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Sep 09 2013

I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, please stop

I’ve strained to pardon Richard Dawkins’ many insensitivities — ‘dear muslima’, the missteps on twitter, the petty snits against other people — but his latest is just a disaster.

In an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday (Sept. 7), Dawkins, 72, he said he was unable to condemn what he called “the mild pedophilia” he experienced at an English school when he was a child in the 1950s.

Referring to his early days at a boarding school in Salisbury, he recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”

He said other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

He said the most notorious cases of pedophilia involve rape and even murder and should not be bracketed with what he called “just mild touching up.”

I can think of some lasting harm: he seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children. He was a victim of an inexcusable violation; that he can shrug it off does not mean it was OK, or ‘zero bad’, or something trivial.

Should I have raised my children with such a lack of self-respect that they should have allowed dirty old men to play with their genitals? I would have wanted them to inform me, so that such behavior could be stopped.

Just when did it stop being OK for acquaintances to put their hands inside Richard Dawkins shorts? I presume it would be an utterly intolerable act now, of course — at what age do the contents of childrens’ pants stop being public property?

Should we be giving pedophiles the idea that a “mild touching up” is reasonable behavior? It’s just a little diddling…it does no “lasting harm”. Christ, that sounds like something out of NAMBLA.

And that all Richard Dawkins experienced was a brief groping does not mean that greater harm was not being done. That man was a serial child molester; do we know that he didn’t abuse other children to a greater degree? That there aren’t former pupils living now who bear greater emotional scars?

As for that excuse about not judging behavior of an earlier era by our modern standards…I’ve heard that before. From William Lane Craig, to justify biblical murders. Richard Dawkins had this to say about it then.

But Craig is not just a figure of fun. He has a dark side, and that is putting it kindly. Most churchmen these days wisely disown the horrific genocides ordered by the God of the Old Testament. Anyone who criticises the divine bloodlust is loudly accused of unfairly ignoring the historical context, and of naive literalism towards what was never more than metaphor or myth. You would search far to find a modern preacher willing to defend God’s commandment, in Deuteronomy 20: 13-15, to kill all the men in a conquered city and to seize the women, children and livestock as plunder.

We do not excuse harm to others because some prior barbaric age was indifferent to that harm. Furthermore, the excuse doesn’t even work: are we supposed to believe that a child-fondling teacher would have been permissible in the 1950s? Seriously? Was that ever socially acceptable? And even if it was, in some weird version of British history, it does not excuse it. It means British schools were vile nests of child abuse, just like Catholic churches.

Thanks for swapping the moral high ground for a swampy mire of ambiguity, Richard. I’m not going to argue that compelling kids to memorize Bible verses and fear hell, as stupid an excuse for education as that is, was child abuse, while getting manhandled by lascivious priests was a trivial offense, to be waved away as harmless. I’m sure many Catholics are quite gleeful that Richard Dawkins has now embraced the same moral relativism that they use to rationalize crimes against children.

611 comments

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  1. 1
    anuran

    He is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
    This is inexcusable. He just keeps digging himself in deeper.
    Any claims he had to moral superiority over the god-botherers are gone.

  2. 2
    chigau (違う)

    I can think of some lasting harm: he seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children.

    Just to reiterate.
    Stunning.

  3. 3
    Hank_Says

    What the complete and utter fuck?

    Had this kind of reprehensible dumbfuckery come from a bishop or cardinal, we know precisely what the response would have been. Yet there he is, in black and white and 1s and 0s.

    *facepalmheaddesk*

  4. 4
    Randomfactor

    This, a thousand times. Stop.

  5. 5
    Ichthyic

    beseeching in the bowels of Christ….

    that does seem like the absolute limit. Is there some kind of plea that comes after that??

  6. 6
    anuran

    beseeching in the bowels of Christ….

    that does seem like the absolute limit. Is there some kind of plea that comes after that??

    That’s kinda what Cromwell thought when he said this to the Synod of Scotland

    I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.

  7. 7
    Ichthyic

    so.. the answer is “no” I take it?

    :)

  8. 8
    anuran

    The interesting question is whether he will find his speaking engagements cancelled. One would hope so, but he has celebrity appeal. If there are no consequences it might be best to avoid the venues which keep him.

  9. 9
    seraphymcrash

    This isn’t a new thought from him. I swear I read something very similar in one of his books, where he recounts being molested and then saying he didn’t think it did any lasting harm.

    I’m happy he feels it didn’t traumatize him, but what happened is regarded as a reprehensible crime by our society, and this same man inflicted this same crime on other children. Other children who may not have shrugged it off so easily.

    Your experiences may be true for you, but you don’t get to project them onto everyone else.

  10. 10
    porlob

    If I recall correctly, he alluded to this event in the God Delusion. I remember reading it and thinking it odd that he was basically hand waving about child sex abuse. I mean, good for him that he doesn’t feel it did him any lasting harm, but there’s exactly no way he can say that is certain for the other kids he mentioned, or indeed for the millions of others affected by sexual abuse.

  11. 11
    The Mellow Monkey

    Well. I didn’t need to buy any more of his books anyway, now did I?

  12. 12
    Sunil D'Monte

    Ugh, that whole “product of their times” argument is a really bad one. The only thing that was different about earlier eras was that perpetrators could get away with sexual violence more easily. Rape wasn’t any less rape-y back then. So what this argument boils down to is, “Back then, people could get away with it, so let’s not criticise them now.”

  13. 13
    frankb

    Last year I received “The God Delusion” as a birthday present from my daughter. I have not read it yet. I have just changed my plans from simply tossing it in the trash to…..what? Any suggestions?

  14. 14
    Weedless Monkey

    I remember one, very minor, instance from when I was a little tyke.

    We were at our grandparent’s with my cousin, a little younger than me, and his parents, of course. It was their family’s turn to bathe in the sauna, but they were having trouble washing the kid because he was against it. So my parents threw me in there to show how it’s done.

    So nudity between members of the family or extended family wasn’t such a big deal, we’d all been to the sauna before with each other and I was quite fine with that. But when it came to the washing part I tried to take the shower handle and just get done with it, my aunt grabbed it from my hand, and quickly washed me over. Including my genitals. With absolutely nothing sexual about that.

    Wham, bam, that was it. Absolutely no harm was done to me physically, but the trust was broken. Forever. My body had just been used to demonstrate to my cousin how easy it was to get showered, and I had no say in that.

    CHILDREN ARE PEOPLE.

  15. 15
    Ichthyic

    .what? Any suggestions?

    yeah.

    read it.

    it’s still a good book.

  16. 16
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    I am really trying to wrap my brain around HOW and WHY Dawkins came to the conclusion that there are degrees of pedophilia.

  17. 17
    Ing

    I’m confused at the idea that pedophilia was just an acceptable part of the culture in the earlier part of 20th century.

  18. 18
    PDX_Greg

    I have learned to separate my appreciation of a person’s accomplishments from my appreciation of a person’s character. I read and appreciated his books. I stopped admiring him as a person when his “Dear Muslima” dismissal became known to me via Jen’s blog, and he failed to learn from the discourse that followed.

    Will I read future Dawkins books? Yes. He has insight and a gift for sharing on subjects I am greatly interested in. But rather than buy them, I will check them out at the library. When I recommend his books to others, I do so with a conversational asterisk about the author (sounds like I have two asterisks now). Will I admire him as a hero? No. I believe we have learned a great deal over the past couple of years right here in freethoughtblogs about why we don’t need to create heroes in our minds, and indeed why we should avoid bestowing anyone with that blanket privilege for any reason.

  19. 19
    notsont

    Yeah…I typed out about 5 different posts, had to delete them all I think I might be being unfair, I just got nothing I gotta step away from the internet I just hate the whole fucking world tonight. Too many stories of child rape and people getting away with it.

  20. 20
    palefury

    I think you are absolutely right PZ

    “I can think of some lasting harm: he seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children.”

    I can’t help but think that his attitude towards the sexual abuse of children may in fact be a result of his own sexual abuse. By brushing off the idea that this abuse affected him seems like a coping mechanism to me.

  21. 21
    Charlie Foxtrot

    He’s getting odder, I think. Maybe he’s reached the age of “buggrit… screw em all” ?
    His tweets are starting to all look like exercises in trolling as well.

    I guess we’re reaching the point where, as with many musicians, actors, film makers, authors etc we have to consciously distinguish the product from the person.

    Although, of course, I’d rather it be that I didn’t have to.

  22. 22
    aaronbaker

    Yes, he said it in The God Delusion.

  23. 23
    frankb

    I don’t like the idea of destroying a book so I won’t. But Dawkins has nothing to teach me about atheism. I am learning all I need from PZ and FTB and their commetairiat, you know, decent people.

  24. 24
    Robert B.

    It’s kind of sad, when you think about it. This is exactly the attitude his abuser would have wanted him to have, which I really doubt is a coincidence. Someone should really get the poor guy to stop talking, though, before he convinces any other victims to excuse their abusers.

  25. 25
    Ichthyic

    Too many stories of child rape and people getting away with it.

