P.Z. Myers: Still Not Reading …

Okay, this is definitely more “schadenfreude” than an actual serious post, but I’ve talked before about how P.Z. Myers — and others — don’t read posts and articles before mocking and being outraged by then. Well, late yesterday, Myers made a post about the upcoming FIDE Women’s World Championships, which will be held in Iran, which has a law that says that women must wear a hijab. His post asks “what about the men?”:

Hey, I say, what about the men? Shouldn’t the male grandmasters also be announcing their solidarity with their colleagues?
Perhaps male chess players tend to be insensitive sexists who don’t care what happens to the women players. Or perhaps they are cowards who are relieved that the theocratic rule is going to eliminate much of their competition. Or perhaps journalists assume that only women can get outraged at discrimination against women.

And in a later comment, he adds:

That it’s the Women’s World Championship only makes it more of an outrage that FIDE decided it was fine to hold it in Iran.

But as was pointed out in the comments:

It’s the Women’s World Championships, so men can’t attend and so can’t boycott (that’s what the later comment was acknowledging.

Some male Grandmasters are protesting it. The discussion of Nigel Short was in the first link Myers gave.

Not reading his own links seems to be the key here, because the CNN link explains why Iran was chosen:

Iran was the only country which made a proposal to host the event, a World Chess Federation (FIDE) spokeswoman told CNN in a statement.

So, the choice was to either have it in Iran … or not have it at all. So it, in fact, wasn’t actually the choice of the organization anyway, and certainly not the choice of the men so that they wouldn’t have to face competition from women.

In fact, the CNN article implies that tournaments have been held in Iran before with the same rules:

“Iran has hosted chess tournaments before and women were always forced to wear a hijab,” Paikidze-Barnes told CNN. “We don’t see this event being any different, forced hijab is the country’s law.”
This, she said, is “religious and sexist discrimination.”

Paikidze-Barnes is the most prominent person objecting to the event being held there. And her demand is this:

She added: “If the venue of the championship is not changed, I will not be participating … “

So, they can’t even be in Iran, it seems, even if a compromise is made on what the women can wear while playing.

Let’s answer Myers’ stated and unstated questions, shall we?

Why was it in Iran? No one else wanted it, and while some country now might stand up, it’s probably still not the case that any other country wants it.

Why aren’t the male chess players protesting? They are.

Why is the media focusing on women and not mentioning the men? They are, but since this is the Women’s tournament and so only women can threaten to withdraw, they’re focusing on women and their reactions, both positive and negative (Susan Polgar, for example, has no problem with the restrictions). If they didn’t, Myers et al would almost certainly claim that the articles were ignoring the viewpoints of women to focus on those of men.

Thus, if Myers had actually read what he linked to, he’d have had the answers to his questions, and so could have moved on to more interesting ones, like:

Why was Iran the only country interested in hosting this? For example, why not Canada or some European nation where this isn’t a problem and where there is some interest in chess (more in Europe than in Canada, but there is still some)?

If Iran was indeed the better or only choice, to what degree can FIDE ask that they allow exceptions to their laws? Given the current situation, FIDE needed Iran more than Iran needed FIDE on this. Would it be better to have no tournament than host it in Iran?

Is this more about the women chess players being forced to conform to Muslim modesty standards, or the fact that they have those standards enshrined in law at all? There was a comment that tried to address that last one, but the response was irrelevant at best, with the serious replies ignoring that women going topless in public is still illegal in most of the Western world.

Is it right for Paikidze-Barnes to demand a venue change to a currently non-existent option, or would a compromise work?

How should we deal with major cultural differences, even ones that guide laws?

Does it matter that this is religiously motivated? Should FIDE care about whether the motivation is secular or religious?

If the problem is more that the country itself has laws that some of its members find problematic due to their values, and if that is seen as an issue for FIDE, how do we decide which values require FIDE to take action and which don’t? The argument here is that it violates FIDE’s non-discrimination policy, but wouldn’t that only apply to the members, and not to those in the country?

Look at all the interesting questions we get if Myers would just read the posts he links to!


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