Richard Dawkins on Date Rape vs Stranger Rape


Richard-Dawkins-slider-14Sometimes it’s hard to remember who you’re supposed to be allies with.  Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson released this lovely joint statement about harassment and, in a moment of severe not surprise, Dawkins proceeded to blow up Twitter by saying something he didn’t realize was quite as wrong-headed as it was.

It started with this tweet:

OK, that is perfectly logical.  Fair. Then it moved on to this example.

OK, well, this is an odd example, but considering Dawkin’s history of abuse and the probable difference he’s referring to, groping vs penetration, I can see what he’s saying here.  It’s probably a bit more subjective than that, but I see what he’s getting at: pedophilia plus violence is worse than pedophilia without violence. And then he went off the rails and Twitter exploded.

So the only way this analogy would work is if he removed date vs stranger and said rape without a knife is bad, rape with a knife is worse.  Except it’s clear that the knife thing is just a weird addendum and what he’s saying is that stranger rape is worse than date rape.

1. Responses to abuse are pretty subjective.  Different people respond differently to being harmed in different ways.  Maybe Dawkins is saying that he’d prefer to be date raped than being raped by a stranger.  But that, of course, is not what he’s saying.  He’s saying stranger rape is objectively worse.

This would be like me saying “Being stabbed in your left arm is bad.  Being stabbed in your right arm is worse.”  I will have said this for personal reasons — I am right-handed.  There are, however, a lot of people who are left-handed or ambidextrous to whom this statement would seem absurd.  Further, it’s making the assumption that the amount of damage inflicted in either case is the same.  But Dawkins is talking psychologically, not physically.

 

2. The main reason that this blew up in his face is that the majority of rapes are acquaintance rapes, so the majority of rape victims seeing this post see it as delegitimizing.  This is happening in a society that already says that date rapes don’t count the same way that stranger rapes do.  As it turns out, acquaintance rape is just a pre-meditated and intentional as acts of stranger rape.  Even if his assertion was true, it would be perpetuating the stigma that surrounds date rape survivors and paints them, inaccurately, as overreactors or people who changed their mind about sex.

 

3. What he is saying is FACTUALLY INCORRECT.  I cannot state this more clearly.  Dawkins is absolutely wrong on the fact in this case, assuming the psychological impact of the rape is what we care about.

Victims of acquaintance rape are as traumatized as victims of stranger rape. Specifically, they report equal (and high) levels of depression, anxiety, hostility, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms…” (http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1997-08362-004) and victims of acquaintance rape are more likely to be unable to reconcile what happened with their beliefs in the world and to blame themselves. (Researching Sexual Violence Against Women edited by Martin D. Schwartz).

So, to be clear here, he’s claiming subjective feelings as fact, contributing to the deligitimization of the majority of rape victims, and not even operating with correct facts.  And doing so just because he did a bad job trying to explain what a syllogism is.  He could so easily fix this if he would just do a little research and listen to criticism and acknowledge he said something hurtful.  I have no reason to think he will do this, as he never has before.  It’s a shame, too, there’s just no reason for a man of his intellect and commitment to science to be so unwilling to examine facts and accept criticism of bad ideas.

Comments

  1. says

    There’s another thing as well to consider, which is that the actual act of sexual battery is not the entirety of rape. Women who are date raped are probably far less likely to be believed, to have the assault taken seriously, to have resources made available to them. Date rape is particularly insidious because a good proportion of the population doesn’t believe it counts as “real rape” in the first place. So to say that one is ‘worse’ than the other is to arbitrarily truncate the full impact of the crime, rather than taking the full experience in context.

  2. frankathon says

    Great Piece!
    It is awesome that he has such insight on the experience. And it’s good that he’s there to tell us all how to feel about our own possible experiences with rape… I think this is the last straw for me with him; I can no longer consider him an ally even if I commend him for helping me see the ridiculousness of what I had once believed through his books.

    Funny though, his books helped me get on the path to start thinking critically and now this is exactly what I.am using to separate myself from him and his organization.

    And for those who think I’m throwing the baby out with the bath water: How much of this non-sense can one take until it obscures everything positive that has been done?

    I dont want to be associated with people like that.

  3. tuibguy says

    I followed the tweets for a while, and it was obvious to me that he is oblvious to the complaint that his critics are spelling out to him, and of course his defenders are rather clueless as well. He seems to think that people merely don’t get the syllogism, when of course we do but that it is a terrible one. His defenders are all laying it on “feminist ideologues,” of course.

  4. Erik says

    frankathon @ 2: Same here, though for me I kind of gave up on him after realizing how overtly racist he was. For a long time I even defended him–“Yes! Radical Islam is terrible!” etc. etc. But it was only after a Muslim said to me directly (and I’m paraphrasing): “You can’t be an atheist and not support racism.” I was enraged–it was absurd. Atheism has nothing to with racism! While I, as a white person, am not going to pull the “but I’m not racist” card, my atheism itself has nothing to do with that and I had no idea where that could even be coming from.

    But then I looked at the kinds of things RDawk was saying and had an “Aha” moment, and came to completely sympathize with my accuser. I’ll always be a staunch atheist, but when it comes to supporting human rights I’d much rather have moderate Muslims as allies than guys like RDawk.

  5. doublereed says

    OK, well, this is an odd example,

    What an understatement. Who the bloody hell uses that example!?

    What goes wrong in somebody’s brain to make them think this is a good idea???

  6. Ashley F. Miller says

    Dawkins was a victim of pedophilia and felt that his experience wasn’t that big of a deal in his life. I’m willing to give him a wide berth on how he deals with that subject, since he is a victim.

  7. says

    I would think in many cases acquaintance rape is more damaging because of the sense of betrayal, because you can’t rely on your closest friends and family to believe you and back you up because they know the rapist as such a nice person, because it brings your own judgement into question to a greater degree (at least in your own eyes).

    Anyway, why is he so intent on playing oppression olympics? Waving away this and that trauma and oppression. It really is disgusting. One person may be far more traumatised by “mere” molestation than another by a rape with threat of violence. So what? But no, let’s compare molestation to hellfire teachings and sexual harassment to Dear Muslima, and date rape to stranger rape. It’s like an obsession with him.

  8. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Date rape can be even *harder* for victims because of all the things noted above. For me as a young gay man, it was *impossible* for society to have considered me raped. I couldn’t report because no one would believe me.

    And no one would give one fat shit.

  9. newenlightenment says

    Richard Dawkins and Ophelia Benson released this lovely joint statement about harassment

    It wasn’t that lovely, fully two years after TJ Kinkaid made his vile rape threats Dawkins finally issued a very generalized statement about how that sort of thing really wasn’t on, after receiving flack for endorsing one of Kinkaid’s allies. No admission of any mistake on his part, no naming of names, scarcely any discussion of wider issues of sexism with atheism, and certainly no apology for ‘dear muslima’. Forgive my cynicism, but the whole statement looked more like an exercise in arse-covering to me.

  10. Acitta says

    OK, I think I get it. I am a man who has neither committed nor been a victim of rape, therefore I can authoritatively comment on it on Twitter. (Or maybe some people don’t know when to keep quiet.)

  11. Donnie says

    Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think.

    Okay:

    Dawkins raped by a fan that is known and close to him is bad. Dawkins raped at knife point by completely unknown fan to him is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of a known and close fan raping Dawkins, go away and learn how to think. Per Dawkins, did I logic correctly?

    Seriously, cannot Dawkins logic for himself that rape is rape and that rape is bad? Period…..The End….Further discussion is moot.

  12. says

    Endorsing rape, date or stranger, is wrong. Making insulting and inaccurate objective assessments of other people’s suffering with no legitimate basis is also wrong. A different kind of wrong which I’ll make no attempt to compare to the first, because this isn’t the fucking Olypmics of Wrongness.

    And because I’ve already learned how to think logically, Dr. Dawkins. Maybe you could stand a little more practice at it.

  13. ChristineRose says

    This is so completely absurdly offensive to me because the logical conclusion is that it’s somehow not as bad to rape one’s acquaintances. You’re already more likely to get away with it because of social prejudices. If you’re really smart you pick someone who abuses drugs or alcohol and with a history of promiscuous behavior. Sex workers are even better. By that time it’s barely a crime at all, right? Can I apply these same standards to robbing my generous friends? It sure would make my life easier.

  14. says

    I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that if he responds at all, he’ll say the study you cite left out the “at knifepoint” part, so he’s still correct. This whole thing seems to be an exercise in straw-Vulcan pedantry so he can posture about how unreasonable everyone else is.

  15. says

    Why would anyone engage in these taxonomies of harm in the first place?

    The problem is rapes are not prosecuted successfully nearly as much as they occur.

    THAT is the problem….not that “unserious” rapes get too much attention…or that “serious” rapes get prosecuted too often.

    HAVE ALL THE SEATS MR. DAWKINS

  16. Donnie says

    @17: Wow! Dawkins really is clueless on the point being expressed….Wow! That was a piece of “It’s not my fault that you do not understand my logic. Please feel free to interpret the comparisons as you wish so that your pain is minimized. Then, you can proceed to see my logic”

    No thanks.

