Pharyngula

Deep Rift in Chicago

The Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago has done an incredibly stupid thing. They invited Sunsara Taylor to give a talk on “Morality Without God”…and then disinvited her. The reasons weren’t clear, other than that some people in the society disliked her politics — she’s a communist — and the group caved and cancelled her speaking engagement a short two weeks before it was to happen.

Basically, the ethical society was unethical. You just don’t do that. But then they made it worse.

They’ve been stonewalling. No explanations, no apologies, nothing — they might as well admit that they’re feeling a bit guilty. This is inexcusable: one thing humanists ought to be committed to is the resolution of disputes by dialog and discussion.

Next step: they seem to be spiraling into self-destruction here. Sunsara Taylor showed up at the venue for the meeting and gave a speech to ask that the organization stand up for their principles and give her planned talk; if they didn’t, she’d be giving it at the home of another, sympathetic member of the ethical society. It’s all very civil.

Except for this: near the end of the speech, the president of the “ethical” society dispatched police officers to handcuff and arrest the videographer. WTF?

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This is insane. Again, the society is silent. All we know is what we see, and it doesn’t look good.

Is this some kind of return to the McCarthy era? Taylor is openly communist, but there is nothing illegal about that, and it certainly isn’t a reason to discriminate against her. If the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago is going to start throwing people out and arresting them for their ideological affiliation, I’m more concerned about a few other criminal organizations, like the Republican party and the Catholic church, and think there are better grounds for slamming the door shut on members of those groups than the American communists. But I’d rather see free discussion of ideas by all of those people, and think that a humanist organization ought to be particularly sensitive to the virtues of free speech.

Shame on the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago.