The other day I was checking out the exhibitor booths. And I was shocked to find a booth with a banner that read "Scientists and Environmentalists for Population Stabilization." With a whole bunch of information brochures and documents. Of course, I didn't want to grab any of the papers. But, I scanned a few without touching them. It felt creepy like hell. It caught me off-guard; I just didn't expect such a nutcase to have a booth at the academic conference.
Naturally, I was tempted to click a couple of photos. But then as a brown-skinned person with an accent, I chose to avoid that action. I didn't want to confront the maniac working that booth, when one of the papers there made it clear that immigration to the US is a problem! I stood there for a couple of minutes. Two people stopped to chat with the maniac. And then one other person went into the booth. Guess what? All were white men.
Later, as I always do, I checked my Twitter feed, and wanted to find out what people were commenting about the conference. (Hashtag #AAG2015.) One of the tweets was this:
Woah. RT @Sarah_SK: Eugenics at the AAG is a reminder that we're not all critical geographers. #AAG2015 pic.twitter.com/TPTo9bQmEtMore than anything else, I now had the photo that I wanted to take but did not.
— Hannah Jones (@uncomfy) April 24, 2015
When I was there at the booth, I thought it was interesting that the AAAS had kicked them out but the AAG had not. Which is what I made sure to note in my reply tweet:
Yes, that was too damn creepy to see that booth At the same time, kudos to the AAG for not censoring them @uncomfy @Sarah_SK #AAG2015I am feeling mighty good about my professional association for granting the space to this nutcase organization, even when a much larger--and more influential--scientific community had apparently banned them. It is easy to ban such nutcases. But, it is way more awesome to permit them to make fools of themselves.
— sriram khe (@congoboy) April 24, 2015
Free speech means making room for nutcases too. I love free speech, even if the speech from nutcases makes me want to puke!