  17. Otis Idli says

    Thanks for this great little post. You explained Dawkins’ mistake clearly and I learned about a topic I didn’t know much about (comparing kinds of rape). I’m also happy to see that Dawkins admitted his mistake on his site. The only bad part, as Greta Christina pointed out, is that he didn’t apologize properly. He should take more personal responsibility for offensive mistakes.

  18. says

    So, basically, he trolled and is now all butt hurt that he got called on it and is now pretending is was some kind of ‘social commentary’ and the folks calling him out are just too stupid to understand. Dawkins as usual.

  19. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    As much as I dislike speculating on the motivations of people I don’t know, it seems possible to me that he chose the subject of rape specifically because he knew it was a sensitive topic that would enrage his ‘opponents’ and therefore make their responses more emotional and less ‘logical’. (Since we all know that emotions are the opposite of logic, amirite amirite??)

    I don’t think this is him being dumb. I suspect this is him making a calculated effort to discredit his ideological enemies.

  20. Otis Idli says

    @comment #22, Stevarious:

    A different way of looking at that is simply that choosing a sensitive topic makes the logic vs emotion distinction more vivid, so his motivation would be simply to be a good communicator.

    I think the only ideological enemies he has are theists. Otherwise, he is constantly attacked unfairly and falsely accused of all sorts of bigotry. Those attackers aren’t ideological enemies. They are just trolls. Once in a while he makes mistakes and gets attacked fairly too, but I don’t think those cases manifest ideological enemies, more like helpful critics.

  21. Faye says

    Dawkins wasn’t trying to say that stranger rape is objectively worse than date rape. He is saying that if a person thinks that stranger rape is worse then date rape, then that isn’t an endorsement of date rape. He even tweeted something to clarify that: he said you could switch X and Y i.e date rape and stranger rape around but the syllogism would hold true.
    And the notion that all rapes are the same, and you can’t rank their “worseness” is absolutely emotional fallacy. All rape is awful for the victim but for any set of circumstances you could invent a worser case scenario.

  22. dayton guy says

    i liked this piece. my gf sent me a piece similarly critical of the RD tweets written by Amanda Marcotte on RawStory.com. Marcotte’s piece was riddled with errors of both terminology and reasoning. this one by ms. miller by contrast is a well-structured rebuke to RD’s comments.

  23. Margery May says

    Let me counter Richards date rape vs strange argument by saying the victim of date rape live in fear of seeing her attacker daily – he was an acquaintance, someone she knew, and thought she could trust to go out with. Which other friends might be planning a similar attack? Who can I truly trust if the guys I thought were friends would rape me?

    The victim of stranger rape lives in fear of the shadow that could jump out at any time. Does he live nearby and you never saw him before? Was it just chance he picked you the first time he saw you, or has he been stalking you for a while first? Who else might be stalking me right now, planning a similar attack? Can I ever go anywhere ever again without having a girlfriend around?

    And every woman who has never been raped, never felt unsafe with friends and family, hears of someone they know who has one of thee experiences, and they read the statistics and the new discussions, and the only conclusion they can make is, “I need to know how to protect myself, whether it’s the stranger or the friend.” Because apparently no man is safe.

  24. Otis Idli says

    @comment #26, Margery:

    I think your argument is really good and certainly appropriate and relevant here, but it’s not a counter to Dawkins’ argument. His argument was not about rape at all. Rape was just a topic used as an example among other examples. He made a mistake the way he presented his argument and he stated a false/questionable premise about rape, but he wasn’t arguing for that premise. It was incidental to his argument, which was an uncontroversial point about logic. In his response post on his site clarifying his point and admitting his mistake, he admitted that his premise could be wrong and he alluded to the point you made.

  25. Maureen Brian says

    otis idli,

    Richard Dawkins is an eminent scientist. Therefore he has been trained to recognise patterns and to look for cause and effect.

    Richard Dawkins is, when he chooses to be, a skilled communicator.

    So, Dawkins the scientist should be able to recognise that what whenever he strays onto this territory – where he is singularly ill-informed, see OP – two things happen. A lot of people who are better informed (and who may well be women but aren’t necessarily so) get angry and upset. He notices that effect. Also, any number of creepy-crawlies come out of the woodwork claiming that Richard Dawkins said acquaintance rape doesn’t count – which he didn’t say – and all these women are just being whiny and hysterical, so we should abuse them some more. He claims not to relate this second effect to his own actions. Or, indeed, to see any connexion between the two effects.

    Richard Dawkins the professional communicator should and would be able to find a way of explaining syllogism without creating an almighty row and then leaving other people to clear up the mess. As it’s happened before and has been explained to him we are entitled to ask whether it is deliberate.

    That is all.

  26. A Hermit says

    Otis Idli@23:

    Rape was just a topic used as an example among other examples. He made a mistake the way he presented his argument and he stated a false/questionable premise about rape, but he wasn’t arguing for that premise. It was incidental to his argument, which was an uncontroversial point about logic.

    Which for me raises the question of why he felt it was important to make this argument at all. If it is such an uncontroversial point of logic why is he tweeting about it? And why muddy it up but using controversial propositions which don’t actually fit the argument (the relative badness of x and y in this case being unclear to say the least…)

  27. A Hermit says

    Josh, Official SpokesGay @ 8

    I’m just a stranger on the internet so maybe it doesn’t mean much, but for what it’s worth, I give a shit.

  28. =8)-DX says

    @Stevarious, Public Health Problem #22

    As much as I dislike speculating on the motivations of people I don’t know?

    Then don’t. And definitely don’t start comments this way =). Instead I would do what is perfectly legitimate: say that Dawkins seems to make a lot of inappropriate tweets that use topics he is often criticised of grossly misrepresenting. What is obvious is that he considers the specific details and nuances of these topics rather trivial and can therefore use them hamfistedly to make basic points.

    His motivations for that aren’t really relevant – both hypocritical malice or bumbling ignorance are problems he could address to learn, but he chooses not to.

  29. Onamission5 says

    Maybe Dawkins will be able to understand this:

    Rating types of rape is bad, telling rape victims they are just illogical and incapable of thinking clearly when they call you out is worse.

  30. Otis Idli says

    @comment #23, A Hermit:

    I’m guessing you didn’t catch the context of Dawkins’ tweet. It’s an uncontroversial point of logic when stated as a point of logic, but the context of his tweets making the point is that people were attacking him for his statements about Israel/Palestine and misrepresenting his views. And the even bigger context is that he is constantly attacked based on misunderstandings, misquoting, wildly illogical arguments, etc. It’s sensible for him to make pedantic tweets in response.

  31. Ivy Krautrauch says

    My boyfriend almost killed me when I was 18. I would have had an easier time recovering if I had not been fearful of every having another relationship with a man. I can’t see how a stranger rape could have been worse.

  32. smrnda says

    There’s some false notion going on among some cis white men that rape victims view it as a pissing contest of sorts. I don’t think any rape victim wants to do that, so why do they?

  33. Edward Gemmer says

    While rape is obviously an inherently emotional issue, there are some good points to bring up. For example, I work in the criminal justice system. Rape and sex crime law is a pretty important part of that. All criminal laws exist relatively to each other – for example, there must be a classification for what happens to you if you steal, or rape, or rob, etc. This is a necessary part of a criminal code. If comparing rape is wrong, how do we begin a conversation about criminalizing rape?

  34. adamah says

    Interesting post and discussion, all carried out in a calm, rational manner!

    A couple of things to point out:

    Ashley said-

    So the only way this analogy would work is if he removed date vs stranger and said rape without a knife is bad, rape with a knife is worse. Except it’s clear that the knife thing is just a weird addendum and what he’s saying is that stranger rape is worse than date rape.

    At least in CA, ‘date rape’ IS prosecuted under the same law that is used for prosecution of ‘stranger rape’. So in CA (check your state laws; I have no idea of laws in UK), it reduces his statement to, ‘rape by someone you are seeing socially without a weapon involved ‘ vs ‘rape at knifepoint by a stranger’.

    And since the definition of ‘date rape’ is so broad, it even encompasses a loving couple in a LT relationship who drank too much and started foreplay, but she passed out and he was highly-intoxicated and proceeded to ‘rape’ her (she was unable to give consent).

    Few would argue that scenario is as traumatizing for the victim as someone raped at knife-point by a stranger?

    Granted, victims’ perceptions of the experience is as highly-variable as the person, but the goal and value of comparison (as done in group therapy) is to be able to compare one’s experience to others, allowing the person to put it into the proper perspective. At least if the goal is overcoming the experience, gaining as sense of perspective is crucial to putting it behind.

    RD faced a knee-jerk reaction for daring to express his opinion, even ranking severity: that seems to be his point, that if some topics are so emotionally-loaded that they cannot even be discussed, how do we begin to have a discourse and change public policy and perceptions?

    And WHO is to be invited to the discourse? Only women (men are victims of rape)? Only feminists? Only those feminists who’ve been victims of rape?

