Another shunning

Remember last summer when things got all sharp and spiky at Freethought blogs so I left there and came back here? After that everything calmed down at FTB and went back to collegial harmony and love.

Hahaha no it didn’t. That’s why we saw the debut of The Orbit on March 15, a new blog formed from a bunch of former FTB ones and some new ones.

It took only three weeks. Three weeks! Even I, who know their way with dissenters so intimately, thought it would take way longer than that. Only three weeks before the first schism: an update to their fundraiser on April 6:

We Made a Mistake, and We Apologize

When The Orbit launched, we offered a number of rewards on our (ongoing) Kickstarter, including Surly-Ramics jewelry. As readers may or may not know, there was controversy two years ago—involving, among others, Surly-Ramics creator Amy Davis Roth—regarding ableist language and responses to criticism. There remains significant disagreement among disability activists about these events: some accepted Amy’s apology and subsequent actions, while others are still dissatisfied with her reaction when criticized. (For details, see the linked post, written by one participant.

Many Orbit bloggers, who have different relationships (or lack thereof) with Amy and Surly-Ramics, are ourselves disabled and engaged in disability advocacy to different extents. While some now feel comfortable promoting Amy’s work, others differ, and individual bloggers will continue drawing their own lines. As a network, however, we recognize offering Surly-Ramics was a mistake, both because no consensus existed on our network and because doing so without explanation cast doubt on disability rights’ importance to us. We apologize for that mistake.

While preparing to launch our site, we did a lot of things in a hurry. This decision was made quickly, and we now realize we should have given ourselves more time to reach the fully informed consensus The Orbit aims to operate under. In the absence of this consensus, we are no longer offering the Surly-Ramics through our Kickstarter. Although we remain contractually bound to provide the jewelry to any donors who requested it, Surly-Ramics are now marked “sold out”. In their place, we’re offering poster prints by Orbit blogger and disability activist Ania Bula. (Any existing backers who would rather receive a print as a reward can change their pledge any time before the Kickstarter closes.)

In addition, we’re now examining our decision-making process to stop situations like this from arising in the future and looking at ways to respond to criticism more quickly. While we can’t promise never to make another mistake, we aim to make as few as possible, especially where marginalized people are concerned. We hope anyone hurt by this one can accept our apology, though we recognize they retain the right not to.

So that’s Surly Amy thrown under the bus, and then run over a few times for good luck. That’s Surly Amy’s jewelry thrown back in her face. That’s Surly Amy’s art rejected in favor of that of Ania Bula, which is not (to put it gently) as good. This despite the fact that several of the Orbit people have long been friends of Amy’s, in some cases fairly close friends.

What a horrible set of people.

48 Responses to “Another shunning”