I have been informed through the usual backchannels that the folks who run the Los Angeles office of the Center For Inquiry are considering asking me to give a talk later this year. Nothing has been said to me directly, as often happens this far ahead of schedule. Nothing may have come of the talk. Nonetheless the implied offer is flattering and I am touched.
In that spirit of gratitude, I’m going to save the CFI-LA folks some time.
I’ve worked for lots of different organizations, non-profit and for-profit, over the 33 years of my worklife. I know very well that especially in large organizations, you can’t assume staff or local chapters are uniformly on board with policies set by top management. Nothing I say here should be construed as criticism of CFI-LA or its staff.
But I cannot in good conscience lend public support to CFI-LA until its parent organization, the Center for Inquiry, stops covering for and providing backup to serial sexual harassers and assaulters. That’s a non-negotiable condition. It would seem to be a basic common-sense business management practice I’m expecting of CFI, but the organization has responded to recent criticism by doubling down on its denialism.
That offer to speak in Los Angeles may never have materialized. I know how these things work: ideas come up and are discussed, and a few of them happen, but most don’t. Either way, I truly and sincerely appreciate the thought. I welcome opportunities to speak about desert conservation and science to any group of interested people. I would very much like to be proud to speak at a CFI event. But unless the national organization takes a hard look at itself and makes some long-overdue changes to safeguard the basic rights and safety of the people it works with, I can’t be.
Updated to add: CFI has apparently forced SciAm to take down a post by Karen Stollznow detailing their organizational failings. (Link is to a cached version.)