    ^^this

  26. 26
    Forbidden Snowflake

    That man was a serial child molester; do we know that he didn’t abuse other children to a greater degree?

    Do we even know there weren’t others abused to the same degree but more severely harmed by it? I’m always suspicious of the “It never did [me and a bunch of people I haven't seen in decades] any harm, AFAIK” claims. Would he even be able to know otherwise?

  27. 27
    Kenny Wyland

    I kind of get the feeling that Dawkins always tries to brush it off when the topic comes up because if he showed the natural outrage then all of the media attention about his work against religion would constantly be couched in “Well, of -course- he hates the Church because he got molested…” instead of listening to his message.

    It’s just conjecture, but it’s the feeling I get whenever I hear him talk about it.

  28. 28
    Ing

    If no one else is going to say it I will…

    Someone needs to tell Dawkins that if he’s not actually a child molester he’s dangerously close to wearing the uniform of one

  29. 29
    Ing

    I kind of get the feeling that Dawkins always tries to brush it off when the topic comes up because if he showed the natural outrage then all of the media attention about his work against religion would constantly be couched in “Well, of -course- he hates the Church because he got molested…” instead of listening to his message.

    It’s just conjecture, but it’s the feeling I get whenever I hear him talk about it.

    I see…and when did you get your bullshit telepathic powers?

  30. 30
    Ing

    Cause seriously Kenny I love your theory but that doesn’t explain why if that’s what he’s doing (Yeah right) He said the above.

    This is basically saying “I don’t want people to think I’m crass by belching, so I’ll just shit on the carpet instead”

  31. 31
    skeptifem

    did he mistake the journalist for a therapist or something? He needs to talk to a professional about this 0.o

  32. 32
    Jafafa Hots

    No, why the fuck would I read his books?

    None of my money will ever end up in his already overstuffed wallet.

  33. 33
    Ichthyic

    “Well, of -course- he hates the Church because he got molested…”

    thought it was a teacher, not a priest though.

    he recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”

  34. 34
    Weedless Monkey

    If no one else is going to say it I will…

    Someone needs to tell Dawkins that if he’s not actually a child molester he’s dangerously close to wearing the uniform of one

    Please don’t.
    Nothing points to that.

  35. 35
    Ing

    @weedmonkey

    What I mean is that saying things like that are going to make people less inclined to reading him favorably start to ask questions like that.

  36. 36
    Tapetum, Raddled Harridan

    Whelp, there goes me ever wanting to think about Dawkins’ existence again.

    Though it occurs to me that many of the people that know about my “little feeling up” when I was young would probably say it hadn’t done me lasting harm. They’d be very, very wrong, but they might think that.

    There’s no such thing as a minor, harmless bit of sexual exploitation of children.

  37. 37
    Jafafa Hots

    And a personal note to YOU RD, if you ever read this (which of course is doubtful, because this is not an article praising you.)

    I was sexually molested as a kid a number of times. Maybe it was “mild” because I was not anally penetrated, but I have PTSD and I dissociate and cannot lead a “normal” life as a result.

    So I’ll say fuck you, Dawkins, here… since I’m unlikely to ever get to say it to your face.

  38. 38
    skeptifem

    This isn’t a new thought from him. I swear I read something very similar in one of his books, where he recounts being molested and then saying he didn’t think it did any lasting harm.

    I posted on a forum with a lot of survivors of sexual abuse, long ago (and under a different name…). There were 3 or 4 women there who claimed that being raped or molested didn’t do any lasting harm, but from the outside it was pretty apparent that it had a serious and lasting effect on them. They all had eating disorders or substance abuse problems (or both). What kind of person could think it is no big deal to have their boundaries completely violated by others? You would have to think you were nothing, or be in denial about what it means. You can’t just move through something like that unchanged. I am pretty certain that people who say this line are just trying to not feel so small like they did during the abuse.

  39. 39
    frankb

    Dawkin’s behavior reminds me of my grandfather, a third generation minister. He was orphaned at the age of seven and went to live with his uncle, also a minister, who believed in regular beatings needed or not. This trauma left my grandfather introverted and bitter which are poor qualities for a minister. But I will give my grandfather tremendous credit for not internalizing the violence. My dad only received two spanking in his life with no other incidences of violence to report. People can rise up above their circumstances, and all Dawkins has to do is shut up.

  40. 40
    Inaji

    I have long well had it with Dawkins. He could drop straight into hell for all I care. I can’t even express how vile his earlier “religion is severe abuse, much more than being molested” bullshit. Perhaps being “mildly touched up” was perfectly okay for little Richard Dawkins, but where in the hell he gets off in extrapolating his experience to everyone else, I don’t know.

    When I was a child, I had the notion of hell hammered into me, hard. It terrified me. Next to being raped for six years, ages 3 to 9? That made hell seem like the soft option.

  41. 41
    Inaji

    Kenny Wyland:

    I kind of get the feeling that Dawkins always tries to brush it off when the topic comes up because if he showed the natural outrage then all of the media attention about his work against religion would constantly be couched in “Well, of -course- he hates the Church because he got molested…” instead of listening to his message.

    It’s just conjecture, but it’s the feeling I get whenever I hear him talk about it.

    Sure, Kenny, sure. Dawkins just had no choice, right? It’s not like he could have kept quiet about it, right? Here’s the thing: the only reason he brought it up in the first place was to emphasise his belief that religion constitutes worse abuse than sexual abuse. No, Kenny, Dawkins is a fucking asshole of the first water. Try thinking about it. Really thinking about it. Do you honestly think that people, whether religious or not, are going to be happy about this level of indecency?

  42. 42
    Merlin

    I just wish I was surprised by what he said. About the only thing left that would surprise me (and even then not that much) is his conversion to some variety of christianity. Or him admitting that he was wrong. I’d definitely be surprised if the last thing happened.

  43. 43
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    For fuck’s sake, Dawkins! Turn off the Twitter and take a long, hard look at yourself. Something is seriously wrong right now.

  44. 44
    timanthony

    the petty snits against other people

    No need to add anything.

    But I will defend Richard Dawkins from criticism. R.D. has been doing a great job, and he still is. He is not too strident. He is appropriately strident – he has truly hit his stride.

    It took me over a year to arrive at this conclusion, but it is well settled now. Before that I couldn’t settle on an answer. I thought maybe he’s too strident. What brought me to my present opinion, that he is strident but not too strident, it is mainly a growing awareness of what religion represents overall. One must not exclude people like Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, Peter Popoff and Ray Comfort when discussing the state of religion in today’s world. And if you want to fight against THOSE sorts of people well you better be ready for an actual fight, coz POLITE it isn’t going to be! Those godly folks don’t play by the rules. But R.D. knows what to do: make your own damn rules and then make other people play by them. If he comes across a little abrasive, there is an old saying about Kitchens and Heat that may apply.

    I won’t say R.D. is perfect, but he’s about the best we’ve got to lead a global fight against religion. Before it might have been Hitchens, but he isn’t here any more. We should throw all our support behind Richard Dawkins because he’s one of the VERY VERY few people willing to drop his gloves for atheism any day of the week, including Sunday. Helping the madding crowd to put him out in front of a pack of baying anti-kiddie-porn hounds is not how we serve our own best interests. What R.D. said was bothersome much more than it was plain wrong – he mostly limited himself to an interpretation of his own experiences, if not entirely, which was his mistake.

    So he isn’t perfect. Let’s not forget he’s FUCKING GOOD at least 99.9% of the damn time!

  45. 45
    ck

    @Kenny Wyland,

    Perhaps, but there’s a difference between shrugging off any possible damage done to yourself and shrugging off damage done to others. The former is his right, and I don’t think anyone would’ve had much of a problem with it. However, to claim the latter is not something he’s entitled to do. To assume his experience and how his life was affected by it was universal seems to show a grotesque lack of empathy.

  46. 46
    WhiteHatLurker

    Congratulations for this post, PZ!

    While Dawkins has some good ideas, he does also have a number of negative views that you have seemed to gloss over. This one is egregious. Thank you for taking a stand against this.

  47. 47
    Weedless Monkey

    I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism

    I can condemn them, and I do. I also realise it was common at the moment, and we can’t convict anyone, any more. But I sure as hell condemn them.

    , I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

    That’s your choice, not mine.

  48. 48
    Ing

    @Tim

    I won’t say R.D. is perfect, but he’s about the best we’ve got to lead a global fight against religion.

    If true then I surrender. FFS grow up

  49. 49
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    @timanthony: Are you fucking kidding? A racist misogynist piece of shit who thinks child molestation doesn’t count unless there’s rape or murder?

    That’s not “fucking good”. We can do better.

  50. 50
    Ichthyic

    It took me over a year to arrive at this conclusion, but it is well settled now.

    a whole year! wow!

    how old are you?

    …and to be already settled on an unshakeable conclusion that can’t be modified by new evidence.

    the irony should be smacking you upside the head right about now…

  51. 51
    Inaji

    timanthony:

    Let’s not forget he’s FUCKING GOOD at least 99.9% of the damn time!