    On your point #2, you use the term ‘acquaintance rape’ as if it’s synonymous with ‘date rape': not so. Acquaintance rape can be the old guy living down the hall whom the victim is not interested in romantically, where date rape implies a prospective romantic relationship.

    That leads to point #3, where you offered a study on acquaintance rape: that’s a faulty comparison to RD, since he was discussing date rape.

    There may be studies out there on the psychological impact for victims of date rape, but you’d need to track a credible study down before you can declare RD as being factually incorrect.

    Adam

  35. adamah says

    @Maureen Brain (#38),

    Interesting article.

    You are aware that RD has since clarified his tweets, saying he wasn’t intending to teach syllogisms, attempting to rank severity of various offenses (early on, RD even tweeted you could reverse the assignments of X and Y, and his message would still be the same)?

    Instead, the exercise was a philosophical equivalent of the Rohrsach Test, noting how people reacted whenever a hot-button issue is inserted into X or Y. Some people simply refuse to discuss such taboo subjects, even unwilling to consider grading severity.

    It’s an opportunity for us to learning something about OURSELVES, an exercise not reliant on anything but emotionally-loaded words.

    People could use this as an opportunity to examine how their emotions informed their response.

    Unfortunately, RD’s message sailed right over the heads of the vast majority of people, and he’s taking on a Sisyphean task by trying to educate the general public of how their biases and emotions inform their decision-making processes, and not just facts and figures.

    Adam

  36. John Morales says

    adamah @39:

    You are aware that RD has since clarified his tweets, saying he wasn’t intending to teach syllogisms, attempting to rank severity of various offenses (early on, RD even tweeted you could reverse the assignments of X and Y, and his message would still be the same)?

    This is part of the clarification: “Some people angrily* failed to understand that it was a point of logic using a hypothetical quotation about rape.”

    Instead, the exercise was a philosophical equivalent of the Rohrsach Test, noting how people reacted whenever a hot-button issue is inserted into X or Y.

    Yet when someone does that in some forum, they’re called a “troll”.

    Some people simply refuse to discuss such taboo subjects, even unwilling to consider grading severity.

    Really?

    I grant “some people” may do so, but you might note there is no shortage of discussion regarding rape on the the internet; rather, the contrary.

    (Ironically, the group derided by Dawkins as SJW’s is one of the most assiduous at discussing (and raising consciousness about) the realities of rape!)

    Unfortunately, RD’s message sailed right over the heads of the vast majority of people, and he’s taking on a Sisyphean task by trying to educate the general public of how their biases and emotions inform their decision-making processes, and not just facts and figures.

    Does this affect your opinion as to his competence at communicating messages to the vast majority of people, outside his actual areas of expertise?

    (Do you think cognitive psychology is one of his areas of expertise?)

    <snark>
    PS Perhaps he should have used necrophilia as an example.
    His ranking of the nastyness of various types would be informative.
    </snark>

    * He wrote exasperatedly. ;)

  37. Maureen Brian says

    adamah @ 39 and John @ 40,

    The distinguished academic and authorial career of Richard Dawkins has earned him the right make speeches, write more books and run a website. He is not a god, though, so he remains responsible for the impact of his speech on other people.

    The impact in this case was negative. Also we know that it has happened before: how it hurts and why it hurts have been explained to him. So he does it again. Then he must expect a negative response. You may feel differently but I have no intention of setting up a society to protect Richard Dawkins from the reality that he shares this planet with several billion other people, people with an equal right to say what the fuck they like. And take the consequences!

    He denies it – because he has no understanding of how it might happen and has avoided / disparaged all disciplines which might help him gain insight – but he has planted his royal standard on the hill of those who campaign to have about 95% of rape decriminalised. Fair enough, that was not his intention. That does not mean it could not be predicted.

    Now, John is better at this bit than I am but try this – it does not matter how pure your logic is (masked and double-gloved if you wish) but when your basic premise is radioactive bollocks then you must expect a mushroom cloud. No?

    Has Dawkins re-examined that premise? Of course not! But abuse, patronising language, attack, attack, attack suggests that he cannot afford to re-examine and must prattle on about Logic and Orwell, lest anyone notice that he is losing the argument.

    I just want you to be sure that what he said did not go right over my head. What we are talking about is an unfortunate and possibly provocative choice of that example when what he says he wanted to convey could equally well have been done with a tale of two pineapples of different sizes.

  38. adamah says

    John @40

    Thanks for the response.

    This is part of the clarification: “Some people angrily* failed to understand that it was a point of logic using a hypothetical quotation about rape.”

    We’re quibbling, I see, but RD didn’t say it was a point about logical syllogisms, but the logical process, itself: emotions (like anger) are well-known to cloud rationality.

    The proof? Just review the brouhaha on most forums over his tweet. There’s all the evidence you need, with people over-reaching to twist his words, even accusing him of harboring a rape fantasy, etc.

    Heck, Google this topic, and you’ll see all the evidence you could ask for.

    Yet when someone does that in some forum, they’re called a “troll”.

    Yes, and your point is?

    Seems like a whopper of a false equivalency, since RD is hardly doing it solely to elicit a response, but to make a point.

    And if you truly believe RD is trolling, then the same approach used for forum trolls works: don’t feed them.

    grant “some people” may do so, but you might note there is no shortage of discussion regarding rape on the the internet; rather, the contrary.

    Sure, but having recently been accused of having an opinion not worthy of consideration after daring to challenge the “RAPE IS RAPE” meme, as I alluded to in my post above, the question is WHO is allowed to participate in the discussion? Some would seek to exclude those who don’t accept extremist position, since it’s “their” issue.

    (Ironically, the group derided by Dawkins as SJW’s is one of the most assiduous at discussing (and raising consciousness about) the realities of rape!)

    Sorry, I’m unaware of the acronym?

    (Not exactly a good sign of how good a job of raising awareness an organization is doing?)

    Granted, I’m not exactly going out of my way to seek out such discussions, but I suspect the typical rapist isn’t, either!

    (And yes, I’m aware the target audience isn’t necessary rapists, as much as the public.)

    Along those lines, how is RD NOT raising awareness on the issue, bringing the topic to the front burners so it can be rationally-discussed?

    Does this affect your opinion as to his competence at communicating messages to the vast majority of people, outside his actual areas of expertise? (Do you think cognitive psychology is one of his areas of expertise?)

    Those who follow him on Twitter are going to get the point and read his blog article, but that’s the crowd who likely least needs to comprehend his message: he’s preaching to the choir.

    RD cannot control anyone’s response: it’s up to each individual to control themselves.

    Is that controversial? It shouldn’t be: we expect individuals to control themselves not to commit rape. We reject the “she was asking for it!” defense on the same grounds.

    The problem is many other groups with an agenda (including some atheist groups) are simply using this as an excuse to confirm their biases as RD as a misogynist, with religious types willing to exploit the massive RD straw-man created by atheists to point out the amorality of atheism.

    As far as his qualifications, you don’t think RD has a high number of PhD and MDs in the psych field who’s opinion he consulted first? He personally knows and communicates with the likes of Dennett, Harris, etc. and knows more brilliant people than most of us hope to.

    RD may be a lot of things, but he’s hardly a stupid man who speaks “off the cuff”.

    Granted, you may not LIKE what he says, but I’d think long and hard before calling him out on ANY subject, let alone a topic related to biological sciences (which human psychology is).

    PS Perhaps he should have used necrophilia as an example.
    His ranking of the nastyness of various types would be informative.

    Well, since the average person doesn’t even KNOW what ‘necrophilia’ means (most are unfamiliar with Greek/Latin prefixes and suffixes to figure it out), I’d say you’re vastly over-estimating the knowledge of the general public.

    And as he explained in his blog, such an example is unlikely to have much effect, since it’s not exactly a hot-button issue…

    And, of course, RD is free to use whatever methods he thinks will best make his point, so to criticize his choice of style and method (rather than his argument) is considered as “tone/concern trolling”, which is what I see available in spades on the net.

    Adam

  39. adamah says

    @Maureen 41

    Thanks for the reply!

    He is not a god, though, so he remains responsible for the impact of his speech on other people.

    With the exception of yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theatre, everyone (public figure or not) is entitled to their free speech rights.

    So how is it not a double-standard to hold RD accountable for his words, when each individual alone is responsible for their response (which is the reason WHY we use word, RESPONSible)?

    If you are demanding RD to be held accountable for what he puts out there, how is that any different from exonerating rapists, concluding the victim was ‘asking for it’ by dressing in a provocative tight mini-?

    In fact, that leads to a question:

    Is there any possible way in which a rape victim could have done the equivalent of ‘shouting “fire!” in a crowded threatre’, such that it would excuse their rape?

    Would walking down the street in lingerie or naked justify rape?

    How about the case of a minor who purchases a fake ID to get into bars, and sleeps with a male she meets inside who’s charged with statutory rape?

    Does she bear any responsibility for deceiving him?

    Is that the ethical equivalent of shouting “fire”?

    The impact in this case was negative. Also we know that it has happened before: how it hurts and why it hurts have been explained to him. So he does it again. Then he must expect a negative response.

    How do you conclude it’s negative? Why would you assume that?

