The Secular Coalition of America is a lobbying group that represents several groups, including American Atheists, the American Humanist Association, Camp Quest, the Secular Student Alliance and so on. A few months ago the SCA made news, in a bad way, by appointing a former Bush White House Staffer, Edwina Rogers, as Executive Director. Many of us did not like that and we complained, and we were essentially told a) the decision is final and b) don’t worry, everything will be OK.

But it is not. Much more recently, the SCA appointed as a co-director for one of its state groups a guy who has developed a very firm reputation as a Mens Rights Advocate and overall Sexist Misogynist Creep. Or at least, so it appears.

The individual in question is Justin Vacula, and he’s been appointed as co-chair of the executive council of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the SCA. I’ve got some information below on why this is a bad move, but I want to say right away that the SCA Executive director has already stated on a blog her answer to people’s concerns:

… the Secular Coalition for America has not “hired” anyone in any state. We have a staff of seven in DC. We are staffing state coalitions in 49 states, DC and PR. The state coalitions are made up of interested groups and individuals in the states and particupation is voluntary. We are willing to work with as many affiliated and allied groups and individuals as possible. We are seeking volunteers in the states and are thankful to those that are willing to assist. We have much work to do at the National and State level and request that all interested parties please consider joining the SCA in our mission as given to us by our member organizations. Please sign up at secular.org. Edwina Rogers

When Rogers was first hired, she made a big deal out of the fact that she’d be overseeing the development of a state chapter in every state. We are now being told that the SCA of which she is Executive Direct really has nothing to do with the state chapters. The “hired” vs. “Volunteer” distinction means nothing in relation to the present question.

Vacula published a piece on Men’s Rights Activist site “A Voice for Men” in which he attacks modern feminism and equates feminists with vampires and piles on with the attacks already underway designed to silence the Skepchicks (a group of women skeptics with whom I’ve worked for a few years) in particular Amy Roth Davis See this link for details on the attack on Amy. This act and related activities by Vacula clearly place him in the camp of anti-feminist anti-women pro-sexist activists who should not be leaders in a humanist movement which does, pretty much, have liberal and progressive political values. He has also been a regular member of the famous “slime pit” which, sadly, was a product of this very blog network (though it has been expunged).

Apparently, Vacula has been criticized for being less than smart i the arguments he’s made about various legal positions, and for showing poor leadership. The details are summarized in the writeup for the following petition which I urge you to sign:

Comments

  1. #1 gwen
    September 29, 2012

    Horrified. Signed. What in the heck is their thinking process on this one?

  2. #2 Ken
    September 29, 2012

    Hmm. You didn’t make it clear. Who is the SCA’s Big Goof? ;-)

    Signed…

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    September 29, 2012

    Ya… haha.

  4. #4 Steersman
    September 29, 2012

    But it is not. Much more recently, the SCA appointed as a co-director for one of its state groups a guy who has developed a very firm reputation as a Men’s Rights Advocate and overall Sexist Misogynist Creep. Or at least, so it appears.

    Then it would appear that you’ve done less than due diligence in assessing both where Justin Vacula is coming from and the range of opinions and positions in the Men’s Rights Movement. In the former case, my reading of the Voice for Men article does absolutely nothing to justify those charges of yours as the article specifically addresses the issue of “censorship and stupidity from ‘free-thinking-feminists”. Nothing there that I can see about a categorical condemnation of all women or all feminists. [http://www.avoiceformen.com/feminism/feminist-lies-feminism/censorship-and-stupidity-from-free-thinking-feminists/]

    In addition, while the photograph leading off the article certainly suggests that some feminists are vampires – for which I doubt Justin is responsible, that is a real stretch to argue that either Vacula or AVfM think that applies to all feminists – you should at least recognize that there are, according to Wikipedia article on the topic, at least 17 different feminist ideologies along with, probably, innumerable other splinter groups, some of whom are decidedly off the wall – and quite possibly more so than the most rabid supporter of the MRM.

    And finally, even the infamous Sally Strange – “Elite Femi-Fascist Genius” and denizen of the FTB mosh pit – concedes that “the few isolated good points that MRAs have are indeed good points”. You might want to consider that there is probably some truth in that position of hers at the least ….

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    September 29, 2012

    Weak.

  6. #6 John D
    September 29, 2012

    Laden – You silly and hyperbolic attack on Vacula is lame. You should find something important to do. Thanks!

  7. #7 Steersman
    September 29, 2012

    Weak

    That’s it? That qualifies as a rebuttal?

    The least you could have said, and maybe more typical, was maybe “Your concern trolling is noted, cupcake”, with or without references to dead porcupines ….

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    September 29, 2012

    Steersman, why would you assume there would be a rebuttal?

