Krauss is pro-incest (without ever quoting him, tellingly) and very few atheists. Well, that’s not weird, right? We all know how meek and quiet online atheists are…

    Yeah, turns out any atheist who tweets with the AtheismOrIslam hashtag gets reported to Twitter for spam and their account locked down.

    Looking through the tweets, I came across this asshole (href=” who claims Muslims want women segregated because they respect women so much. You know, like how white people saved that nice seat in the back of the bus out of respect for Rosa Parks.

  • dereklancaster

    Apologies: it’s #IslamOrAtheism. Further apologies for forgetting to delete the href= above.

  • dingojack

    dereklancaster – you could have linked directly to it by typing this:

    “… I came across <a href=”http://youtube/ohMJrekTGFc”>this</a> asshole.”

    Which is posts like this:

    “… I came across this asshole.” *

    Hope that helps (& I’m not telling you stuff you already know),



    * Don’t worry if it’s wonky in the preview, it’s one of the ways to tell if the link has been typed in correctly

  • Ichthyic

    Also, something is shrinking the font size in your OPs

    I noticed this in the last couple of hours as well.

  • Ichthyic

    …the small fonts carry through to the style sheet for the main FTB page, but NOT to Pharyngula.

    My guess:

    someone mucked with the main style sheet for the front page, and some of the sites simply borrow that style sheet rather than using their own. Pharyngula apparently uses its own style sheet, so appears immune to the changes made on the main page.

    Ed…. PLEASE, tell your web programmer that they need to tinker with the site in an offline version first. Surely they have the ability to have a content-stripped version with all the code on an offline server somewhere?

  • anubisprime

    Got the dinky font as well…plus the massive advert / info block on the left side of the screen is really an irritant.

    It occupies half of the screen.

    Every-time I log on I have to slide the bottom bar to the left to centre and read the actual thread post text…and then I have to do it again to read the posts on the subject I choose.

    It is distracting and extremely annoying.

  • anubisprime

    “slide the bottom bar to the left to centre”

    Sorry I am directionally dyslexic…that should read …

    “slide the bottom bar to the right to centre”

  • jamessweet

    I think it might have something to do with that “NowTalk” widget they just added. I think it is adding another stylesheet late in the page load (because the font is non-dinky on first load).

    What’s with that NowTalk thing anyway???

  • Nick Gotts (formerly KG)

    PLEASE, tell your web programmer that they need to tinker with the site in an offline version first – Ichthyic

    Please tell them they’re fired. It really is absurd that there are still so many glitches in the new format.

  • gingerbaker

    So, Ed, you no longer believe in religious accommodation on the campuses of public schools?

    How about public facilities? I seem to recall you thought it reasonable that a municipal swimming pool should devote part of its operating hours for Muslim-only swimming, as their faith compelled them to not be exposed to the unclean water caused by the swimming of heathens? That was a reasonable accommodation according to you, IIRC, and should be encouraged?

    These Muslim women were not segregated against their wishes – was it not it was their religious right to be seated as their faith dictated? Just like their rights to be adjudicated by Sharia courts should not be abridged, why is their right to religious seating arrangements not being respected on a public school campus?

    Or should Sharia (and Jewish) courts not be allowed in the U.K. or the U.S. if they do not confirm the equality of women according to our modern secular standard?

  • Ichthyic

    These Muslim women were not segregated against their wishes

    are you an idiot? It was that EVERYONE was being segregated at that venue that was the problem.

  • dereklancaster

    Dingo, yeah, the preview was wonky, so I abandoned the HTML.

    Ginger, they could have segregated themselves for the most part. When I go to a movie theater, me and my friends all sit together so we don’t have to sit next to strangers. But if I’m sitting on the inside end and the theater is packed, I’m going to end up sitting next to someone I don’t know. I don’t like it, it makes me really uncomfortable, but I put up with it if I want to watch a movie in a public place.

    The same goes for the Muslim women at the debate. That’s the price you pay for living in a society.