    Granted, RD’s taking a lot of heat for it, but as an atheist who wrote a book called the “God Delusion”, he’s certainly no shrinking violet, and not one to run away out of fear of irrational argument-free criticism.

    You may feel differently but I have no intention of setting up a society to protect Richard Dawkins from the reality that he shares this planet with several billion other people, people with an equal right to say what the fuck they like. And take the consequences!

    Sure, all individuals enjoy free-speech rights, and are free to say what they like. I agree for the speaker to expect there NOT to be blow-back, how ever irrational it may be for others to offer it, is unrealistic.

    (RD has received MANY death threats from Islamists; he obviously doesn’t EXPECT to be killed, but he’s likely aware of the risk he’s taking.)

    However, does that same principle apply to the mini-skirt-wearing rape victim, where although she’s free to wear whatever she wants and it’s clearly against the law to rape her, is it rational for her NOT to anticipate some blowback (and if not rape, then at least a few cat-calls from hard-hats as a possible outcome of dressing like a street-walker)?

    it does not matter how pure your logic is (masked and double-gloved if you wish) but when your basic premise is radioactive bollocks then you must expect a mushroom cloud. No?

    I’m not sure I follow: are you saying his public demonstration of the clouding effects of emotions on decision-making is “bollocks”?

    In fact, that’s an accepted principle from cognitive science studies:

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotions_in_decision-making

    Now granted, you may object to RD using your cause as his hot-button issue for the purpose of educating the public, but what hot-button issue would you advise he use instead?

    As you note, RD is not God and cannot speak things into existence, including hot-buttons: societal norms are in control here, and in 2014 child abuse and rape are hot-buttons of our time.

    Like I said above, this is an opportunity for personal growth, looking in the mirror to ask if there’s anything we need to do to control OUR reactions, rather than looking for others on which to pin blame.

    Has Dawkins re-examined that premise? Of course not! But abuse, patronising language, attack, attack, attack suggests that he cannot afford to re-examine and must prattle on about Logic and Orwell, lest anyone notice that he is losing the argument.

    Huh?

    His ‘patronizing language’ in the tweet WAS intentionally inflammatory, since he was trying to push buttons to make his point about how valid logic remains valid, regardless of TONE and/or the SUBJECT under discussion.

    I just want you to be sure that what he said did not go right over my head. What we are talking about is an unfortunate and possibly provocative choice of that example when what he says he wanted to convey could equally well have been done with a tale of two pineapples of different sizes.

    As much as you say you ‘get it’, the words in bold would indicate you didn’t.

    Pineapples of different sizes aren’t controversial.

    Also, you keep reverting back as if his goal was to teach a self-evident syllogism, where teaching that principle wasn’t even the point of his series of tweets.

    His point was about the importance of discerning differences in MORAL ISSUES: he even explained the point wasn’t the actual ranking he offered, since you could reverse X and Y in his rape scenarios to reverse which you felt was the worser of two evils, and it would be valid.

    You cannot reverse X and Y with TANGIBLE pineapples, since the larger will ALWAYS be larger, and you break the syllogism.

    He used child abuse (of which he was a victim) as his first example, so are you saying he should’ve used ANOTHER hot-button issue, besides rape?

    If so, which issue would you suggest?

    And, is this simply NIMBY (not in my backyard) thinking, since you’re merely sending the problem off to someone else’s pet issue?

    I’m sensing a lot of ‘tone-trolling’, i.e. disagreeing with his methods, and NOT addressing (or even grasping) the point he was making about emotions, and open public discourse of these hot-button issues.

    Worse though, many are refusing to learn from the experience; that’s equally irrational, as if protecting one’s cherished dogmas (including fragile egos) is more important than rationalism.

    If that’s actually the case (God, I HOPE not!), then perhaps it’s time to pull the plug on the “rationalism is BETTER!” neon sign and join the nearest church which allows us all to cling to cherished dogma, making us feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    Adam

  40. Maureen Brian says

    adamah @ 43,

    I will be back to you in the morning when my brain is up to the task of disentangling the confusion in your response to what I said @ 41.

  41. adamah says

    Maureen @44

    No rush, and in re-reading it, it’s admittedly a bunch of thoughts to throw at you, all at once, with typos, etc.

    Such is the challenge of avoiding ‘author’s bias’, where i know what I’m trying to communicate, but it’s hard to view it from the perspective of someone who doesn’t live inside my head.

    :)

    If there’s anything that needs further clarification, just ask.

    Adam

  42. Maureen Brian says

    adamah,

    Right! Let’s see what we can do with your 43.

    First off, the shouting fire in a crowded theatre thing was a joke. It is now a very old joke, with cobwebs. So let us look, instead at the concept of free speech. In the US the free speech included in the First Amendment to the Constitution is freedom from government interference with your speech – nothing more – and in my lifetime it has not always managed to be that. In Europe freedom of speech is one of a number of rights inherent in the person which cannot be exercised to the diminution of the rights of another person and in this neither the government(s) nor any corporation is treated as a person.

    Whichever system you prefer, none of it gives you the right to impose your speech on an unwilling audience or frees you from the consequences of what you may say. I’m trying to do this free of links but Stephanie Zvan at FtB Almost Diamonds is good on this if you go back through her posts.

    Because competing rights are something which Europe seems to be more nimble at dealing with we have a saying that your absolute right to swing your fist ends a split second before it hits my nose. Far more useful in everyday life than fires in theatres!

    And so we are back to the question of whose responsibility it is to ensure that freely exercised speech does no unnecessary harm. What do you think? It certainly cannot be the listener who has no control over what is said, nor the person spoken of for the same reason. You cannot reasonably ask people to take responsibility – in this instance – for misrepresentation of their position or for abusive language used against them. So that leaves the speaker.

    In principle, Richard Dawkins and I have exactly the same responsibility not to talk nonsense if it does harm. The difference in practice is that Richard Dawkins has a bigger megaphone, a huge audience and, it seems, an army of sycophants, whereas my fan-club could be numbered on the fingers of one hand. As we are social animals we all need to be aware of who is hearing when we speak. Interestingly, it was Dawkins himself who, in The God Delusion, drew attention to consciousness raising and even credited feminists for the development of the techniques. So we keep trying to do it, with or without him.

    On the possible culpability of minors, I recommend Ally Fogg at FtB Heteronormative Patriarchy for Men, a post entitled Yewtree, the stars and the victim-blaming, posted 9 July this year.

    I said, “The impact in this case was negative.” and you ask me how I conclude that. The answer is simple – I am up to speed with this story, as you are clearly not. I was around for several of the previous iterations. Do you not think you owe Ashley the courtesy of discovering what she’s talking about before you burst in here and berate everyone?

    And then, I fear, we descend into nonsense, into a nether world in which short skirts become morally responsible for rape, where anyone who disagrees with Richard Dawkins is by definition irrational and where everyone who wants to discuss logic must begin by distressing half the class.

    He says that rape and child-abuse are hot button topics. Really? No-one ever thought of discussing them before? No-one minds that conveying the same information over and over is necessary for our own protection but takes enormous amounts of time and emotional energy? We have nothing better to do?

    Is it possible that your mind could support the notional that, for all his eminence, there are times when Richard Dawkins is wrong? Either that or his wish to wind people up gets ahead of his wish to educate, a terrible thing to say of an academic.

    Now, I do not recall asking Dawkins to teach me logic, nor did I hear of petitions to Parliament or even a series of letters in The Times. So he did it entirely of his own volition, then? Please be advised that if I ever decide to take up formal logic as a hobby I will return to the two Open University modules, saved for years because they were so good, and start again there before moving on to books and, maybe, classes.

    So, now are you prepared to talk ethics? Its what the rest of us are discussing.

  43. John Morales says

    Further to what Maureen wrote above, I add that syllogistic logic ≠ social logic.

    There may be times discussing how aggravated a rape has been may be appropriate (such as in sentencing), and even times when discussing it in the abstract.

    There may be times when it is irrelevant, such as when proscribing it or educating about it; one does not forbid the less aggravated less than the more aggravated, because… well, because of what Dawkins wrote, in his less than felicitous manner way.

    And there may be times when it’s inappropriate; cf. “oppression olympics”, cf. “dear muslima”.

  44. adamah says

    @Maureen 48 said-

    First off, the shouting fire in a crowded theatre thing was a joke. It is now a very old joke, with cobwebs. So let us look, instead at the concept of free speech.

    Oh, you actually meant it as a joke?

    Perhaps good to add a smiley, then, since I assumed you were actually attempting to construct an argument (it’s hard to tell when someone is serious or joking).

    As a long-time supporter of free speech advocates like Lawrence Lessig, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (a group protecting free speech online), I’m fully aware of the history and implications of the ‘fire’ phrase, and it’s role in free speech.

    (And even if I weren’t interested in the topic, I went to O.W. Holmes Jr. High School, where every year some smart-aleck kid would shout, “Fire!” during a crowded assembly in the gym, only to end up receiving a stern lecture and suspension in the principal’s office. And no, I wasn’t THAT kid, lol!)

    The meme is often misused by those attempting to limit the free speech rights of others, often in the name of ‘protecting’ the public from some harm (aka garden-variety fear-mongering).