    He is NOT GOOD, and his coterie of followers need to realize that. Defending pedophilia? No, that’s not what a good person does. Erasing the agency of children? No, that’s not what a good person does. Defending toxic sexism? No, that’s not what a good person does. Defending rape culture? No, that’s not what a good person does. Holding petty grudges and blackballing people? No, that’s not what a good person does.

    If you’re going to go fanboi no matter what, leave this thread and go hang all over Dawkins’s twitter stream or something. The man has demonstrated himself to be a person who has blithely decided to turn in his decent human being card. And so have you, with you idiotic defense of him.

  52. 52
    skeptifem

    I won’t say R.D. is perfect, but (…) he’s FUCKING GOOD at least 99.9% of the damn time!

    so the problem is the amount of time he spends excusing child molestation and sexual harassment? how much of his time does he need to spend on that before you find it deplorable?

  53. 53
    Jafafa Hots

    But I will defend Richard Dawkins from criticism. R.D. has been doing a great job, and he still is. He is not too strident. He is appropriately strident – he has truly hit his stride.

    How strident is TOO strident of a defense of child molestation (and implied criticism of those who didn’t shrug it off like brave RD) for you?

    Can he say something defending rape as harmless as long as it’s not “too strident?”
    How about bigotry… can he use the “N” word as long as it’s just casually tossed around?

    Your values are warped. You care more about WINNING than about people, apparently.

    This is not a fucking football game.

  54. 54
    Ichthyic

    if you want to fight against THOSE sorts of people well you better be ready for an actual fight, coz POLITE it isn’t going to be!

    what in the FUCK has tone got to do with it?

    you’re so far off base here it’s scary. get out.

  55. 55
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    And really, the “for their time” argument is so full of fucking shit. Being a huge fucking racist wasn’t okay “back in the day”, you were just allowed to kill POC who objected to it without recrimination. Molesting kids wasn’t okay back in the day, you were just allowed to get away with it because otherwise you’d make a scene and nobody believed kids anyway. It was never less harmful, it was just not something that could be opposed.

    (It wasn’t okay to be a giant misogynist either, and now people will speak up when you are one, or when you blackball the big scary mean girls. Ahem.)

  56. 56
    hjhornbeck

    Whoa whoa whoa, folks. This one is setting off a few of my alarm bells.

    For one thing, there is exactly one source for this, the article Myers linked to. Everything else is either a verbatum copy or a link to it. The situation strongly reminds me of the Dawkins supports eugenics meme from many moons ago, where a few bloggers misrepresented a speculative article by Dawkins. Without the original text available online, a lot of people were suckered in by it (I first learned of it last year, when an Christian apologist shouted it from the pulpit).

    As luck would have it, the interview itself is online but locked behind a paywall. Can we get any independent confirmation on this?

  57. 57
    skeptifem

    And really, the “for their time” argument is so full of fucking shit.

    I sorta used to buy that, until I read some emma goldman. Her politics are basically contemporary, including gay rights, and she was born in 1869.

  58. 58
    Ing

    And really, the “for their time” argument is so full of fucking shit.

    Again, somehow pedophilia was an acceptable practice back in Dawkins day? I kinda think it would have been a deal if the molestation was made known. Even if it was spiraling into denial.

  59. 59
    michaelbusch

    [ reads post ]

    What.

    I do not have adequate words for how horrifically wrong Dawkins is. I am suddenly glad that I never paid any money for his books.
    _
    @timanthony: You are attempting to defend a man who has just trivialized child being sexually assaulted. Stop typing.

  60. 60
    Inaji

    timanthony:

    if you want to fight against THOSE sorts of people well you better be ready for an actual fight, coz POLITE it isn’t going to be!

    I know you take pride in being a fetid, oozing boil on the arse of humanity, but your stupidity is simply too much to bear. The fact that you think politeness figures into things at all is a stunning example of the stupid running about in your skull.

    It’s easy to take on the Ray Comforts of the world, they aren’t the sharpest crayons, Dawkins is not the only person who can argue with such people, and here’s the main thing: other people can do all that stuff while openly condemning all instances of sexual abuse, no matter the type, and no matter who is targeted. I don’t give one shit if Dawkins could walk on water while doing his shtick. That doesn’t change his reprehensible attitudes or his dismissal of all other people who disagree with him. Dawkins seems to think he’s become a bit of a saint these days, and you’re just another of the dull crayons who seems to think that’s just dandy.

    :spits:

  61. 61
    Ichthyic

    second CK@45.

    that sums this up nicely. Dawkins can make the argument the abuse did not affect him personally (though even that argument would be up for counter), but he simply CANNOT make that argument and apply it to abuse in general. He even could have corrected himself earlier, OR in the interview, by saying his conclusions only applied to him, and he did not.

    With hindsight, this behavior actually applies to a great number of his arguments in fact, both social and scientific, and I’d say it was the one thing about him I disliked when I actually met the man back in the 90s. He does tend to extrapolate his opinions… broadly.

  62. 62
    Inaji

    hjhornbeck:

    Whoa whoa whoa, folks. This one is setting off a few of my alarm bells.

    Are you aware that he’s previously said that teaching religion to children is much worse abuse than being sexually molested? He tweeted that crap all over the place 8, 9 months ago.

  63. 63
    swampfoot

    Welp, this is inexcusable. What a rapid unraveling of a promising legacy. RD’s photo is coming down from my office “cool wall” when I go into work tomorrow morning. Who should I replace him with? Maybe Rebecca Watson…

  64. 64
    Stephanie Zvan

    Someone has started a petition, for anyone who wants to publicly disassociate themselves from his statements and ask him to retract: https://www.change.org/petitions/richard-dawkins-retract-your-trivializing-statements-regarding-victims-of-sexual-abuse

  65. 65
    Ichthyic

    Whoa whoa whoa, folks. This one is setting off a few of my alarm bells.

    For one thing, there is exactly one source for this, the article Myers linked to.

    It’s not the first time Richard has said this, or something very close to it.

    Incidentally, I was myself sexually abused by a teacher when I was about nine or ten years old. It was a very unpleasant and embarrassing experience, but the mental trauma was soon exorcised by comparing notes with my contemporaries who had suffered it previously at the hands of the same master.

    R Dawkins, Jan 1, 2013

    link

    also, I do recall him mentioning it even in the God Delusion.

  66. 66
    swampfoot

    #60 Caine:

    It’s easy to take on the Ray Comforts of the world, they aren’t the sharpest crayons, Dawkins is not the only person who can argue with such people

    And Dawkins was never even very good at that! Every debate I’ve seen with RD has left me wishing that the oponent had been facing Matt Dillahunty instead.

  67. 67
    Ichthyic

    …actually, that article was likely originally posted on dec 22, 2012 and updated on jan 1 2013. Minor detail.

  68. 68
    Stephanie Zvan

    hjhornbeck @56:

    Whoa whoa whoa, folks. This one is setting off a few of my alarm bells.

    For one thing, there is exactly one source for this, the article Myers linked to.

    As others have noted, this isn’t new. Neither are the criticisms. I responded to similar statements almost a year ago. He just keeps talking as though he hasn’t seen any criticism.

  69. 69
    Inaji

    Stephanie Zvan @ 64:

    Someone has started a petition, for anyone who wants to publicly disassociate themselves from his statements and ask him to retract

    Signed.

  70. 70
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    hjhornbeck: You know, he actually said pretty much exactly that in the fucking God Delusion. So, uh, don’t know what to tell you other than maybe you should not fan quite so hard for someone who thinks child molestation is no biggie?

  71. 71
    eigenperson

    The Times (or at least the little bit in front of the paywall) seems to confirm it. So unless they’re misinterpreting their own interview, it is what he said (again).

  72. 72
    Kenny Wyland

    #29)

    I see…and when did you get your bullshit telepathic powers?

    You can fuck right off.

  73. 73
    Weedless Monkey

    Who should I replace him with? Maybe Rebecca Watson…

    How about this beautiful shot of Saturn and the Earth?

    No gods, no masters, no heroes.

  74. 74
    Ichthyic

    He said the most notorious cases of pedophilia involve rape and even murder and should not be bracketed with what he called “just mild touching up.”

    that’s the really sad thing. Richard WAS raped.

    it does not require penetration.

  75. 75
    Inaji

    Swampfoot:

    Every debate I’ve seen with RD has left me wishing that the oponent had been facing Matt Dillahunty instead.

    Yeah, I agree.

  76. 76
    Madmonk

    Delurking to say this:

    Dawkins, please stop playing limbo with the increasingly low bar that is my expectations. At this rate you’ll just fall on your ass (which in all honesty you’ve probably done already.)

  77. 77
    fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist)

    @ skeptifem

    I posted on a forum with a lot of survivors of sexual abuse, long ago (and under a different name…). There were 3 or 4 women there who claimed that being raped or molested didn’t do any lasting harm, but from the outside it was pretty apparent that it had a serious and lasting effect on them. They all had eating disorders or substance abuse problems (or both). What kind of person could think it is no big deal to have their boundaries completely violated by others? You would have to think you were nothing, or be in denial about what it means. You can’t just move through something like that unchanged. I am pretty certain that people who say this line are just trying to not feel so small like they did during the abuse.

