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Melody Hensley, professional twitter victim, butts into a conversation between Justin Vacula and Dave Silverman and then tells Justin to stop contacting her.

I couldn’t make this shit up. Hensley has become a parody of herself. This is who CFI puts in executive positions? I don’t think CFI will have much of a reputation at all in a few years if they keep populating their management with people like this.

UPDATE: I’m editing here without changing the text of the post because my father always taught me to take responsibility for what I say and write. I take back the statement that “someone is benefitting from a man not recognizing sexism.” Lindsay clearly stated that Hensley’s tweets could be interpreted as impugning the motives of Sara Mayhew and that is good enough for me because Hensley was, in fact, speaking for herself and not CFI. In a work environment, she would have been fired from any self-respecting organization, but this wasn’t a work environment, even though such public positions can cause confusion. I apologize for my part in that.

Here is the text of the response I received from CFI regarding Melody Hensley’s behavior:

“Dear Ms. Graham:

Your e-mail to the Center for Inquiry’s general inbox has been forwarded to me. Thank you for sharing your concerns.

First, permit me to say something about CFI’s general approach to discussion of controversial matters. We favor discussion. Candid, reasoned discussion is the most reliable means of determining which point of view may have merit.

However, we strongly believe that it is the merits of a position that should be the subject of the discussion. Personal attacks, insult, and invective inhibit discussion; they do not advance it.

Similarly, impugning someone’s motives is almost always, at best, an irrelevant sidetracking of a discussion. (There may be exceptions, such as pointing out that a favorable report on a drug has been funded by the pharmaceutical company manufacturing the drug, but again, this is the exception, not the rule.)

Let me turn now to the subject of your complaint, namely Melody Hensley’s tweet. To begin, Ms. Hensley was tweeting in her personal capacity, not as a representative of CFI. She uses her CFI-DC twitter account for official statements. That said, I recognize this distinction will not necessarily prevent people from attributing her personal comments to CFI.

With respect to the substance of the tweet, I would not characterize Ms. Hensley’s tweet either as “sexual harassment” or gender-based harassment. The tweet does not constitute a severe or outrageous denigration of another person on the basis of their sex. Rather, it is a criticism of viewpoints advanced by others.

However, the tweet could be interpreted as impugning the motives of those with whom Ms. Hensley disagrees. To the extent this is an accurate interpretation of the tweet, CFI regrets the implication. As indicated above, CFI does not consider the impugning of motives (again, absent evidence and relevance) to be a proper tactic in an exchange of views.

I hope this addresses your concern.

Very truly yours,

Ronald A. Lindsay”

Here is the text of my response. It speaks for itself, though I must point out here the irony that there is someone here who is clearly benefitting from a man not recognizing sexism, and it’s not me:

“Dear Mr. Lindsay,

While I disagree that accusing someone of garnering attention of males for the sake of getting speaking attention constitutes a criticism of opposing views, I do thank you for clarifying that Ms. Hensley was speaking for herself and not CFI when she made those hurtful and baseless remarks on a public platform (which, to be fair, she erased). Thank you for taking the time to write me back.


Katie Graham”

While doing the twittering today, I stumbled upon an incredibly well written blogpost by Sara Mayhew that did a great job of detailing why a person might be turned off by the nasty rhetoric of certain atheist feminists, but also really hit the nail on the head when it comes to my own views about feminist equality in the skeptic community.

She writes:

The message of Dr. Hall’s shirt resonates with me because it addresses the most important thing to me about feminism and equality; that you can’t make assumptions about my thoughts, feelings, and experiences based on my gender. I don’t consider myself part of a subset of skeptics because I’m a woman. What I want is to be viewed as a human individual. My experiences aren’t going to be the same as yours just because we share the same gender.

At the bottom of the blogpost you’ll see an update with some screenshots. I invite you to take a good look. Surly Amy herself tweets:

I’d make 1for @saramayhew 2 but she would then have to buy matching shoes&take instagrams and Id hate 2 waste her whole night. @CaraColeen

Buy matching shoes? Waste her whole night? If that’s not stereotyping and denigrating to women, then I don’t know how Surly Amy can be pissed off about a fucking shirt that expresses a person’s desire to be known for their mind and not their vag.

Chiming in shortly after is CFI-DC director Melody Hensley.

@SurlyAmy @CaraColeen @saramayhew “Hey. I can get more attention, speaking gigs, and the bys will like me if I keep ragging on Skepchicks!”

All I have to say is WOW. I decided to tweet Melody Hensley to see if she had any idea that what she was doing is sexual harassment. I got blocked for my efforts. I wrote:

.@MelodyHensley You know what my job calls accusations of using male attn to climb the ladder? Sexual harassment. @saramayew

Well, I’ve sent a strongly worded letter to because (obviously) sending it to the Director of CFI-DC will get nowhere. Feel free to do the same. Here’s mine:

To whom it may concern,
I’d just like to let you know that I am shocked and appalled that the Director of CFI-DC would participate in the sexual harassment of a woman on twitter.
Melody Hensley implied that because Sara Mayhew wrote a blog post defending a prominent skeptic for her views on gender equality, Sara was somehow using the controversy to garner male attention to get speaking gigs.
Here is the blog post, with updates that include screenshots of Melody Hensley making the damaging accusation:
I hope you treat this situation with as much seriousness as it deserves. I respect CFI very much and would hate to lose respect for an organization that does so much good, including the Intelligence Squared debates.
Thank you,
Katie Graham
Light The NightOctober 26th, 2013

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