    BTW, the Schenck ruling is now viewed as an excessively-restrictive over-reaction of the period (the case arose during wartime and involved seditious speech; it was a ‘special situation’ which tends to makes for bad law). The ruling was effectively overturned in 1969 with ‘Brandenburg v. Ohio’, rendering Schenck (and any lingering authority it still held) obsolete.

    The Brandenburg ruling held that even inflammatory speech calling for violence was protected, UNLESS “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action”.

    That’s a much-higher barrier, since not only is incendiary speech allowed, it must advocate violence such that the threat of ‘imminent harm’ exists before the gov’t can step in to censure.

    Hence pursuing the legal ramifications is a red-herring, unless you’re claiming RD violated UK law by tweeting (Twitter is a US-held company, where the EULA no doubt contains a clause stipulating international users follow US laws as controlling.)

    Not being familiar with UK laws, I’m not interested in arguing the implications of international law here, since it strikes me as a HUGE STRETCH to claim RD’s tweets which used a vicious logical syllogism somehow caused a threat of imminent harm to unnamed persons (the truth is more like some feminists and child abuse advocates got their undergarments in a twist).

    Damage resulting from self-inflicted wedgies hardly constitutes as rising to the level of RD’s imagined “imminent call to violence”, and I’d imagine UK law is much the same.

    So let’s just put the legal issue to bed, since it’s incredibly hyperbolic to suggest RD broke any laws, whether in the UK or US.

    Whichever system you prefer, none of it gives you the right to impose your speech on unwilling audience or frees you from the consequences of what you may say.

    To your first point, anyone in the public square is free to directly refute the speakers argument, and barring that, free to exercise their right to ‘freedom of thought’, not with their tongues (speech), but with their feet: they can WALK AWAY.

    And aside from resorting to ‘Clockwork Orange’ techniques, no one can force anyone else to listen to speech they find offensive or insulting; no one’s forcing anyone to follow RD on twitter, read tweets that gets their knickers in a twist, read articles on his blog, or offer opinions on his methods.

    If you’re “unwilling” to be offended, might I suggest working on self-control?

    To your 2nd point (re: not expecting to have to face the consequences for one’s speech or actions, regardless if they’re deserved or not), you’re repeating yourself: we already agreed that’s a self-evident truism, a fact of life summed up in proverbs about sleeping in beds we’ve made, etc.

    (Remember, I even offered the example of RD receiving death threats from Islamists, above.)

    As you probably already know, manner of dress is considered a form of free expression, where an adult has the perfect right to wear sexually-provocative clothing in public. Free expression obviously includes speech, as well.

    That said, I noticed you leap-frogged over MY ethical question:

    Just as RD has no immunity from consequences which may result from his free expression, why should a rape victim expect immunity from consequences which may result from her free expression?

    Just as RD has a right to free expression, so does she, literally ‘putting it out there’ by walking down the street, wearing nothing but a sexy teddy from Victoria’s Secret.

    (If you wish, feel free to insert a gay male wearing a S&M outfit with collar/muzzle/ass-crack exposed as he’s walking down a dark alley in SF. Does he bear ANY ethical or moral culpability, even if only the slightest bit, if he’s beaten and/or raped due to what he’s ‘putting out there’?)

    If you don’t realize it by now, you face an ethical dilemma of which is more important:

    Holding RD as ethically-responsible for the consequences of what he ‘puts out there’?

    Or,

    Exonerating the woman of ALL ethical culpability for what she ‘puts out there’?

    You can’t have both, because that’s NOT “equality”: it’s a double-standard.

    If you want BOTH to hold, you’re actually supporting INEQUALITY, as if the woman deserves an exception from policy (aka ‘special pleading’). That’s illogical, contradictory, and hypocritical.

    Because competing rights are something which Europe seems to be more nimble at dealing with we have a saying that your absolute right to swing your fist ends a split second before it hits my nose. Far more useful in everyday life than fires in theatres!

    We also have a saying we teach to children:

    “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”.

    (And hopefully RD’s syllogism lesson makes it unnecessary for me to point out the slogan is NOT an endorsement of slinging ad homs at others.)

    And so we are back to the question of whose responsibility it is to ensure that freely exercised speech does no unnecessary harm. What do you think? It certainly cannot be the listener who has no control over what is said, nor the person spoken of for the same reason. You cannot reasonably ask people to take responsibility – in this instance – for misrepresentation of their position or for abusive language used against them. So that leaves the speaker.

    At least in the US, it certain CAN be the listener, who (with only a few minor exceptions, such as criminal insanity, etc.) is held responsible for their actions.

    If someone attends a KKK rally where a speaker spewed vehement hateful words and then ACTS upon those ideas, the accused murderer will be charged and held to answer for his crimes (with amplification of penalties, since it’s considered as a ‘hate crime’).

    And depending on what was said, the speaker may be charged with ‘incitement.’ (ie “hate speech”, as described in Brandenburg vs Ohio).

    That doesn’t imply the murderer is now off the hook, as if he can point to the speaker to pin all the blame on him and eliminating his personal responsibility for committing murder. It only means the speaker may face charges for the crime he committed from the podium.

    In principle, Richard Dawkins and I have exactly the same responsibility not to talk nonsense if it does harm.

    Sounds good in theory, but do you not see the two HUGE ‘horseflies in the ointment’?

    How many people actually possess the self-awareness to recognize when they’re talking nonsense, much less to KNOW that it causes ‘harm’ (and I’m talking more than just boo-boos to egos)?

    Most crimes and civil actions require proof of malice with intent; this includes defamation law, where someone might persist in their screeds against another with the intent to damage their reputation, DESPITE knowing they’re spreading lies.

    So what “harm” has RD caused with his meanie words?

    You need to “connect the dots”, and unless you’re omniscient with a privileged “Gods eye” view, good luck proving THAT claim!

    The difference in practice is that Richard Dawkins has a bigger megaphone, a huge audience and, it seems, an army of sycophants, whereas my fan-club could be numbered on the fingers of one hand.

    Wait: let me grab my tiny violin, since the sense of self-entitlement in this one is strong.

    :)

    And what exactly have you accomplished that makes you “deserving” of an army of followers on twitter?

    It’s not like RD could POSSIBLY be someone who possesses talents, knowledge, and skills that you may lack? (Gasp! You mean…. All humans are not all equal?)

    BTW, I’m no one’s syncophant: I don’t follow RD on twitter, and up until a few weeks ago when a feminist friend asked me if I was an MRA and I asked her what that acronym stood for (Hi C!), I didn’t know what an ‘MRA’ was.

    I value rationalism and equality, but until someone explains why my opinion is less-worthy than anyone else’s, then we’re fundamentally going to have to disagree, and may be relying on different values.

    On the possible culpability of minors, I recommend Ally Fogg at FtB Heteronormative Patriarchy for Men, a post entitled Yewtree, the stars and the victim-blaming, posted 9 July this year.

    I didn’t ask for someone ELSE’S opinion, but yours. Serve yourself, as your refusal to state the obvious is noted.

    I said, “The impact in this case was negative.” and you ask me how I conclude that. The answer is simple – I am up to speed with this story, as you are clearly not. I was around for several of the previous iterations.

    Again, a non-response, and a wild assumption. Both duly-noted.

    Do you not think you owe Ashley the courtesy of discovering what she’s talking about before you burst in here and berate everyone?

    Assume much?

    Why would you assume I’m unfamiliar with the details, when I was the one who explained that you’re only digging yourself in deeper?

    At least Ashley has the common sense to realize when to stop digging. And to her credit, she engaged in a discussion using facts, not resorting to attempting to make wine out of sour grapes.

    And then, I fear, we descend into nonsense, into a nether world in which short skirts become morally responsible for rape

    As I explained above, you’d be well-advised to sit down and think about which you value more:

    1) demanding RD to be held morally/ethically-responsible for his expression, or

    2) demanding a mini-wearing rape victim NOT be held morally/ethically-responsible for her expression.

    You can’t have both.

    And you still missed the point of RD’s statement:

    This was not about sending a message to believers, but to those who self-identify as rationalists. It was a test to see who actually “walked the talk” of rationalism, and responded with reasoned logical arguments (and kudos to Ashley, who at least offered a reason-based argument, without resorting to tone-trolling or only making a series of hasty unwarranted conclusions).

    So, now are you prepared to talk ethics? Its what the rest of us are discussing.

    I’ve been discussing ethics: need I point out that the ethical question I posed above still remains unanswered by you?

    Adam

  45. adamah says

    @John 48 said-

    Further to what Maureen wrote above, I add that syllogistic logic ≠ social logic.

    Sure, and who said they WERE equivalent?

    You missed his point, if you think RD said so.

    Many are still confused, since his tweet relied on syllogistic logic to make broader points (namely, emotions controlling decision-making, where bigotry has some shouting RD down for daring to voice an opinion on “their” issue, since only THEY feel entitled to state an opinion unless others are expressing THEIR opinion).

    There may be times discussing how aggravated a rape has been may be appropriate (such as in sentencing), and even times when discussing it in the abstract.

