Hooray for #MeToo Atheist Women

By Linda LaScola, Editor

Much has already been written in the short time that David Silverman, President of American Atheists was suspended and then quickly removed from office.

You can find articles herehere and here. Please read them for additional information.

Rather than repeat anything already written, I’m using this space to support and applaud the women who came forth with personally embarrassing stories to make a case against Silverman as a sexual predator. I don’t think this would have happened without the #MeToo movement.  I’m so glad our culture has changed to the point that people who have been abused by people in power can speak up, knowing that their claims will be taken seriously and knowing that they can help stop bad behavior.

None of the Silverman story surprises me.  I heard a much milder story about him from a very credible source at the time it happened. She wasn’t assaulted.  She was receiving unwanted attention at a conference that continued after she made a point of trying to avoid his company. She told me and a few others at the time or shortly afterwards.  So it’s on record.  But it wasn’t exactly the type of thing you “report.”  It was a creepy feeling that told her to avoid him in the future, which she did.

I was not surprised when the latest news came out.  Neither was she.  Plus she felt vindicated.

We’re all learning from this new openness. It’s a good thing, but it doesn’t feel so good when it’s happening. Thanks again to the women who came forward and thanks to the Board of Directors of American Atheists for handling this so quickly and so well.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>> Photo Credits: By BDEngler – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18761922

 

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  • Geoff Benson

    I agree that this sort of behaviour needs to be called out and dealt with severely.

    My concern as regards Silverman, and I felt the same with Lawrence Krauss, is that it gives ammunition to the religious, who can point to the immorality of atheists. Of course, in the cool light of day, when reasoning is allowed, it’s inevitable that there must be a proportion (hopefully very small) of atheists who will engage in this kind of behaviour, just as there will be in any defined group. My guess is that the proportion of such behaviour amongst the religious is much greater than in secular circles, because of the artificial constraints it places on normal human behaviours, but I’m sad when it attaches to ‘one of our own’. At least it seems to have been addressed with some sense of urgency.

    • Linda_LaScola

      I share your concerns, Geoff, but so far have not noticed Christians going after Silverman as an example for all atheists. Please be on the lookout and tell us if you see anything serious — in other words, not a stray, stupid comment, but an serious article.

      • Geoff Benson

        I will indeed. I must admit I had more in mind forum type sniping, but it’ll be very interesting if there are any serious articles.

    • kaydenpat

      How could Christians point to Silverman to bolster their position when the Catholic Church is on record protecting pedophile priests? American Atheists investigated and then kicked Silverman out of office in quick succession. They didn’t protect him.

      • Geoff Benson

        I completely agree, but that doesn’t mean that religious opportunists won’t try and capitalise.

    • HpO

      Right or wrong, but for lack of a better term, I called it The Atheist Taboo to explain why nonbelievers became all offended by conservative Christians commenting on Stephen Hawking’s death. My suspicion is confirmed yet again by their (not just your & sister Linda LaScola’s) suspenseful guardedness toward believers’ attitude toward this atheist predator.

      Oh FYI Christian Post did a spin on the suspension of the predatorial American Atheists president. You both should already be on top of “that” real news development.

      • Linda_LaScola
        • HpO

          It’s not what you were expecting, then?

          So that’s good, then, right?

          But even better if this Christian Post “repertorial”-ity in the end only proves an exception to the rule?

          I’ll keep an eye, then, on Christian News Network, or WorldNetDaily, or The Gospel Coalition, or BreakPoint, or Catholic World Report, to see not if – but when – they’ll do A Boo-Boo on the Atheist Taboo.

          • Linda_LaScola

            I have read Christian Post articles in the past and found them to be respectable journalism – reporting news interesting to their readers. I didn’t see spin – I saw reporting, so didn’t get your remark about “spin.”

          • HpO

            Here’s the spin:

            “David Silverman … has been temporarily suspended following an undisclosed complaint … [so] The Christian Post contacted American Atheists for more information … Nick Fish, national program director of American Atheists, stat[ed] … ‘Because this is a personnel matter, we cannot go into any more specifics about the allegations.”

            The Christian Post shall use this correspondence in their follow-up to the story about the BuzzFeed scoop revealing what those “specifics” were that American Atheists chose to hide from their group members. Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist alluded to this unethical behavior of American Atheists; they shouldn’t have done that and let BuzzFeed, an outsider, beat them to it. They should’ve come clean with it.