    Oh come on, this is just dishonest. Not everybody reacts to rape/molestation/assault the same way. While there very well may be people who deny that it harmed them as a coping mechanism, you can’t just go around throwing that explanation onto every single case of somebody telling that they weren’t affected.

    I got sexually assaulted when I was a teenager and I didn’t really care about it, that guy might have as well mugged me and my reaction would have been exactly the same (slightly shocked at first, but got over it in a few hours). And no, I don’t think that I’m “nothing” or whatever other crap theories you have.

    The ONLY thing about my sexual assault that ever frustrated me was the fact that I knew that everybody EXPECTED me to be all traumatised, and that were will be people who will write trauma onto my experiences despite ANYTHING I say. I have a long history of dealing with my feelings being unacknowledged and/or denied, and oh boy, did THAT affect me in a lasting way.

  78. 78
    Ing

    @Kenny

    What *I* don’t get the benefit of you adding extra textual info to make my comments better? Surely we can dig up some reason for why what I said isn’t really bad right?

  79. 79
    swampfoot

    #73 Weed Monkey:

    No gods, no masters, no heroes.

    You know, that’s a great idea. I’ve already got a photo of Carolyn Porco up there with Saturn, but I might put the Pleiades in there or something equally beautiful.

  80. 80
    michaelbusch

    Someone has started a petition, for anyone who wants to publicly disassociate themselves from his statements and ask him to retract: https://www.change.org/petitions/richard-dawkins-retract-your-trivializing-statements-regarding-victims-of-sexual-abuse

    Signed.

  81. 81
    Jafafa Hots

    Change.org wont recognize my password, wont allow me to reset it “error, try again later,” and when I sign up with a different email it doesn’t send the confirmation email it needs to verify you.

    Why are so many websites broken these days? (Don;t get me started about flickr)

  82. 82
    Inaji

    fantysq @ 77, you have a good point. As long as people don’t extrapolate their experience onto others, they have every right to their own feelings about being assaulted. It’s not okay to play shrink and say you just know how it affected someone. That’s extrapolation too.

  83. 83
    Ichthyic

    Oh come on, this is just dishonest.

    sorry, but you can’t be the judge of whether it is or isn’t. she was relating her personal experiences on the matter, and there is a lot of psychology to back up her conclusions besides.

    The ONLY thing about my sexual assault that ever frustrated me was the fact that I knew that everybody EXPECTED me to be all traumatised

    that’s because PTSD resulting from rape is extremely common, or didn’t you manage to figure that one out?

  84. 84
    Inaji

    Monitor note: handy ways to emphasize which don’t involve going the all caps route:

    Italics: <i>Text Here</i>: Italics

    Bold: <b>Text Here</b>: Bold

  85. 85
    Inaji

    Ichthyic:

    sorry, but you can’t be the judge of whether it is or isn’t. she was relating her personal experiences on the matter,

    Actually, I think fantysq can do just that. Skeptifem was also indulging in extrapolation, and chose to not take the people on that forum at their word. She may well have been right, however, there’s little use in yelling at Dawkins for extrapolating and letting others get away with it.

    It’s not alright to erase fantysq’s experience.

  86. 86
    Inaji

    Monitor note: A few reminders.

    Justice is more important than civility. But aspire to be charitable at first.

    Recognize that your words may not perfectly convey your content — and that the words of other commenters may not perfectly convey theirs. When necessary, clarify what you mean, or ask other commenters to clarify what they meant.

    When someone says something apparently stupid or vile, verify before opening fire. Express your objection and ask them to rephrase their statement. Then open fire.

    Let’s give new people a chance or three, please.

  87. 87
    Jafafa Hots

    that’s the really sad thing. Richard WAS raped. it does not require penetration.

    Funny you should say that.
    Took me years to be able to admit I was molested.
    Still don;t use the word “rape,” because I was not penetrated as far as I recall. Felt like I’d be a fraud, exaggerating, a “crybaby” or whatnot.

    I guess I still internalize a lot of feelings of responsibility… just like when I was 11, running away after the first time, telling myself “you need to be more careful.”
    Still taking the blame.

    Glad RD has cleared it up for me that it was all just harmless.

    It was, after all, the 1970s, when “jail bait” was just taken about as seriously as “speeding ticket,” – go ahead, just don’t get caught, etc.

    I’m still struggling with this. I’m going to be 48 next month. 37 years since it first happened and I still haven’t figured it all out. I’m still paralyzed inside. I still don’t know who I was supposed to be if this hadn’t happened. I feel guilty just for typing this, I’m making it about ME, the horrible phrase that has been hurled at me before still comes back. “Attention whore.”

    FUCK.

    And fuck organized atheism. Seriously.
    You can get conned into thinking you’re part of something, if that’s your bag, but at the end you’re still just alone with the crap in your head.

  88. 88
    Ichthyic

    Actually, I think fantysq can do just that.

    no, they do not get the right to decide whether it is dishonest or not. agree, disagree, sure. saying she’s being dishonest?

    nope.

  89. 89
    chigau (違う)

    Monitor note If you can manage a copy/paste for the quote, please also include ‘nym and comment number.
    (unless you are making some kind of rhetorical point)

  90. 90
    Weedless Monkey

    swampfoot, to be honest, Carolyn Porco is one of my heroes, I’m just trying to keep my worship really low key and hope it doesn’t interfere with noticing if they say anything really stupid. :)

  91. 91
    Ichthyic

    You can get conned into thinking you’re part of something, if that’s your bag, but at the end you’re still just alone with the crap in your head.

    that’s true regardless, and the ultimate crap lesson we all have to learn IMO. Took me nearly 50 years to figure that one out.

    Even married, you’re still in the end alone with the crap in your own head.

  92. 92
    fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist)

    “Dishonest” was just a word I picked. I’m not a native English speaker, so who knows, there might have been a better one. I’m not going to go and whip out the dictionary, especially since I’m really angry right now.

    One thing I can definitely say though is that if somebody tells “A event affected me in a Y way” you should never EVER say “No, it affected you in a Z way.” That sort of treatment totally fucks with your head, and I can’t stress enough how strongly I feel about this.

  93. 93
    Jafafa Hots

    (the “as far s I recall”: has to do with alcohol being given to me, AND a head injury which makes my memory of childhood spotty. I’m not talking “recovered memory” BS)

  94. 94
    skeptifem

    fantasysq

    I got sexually assaulted when I was a teenager and I didn’t really care about it, that guy might have as well mugged me and my reaction would have been exactly the same (slightly shocked at first, but got over it in a few hours). And no, I don’t think that I’m “nothing” or whatever other crap theories you have.

    What is remarkable to me about this is that it suggests that you value your sexual boundaries as equal to money or jewelry. Its interesting to me that you see it that way. I’m not

    In your post you equated ‘has a lasting effect’ with ‘being totally traumatized’. They are two totally different statements. Don’t you think its fair to say that abuse changes people? Do you think the defense mechanism that I discussed exists (even if not in your case)?

    I’m not here to tell you how to feel about whatever happened to you. Its your deal. I was speaking about my experience with other people who survived abuse and had problems that are strongly correlated with it, but still denied being affected in any way.

  95. 95
    Ichthyic

    One thing I can definitely say though is that if somebody tells “A event affected me in a Y way” you should never EVER say “No, it affected you in a Z way.” That sort of treatment totally fucks with your head, and I can’t stress enough how strongly I feel about this.

    fair enough.

  96. 96
    Inaji

    Jafafa Hots:

    Took me years to be able to admit I was molested.
    Still don;t use the word “rape,” because I was not penetrated as far as I recall.

    Sometimes it’s easier to call it sexual assault.

    I’m still struggling with this. I’m going to be 48 next month. 37 years since it first happened and I still haven’t figured it all out. I’m still paralyzed inside. I still don’t know who I was supposed to be if this hadn’t happened. I feel guilty just for typing this, I’m making it about ME, the horrible phrase that has been hurled at me before still comes back. “Attention whore.”

    I know that song and dance all too well. It’s a struggle many of us end up living with, and it’s extremely difficult to come to the realization that you will never know who you were supposed to be, and have to live as the person you manufactured and cobbled together. Don’t feel guilty, Jafafa Hots. We all feel that, but try not to, because you aren’t being bad, and you aren’t wrong, and you aren’t doing anything at all close to “attention whoring”. You need care, and empathy, and support, and you have all those from me.

  97. 97
    Ing

    Hey this is me asking a stupid question: can we maybe NOT have the fantasysq/skeptifem discussion here? I don’t see it going well

  98. 98
    Inaji

    fantysq:

    One thing I can definitely say though is that if somebody tells “A event affected me in a Y way” you should never EVER say “No, it affected you in a Z way.” That sort of treatment totally fucks with your head, and I can’t stress enough how strongly I feel about this.

    QFMFT. Thank you. This is much more important that most people realize.

  99. 99
    Stacey Richardson

    Does anyone actually have access to the full interview, rather than just this small excerpt?
    I worry about people making such harsh judgements based on third-hand reporting. Perhaps Dawkins said something inappropriate, but without hearing the full, unedited interview I question people’s ability to judge that. Surely a sceptical, science-minded community would withhold statements of judgement until the full interview has been examined. If it is then shown that Dawkins made questionable statements, then criticise away.