    And what are we doing now, if not talking in the abstract?

    It’s not like you actually believe we’re determining public policy on a FTB comments section?

    ;)

    There may be times when it is irrelevant, such as when proscribing it or educating about it;

    I’m intrigued by your comment on education, so please expand on that thought.

    You may be onto something important here, but you’re going to have to expound on that thought if you want me to accept that point.

    See, I’m seeing your comment as an ‘appeal to authority’, another way of telling the public, “Don’t question the rules, just do what we tell you do!”

    Do you believe the public is too stupid to do anything other than follow orders, and must be talked down to in order for them to understand and/or comply?

    That kind of assumption seems to rely on a premise of INEQUALITY, with worker classes, ruling classes, etc.

    Also, some people hold an anti-authoritarian bias, and simply refuse to follow orders, regardless of how much it might be reasonable and in their best interests. They only want to rely on authoritarian structures when THEY’RE calling the shots, otherwise taking a “You’re not the boss of me!” pouty and defiant stance.

    one does not forbid the less aggravated less than the more aggravated, because… well, because of what Dawkins wrote, in his less than felicitous manner way.

    I’ve explained point-by-point (e.g. RD is “forbidding one less or forbidding one more”: BOTH are forbidden (or expressed in the opposite form as he states it, he’s not ENDORSING either).)

    So at this point, I’m not sure if you missed the point of RD’s basic logical syllogism, or if you’re rejecting and ignoring it, as if putting your fingers in your ears.

    This wasn’t about RD proscribing his Godlike opinion from on-high, as if he were Jehovah handing tablets to Moses (that’s the straw-man some are irrationally trying to perpetuate against RD). Instead, RD was pointing out that the discussion needs to continue (and Maureen’s quibbling over his use of ‘begin’ is nit-picking), where some adopt an extremist position which precludes ANY discussion.

    (Eg check out the atheist experience blog, in Martin Wagners recent piece bashing RD called, ‘the first rule of holes’…. Note in the comments section where ‘Enlightened Liberal’ is calling for shunning anyone she deems as not supportive of her extreme feminine ideology.)

    And there may be times when it’s inappropriate; cf. “oppression olympics”, cf. “dear muslima”.

    Again, you’re declaring something to be ‘inappropriate’ as if by royal edict, since it’s begging the question: according to whom?

    Here’s how I see the issue:

    Atheism, feminism, racism, rationalism, etc are all IDEOLOGIES.

    People may adopt some ideologies as VALUES, where one’s commitment to principles TRUMPS their commitment to any given ideology.

    Athough ideologies and values are BOTH beliefs, values are the principles we assign a higher-ranking on one’s “belief totem pole”, since we literally VALUE them as more worthy as other ideas.

    It’s largely arbitrary WHICH concepf we assign as more-worthy, since we all possess different values.

    The military speaks of “core values”, ideas which ‘out-rank’ one’s core beliefs, where if a belief is inconsistent with a value, it needs to be re-examined and/or rejected (or altered) to comply with the value. It takes a whole lot of evidence to dislodge a core value, but it can be done.

    Now, I’m a rationalist, first and foremost: my atheism is a RESULT of my valuing rationalism, being an an outgrowth. In my world, ALL ideologies grow out of rationalism (and especially so, if i run around and declare myself to be a ‘rationalist’ to others).

    Feminism gets no “special pleading”, no exception to the rule, since it’s an ideology, and thus secondary to my commitments to both rationalism (and other core values, such as liberty and equality).

    Now, if you can make a compelling RATIONAL argument for WHY I should ditch these values in the name of any ideology (specifically Maureen’s definition of feminism, which requires INEQUALITY), I’m all ears.

    (I’m capable of changing my mind, since I once ditched theism as I got a better understanding of the principles and rules of rationalist thinking.)

    If you can’t present a rational persuasive argument, then just as I reject the theist’s claim God exists based on the complete lack of evidence (and MOUNTAINS of circumstantial counter-evidence), then your claim similarity fails, as it conflicts with my value of TRUE equality.

    We’d simply have to accept that we may possess different values and rankings, and much like the believer who places faith at the top of their ‘value totem pole’ (well-above both reason and equality), you and I might have just have a different ‘pecking order’ for our values.

    It’s not the end of the world for either, since there’s 7 billion people who are fully-entitled to have different values from you and I.

    Adam

  46. Maureen Brian says

    adamah @ 49,

    If you really believe all that bullshit then there is no hope for you.

    I’m going to knit a pair of socks instead.

  47. John Morales says

    adamah @50:

    Further to what Maureen wrote above, I add that syllogistic logic ≠ social logic.
    Sure, and who said they WERE equivalent?
    You missed his point, if you think RD said so.
    Many are still confused, since his tweet relied on syllogistic logic to make broader points (namely, emotions controlling decision-making, where bigotry has some shouting RD down for daring to voice an opinion on “their” issue, since only THEY feel entitled to state an opinion unless others are expressing THEIR opinion).

    I did not claim anyone said they were equivalent, I was noting the distinction and alluding to his competence at the latter.

    Again: he wrote “Some people angrily failed to understand that it was a point of logic using a hypothetical quotation about rape.”

    His expressed surprise and exasperation that others were exasperated (though, by now, hardly surprised) by his particular example — which only after the fact became “a hypothetical quotation about rape” rather than a self-evident proposition.

    There may be times discussing how aggravated a rape has been may be appropriate (such as in sentencing), and even times when discussing it in the abstract.
    And what are we doing now, if not talking in the abstract?
    It’s not like you actually believe we’re determining public policy on a FTB comments section?

    Obviously I too think this is one of the times and places where it is appropriate.

    (How you come to believe I might imagine that this discussion is any more relevant to the determination of public policy than those tweets by Dawkins is opaque to me)

    There may be times when it is irrelevant, such as when proscribing it or educating about it;
    I’m intrigued by your comment on education, so please expand on that thought.
    You may be onto something important here, but you’re going to have to expound on that thought if you want me to accept that point.
    See, I’m seeing your comment as an ‘appeal to authority’, another way of telling the public, “Don’t question the rules, just do what we tell you do!”
    Do you believe the public is too stupid to do anything other than follow orders, and must be talked down to in order for them to understand and/or comply?
    That kind of assumption seems to rely on a premise of INEQUALITY, with worker classes, ruling classes, etc.
    Also, some people hold an anti-authoritarian bias, and simply refuse to follow orders, regardless of how much it might be reasonable and in their best interests. They only want to rely on authoritarian structures when THEY’RE calling the shots, otherwise taking a “You’re not the boss of me!” pouty and defiant stance.

    Be aware that I’m neither appealing to authority nor determining public policy, I’m adding to what Maureen wrote.

    If you don’t think there are times when ranking the severity of rapes is inappropriate (e.g. when treating it as a category) then say so, instead of speculating about my motives or attitudes.

    I’ll leave it to you to examine the topic of education about rape, so that you can provide a meaningful reason why my contention may be flawed.
    But, to be helpful, here is one such resource: http://www.cdc.gov/violencePrevention/RPE/index.html)

    one does not forbid the less aggravated less than the more aggravated, because… well, because of what Dawkins wrote, in his less than felicitous manner way.
    I’ve explained point-by-point (e.g. RD is “forbidding one less or forbidding one more”: BOTH are forbidden (or expressed in the opposite form as he states it, he’s not ENDORSING either).)
    So at this point, I’m not sure if you missed the point of RD’s basic logical syllogism, or if you’re rejecting and ignoring it, as if putting your fingers in your ears.
    This wasn’t about RD proscribing his Godlike opinion from on-high, as if he were Jehovah handing tablets to Moses (that’s the straw-man some are irrationally trying to perpetuate against RD). Instead, RD was pointing out that the discussion needs to continue (and Maureen’s quibbling over his use of ‘begin’ is nit-picking), where some adopt an extremist position which precludes ANY discussion.
    (Eg check out the atheist experience blog, in Martin Wagners recent piece bashing RD called, ‘the first rule of holes’…. Note in the comments section where ‘Enlightened Liberal’ is calling for shunning anyone she deems as not supportive of her extreme feminine ideology.)

    When you claim that “BOTH are forbidden” you are conceding that the severity of a rape is irrelevant to its proscription (and accordingly conceding my previous point).

    In passing, it amuses me how you imagine I was appealing to authority when making a claim yet you felt the urge to clarify that it was not a case of “RD proscribing [sic] his Godlike opinion from on-high”.

    Anyway, that you think Dawkins’ efforts are aimed at continuing some discussion (what discussion?) by virtue of allegedly mocking “an extremist position which precludes ANY discussion” is noted, but since the topic is frequently discussed by the very people (those pesky “SJWs”) you and he imagine preclude such due to their extremist position, I think that it is a strange thing to think.

