Am I emotional? Why, yes. Yes, I am.
I’m annoyed. I had plans for today that had nothing to do with addressing Richard Dawkins’ self-serving justifications for his Twitter trolling. But no, he chose today to brand consequence-based ethical arguments about how he should shape his public messaging as “taboos”, as though they were based in religion or tea-table politesse. That means I get to take time to address that today. You can’t let that sort of thing sit around. It starts to stink up the place.
I’m angry. I watched several people explain to Dawkins yesterday that his words about rape don’t fall into a vacuum. I saw people point out that he shouldn’t talk about what kinds of rape are “worse”, even hypothetically, because studies on the subject don’t bear that out. I saw people point out that his words will reinforce common misconceptions. I saw people argue that he needed to speak with care. Then I saw him today ignore all the reasoned arguments those people took the time and energy to make.
I’m disgusted. How is it that a scientist is still entertaining this idea that people being emotional is a bad thing or that it is somehow universally detrimental to thinking when we have studies that show emotion is critical for good decision-making? How is it that people who purport to be good at thinking still promote arguments that rely on this outdated idea?
I’m bored. Really, any time now teachers can step up to provide classrooms in which their students are comfortable discussing emotional topics. Plenty do, but others, as in Dawkins’ example, really do just expect to be able drop threats to their students’ wellbeing into a room of people with whom they haven’t established even the basics of trust. Teachers, rise to your side of the challenge and create those classrooms, build a curriculum that doesn’t threaten your students, or expect them to treat you with distrust and stop complaining when they do.
I’m amused. Did Richard Dawkins really think that we wouldn’t notice that returning to his “mild pedophilia” comparisons was a set-up? Let me give you a hint, professor: When you’ve already apologized for doing something, you’re not in the best position to complain that people become upset that you do it again. Apologies contain an implicit promise that you won’t repeat the behavior. We all understand that people get upset when you break even an implicit promise.
I’m curious. Is there anyone who doesn’t notice that these brave taboo busters are extremely selective in the taboos they go after? They’re not asking us to rethink capitalism. They’re not asking us what it would mean if white people were genetically inferior. They’re not suggesting we consider whether men are fit for positions of power or whether religion provides some societal good after all. They certainly don’t ask us whether someone should be banned from Twitter for the good of the atheist movement. For all their self-proclaimed bravery, they only ever seem to want people who aren’t them to bear the risks of the conversation.
I’m proud. I’ve been voicing my opinions through more than two years of organized harassment that heats up every time I do so. I’ve put my credibility behind everything I’ve had to say, and I’ve stood up when it’s taken a hit because I did so. Now I come to discover that doing that scares some people so badly they just won’t speak. They’re reduced to comparing being told their words have consequences for others, or having labels applied to their willing acceptance of those consequences, to being tortured and killed by the church.
Yep. I have lots of emotions. I’m good with that, and I’ll stand by them.