  100. 100
    skeptifem

    One thing I can definitely say though is that if somebody tells “A event affected me in a Y way” you should never EVER say “No, it affected you in a Z way.” That sort of treatment totally fucks with your head, and I can’t stress enough how strongly I feel about this.

    …but people have said that to me, and it didn’t fuck with my head, so you can’t tell me that saying that fucks with peoples heads.

    see what kind of argument we have here? its more or less a matter of opinion if someone is affected by something. I was arguing that people *are* affected by abuse, not necessarily *how* they were affected.

  101. 101
    Inaji

    Skeptifem:

    What is remarkable to me about this is that it suggests that you value your sexual boundaries as equal to money or jewelry.

    I’ll ask you to not do this anymore. It’s not up to you to make value judgements on how someone else feels about their assault. Also, no one owes you details. If you absolutely have to do it anyway, please take it to Thunderdome.

  102. 102
    Ing

    really other than “I’d have to be a total idiot to say…” would add context to make it better?

  103. 103
    Inaji

    Stacey Richardson:

    Surely a sceptical, science-minded community would withhold statements of judgement until the full interview has been examined. If it is then shown that Dawkins made questionable statements, then criticise away.

    Surely a sceptical, science minded person would read the whole thread before commenting, so they started out with more knowledge, rather than a deficit. If you had bothered to read the thread, you would have noted many people bringing up prior instances on Dawkins’s part, saying the same thing.

    Read the thread first.

  104. 104
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    At this point he could convert to Christianity and become a preacher and I wouldn’t be surprised…

  105. 105
    Craig Mansfield

    Aren’t we the same bunch of people who have, many many (many) times, admonished others to “shut up and listen” when a victim, minority, or any sort of “other” recounts their experiences relevant to that victimhood, etc.? I think we are. Or does that only count when the speaker says what we want or expect or are most comfortable hearing? RD may not label himself a victim as such, but everyone here seems pretty sure he was; so, is that how we generally treat victims of any sort of assault? No, actually, it’s not. And, publicly dissociate from his statement? HIS statement about HIS experience? So, what…you’ll end up with a list of people who feel differently about their different experiences than RD did about his? Wow, that’s powerful stuff there. I think with a little calm reflection, most of us would find that if his statement had been made by someone else, maybe someone not old, white, male, and privileged, that the comments here would, on balance, be expressing sympathy and attempting to empathize with the “victim”. Even if you thought THEIR take on THEIR own experience was somehow a symptom of their ordeal, I’m pretty sure we would not be so ready to dismiss, disown, distance, and disrespect another human being’s story of trauma.

  106. 106
    Ichthyic

    Surely a sceptical, science-minded community would

    …already be familiar with what Dawkins has said on the matter previously?

    yes, yes we are.

    kinda leaves you out though.

  107. 107
    Ichthyic

    Craig, read #45. that is all.

  108. 108
    Weedless Monkey

    Craig Mansfield, quite the opposite. Dawkins can talk all he wants about his own experience, but he can’t and shall not use it to silence anyone else.

  109. 109
    Inaji

    Craig Mansfield:

    I think with a little calm reflection, most of us would find that if his statement had been made by someone else, maybe someone not old, white, male, and privileged, that the comments here would, on balance, be expressing sympathy and attempting to empathize with the “victim”. Even if you thought THEIR take on THEIR own experience was somehow a symptom of their ordeal, I’m pretty sure we would not be so ready to dismiss, disown, distance, and disrespect another human being’s story of trauma.

    Did you bother to read the thread, Craig? There are a number of sexual assault victims in this thread. I’m one of them. I have empathy for anyone who has been subject to sexual assault. Yes, anyone is free to process their assault in any way they like. That said, you miss the point entirely.

    While Dawkins is free to feel any way he likes about his sexual assault, what he does not get to do is extrapolate his personal experience onto everyone else. He’s not free to handwave sexual assault as no big deal, either. Simply because a person has been a victim of sexual assault, that does not exempt them from criticism when they are behaving very badly.

  110. 110
    fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist)

    @ skeptifem

    What is remarkable to me about this is that it suggests that you value your sexual boundaries as equal to money or jewelry. Its interesting to me that you see it that way. I’m not

    I meant that comparison in terms of the shock value of the event. Getting assaulted changed my view of how safe the world I live in was. My brother once got cornered by a few guys on the street and told to empty out his pockets, and that changed his view of how safe he is too.

    And yes, I did say that some people may well be in denial, but you shouldn’t go around deciding who is and who isn’t in denial just like that. It’s a terrible way to treat people.

  111. 111
    Jafafa Hots

    I think with a little calm reflection, most of us would find that if his statement had been made by someone else

    I think with a little calm READING, you wouldn’t have typed a large clueless paragraph.

  112. 112
    Ichthyic

    HIS statement about HIS experience?

    ah, it really sucks when one capitalizes words to call direct attention to one’s failure at reading comprehension.

    ouch.

  113. 113
    dwightwelch

    I think some of the problem is believing that one individual ought to somehow carry or represent the cause. Don’t think it’s plausible nor desirable. For one, it sucks the air out of any number of folks who are well equipped to lead, add their contribution. And secondly, it sets us up for disappointment when we discover that someone like a Dawkins has some fault, in this case, a curious if not horrifying blindness about child molestation.

  114. 114
    Inaji

    Ichthyic:

    ah, it really sucks when one capitalizes words to call direct attention to one’s failure at reading comprehension.

    What in the hell is it with all the people going all caps? Yeesh, drives me up a tree.

  115. 115
    Ing

    No, actually, it’s not. And, publicly dissociate from his statement? HIS statement about HIS experience? So, what…you’ll end up with a list of people who feel differently about their different experiences than RD did about his? Wow, that’s powerful stuff there.

    “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

    Now shuddup

  116. 116
    fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist)

    @skeptofem:

    see what kind of argument we have here? its more or less a matter of opinion if someone is affected by something. I was arguing that people *are* affected by abuse, not necessarily *how* they were affected.

    Uhh, sure, everything adds a new data point. But you were talking about how people on that forum must have been in denial. You mentioned they had eating disorders and such, so if I told you that I’m also very severely mentally ill, would you also go on to assume that I’m totally in denial about my sexual assault? You can’t just go and decide that for other people.

  117. 117
    Ichthyic

    What in the hell is it with all the people going all caps? Yeesh, drives me up a tree.

    it’s pretty upsetting stuff. I understand the need to yell at my computer screen via the keyboard.

  118. 118
    ck

    fantysq (a Radical Feminist and a Militant Atheist) (#110) wrote:

    And yes, I did say that some people may well be in denial, but you shouldn’t go around deciding who is and who isn’t in denial just like that. It’s a terrible way to treat people.

    It also comes damn close to gaslighting, which is also quite terrible.

  119. 119
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I can now see why Richard Dawkins could dismiss what Rebecca Watson was talking about as “zero harm”. If he could claim that his sexual abuse at the hands of a figure of authority did no harm to him and other of that man’s victims (Great assumption on Richard Dawkins part. How would he know how those others people feel about their abuse?), it becomes easy to dismiss the concerns of a woman who has no idea what to expect when a lone man chases her down in an elevator.

    Richard Dawkins is showing a lack of empathy. But it is hard to tell if this lack is part of his core personality or if this is how he has dealt with the trauma of his sexual abuse, to deny that nothing bad happened.

  120. 120
    Ichthyic

    I beseech you in the bowels of Christ,

    …is probably better than using all caps, though.

    :)

  121. 121
    Eric O

    Well, I’m done with him.

    The last straw for me was the recent revelation about him attempting to use his celebrity status to keep Rebecca Watson from speaking at the Reason Rally, so his comments on child-diddling didn’t really cause me any further disappointment; I already feel more contempt for him than admiration. At this point, I’d be happy to see him fade into irrelevance.

  122. 122
    Ichthyic

    How would he know how those others people feel about their abuse?

    they shared notes… at the time.

    that’s about it.

  123. 123
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Craig, the problem is not Dawkins dealing with his experience in his own way. I, for one, support that 100%. If it helps him to deal with it that way, then more power to him! He is not just allowed, but encouraged to handle his experiences in the way that he feels it is best to deal with them for him.

    What is NOT okay is insisting that other victims deal with similar experiences the same way he has. Perhaps his experience didn’t cause lasting harm. I can totally accept that and seriously… good for him! That’s great stuff!

    That does not mean he gets to excuse digital rape (which, make no mistake, is what happened) as “not rape” and “not harmful” when it happens to others because it didn’t harm him. He does not get to dictate how others handle it when they are violated in similar ways. His method of coping is his and his alone. He doesn’t get to prescribe it for everyone else.

    That, Craig, is the problem.

  124. 124
    Aaron Luchko

    skeptifem 94 100,

    You still seem to be projecting reactions and values onto her. For a variety of reasons some people react to situations in different ways.