    And there may be times when it’s inappropriate; cf. “oppression olympics”, cf. “dear muslima”.
    Again, you’re declaring something to be ‘inappropriate’ as if by royal edict, since it’s begging the question: according to whom?
    Here’s how I see the issue:
    Atheism, feminism, racism, rationalism, etc are all IDEOLOGIES.
    People may adopt some ideologies as VALUES, where one’s commitment to principles TRUMPS their commitment to any given ideology.
    Athough ideologies and values are BOTH beliefs, values are the principles we assign a higher-ranking on one’s “belief totem pole”, since we literally VALUE them as more worthy as other ideas.
    It’s largely arbitrary WHICH concepf we assign as more-worthy, since we all possess different values.
    The military speaks of “core values”, ideas which ‘out-rank’ one’s core beliefs, where if a belief is inconsistent with a value, it needs to be re-examined and/or rejected (or altered) to comply with the value. It takes a whole lot of evidence to dislodge a core value, but it can be done.
    Now, I’m a rationalist, first and foremost: my atheism is a RESULT of my valuing rationalism, being an an outgrowth. In my world, ALL ideologies grow out of rationalism (and especially so, if i run around and declare myself to be a ‘rationalist’ to others).
    Feminism gets no “special pleading”, no exception to the rule, since it’s an ideology, and thus secondary to my commitments to both rationalism (and other core values, such as liberty and equality).
    Now, if you can make a compelling RATIONAL argument for WHY I should ditch these values in the name of any ideology (specifically Maureen’s definition of feminism, which requires INEQUALITY), I’m all ears.
    (I’m capable of changing my mind, since I once ditched theism as I got a better understanding of the principles and rules of rationalist thinking.)
    If you can’t present a rational persuasive argument, then just as I reject the theist’s claim God exists based on the complete lack of evidence (and MOUNTAINS of circumstantial counter-evidence), then your claim similarity fails, as it conflicts with my value of TRUE equality.
    We’d simply have to accept that we may possess different values and rankings, and much like the believer who places faith at the top of their ‘value totem pole’ (well-above both reason and equality), you and I might have just have a different ‘pecking order’ for our values.
    It’s not the end of the world for either, since there’s 7 billion people who are fully-entitled to have different values from you and I.

    Your prolixity doesn’t obscure that you are disputing that there may be times when it’s not appropriate to rank the severity of rape, apparently because you think that’s what “the principles and rules of rationalist [sic] thinking” entail.

    (Perhaps you’d do better to engage in rational thinking rather than rationalistic thinking)

  48. adamah says

    John Morales said-

    did not claim anyone said they were equivalent, I was noting the distinction and alluding to his competence at the latter.

    Again: he wrote “Some people angrily failed to understand that it was a point of logic using a hypothetical quotation about rape.”

    You’re repeating yourself, but RD’s “point of logic” WAS offering a real-time demo of principles of social psychology (using social media tweets to do so), showing how easily logic can be overcome by emotions.

    His 3 tweets were part of the demo, each tweet increasingly more volatile than the prior, but all designed to demonstrate the phenomena in action (which it did, at least for those with the self-awareness to examine their own responses).

    RD was NOT trying to teach everyone a self-evident syllogism (although a few seemingly still don’t get that part, unless they’re just intentionally playing dumb).

    Your words below suggest you may be vacillating in your grasp:

    His expressed surprise and exasperation that others were exasperated (though, by now, hardly surprised) by his particular example -which only after the fact became “a hypothetical quotation about rape” rather than a self-evident proposition.

    It never WAS about the ‘self-evident proposition': that was ‘the filling’.

    He’s been telegraphing his broader point for months now, esp after the dust-storm some people kicked up after his ‘mild pedophilia’ comment last Sept.

    Here’s evolutionary biologist Jerry Coynes’ take on RD:

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2014/08/05/dawkins-decries-taboos-in-discussions-about-society/

    Don’t blame RD for your grabbing ‘the wrong end of the stick’, getting caught up in classic ‘group-think’ mob mentality.

    If you don’t think there are times when ranking the severity of rapes is inappropriate (e.g. when treating it as a category) then say so, instead of speculating about my motives or attitudes.

    Actually, I specifically asked YOU to explain why YOU feel ranking of severity of rape is irrelevant when educating the public.

    My speculations aren’t needed, if you’d only explain your rationale for yourself. You actually made the claim, and now bear the ‘burden of proof’ to convince others.

    I’ll leave it to you to examine the topic of education about rape, so that you can provide a meaningful reason why my contention may be flawed.

    You earn partial-credit for realizing that your position is weak; hence the back-peddling. That’s a hopeful sign, as it implies your ability to change.

    However, you lost points by not simply disclosing what evidence you discovered that allowed you to figure out that, in your own words, “your contention may be flawed”. Those who value intellectual integrity are not concerned with ‘winning’ arguments (a selfish motive), but are more concerned with uncovering and sharing truths for the benefit of everyone.

    When you claim that “BOTH are forbidden” you are conceding that the severity of a rape is irrelevant to its proscription (and accordingly conceding my previous point).

    There’s nothing to concede, since I never disagreed, and neither did RD: in fact, that’s exactly the point made by even the most-superficial understanding of his syllogism (“if you think this is an endorsement of….”).

    Try this:

    Assault is forbidden, as is murder.

    Although both are prohibited by law, they require differentiation after the offenses are committed, carrying different standards of evidence to obtain conviction, and different gradations of punishment, depending on circumstances of the case.

    The same principle applies to rape, since even within the sub-category of ‘date rape’, the fact-patterns of individual cases can vary greatly, ranging from the knife-wielding rapist on a first date, to the engaged couple together for 10 yrs who gets intoxicated and the women passes out; the male is too drunk to notice her inability to give valid consent.

    BOTH cases are considered as ‘date rape’, and both are prosecuted under the same penal code in CA; however the circumstances vastly differ, where flexibility in punishment similarly SHOULD differ (that is, if you believe punishment should fit the crime).

    The first rapist clearly is a threat to the woman and society at large, whereas the 2nd one is not.

    And what of the offense from the perspective of the victims, you ask?

    Recognition of differences in severity is critically-important for rape victims, as well, since one major benefit of group therapy is ‘downgrade comparison’, where victims compare their traumatic experience to others in order to place their experience in proper perspective; this is critical to the healing process (where a counselor may facilitate).

    Those victims who focus on their experience in isolation may adopt ‘victimization mentality’, hardly an empathetic or compassionate act to watch them sink into despair when there’s a lifesaver readily available.

    Not to mention, there’s also the possible harm caused by giving women a false sense of security, encouraging them to feel free from expecting consequences for whatever choices they make.

    I suspect common-sense is breaking through momentarily with you, and you’re forgetting what the feminist position is: “RAPE IS RAPE!”

    That’s the kind of thinking that is expressed by mandatory sentencing laws, tying judge’s hands and forcing them to punish all cases the same, regardless of differences in fact patterns.

    A good example is punishment of child molestation in CA vs NV, where its defined in CA as :

    Penal Code 288 PC is a crime committed by touching a child somewhere on his/her body for sexual purposes. Justice officials sometimes refer to this offense as “lewd acts on a minor under 14″ or “acts of lewd and lascivious conduct.”

    Although the statute defining lewd acts is very-similar (NV used CA law as a model), the punishment vastly differs: the same offense carries up to 8 yrs in prison in CA, but earn a sentence of life in NV, even if a 1st offense.

    The problem is, mistakes happen: children can be persuaded to make up allegations, and juries actually DO convict innocent people for crimes they didn’t convict.

    In cases of rape, we know without doubt that mistakes happens, where DNA evidence has later revealed that the convict was innocent.

    In passing, it amuses me how you imagine I was appealing to authority when making a claim yet you felt the urge to clarify that it was not a case of “RD proscribing [sic] his Godlike opinion from on-high”.

    Huh? What’s with the “[sic]”? Are you unfamiliar with the various forms of ‘proscribe’ (such as ‘proscribed’ and ‘proscribing’)?

    Look it up: a dictionary is only a Google away.

    That aside, you missed my point: feminists perceive RD as an arrogant, condescending, patriarchal male authority-figure who thinks he’s God-like, and hence dares to grade severity of rape.

    At this point, it’s pointless to revise history to deny it: there’s TONS of egg on faces of feminists for crying in anguish for RD attempting to dictate rape policy, which wasn’t his point.

    That’s the straw-man feminists have created, feeling seemingly-justified to air their anti-authoritarian misandrist ideology by engaging in some RD bashing.

    Your prolixity doesn’t obscure that you are disputing that there may be times when it’s not appropriate to rank the severity of rape, apparently because you think that’s what “the principles and rules of rationalist [sic] thinking” entail.

    Your prolixity doesn’t obscure that you didn’t accept my challenge, making a case for why everyone should accept feminists asking us to voluntarily sacrifice out free speech rights.

    Your apparent declination is duly-noted.

    (Perhaps you’d do better to engage in rational thinking rather than rationalistic thinking)

    Well, please excuse my egregious grammatical error, Guv’nor… Would it please you if I were to write, ‘rationalist thought’?

    (I know how bothersome grammatical peas underneath stacks of mattresses can be to princesses who bruise easily…)

    Translated: my grammatical error is irrelevant, so perhaps you’d do well to focus on my ACTUAL ARGUMENT, rather than getting hot-and-bothered over trifling irrelevancies.