          • HpO

            Here’s the spin that I predicted The Christian Post would do in their follow-up coverage:

            “Some social commentators, such as Catholic League President Bill Donohue, who says that he debated Silverman on a number of occasions, urged American Atheists to offer more information about the incidents that led to Silverman’s firing. ‘Why is the board of directors of American Atheists refusing to offer any details about Silverman? Whatever happened to transparency? American Atheists has been quick to pounce on the Catholic Church for holding back information about wayward priests. Why the double standard?’ Donohue asked.”

            Source: (1) Stoyan Zaimov, “American Atheists President David Silverman Fired After Sexual Misconduct Allegations”, Christian Post, April 17, 2018. (2) Bill Donohue, “American Atheists Fires Its President”, Catholic League: For Religious and Civil Rights, April 16, 2018.

      • Geoff Benson

        Much of the religionist coverage of Stephen Hawking’s death was insane. The trouble is that for a non-believer death is death, full stop. Believers get to spin as many (imaginary) options as they care to think up.

        • HpO

          Surf over to Consortium News & Religion News Service to analyze atheist readers’ comments on Billy Graham’s death. Then tell me that to them, “that for a non-believer death is death, full stop. [Non]Believers [don’t] get to spin as many (imaginary) options as they care to think up.”

          And stick to point, please. You’re not being cornered. So there’s no need to wiggle yourself out. You & I are exactly where we’re supposed to be. So let’s just talk about it.

          FYI: My reaction to my Christian brother Billy Graham was irreverent & judgmental. SO WHAT. HE DESERVED IT.

        • mason

          There favorite spin in all situations is the lie, like all the gaslighting lies theism depends on to keep their industry operating. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/11/17/we-must-fight-back-against-evangelicals-stories-of-atheist-deathbed-conversions/

    • Bruce Gorton

      Recently I watched a video by Theramin Trees. He was talking, obliquely, about issues within Islam, and Islamism.

      Now what he said, that I think fits here, is that we cannot not talk about the social issues within Islam on the grounds of “that is giving ammunition to the bigots” – because those problems aren’t solved by doing that. They get way worse.

      And that is something we’ve got to consider here. Sure in the short term, it is bad publicity – but if we sit on it, if we hide it, it becomes so much worse over time. Right now we can say “Hey, American atheists dealt with this much better than just about any other group we can think of” – if it was covered up, well that’s what the Catholic Church tried to do, that is what the Anglicans tried to do, that is what too many people tell ex-Muslims to do, and in each and every case where it has been done, it has been a ticking time bomb that has blown up in their faces.

      It is better to face the consequences now, as the problem crops up, than to let it fester. Problems don’t generally shrink with ignorance, they grow.

      • Geoff Benson

        I agree absolutely, and hope I didn’t imply that there should be any attempt to cover up the issue.

        Just as an aside, I agree entirely that it’s important we criticise Islam, and good grief there’s plenty there, without fear of being held to be Islamophobic. For example, I respect the right of Muslim (any in fact) women to wear headscarves or cover themselves as they wish. On the other hand, I deplore the fact that the only reason they feel it is part of their culture is because historically, present day as well, they were/are seen as chattels, owned by menfolk, nervous of the thought that any display of bare flesh might tempt other men to feelings of uncontrollable lust.

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          ANYONE WHO IS NOT “INLAMOPHOBVIC” IS EITHER A MUSLIM OR UNINFORMED, AND/OR NOT BRIGHT ENOUGH TO GET INFORMED!

          • Geoff Benson

            The troll returns!

            BTW, there’s no such word as “INLAMOPHOBVIC”.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            DROP DEAD,, YOU MENTAL MIDGET PUNK!! TOO BAD YOU ARE SO STUPID YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT TYPOS ARE.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            As the truly rational, logical and intelligent people (-WHICH SURE LEAVES YOU OUT.-) like the best selling, and famed author Leon Uris, know, the Primary Purpose of Language, is simply to communicate a desired message from one, to one, or more, others.

            Thus, if the desired communication has been successfully accomplished, then such things as incorrect punctuation, spelling, poor grammar, etc. are things which only the not overly bright, the illogical and the irrational anal retentive nit pickers of the world worry about!