    I think that was Dawkins point, for the relatively mild experience he had they all thought it was normal so it didn’t really click in he should be traumatized and he wasn’t. It’s not a reason to ease up on pedophiles, but it might be a reason to think about how to deal with victims. If we can reduce the significant and shame that kids feel around the incident they might have better outcomes.

  125. 125
    Stacey Richardson

    Wow….I make a comment relating to the issue that actually initiated this thread (i.e. the Times interview with Dawkins) trying to get some more info on which to judge his statements in this specific instance, and apparently I’m the one to be criticised. I’m not the only one who has asked for more details on this. Dawkins may have said a whole pile of inappropriate or offensive stuff in the past. I was trying to find out what he said this time.

  126. 126
    Ichthyic

    pparently I’m the one to be criticised.

    yup.

    now, unless you can figure out why…

  127. 127
    Jafafa Hots

    What in the hell is it with all the people going all caps? Yeesh, drives me up a tree.

    I go SOME caps because my typing sucks and I often mess up tags. It’s easier for me.

  128. 128
    Craig Mansfield

    First, the caps were simply to bring attention to those words, not meant to be yelling. I can’t bold here so…maybe get over it.
    Also, yes, I did indeed read the entire post. He made a comment about his experience, which includes his perception of the larger context around him. He did not, however, dismiss an entire group of people’s experiences or even come close trying to silence anyone. Some of you clearly love to hate him. And when I add a thoughtful comment from my perspective, I’m told to shut up, that I’m clueless, and that I need remedial reading.
    For a long time, I posted here, and elsewhere, under a nym, but recently decided to put it on the line. And the first time I do, as someone you don’t know, I get insulted, dismissed, and bullied. When making these same types of comments as someone you knew and thought you agreed with, you responded with calm disagreement and discussion, even going so far as to acknowledge my perspective as possibly having merit. It’s pretty telling. I’ll consider going back to my previous nym, I guess, if I feel I miss your approval too much. But I suppose it’s not likely. I will stick around to see how you decide to dismiss everything else I’ve said, though. Bye. I’m gonna miss…well…um..hmm.

  129. 129
    Ing

    Craig you’re a fucking idiot

  130. 130
    Ing

    Ugh can someone do something about the morphing?

  131. 131
    Mavaddat

    Your response is on point, PZ, but I’m confused by your one sentence. Can you help me out?

    Should I have raised my children with such a lack of self-respect that they should have allowed dirty old men to play with their genitals? I would have wanted them to inform me, so that such behavior could be stopped.

    In what sense do you see child molestation resulting from children allowing men (esp. in positions of power) to touch them? How is molestation a consequence of a child’s lack of self-respect (as opposed to the fact that an older man coerced the child)?
    This one sentence seemed like victim-blaming language to me, so I wanted to understand more clearly what you meant. I am not trying to be incendiary — if I have missed a more obvious charitable interpretation, I apologize in advance for my ungenerous reading.

  132. 132
    Amphiox

    First, the caps were simply to bring attention to those words, not meant to be yelling. I can’t bold here so…

    WHY not?

  133. 133
    Craig Mansfield

    There we go. Thanks Ingdigo for adding another cogent piece to the puzzle.

  134. 134
    Ing

    So Craig what was your oh so respected nyme? Blow my mind

  135. 135
    Craig Mansfield

    amphiox, seriously? you replied to that – says the guy replying to that? I said I couldn’t, so I chose caps. sheesh.

  136. 136
    Ichthyic

    I can’t bold here so

    yes, you can

    but really? it’s the same difference, and the same problem.

    He did not, however, dismiss an entire group of people’s experiences or even come close trying to silence anyone.

    yes, he did:

    “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

    He said the most notorious cases of pedophilia involve rape and even murder and should not be bracketed with what he called “just mild touching up.”

    and back in 2012 on his own website:

    I suspect that research would show belief in hell to be more traumatic than the sort of mild feeling-up that I suffered.

  137. 137
    Jafafa Hots

    He did not, however, dismiss an entire group of people’s experiences

    Yes he did, and not by implication but explicitly.
    That is why you are being told to read.

    Because you are ignoring a major part of the damned statement.
    And by the way, I can’t remember the vast majority of names used here, and I have not met and will not meet any of you in the “real world.” You can damn well bet I would have said the same thing to you regardless of what name you used, the only exception being I would possibly have said something like “are you fucking kidding me?” if it came from one of the few people I am more familiar with.

    So if you prefer, feel free to preface my previous comments with “are you fucking kidding me?” if it makes you feel better.

  138. 138
    Ichthyic

    “are you fucking kidding me?”

    caps or bold?

  139. 139
    Stacey Richardson

    Craig Mansfield:

    “I get insulted, dismissed, and bullied”

    I know how you feel on that point Craig. I was a first-time commenter just trying to get involved in a discussion, being a Pharyngula fan, but apparently I did it wrong. I think I’ll just leave you guys to it in future.

  140. 140
    Ing

    I smell feet

  141. 141
    brucegorton

    I, can’t really condemn Dawkins for what he is saying here.

    Look, everybody’s experience of abuse is different, and people who have been abused deal with it in different ways. I wasn’t sexually abused, but I was violently and psychologically abused by an older sibling (including everything from him stealing stuff that I had borrowed off of friends and selling it, to choking me till I was unconscious in an alleyway.)

    My method of coping with it is different to Dawkins’ method, my method is acknowledging that it really did effect me in some severe ways, and it has shaped a lot of who I am and the moral stances I take.

    Dawkins method of coping is different. If it really didn’t do so much harm, he wouldn’t remember it as clearly as he does.

    I cannot fully blame him for that. Nobody is strong all the time, and if this is what he needs to sleep at night? I am not going to begrudge him it.

    I disagree with him, I think what he is saying is very wrong, but I can sort of see where it is coming from.

  142. 142
    Ichthyic

    Some of you clearly love to hate him.

    tell me, oh wizard of comprehension…

    Does PZ hate Richard Dawkins?

    a simple yes or no will suffice.

  143. 143
    Craig Mansfield

    jump toindignation, are insults and sarcasm and belittling the sum of what you have to add here? I didn’t say anything like you implied. I simply said I have been treated with better respect when people thought they knew me, even when my comments were somewhat questioning of the prevailing thoughts on a thread. I haven’t said anything mean or dismissive about anybody or thought on this thread. I simply saw things from another point of view, one you, and others have deemed to be categorically wrong, apparently. Not one single line that maybe I might have something worthwhile to say. Nope, just insults.

  144. 144
    Ichthyic

    Dawkins method of coping is different.

    at the risk of pissing off several people…

    DAWKINS

    key word there…

    getting it yet?

    are you getting what you’re missing in his missive yet?

    I know you can do it. Craig is right on the cusp of getting it… I think u can too!

  145. 145
    Ichthyic

    jump toindignation, are insults and sarcasm and belittling the sum of what you have to add here?

    done with you now, you dishonest hack. I gave you more credit than you deserved.

  146. 146
    Craig Mansfield

    and then we have ichthyic with, what else, more sarcasm, and nothing to add.

  147. 147
    Ing

    Right so Craig was treated better under a different nyme but won’t share it. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

    Craig, you’re so full of shit

  148. 148
    Ing

    are insults and sarcasm and belittling the sum of what you have to add here?

    yeah

  149. 149
    Ichthyic

    ass… door… or did you poor persecuted “skeptics” want to do a proper flounce?

    if so, I can offer some advice…

  150. 150
    Craig Mansfield

    credit? i must have missed that. but if that’s true, i’m sorry you feel it was misplaced. please tell me exactly what i’ve added here that deserves your dismissal.

  151. 151
    Ichthyic

    credit? i must have missed that.

    I was sure you were close to understanding what you missed in the actual text of what Richard said.

    I was wrong.

  152. 152
    Craig Mansfield

    persecuted skeptic?! seriously, indignatio, where are you getting this from. please tell me what i said in my original post that was deserving of the treatement i’ve received. seriously.

  153. 153
    hjhornbeck

    Various people:

    I know, Dawkins has said similar things in the past. These new statements are entirely plausible.

    But as Thibeault and Avicenna have found out, some people are willing to take advantage of the current situation. We’we all had our confidence shaken in the prominent members of our community, and are on a hair-trigger about any allegations. It wouldn’t take much to get us gathering our pitchforks.

    If we have a chance to verify this, we should leap at it, especially when our source is somewhat sketchy.

  154. 154
    Craig Mansfield

    and, no, I’m not going to give my old nym. I meant it when I said I may want to go back to it. Things were much better then. Really. This, well, this, I don’t like. Not one bit. Nor do I even get it.

  155. 155
    Ing

    persecuted skeptic?! seriously, indignatio, where are you getting this from

    Dunno cause I didn’t say that.

    Reading comprehension how does it work!?

  156. 156
    Craig Mansfield

    Ichthyic, seriously, what do you think I missed. Please tell me.

  157. 157
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    @ Jafafa Hots #37

    I was sexually molested as a kid a number of times. Maybe it was “mild” because I was not anally penetrated, but I have PTSD and I dissociate and cannot lead a “normal” life as a result.

    I’m so sorry.