    John D, dissing MRA’s is kind of a hobby. They are a pot that is so easily stirred. And then all ten of them come to my site and read and re-read their own comments so often my traffic actually goes up.

  9. #9 Steersman
    September 29, 2012

    Steersman, why would you assume there would be a rebuttal?

    Oh, sorry, my mistake. I kind of assumed that as a skeptic you would want to address all challenges to your position. I figured that you would at least have enough sense to realize that an unanswered challenge on your blog questioning a position of yours has to be answered unless you want to see your stock drop even further than it already has.

    Notably, but not restricted to, the questions following from your claims that “men = testosterone damaged females” – on which you might want to take a look at this YouTube video:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?annotation_id=annotation_978563&feature=iv&src_vid=oJXlAXQcDcI&v=2bW5BH7bmyE

    I would kind of like to see you argue the somewhat analogous position that blacks=melanin damaged whites ….

  10. #10 Chris
    United States
    September 29, 2012

    That Justin would write even one piece for that forum that has such a history of anti-women sentiment when he has his own blog … as a woman I feel like the SCA has really let me down.

  11. #11 Greg Laden
    September 30, 2012

    Oh, sorry, my mistake. I kind of assumed that as a skeptic you would want to address all challenges to your position.

    The question of whether or not MRAs are sexist misogynist jerks that need not be taken seriously was settled a long time ago. I’ll start to debate that issue after I’ve finished debating all the creationists. And I don’t debate them either.

    I’ve addressed questions about testosterone here: http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/08/02/men-testosterone-damaged-women/

    Dark skinned people are not damaged white people. White people, on the other hand, are dark skinned people with genetic defects that cause their skin to not have the proper levels of melanin. Have I not blogged about that before? Perhaps I should see to that.

    Chris: That’s how I feel, that one thing is enough to disqualify him from a Humanist movement!

  12. #12 jane
    September 30, 2012

    Whaa? The “proper levels of melanin” for what environment, the savannah? White people DO have the proper levels of melanin for life in northern latiudes, as evidenced by the fact that most African-Americans are deficient in vitamin D. Or am I failing to detect the sarcasm here?

  13. #13 Greg Laden
    September 30, 2012

    Me? Sarcasm? Perish the thought!

  14. #14 Ken
    September 30, 2012

    Isn’t if fun to see all the Creationist arguments being used for another topic? You must address “both” sides of the issue. If you won’t debate me, then I win be default.

    Ken Ham would be proud!

  15. #15 Alan
    September 30, 2012

    Feynman was a pretty smart cookie and although I’m no genius, I do share many of his views. Like me, he hated “clubs”, he said all they did was sit around all day and talk about who was/wasn’t worthy enough to be a member of their club.
    Sure he was refereeing to National Academies at the time, but I’ve found from personal experiences such as this one, that it’s a general principle that can be applied to all clubs

  16. #16 Greg Laden
    September 30, 2012

    Alan, what is the club to which you refer?

  17. #17 TheOtherStan
    http://www.peopleofwalmart.com/
    October 1, 2012

    Same old Laden. McCarthyist smearing by association and bereft of any actual evidence for the denunciation. Shouldn’t you be harassing Bluharmony or Abbie Smith instead you hero? And why was it again you were ejected from FTB Laden? Hmmm? Was it something to do with threats against co-blogger someone who wouldn’t buy your snake oil?

  18. #18 Paul Elam
    http://www.avoiceformen.com
    October 1, 2012

    @ Steersman

    You are indeed correct. Justin Vacula had nothing to do with the image placed on that article. I know this to be true because I was the one that placed it there.

    It saddens me greatly to see witch hunts going on in the secular community. Critique is being misinterpreted as “attack” and criticism is being intentionally and maliciously conflated with efforts to silence.

    It seems pretty obvious to me where the efforts to silence are coming from, and it isn’t Justin Vacula.

    Feminism is an ideology. As such it should be subjected to as much scrutiny as any other belief system. Unless, of course, it upsets the congregation too much.

    What a pity to see the secular community descend into dogma.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    October 1, 2012

    Thank you for the correction on who put the inappropriate image together with Justin’s inappropriate post.

    Thank you also for your concern. I am sorry that I made you sad.

  20. #20 J.D.
    Ohio
    October 1, 2012

    Ya’ know it takes a dick and a vagina ta’ procreate… Who fuckin’ cares if you are male or female, or if someone is slightly too feminist or slightly too masoginist… Doesn’t matter, just live with it. I’ve said some pretty disturbing things on both sides of the fence m’self and I don’t think that in anyway retracts from my ability to hold a job or position… Hell I write the Captain m’fuckin’ Hentai comics O.O

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