    Doing that in the future just might help keep you from grabbing the wrong end of the stick, rather than jumping to hasty wrong conclusions.

    That’s exactly the lesson RD was offering everyobe an opportunity to learn.

    (Here’s where petulant children refuse, putting fingers in ears, etc.)

    And since you hurdled over my request, here’s one last chance to give it your best shot:

    Can you make a compelling case for WHY I should ditch my dedication to rationalism and equality, in the name of supporting feminism (Maureen’s definition, which requires INEQUALITY)?

    I’m all ears.

  49. John Morales says

    <sigh>

    Look Adamah, I made four contentions.

    You concurred with the first.

    You concurred with the second.

    You ostensibly evaded the third, though you implicitly conceded it so doing.

    And you disputed the last — apparently, you don’t imagine there may be circumstances when it is inappropriate.

    (You want to think Dawkins is playing 11-dimensional chess, fine)

    I suspect common-sense is breaking through momentarily with you, and you’re forgetting what the feminist position is: “RAPE IS RAPE!”

    Good luck disputing a tautology.

    (Yes, some dogs are chihuahuas and some are great danes, but nonetheless dogs are dogs)

    PS

    What’s with the “[sic]“? Are you unfamiliar with the various forms of ‘proscribe’ (such as ‘proscribed’ and ‘proscribing’)?

    Nah, I’m merely aware of the distinction between proscription and prescription — and you intended the latter though you wrote the former.

  50. adamah says

    John said-

    Look Adamah, I made four contentions.

    You concurred with the first.

    You concurred with the second.

    You ostensibly evaded the third, though you implicitly conceded it so doing.

    And you disputed the last — apparently, you don’t imagine there may be circumstances when it is inappropriate.

    Thanks for the straw-man summation, as if the actual record isn’t still found above….

    BTW, this comment of yours is very revealing:

    (You want to think Dawkins is playing 11-dimensional chess, fine)

    If RD’s actual point seems like 11-dimensional chess to you, consider that it might say more about YOU, and not RD or I: he’s a retired biology professor just MIGHT know something on a subject which you likely barely-passed in high school.

    See, the effect of emotions overpowering reason has been known for 3,000 yrs, and is the very basis for the broad category of logical fallacies called, “appeals to emotion”.

    The existence of the effect is not the least-bit controversial in the field of human psychology with many studies that have verified the concept, so for you to say it strikes you as “11-dimensional” suggests you’d do well to crack a book on the subject, as the ignorance is ALL on you.

    Adamah said-

    I suspect common-sense is breaking through momentarily with you, and you’re forgetting what the feminist position is: “RAPE IS RAPE!”

    John said-

    Good luck disputing a tautology.

    Once again, did you forget you’re on the side of radical feminists who make and defend that tautological statement?

    You’ll be needing luck to defend the claim, not me.

    Adamah said-

    What’s with the “[sic]“? Are you unfamiliar with the various forms of ‘proscribe’ (such as ‘proscribed’ and ‘proscribing’)?

    John said-

    Nah, I’m merely aware of the distinction between proscription and prescription — and you intended the latter though you wrote the former.

    Did you get confused on that, as well?

    Did the continuation of a thought, separated by a intervening sentence, throw you for a loop?

    From above, Adamah wrote-

    I’ve explained point-by-point (e.g. RD is “forbidding one less or forbidding one more”: BOTH are forbidden (or expressed in the opposite form as he states it, he’s not ENDORSING either).

    This wasn’t about RD proscribinghis Godlike opinion from on-high, as if he were Jehovah handing tablets to Moses (that’s the straw-man some are irrationally trying to perpetuate against RD).

    You missed the part where I said BOTH are forbidden (i.e. ‘proscribed’), and then used the operational definition of ‘proscribed’ a sentence later.

    Granted, I could’ve said’prescribing'; I could’ve added words eg, ‘ “proscribing ON THE BASIS OF his godlike opinion”, but that’s essentially saying the same thing, and I’m oh-so-worried about not being accused of prolixity.

    (BTW, I’m a retired physician; hence amused that you think I don’t know what ‘prescribing’ means: how many boxes of prescription pads have you gone through to hand patients their ‘scripts’?)

    John, you’d do well to be worried less about telling others what they intended or what they’re thinking, and focus more on what YOU think, and YOUR beliefs.

    I bow out now, as ultimately it’s pointless to engage with those who refuse to stay on-point, but instead prefer trifling over grammer (sic) and style issues in an attempt to divert attention from the fact they’re unable (or unwilling) to answer uncomfortable direct questions.

    And if you want the last word, be my guest…

  51. says

    You’re repeating yourself, but RD’s “point of logic” WAS offering a real-time demo of principles of social psychology (using social media tweets to do so), showing how easily logic can be overcome by emotions.

    He never showed that.

    He basically insulted a bunch of rape survivors (the insult is embedded in the pre-existing social and cultural context in which victims and feminists have won recognition of the fact that “date rape” is actually a form of rape in the past 20 – 30 years, though there’s still a widespread perception that it’s not a really REAL kind of serious rape), then, when they got predictably angry, he pointed at them and said, “Haha, look at all those people getting mad at me. They can’t think! They’re incapable of logic! They let their emotions overwhelm their ability to reason!” Which is all false. And then, “Don’t be like them, people! Don’t be like those irrational, angry, incapable-of-thinking rape victims and their allies. You’re welcome for the logic lesson!”

    It’s a bunch of bullshit.

  52. says

    voluntarily sacrifice out [sic] free speech rights.

    Observe the incoherence of Dawkins’ position and his defenders when it comes to free speech.

    If it’s voluntary, you still have the right.

    And this is cute:

    Morales: (You want to think Dawkins is playing 11-dimensional chess, fine)

    Adamah: If RD’s actual point seems like 11-dimensional chess to you, consider that it might say more about YOU, and not RD or I: he’s a retired biology professor just MIGHT know something on a subject which you likely barely-passed in high school.

    “You seem to think that Dawkins is playing 11th dimensional chess. ”

    “No, YOU seem to think that Dawkins is playing 11th dimensional chess! That’s probably because he’s smarter than you!”

    Champion logicker right here.

    *sigh*

  53. John Morales says

    adamah @55:

    And if you want the last word, be my guest…

    At your invitation, and to be no less gracious a guest than you are a host:

    It is a fact that, of the contentions I made @48, the only one you cannot bear to concede is the last one, though I found your inadvertently ironic verbose non sequitur amusing given your efforts at naming various informal logical fallacies.

    Were you not attempting to justify Dawkins’ rationalisation, it would seem odd that you dare not concede that there may be times when it’s inappropriate to refer to how aggravated a rape has been.

    Finally, I suspect I’m probably not the only one to find it telling that you imagine I’m “on the side of radical feminists”.

  54. Nathanael says

    I’ve never met Dawkins, but I have met his wife, the honorable Lalla Ward. I wonder if she could get through to him about how, frankly, stupid and irrational he’s been lately (not to mention hurtful, but he won’t listen to that, whereas he might pay attention to the fact that he’s being stupid and irrational).

    You note correctly that Dawkins simply has his facts wrong. The studies are actually very clear that rape by an acquaintance is, on average, somewhat more traumatic than rape by a stranger. Since Dawkins tries to be a scientist, he should find his own disregard for evidence inexcusable.

    If he is trying to make a point of any sort, starting with statements which are just wrong is a about the worst possible way to do it. As a scientist, he should understand that one authoritative false claim wrecks your reputation for making accurate statements, which wrecks your ability to educate people about anything.

  55. Sid Singh says

    I would note that the criminal justice routinely does what Dawkins did – grade the nature and quality of sexual offending. For example, if the offenses involves an adult female, the person could be charged and convicted of rape or sexual battery depending on the nature and quality of the offense. Even within the broad penal code violation of rape, there are additional qualifiers related to whether violence, force, duress, menace, etc. were use.d With regard to child molestation, the person could be charged with lewd conduct with a child or annoying a child. Each of these variants carries different consequences.

    After conviction, the law again differentiates the nature and quality of the offense when it comes to sentencing. At least in California, an evaluation is conducted to determine whether the person warrants prison or probation. This is based on the nature of the sexual offense and the risk that offense entails. For example, it is likely that a person who committed a “date rape” will be given probation over a person who committed a rape with violence.

    Post sentencing, many states have Sexually Violent Predator statutes. These laws, by their very nature, differentiate the nature and quality of the sexual offense. When conducting a risk assessment as part of the evaluation, a differentiation is made on the level of violence that was involved in the sexual offense. Another element that is considered is the relationship of the victim to the offender.

    From beginning to end, the legal (and forensic psychology) system differentiates quality of sexual offending as bad and worse.

    On a final note, I would add that one of the primary criticism of Megan’s Law websites and such is that they fail to differentiate between the nature and quality of sexual offending, placing people under registration and monitoring that don’t necessarily warrant it.

Trackbacks

  1. […] threats and harassment, and I thought for a few seconds he’d seen a glimmer of light, before he went back to being a fuckwad again. But he hadn’t crossed the bright line just yet: he hadn’t explicitly blamed women for […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>