    We’ve got to stop this sick notion that sexual abuse is “mild” or “not as bad” if it doesn’t include penetration. I’ve encountered this a few times when I disclosed the molestation I experienced–though normally not from other victims. Hell, when I worked up the nerve to finally talk to my mom about what had happened, after dealing with it in therapy, her response was, “Oh, he only–” and a relieved sigh. ONLY? Like you, I’ve had lifelong issues because of what happened; it certainly wasn’t mild or only anything.

    We also need to remember that the same event can affect different people in different ways–and that doesn’t make the person who has a stronger reaction weak or remiss. It’s brain chemistry, brain function, utterly outside your control, anymore than we would blame a factory worker who got cancer from asbestos, over his co-worker who died of old age and cancer-free at 110. We’ve known for decades now that you can have two soldiers in the same squad who experience the same events during war, but after they come home, one can integrate back into society and put his (or her) experiences in the past with hardly a blip, while the other will struggle with PTSD, flashbacks, etc. for the rest of his life. Hell, this even happens in the same family: I know siblings who both suffered through extreme physical abuse. One sibling has struggled with deep emotional wounds and attachment issues, struggles with addiction and self-harm, while her sister is happily married with a couple children, acknowledges that it was a shitty experience but has a “that was then; this is now,” attitude and is content and happy. ::shrug:: Maybe someday we’ll understand the whys–all I know is that it’s ridiculous to blame the victim for their reaction, rather than the abuser. We blame the asbestos (or the people who ran a dangerous work environment), not the cancer patient.

    I’m honestly glad that Richard Dawkins has not suffered overmuch from what he experienced. Unlike some, I’m happy to take him at his word. I’ve also met some women who experienced molestation, and even rape, but didn’t have the stereotypical brakedown reaction. (This can cause problems in dealing with the police and/our courts, because most people expect victims to have a very specific, total collapse response–to react like a TV rape victim–and a woman who doesn’t display that reaction is often not believed.) And, you know, I’ve got no problem with raising awareness–”raising consciousness”, to steal the term Dawkins stole–that not all victims of childhood sexual abuse or rape (or physical abuse and domestic violence, etc.) react the same way or view their experiences in the same light. That’s fine. Maybe that’s a discussion that needs to be had.

    But where Dawkins seriously fucks up is trying to extrapolate his own experience universally. At first, I wanted to say that I was shocked a man as intelligent and well-educated as Richard Dawkins could fall into that trap…but then I remembered that this is the same man who is enamored with evolutionary psychology. His books are full of exhortations to be open to new evidence, to be aware that your understanding can be incomplete, to be willing to admit error and change when confronted with overwhelming evidence that you’re wrong. If he would practice that in his daily life, if he would realize that his experience is not universal and there are many things that as a straight, white, educated, wealthy male that he simply will never experience and can never fully understand, we wouldn’t need to keep having these conversations. Sigh.

  158. 158
    Amphiox

    I said I couldn’t, so I chose caps.

    But you CAN.

    Little is more pathetic than a liar caught lying TWICE.

  159. 159
    Ing

    and, no, I’m not going to give my old nym. I meant it when I said I may want to go back to it. Things were much better then. Really. This, well, this, I don’t like. Not one bit. Nor do I even get it.

    Yeah, I bet. Convenient.

    I have another nyme. It’s from Canada, you don’t know it

  160. 160
    Craig Mansfield

    Ingdigo, sorry, that was ichthyic.

  161. 161
    Craig Mansfield

    amphiox, I said that I couldn’t, not that’s it’s not possible generally. Seriously? Now I’m a liar? Twice? Because I can’t do bold? Seriously?!!!

  162. 162
    Ichthyic

    persecuted skeptic?! seriously, indignatio, where are you getting this from. please tell me what i said in my original post that was deserving of the treatement i’ve received. seriously.

    treatment you’ve received??

    we pointed you to specific segments of text that document the failure of your reading comprehension.

    you IGNORED all of that, which resulted in increasing levels of derision tossed appropriately in your direction.

    and you want to whinge about that, and claim you’re not presenting a persecution complex in the very same sentence??

    wow. what a clueless git!

    This, well, this, I don’t like. Not one bit. Nor do I even get it.

    waaaaahhhhhh!!!!

    piss off, wanker. This thread is not, and should not be about, YOU.

  163. 163
    Hank_Says

    Craig, it might be time to take this (and any nyms you might have on your person) to the Thunderdome thread.

    It mightn’t have been your intention but this thread appears to be all about you (and whatever you used to call yourself) right now. It’s OT, irritating and dull.

  164. 164
    Craig Mansfield

    Look, we’ve had no discussion of what this post is about. I thought I had something to add, but all you seem to want to do is attack me personally instead of explaining – anything – to me, that you think I don’t get.

  165. 165
    Ing

    oh fuck off matryre

    yeah I bet your old nyme really commented a lot.
    Cause we all know how well that shit goes over.

  166. 166
    Ichthyic

    Ichthyic, seriously, what do you think I missed. Please tell me.

    LOL

    reallly???

    how in the hell could you have missed it?

    did you read #45, which was the very first thing I directed you to?

    or how about #136?

    done with you now.

  167. 167
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    hjhornbeck @ 56–

    Dawkins also has the entire article on his website (as well as it being in the fucking Times): http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/9/7/the-world-according-to-richard-dawkins-the-times

  168. 168
    Ichthyic

    But where Dawkins seriously fucks up is trying to extrapolate his own experience universally.

    Erin restores my faith that new people coming into this thread have not lost their reading comprehension skills.

    thank you.

  169. 169
    jimharrison

    Our current hysteria about sexual crimes will probably look pretty silly 50 years from now when people look back and wonder how one class of bad behavior became regarded as magically evil. Maybe it’s the revenge of Freud. After all, aside from the purportedly drastic consequences of even brief instances of sexual abuse, nobody much credits the trauma theory of mental illness any more. The other explanation that occurs to me is that we’ve decided that most formerly illicit forms of sexuality are OK—homosexuality, sodomy, premarital sex, etc.—so we compensate by losing all sense of proportion about what remains forbidden.

    It’s pretty funny that a bunch of folks who make a big deal out of the scientific method discard it instantly when sacred offenses are in question. Is child sexual abuse as harmful to children as, say, poverty? I kinda doubt it since the empirical case that poverty has lasting bad effects is quite strong while the presumption that sexual encounters routinely ruin lives is basically anecdotal as far as I can see. Old episodes of Law and Order SVU are not really good evidence, you know. And the way in which every kind of deviant sexual behavior gets lumped together shows that what we have here is essentially a religious form of thought. Sexual crimes are polluting. They have an essence so that the difference between inappropriate touching and murdering children is just one of degree.

    There’s nothing good about the sexual molestation of children, but I doubt that the current moral panic about it is much help to anybody. We’re eventually going to have to get beyond our irrationality on this issue. It wasn’t very prudent of Dawkins to violate the taboos of the tribe just as it was once not very wise to suggest that witchcraft might not be the cause of storms. And it’s not very prudent of me even to raise the possibility that Dawkins might have a point. Mobs don’t like to be contradicted.

  170. 170
    Hank_Says

    Craig:

    Look, we’ve had no discussion of what this post is about.

    I’ve read the entire thread. Discussion of the topic was proceeding until you arrived. Then discussion of your reaction to the topic ensued, which you ignored so you could have a fucking whinge about how you used to be treated back in the day when you were someone else, which derailed the thread.

  171. 171
    Dabu

    Provided your abuser was kind enough to keep it external, all you need to cope with molestation is a stiff upper lip, a sympathetic group of friends and a sense of gratitude that at least you weren’t amongst the true unfortunates who were raped or told nasty things about hell. Or so sez Dawkins.

    Being a child molester has always required a special kind of shitmonger, in any era. It’s not that otherwise good decent people sometimes touched up kids because nobody knew any better. Dawkins may not have intended to become an apologist for sex abusers, but right now he looks like one. Serious megawhatthefuckage.

  172. 172
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    jimharrison,

    Take your rape apologia and fuck off. We aren’t playing the “But Other Things Are Bad so Child Rape Isn’t *That* Bad” game.

  173. 173
    Craig Mansfield

    In the spirit of the other commenters on this thread, I’ll just say FUCK YOU. no bold. cause i can’t .MUAAAHAAHAAAHAAA!

  174. 174
    Ichthyic

    It’s pretty funny that a bunch of folks who make a big deal out of the scientific method discard it instantly when sacred offenses are in question.

    hackneyed logical fallacy is fallacious.

    Is child sexual abuse as harmful to children as, say, poverty?

    or a gunshot to the head even, right?

    phht.

  175. 175
    Ichthyic

    Mobs don’t like to be contradicted.

    neither do bullshitters.

  176. 176
    Ing

    There’s nothing good about the sexual molestation of children, but I doubt that the current moral panic about it is much help to anybody. We’re eventually going to have to get beyond our irrationality on this issue. It wasn’t very prudent of Dawkins to violate the taboos of the tribe just as it was once not very wise to suggest that witchcraft might not be the cause of storms. And it’s not very prudent of me even to raise the possibility that Dawkins might have a point. Mobs don’t like to be contradicted.

