Oh to be middle-aged, male, skeptic and white — master of the rational universe. The ad nauseum propagandistic bullshit that atheist/secularis/freethought circles are magically exempt from institutional racism, sexism and heterosexism continues to be blown to bits by allegations of pervasive sexual harassment, assault and workplace discrimination from women in the field. The most recent allegations by Dr. Karen Stollznow against Skeptical Inquirer editor Ben Radford underscore how deep and intractable male entitlement, privilege, and predation are in an industry that thrives on in your face elitism, balls-to-the-breeze racial politics and intellectual exclusivity. Stollznow’s claim that she was assaulted and harassed by Radford–while organization heads at the JREF and CFI apparently did next to nothing to censure or purge the predator from their ranks–is further testimony to the complicity of atheist leadership with a culture of sexist policing, control and slut-shaming.
Time and again, in industry after industry, sexual harassers and predators are protected, promoted, propped up and rewarded for their criminal behavior and power politics. Indeed, many harassers are rewarded with promotions and other perks that keep the good times and career/retirement dividends rolling for the predator long after the victim(s) has either resigned due to stress, been marginalized and frozen out of promotional opportunities for being an “uppity bitch” or completely kicked to the curb. CFI’s silence on Radford (and others, PZ Myers’ blog has an in depth take from former JREF employee Carrie Poppy) is further indication of its lack of institutional credibility on equity, “diversity” or any other issue that threatens the supremacy of ensconced white male professionals.