Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sunsara Taylor vs. Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago

According to the information I've received, the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago (EHSC) invited Sunsara Taylor, a writer for Revolution Magazine to speak on the topic of Morality Without Gods. This topic features prominently in Bob Avakian's recent book, Away With All Gods, which Sunsara has been promoting. Her invitation was subsequently cancelled, apparently because of ideological differences with some of EHSC's prominent members.

According to Sunsara:
Sunday night, October 18, less than two weeks before the program, I received an email letter from Anil Kashyap (copy attached) notifying me that some in the program committee are trying to cancel my talk.

According to Sunsara, the organizers felt that her presentation was "not what they had expected" and somehow objectionable because it refers to Christian Fascists. They also bizarrely allege that her talk does not "look anything like" a discussion about "how moral, ethical behavior need not depend on a theistic outlook."

I've also received a private communication that quotes the co-chair of the EHSC Program Committee, Prof. Anil Kashyap, as saying:
A talk that claims morality is inconsistent with a global economy is nonsense. The first order fact that cannot be ignored is that the greatest anti-poverty program in history is the growth in China over the last 30 years. That was only possible because of globalism. That transformation has lots of problems, but more starving and desperate people have been lifted up faster than ever in human history.
Whether one agrees with Prof. Kashyap or Ms. Taylor, this cancellation has the appearance of outright censorship.

I cannot speak for the EHSC or its membership, but I can say that if these kind of shenanigans occurred in an organization I was a member of, I would be outraged and call bullshit in the loudest possible voice — even if I did not know Sunsara personally or have a great deal of sympathy with her position.

Sigh... sometimes an atheist is a person with one fewer stupid belief than a theist.

A Google search has not revealed any position or explanation by the EHSC.