I was shocked to learn that a group of people at EHSC have waged an unprecedented effort to rescind your fine organization's invitation to Sunsara taylor to speak on "Morality Without Gods." It is a disappointing surprise to find that some in the EHSC are wallowing in the irrational fear and hatred whipped up by Joe McCarthy and other right-wing lunatics in the 1950's and '60s and the resurgence of this nonsense by the ghoulish remains of the Republican Party in response to the election of America's first black president.
As you know, the author, entertainer and great American secular humanist Steve Allen was a victim of America 's right-wing hysteria during the dark days of blacklisting. Steve, who was honorary chairman of my campaign committee when I was a Democratic party candidate for the California State Senate, had been hurt so badly he went to great lengths to assure that he would never again be labeled a "communist," "communist sympathizer" or "pinko" by those vicious, un-American people who had brought him down decades earlier. In this respect, he was like a shell-shocked soldier. Even so, he had a strong commitment to free speech, free discussion and free exchange of all points of view. I think Steve would be as shocked and disappointed as I am today to learn of your decision to prevent your membership from hearing Sunsara Taylor.
My first encounter with Ms. Taylor was at the atheist conference in Burbank early this month where she revealed what a beautifully gifted orator she is. I was impressed with the depth of her knowledge and her ability to excite and energize her audience. Her speech was as entertaining as it was informative and the audience loved her. I met and talked with her afterwards and I am convinced she is a brilliant, sensible, responsible and informed person. I cannot imagine how ignorant, fearful or hateful anyone would have to be to want to prevent others from hearing this
intelligent, well-informed and articulate woman.
As I am sure you are aware, our nation is burdened with ignorant people who will not accept evolution no matter what, who still believe that the sun orbits the earth; who claim the world is only 6,000 years old; who think, "English was good enough for Jesus, so it's good enough for me;" who want the "government to stop messing with Medicare;" and who cannot explain the differences between capitalism, socialism, communism, our democratic republic, or even the differences between the state of New Mexico and the nation of Mexico. Denying the free exchange of ideas is what caused this sorry condition.
I am hopeful that you will reject the decision by the small minority of people in your organization who want to prevent Sunsara Taylor from sharing her knowledge with your full membership. I am hopeful that you will reject the efforts of those who still channel the ghost of Joe McCarthy and affirm the critical thinking and intellectual openness the EHSC is known for by re-inviting Sunsara Taylor to speak. Please don't cave in under the objections of the few who value ignorance over knowledge.
Thank you for considering my request,
Charles W. Belser
Author of "Larry the Penguin Searches for the Meaning of Life"
To whom it may concern at the Ethical Humanist Society of Chicago re the Workshop this Saturday and Sunday morning talk;
Reading the twisted and backward representation of Sunsara Taylor's presentation sent me into waves of outrage and nausea, which were only stopped upon reading the numerous letters written in her support. It is those letters that gave me some hope for our country which seemed on a slippery slope due to your actions.
As a humanist, the outrage that a humanist society which purports to be based on reason denying any person a place to speak I was reminded of a Thomas Jefferson quote I took as a motto as a child:
"I have sworn, upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against any form of tyranny over the mind of man. "
Censoring the presentation of Sunsara Taylor is just such a tyranny, one that all freethinking people should decry. And especially at this time in history when critical minds are under siege in academia and women's bodies are under siege from the society at large. Her workshop on the Emancipation of Women and the Liberation of all human beings, is necessary. I happen to believe that the only way towards such liberation is through women's liberation, and I would be curious to know what you and Ms Taylor would have to say.
A discussion of Morality without Gods is simply key, especially when it comes from such an engaging speaker as Sunsara Taylor. Thomas Jefferson was speaking ironically about that altar, as I hope you know.