A Clarification

May 20, 2010

In one of my blog posts last week, I emphasized the importance of adhering to certain standards of criticism. These standards apply to everyone, including me. One thing a critic should do is be clear about the relevant implications of his argument. I may have failed to do so.
To summarize briefly: In the post in question, I objected to certain criticism of CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism, publisher of Free Inquiry magazine. In particular, I maintained that Paul Kurtz’s criticism of Free Inquiry’s publication of a cartoon that he characterized as offensive was inconsistent with Paul Kurtz’s apparent approval of Free Inquiry’s publication of similar cartoons for many years. I stated that this inconsistency could be explained by Dr. Kurtz’s unfamiliarity with the contents of Free Inquiry in prior years or his desire to criticize CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism for reasons unrelated to any principled objection to the allegedly offensive cartoon. There was another possible explanation as well, which I expressly mentioned in some of my follow-up comments, namely that Paul Kurtz has changed his mind. In other words, although in the past he found cartoons that arguably mock religion acceptable, he no longer finds such cartoons acceptable, and he has a sincere objection to them. As indicated, I did acknowledge this possibility in my follow-up comments, but I should have expressly noted this possibility in the body of my post. I regret the omission.
The purpose of this post is solely to clarify my remarks. This is not an invitation to renew the discussion about Paul Kurtz’s criticism of CFI and the Council, or my response to that criticism. Of course, readers are free to leave comments, but I do not intend to address this particular issue further.