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            HEY OH SO MENTALLY CHALLENGED ONE AND TOTAL PUNK, MY COMMENTS HERE DO NOT MAKE ME A TROLL ANYMORE THAN YOURS`DO, ONLY YOU ARE TOO STUPID TO KNOW IT.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            HEY GEOFF, YOU LOSER. WHEN YOU THINK OF ME, THINK OF THIS 101ST AIRBORNE PARATROOPER SINGING THIS SONG TO YOU! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkDYrCCmUIA

          • Geoff Benson

            A paratrooper. Of course you were…Walter Mitty

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            THOSE WHO ACCUSE AND/OR INFER OTHERS OF LYING WHEN THEY HAVE NO VALID REASON AND ZERO EVIDENCE, MUCH LESS ANY PROOF, THEY ARE LYING, ONLY PROVE THEY ARE USING THEIR OWN NON-EXISTENT STANDARDS OF ETHICS, HONOR, INTEGRITY AND MORALS TO JUDGE OTHERS!

            LAST, THOSE WHO ACTUALLY HAVE ETHICS, HONOR, INTEGRITY AND MORALS NEVER ASSUME SOMEONE IS LYING WITHOUT SUFFICIENT CAUSE TO DO SO.

            THANK YOU, YOU MENTAL MIDGET FOR PROVING WHAT I ALREADY THOUGHT ABOUT YOU WAS TOTALLY CORRECT. IT BEING YOU HAVE`NO ETHICS, NO INTEGRITY, NO HONOR AND NO MORALS.
            AND YOU PISS FOR BRAINS PUNK, MY MILITARY RECORDS WILL PROVE I WAS A PARATROOPER IN THE 101ST`AIRBORNE.

  • mason

    Financial and sexual. Looks like he was going for a hat trick.

    It’s truly astounding how males in every endeavor of life across America are being toppled yet a male who has more serious accusers, including allegations of rape, than most of the toppled, and is a self confessed braggart about his right to sexually abuse women https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d0a0de58aabee16b2a4374560e2fb483ad99250d4fbdd0a262f7cfd678b7a0e5.jpg , remains President of the US and with the strong support of US Evangelicals. Teflon Trump?

    It’s commendable American Atheists took swift action, unlike the GOP or Congress.

    • Linda_LaScola

      I do think it’s to some extent because of him that this is happening now. His turn is coming.

      • mason

        I’m hoping your prophecy comes true … soon.

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          I DO NOT!

  • mason

    Silverman has declared his innocence, and put this message on Facebook after being fired:

    “By now, you are probably aware that the board of American Atheists has voted to terminate my contract. As you can imagine, I am distraught that my 22 year career with them has come to such an abrupt end. I have devoted most of my life to the cause of promoting and safeguarding atheists’ rights in the United States, so am deeply disappointed that I will no longer be allowed to continue to do so, at least not with American Atheists.

    All I know about my dismissal is what I have been told — the board informed me that certain allegations were made against me and so they felt compelled to act. While I agreed – and did — fully cooperate with their extremely brief investigation, they did not fully inform me of the allegations now coming out against me – merely that there was no evidence found of the single allegation of which I was informed. I did not find out about any other complaints until I was contacted by Buzzfeed about an article. I was denied due process by American Atheists, as I was never given the opportunity to defend myself by providing evidence to refute the false allegations made again me.

    I want to make this perfectly clear: I categorically deny any wrongdoing, legally or ethically. I have not done what I am being accused of in this article. More than that I cannot say at this time, for reasons I’m sure you can figure out.
    My wife and I thank you for your support, and for respecting our privacy during this difficult time.”

    For the record, I do support the #metoo movement but it also has the potential to spawn abuse and witch-hunts. In in 1979 I had a management position and a young woman who worked for an assistant of mine filed a sexual harassment suit against me and she claimed to have three other victim witnesses I’d sexually harassed outside the work place in a bar or a shopping mall.

    I’d never had any social contact with Ms. X nor was she ever alone with me in my office. Her daily interaction was all with her supervisor and my contact was limited to “Hello Ms. X, how are you today” etc. I was aghast and quite shaken by what seemed like a surreal nightmare. Ms. X was on probation for poor job performance and it looked likely she was going to be fired.

