What does “explicitly stated” mean?

Today Dawkins is angry about an article in the New Statesman titled I was raped when I was drunk. I was 14. Do you believe me, Richard Dawkins?

He’s angry that the New Statesman didn’t call him. But after all, he did tweet last week, hours after Mark Oppenheimer’s article appeared,

“Officer, it’s not my fault I was drunk driving. You see, somebody got me drunk.”

And a later one:

Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”

But as I pointed out, jailing wasn’t the issue.

But the odd thing here is that in his tweets about the New Statesman article he’s claiming that his tweets about rape were explicitly hypothetical.

In my tweets I explicitly stated that I was considering the hypothetical case of a woman who testified that she COULDN’T REMEMBER.

Do those two that I just quoted explicitly state that they are hypothetical? No they do not.


Scotland voted No on independence.

The prime minister wants to move fast to show that the three main UK party leaders will live up to their commitments made during the referendum campaign to deliver what the former prime minister Gordon Brown called home rule within the UK.

Ministers believe it is important to move quickly to avoid a repeat of the 1980 referendum in Québec. The triumphalist behaviour of Ontario fuelled the separatist cause that nearly succeeded in a second referendum in 1995.

So don’t rub it in their noses. Lots of affectionate hugs, no faces rubbed in the No vote. And no mean photoshops!

Guest post: Quite a backlash

Guest post by Mary Ellen Foley. 

A threat to bomb the Game Developers’ Conference if Anita Sarkeesian gets an award there…threats to murder her and make it look like suicide because she’s a worse threat than terrorists to the country…and for what? For pointing out that it’s not good that video games exploit images of women’s bodies and of violence against women as scene dressing in the backgrounds of games? Really? A veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq says she’s worse than terrorists because she suggests that it might not be a good idea for game developers to show an animation of a man slitting the throat of an anonymous woman just to get the pulses of game players racing? [Read more...]

Guest post: Everybody Is. Even You, Sam Harris

Guest post by Lady Mondegreen (aka Stacy).

It’s happened again. Feminists of the atheoskeptisphere have pointed out that one of our Famous Men said something sexist; the assertion has been met with intense defensiveness and downright rage. The defensiveness is understandable, but the rage baffled me until I realized that it comes, at least in part, from a profound misconception about what sexism is and how it works.

To start with, here’s a statement from a comment by Folie Deuce, on Ophelia’s post #EstrogenVibe

If everyone is sexist than nobody is sexist.

No. Category error. [Read more...]

All those links

In another turn of the screw, Dawkins called Adam Lee a liar. So now I have to read Adam’s piece again to see if I can find anything that can possibly justify that announcement.

The atheist movement – a loosely-knit community of conference-goers, advocacy organizations, writers and activists – has been wracked by infighting the last few years over its persistent gender imbalance and the causes of it. Many female atheists have explained that they don’t get more involved because of the casual sexism endemic to the movement: parts of it see nothing problematic about hosting conferences with all-male speakers or having all-male leadership – and that’s before you get to the vitriolic and dangerous sexual harassment, online and off, that’s designed to intimidate women into silence.

Is that it? That’s not a lie. There are people who think that, and say so – and there certainly is vitriolic and dangerous sexual harassment, online and off. It is designed to intimidate women into silence – many of the people who engage in it say so, regularly. [Read more...]

The approach taken

Michael wants me to respond to his post without the sarcastic paraphrasing. Fair enough. I can at least try, although it’s a very long and winding post, which does make it difficult. This won’t be complete, therefore, but it will be something.


I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and harmful in itself, because it routinely demonises decent people who support equality but who have a different approach to it.

That’s not a good shorthand. There are a lot of bloggers on this network, and many of them don’t write about disputes within Anglophone atheism and secularism at all. It’s not fair to them to keep using the name of the network as a “shorthand,” especially when so many people use it not as a shorthand but as a code for “what we all hate.” I think Michael was hinting at that himself, frankly. [Read more...]

Not unlike thought police witch-hunter lynch mobs

Adam Lee sums up the most recent outbreaks at Comment is Free.

He was, like me, a big fan of Dawkins. Now? Not so much.

Neither of us just plunged into this not so much state randomly or on a whim, nor did we do so as an exciting new way to draw attention to ourselves. It had to do with reasons, with things he said and did.

But over the last few months, Dawkins showed signs of détente with his feminist critics – even progress. He signed a joint letter with the writer Ophelia Benson, denouncing and rejecting harassment; he even apologized for the “Dear Muslima” letter. On stage at a conference in Oxford in August, Dawkins claimed to be a feminist and said that everyone else should be, too. [Read more...]

Guest post: A more complicated pissing on fire hydrants

Originally a comment by Brony on Thou shalt respect The Leaders.

Am I correct in remembering that Nugent was the one that tried to host the debate to heal the deep rifts earlier on? If so that matters.

On describing decency and demonization

So how does this,

I believe that atheist and skeptic people and groups, like all people and groups within society, should promote compassion, empathy, fairness, justice, equality and respect for people, combined with robust rational analysis of ideas.

…relate to this,

I believe that the approach taken by PZ Myers, and by some other people on (for shorthand) the FreeThought Blogs perceived ‘side’ of some disagreements, is counterproductive to these aims. It is also unjust and harmful in itself, because it routinely demonises decent people who support equality but who have a different approach to it.

…when it comes to the specific content of the characterizations PZ and others are making? He needs to define demonization. [Read more...]

Guest post: On Dawkins, hero worship, and doubling down

Guest post by Josh the SpokesGay

I’m pondering this and haven’t come to any firm conclusions, but I want to float it for conversation.

We’re seeing an enormous number of people (who we thought would know and do better) ignore the most awful behavior from Dawkins. Obviously, not just with him, mind. It’s sometimes staggering; it’s so surprising to see people one knows to be capable of independent thought and analysis turn so completely nasty and dishonest in their attempts to stop any suggestion that Dawkins might be wrong.

We know that people have heroes. We know that we, too, are subject to the same instinct to circle the wagons. But the degree to which Dawkins supporters are doing this genuinely stuns me. It is quite literally watching rational people become irrational, fact-free, religious (perhaps ‘tribal’ is better) adherents for whom no argument is too dishonest or low. [Read more...]

We’re the thought police again

More managing disagreement ethically from Richard Dawkins.


Richard Dawkins ‏@RichardDawkins
The “Big Sister is Watching You” Thought Police hate @CHSommers’ Factual Feminism, and you can see why.

That’s ethical disagreement all right – calling feminists who don’t respect Christina Hoff Sommers ‘The “Big Sister is Watching You” Thought Police.’

What would the other kind look like?