He's published a Twitter 'code of conduct' which I read with interest:
"Twitter Code of Conduct needed. 1; no abusive language. 2; address arguments 3; assume the good faith of the other person"I'm not in a position to promulgate how Twitter is best used, but I was heartened a little to see that these three rules match neatly how I tend to interact online. I slip from time to time; I'm human after all, but I find my most popular posts and most interesting conversations flow from a beginning of engaging with someone of different views using evidence, reason and polite language.
I've written about David Quinn's work with vaccine denial groups before, and the fact that his message is unpopular with women. I've also wondered aloud why the Iona Institute benefits from charitable tax status but I've neither insulted him personally nor used foul language. It came as some surprise to me to find out I was blocked:
Let's be charitable. Quinn does come in for some regrettable abuse online and my blocking may have been in error - collateral damage of sorts while blocking others. I was heartened to see some Christian anti-abortion friends tweet to Quinn to vouch for my (generally) good character. This did not result in an immediate unblocking, but again, let's be charitable. I do not know how far Quinn's technical skills extend and he may have been using a mobile device at the time.
What did follow were three tweets directed to me. Absent the ability to respond via Twitter I'll address each question as best I can here.
It's nice to be referred to as hilarious - I do occasionally engender a chortle. And I thank Quinn for his invitation. I couldn't immediately see a listing of future talks on the Iona Institute's website, but I'd be happy to attend, assuming no prior commitment.
Addendum February 21st, 2013: Quinn never contacted me with details of his next meetup, but I see he posted footage. There are no clear shots of all those attending but I'll let this image give you a rough guide to the gender balance:
shot of the audience at 19:10.
Hmm. Tricky. The only fair way I can think of doing this is to pull the followers of every TD in the country and check each one. More accurate would be to check each former candidate too. Running gender stats is automated, of course, but I check each entry by hand to confirm so it's a time consuming process. I could try, say, @PoliticsIE, but their gender stats may be skewed by other factors.
But what can be made of this request? It rather implies Quinn considers the Iona Institute a political lobbying organisation. If so his next step should be to register with the Standards in Public Office Commission, as all organisations raising funds for political lobbying must.
Secondly, is ensuring doctors have the legal clarity required to perform lifesaving procedures really a political issue? Rather than politics I may be better served checking what percentage of fertile Irish women on Twitter would like to have clear access to all potentially required lifesaving treatments. I don't have a script to hand for that, but I'm willing to take an educated guess that it will be quite a clear majority.
Thirdly, is there an acceptable level of lack of engagement with half of Irish society? Twitter has a female majority overall; globally tweeters are 64% women which makes the low showing all the more concerning. I sense a somewhat cavalier "women aren't interested in politics" tone in Quinn's response which I do not welcome - especially given the time he devotes to issues which primarily affect women.
I'm mildly curious too, but I'm not immediately clear of the relevance. (A brief disclaimer - I'm an ordinary member of Atheist Ireland, nothing more, and do not speak on their behalf.) While Atheist Ireland seeks a secular society and opposes laws justified primarily by religious beliefs it has no official position on abortion. They have made efforts to locate an anti-abortion atheist for an Atheists in the Pub session.
My discussion of Quinn's lack of appeal to women was motivated primarily by the inordinate amount of media time he has garnered on the subject of safe and legal access to medically necessary abortions. It is quite odd that he would seek to compare himself to a group that has hardly been troubled unduly by requests to appear on air.
Perhaps my blocking has a benefit of sorts. I enjoy Twitter but the character limit can be rather stifling, and this post has allowed me express my thoughts more fully. Perhaps Quinn would like to respond via his own blog?
A final note - please be polite. By all means ask Quinn why his organisation has charitable tax status, why he works with anti vaccine folk and why he speaks so much on issues primarily affecting women - these are valid questions which have not been answered fully. Insults are, quite frankly, boring.