    To make a long story short, I had to hire an attorney, interrogatories were taken, and all the other victims revealed they’d never even met me and Ms. X had told them she had already filed a formal sexual harassment complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and civil lawsuit against me and my employer was coming. She expected to receive $275K and would give each of her friends 20K. (She’d read news articles about the large cash settlements women were getting from such lawsuits and had written out a statement for each witness to use) She was fired and it was all dismissed after a very stressful several months and my bank account degraded by attorney fees. Ms. X committed suicide several months later.

    • Linda_LaScola

      I really wish he had not provided a detailed account of something that supposedly happened almost 40 years ago.

      What do you think, Mason?

      Also, could you post a link to that statement. I couldn’t find him on facebook (too many “David Silverman’s”

      • mason
      • mason

        That was my account of circa 40 years ago.

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          MASON, IT WAS VERY CLEAR!! ONLY THE BIASED WOULD THINK IT WAS NOT.

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        I KNOW YOU, LIBNDA, ARE WRONG!

    • Cathy Brennan

      OK, I know he is a rapist from the credible account of him coercing a drunk woman into sex, that he sexually assaulted another woman. More are coming forward on Twitter to talk about experiences with him. I now think he sexually harassed “Ms X” and given the climate at the time was not in women’s favor at all, his denial and attack of her account of sexual harassment most likely ended up with the woman he harassed dead.

      • Linda_LaScola

        Whatever happened 40 years ago, there is no available record of it and it’s not relevant to the current issues. Better left unsaid, but he might not have a good sense of that right now.

        • mason

          see my Opps …

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          BS Linda_LaScola, BOTH WOMEN AND MEN LIED 40 YEARS AGO AND THEY DAMN WELL LIE TODAY!

      • mason

        Opps … sorry Cathy … I’ve really confused things here … after the Silverman last line quote about … my wife and I thank etc … that is what happened to Me years ago. I’ll edit to make clearer.

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        OR THE WOMAN LIED! coercing a drunk woman into sex YEA, LIKE SHE DID NOT WANT TO ENJOY SEX! GIVE ME A BREAK!

        • NEIL C. REINHARDT

          Also I constantly see racists call non-racist words and/or actions, “Racist” when they are not!! — And in my view, this applies to some calling some actions “Sexual Harassment” when very few would agree it was.

      • NEIL C. REINHARDT

        YOU DO NOT KNOW HE IS A RAPIST UNLESS HE RAPED YOU OR YOU SAW HIM RAPING SOMEONE.

    • Linda_LaScola

      Thanks for clearing this up, Mason

      • carolyntclark

        ?????????? Linda, this dos not read well, the replies may have to be deleted or clarified.

        • Linda_LaScola

          Update — silly me — I just realized that in 1979, Silverman would have been 13 years old — way too young to have Mason’s experience.

          But all this does how how easy it is to get confused about something – and to jump to conclusions. Knowing now that Mason is describing an experience he had, I find it much easier to believe than I did when I thought it was Silverman making a lame attempt to portray himself as a a victim.

          I’m leaving the discussion as is to show how easy it is to get confused.

          • mason

            Reading Cathy’s post, I saw how unclear it was after my ” at the end of Silverman’s statement, and I’d just continued on with my post. I probably should have taken the Journalism 101 course.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            IT WAS VERY CLEAR ME MASON.

          • NEIL C. REINHARDT

            SO WHAT DOES 1979 TO DO WITH SILVERMAN? WOMEN LIE ABOUT MEN AND MEN LIE ABOUT WOMAN.
            AND IN THIS CASE, I DO NOT BELIEVE SILVERMAN WAS TREATED FAIRLY AT ALL.

  • carolyntclark

    The difference between Silverman and the Christian offenders is the hypocrisy. Usually the latter sexual improprieties are committed by persons who are on a soapbox purporting Family Values.

  • Barry Evans

    Contrast that with Conservative Christian reaction to allegations against Roy Moore, where they continued to support him, not so much because they didn’t think the allegations were true, as that they didn’t see what was wrong with them if they were.

  • NEIL C. REINHARDT

    I THINK ALL CHARGES AGAINST ANYONE ABOUT ANYTHING BE BACKED BY WITNESSES WHO PASS LIE DETECTOR TESTS AND THE PERSON DOING THE CHARGING SHOULD HAVE TO PASS AT LEAST TWO DIFFERENT LIE DETECTOR TESTS BEFORE ANY ACTION IS TAKEN AGAINST THE PERSON CHARGED.