    So is there nothing good about kiddy molestation or is that an irrational taboo of the tribe?

    Dawkins and his rape cheerleaders can fuck a power socket

  177. 177
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    Craig… this site uses HTML code.

    Caine noted in post #84 how to do bold and italics. Also, there’s a guide immediately below the comment box (for the general record, it took me a good year to actually notice that… which… says a lot about me, actually… :( ).

    As for what people want you to notice from Dawkins:

    I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.

    I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

    He said the most notorious cases of pedophilia involve rape and even murder and should not be bracketed with what he called “just mild touching up.”

    I really don’t know how that can’t be read as universally hand-waving digital rape as “mild” and assuming that because it didn’t damage him, it didn’t damage anybody.

    I’ll repeat here what I think every single person in this thread has been saying:

    Dawkins is welcome to deal with his experiences in the way that he feels is best for him. I support him 100% in that. If his experiences did not cause any kind of lasting damage (and I do honestly believe him), that is good for him. That he has been able to so easily recover from being victimized is wonderful and great and maybe even inspirational.

    That does not give him license to assume that his experience is somehow universal. People could suffer personal-privacy violations even more “mild” than that and be affected worse than he was effected and their way of dealing with it would be entirely justified for them. Their experiences are not universal, and neither is his. But he seems to assume that they are.

    If you include his constant insistence that being taught about Hell as a child (which I do agree can be traumatizing and I actually do think should be considered a form of emotional child abuse) is worse than being sexually abused as a child, and you have the picture of a man who perhaps doesn’t take this issue as seriously as pretty much everyone alive should.

    Again… I fully support him dealing with it in his own way. I believe him when he says it did not traumatize him. I am completely happy with it being, I guess, a sort of mild experience for him.

    But what he’s doing is assuming that his experience is the universal experience. And that is, very simply, where he’s wrong.

  178. 178
    Ing

    Oh yeah Craig I’m sure is someone that was a fucking shining beacon of decency and good conversation. Hell at this point even if his “I’m an angel in disguise” bullshit was true I’m fucking glad he decided to just out himself as an asshole.

  179. 179
    Hank_Says

    @169: jimharrison

    Dawkins’ way of dealing with his abuse might suit him just fine. What people object to is his implicit assumption that the other people who were victimised by the same person dealt with it the same way as he did. What he did was to minimise other peoples’ experiences by assuming his experience was universal.

    As for the rest of your comment, I’ll leave it to the survivors of sexual abuse (and anyone else who can actually be bothered) who’ve already talked about their experiences upthread to, if they choose, tell you where you went wrong in your minimising ignorant insensitive load of steaming fucking bullshit.

  180. 180
  181. 181
    Ing

    Just pointing out again cause I can’t get over it that Dawkins doesn’t think he can judge the ‘different era’ that he fucking grew up in.

    And this is the same person who says that people who don’t like how he talks about immigrants and Muslims are moral relativist pinkos?

  182. 182
    Stephanie Zvan

    jimharrison @169:

    After all, aside from the purportedly drastic consequences of even brief instances of sexual abuse, nobody much credits the trauma theory of mental illness any more.

    Um, care to point me to an accepted mental health model in which short-term stressors play no role?

  183. 183
    Ing

    After all, aside from the purportedly drastic consequences of even brief instances of sexual abuse, nobody much credits the trauma theory of mental illness any more.

    Yeah I believe the consensus is that soldiers are just whimps

  184. 184
    brucegorton

    @Erin (formerly–formally?– known as EEB)

    I absolutely agree, but I think him extrapolating his own experience that way is more human than monstrous.

    He is wrong, but he is wrong in a way that I can both understand and can relate to if you get my meaning.

  185. 185
    Amphiox

    amphiox, I said that I couldn’t, not that’s it’s not possible generally. Seriously? Now I’m a liar? Twice? Because I can’t do bold? Seriously?!!!

    Yes it does. Because you CAN.

    And now it is three times.

    I thought I had something to add

    You thought wrong.

  186. 186
    Ing

    I absolutely agree, but I think him extrapolating his own experience that way is more human than monstrous.

    Oh I didn’t know the idea that Dawkins being a Rakasha was something we had to rule out. Thanks for that!

  187. 187
    littlebear

    @Craig
    Seriously stop digging. If you used to comment here you should know that if you make a mistake you will be called on it. Loudly and quickly. Especially since recently there’s been all kinds of rape apologists here. Maybe you should stop commenting for a while and read the threads, just read. Wait until you’re used to the culture here before commenting.

    No one is saying that Dawkins can’t process his own molestation or rape in any way he wants to. No one is saying that he is wrong in that it may not have traumatized him. But they are saying that he can’t extrapolate that to other people. Just because it didn’t cause him trauma doesn’t mean he can say that the “mild” assault didn’t affect others more and can dismiss “mild” assault as harmless. This is extremely dismissive of other people’s experiences and by now he should know much better.

  188. 188
    cityzenjane

    Professor Dawkins,

    If you are reading this…please stop speaking on things besides biology. You just are not equipped.
    It’s not helping….not the cause of atheism, secularism.

    In fact, therapy is in order.

    You are screwing up a LOT lately – and on a very public stage….harming a lot of people in the process.

  189. 189
    cityzenjane

    Could it be that public school boys have to shut down a lot of their emotions to survive the meat grinder hierarchy and petty brutality of that crusted over culture?

    I’ve heard horror stories… but I suppose abuse of your body and psyche is the price of admission to the Big Boys Club.

  190. 190
    cityzenjane

    “but he’s about the best we’ve got to lead a global fight against religion.”

    No….he’s not. Claiming that religion is worse than child sexual abuse – is not helping – because it is on it’s face absurd and meant solely to inflame people…. The statement craps on both those oppressed by religion and those abused by the nearest teacher, parent or priest – AND for the poor folks who were unlucky to draw both – insults their intelligence as he tries to force them to detangle the horror.

    He is book smart. He is neither street smart nor emotionally intelligent. In fact, he seems emotionally frozen in time…as you would expect of an abuse survivor who did not do the work of processing what happened to him.

  191. 191
    hjhornbeck

    Cyranothe2nd, there’s no such thing as a moderate ally @167:

    Dawkins also has the entire article on his website (as well as it being in the fucking Times)

    Thanks, that was exactly the verification I was looking for! I can’t believe he used the phrase “mild paedophilia;” that’s like saying something was a “partial assault” or “slight robbery.” Children cannot provide informed consent, period, so he’s completely out to lunch here. And he seriously said, about the abuse scandals in the Catholic Church,

    “Same thing,” he says. “Although I’m no friend of the Church, I think they have become victims of our shifting standards and we do need to apply the conventions of the good historian in dealing with cases which are many decades old.”

    Uh, not all abuse cases are “many decades old.” There are quite a few fresh ones, thankyouverymuch. And when was touching children ever legal? There are no shifting standards, Dawkins is pushing a complete fiction here.

    Dawkins has completely lost it.

  192. 192
    Ing

    So Dawkins defended the church on the kiddie abuse?

    FFS

  193. 193
    cityzenjane

    Mods feel free to delete that last post. I am not in a position to speculate.

  194. 194
    Jafafa Hots

    BruceGorton, why are you arguing that Dawkins’ statement was solely about how HE dealt with it, and ignoring that others have already stated total agreement that he gets to feel about his personal experience however he feels about it.

    Why are you ignoring the fact that he flat-out stated that the way he dealt with it is or should be how all others who experienced it did or should?

    THAT (whoops, sorry… ) [b]that[/b] is the point of contention.
    Why do you deliberately avoid mention of that which is the point of contention?

  195. 195
    laurentweppe

    I can think of some lasting harm: he seems to have developed a callous indifference to the sexual abuse of children.

    Or more generally, a callous indifference to abuses commited by people who seem to come from similar ethnic/social background than him.

    ***

    Just when did it stop being OK for acquaintances to put their hands inside Richard Dawkins shorts? [...] at what age do the contents of childrens’ pants stop being public property?

    Anyone who had to go through bullying in school or abuse within their family will tell you the answer: when you become big and strong enough to be able to inflict pain in retaliation.

  196. 196
    Jafafa Hots

    dammt. See, I TOLD you I fuck up codes. I post on so many sites and they all use different codes, and I can’t remember one from the next. And I can’t type for shit.

  197. 197
    Jafafa Hots

    There are no shifting standards

    Sure there are.
    Dawkins’.

  198. 198
    nmcc

    Richard Dawkins has been saying this for years. Why the big furore now? It wouldn’t be because Myers is miffed at Dawkins’ dismissal of the talentless self-promoter Watson, would it? Indeed, if I’m not mistaken, Dawkins wrote about his experiences long before he used Timonen (the ex-sainted one who subsequently had to be ex-communicated from ‘new’ atheism for allegedly having it away on his toes with the victuals) to close down his forum in the face of opposition from its moderators and users. If I recall correctly, PZ ‘I Have No heroes’ Myers was telling everyone to trust Dawkins on the grounds that ‘…he is a very smart man’. And, of course, all Myers’ followers did exactly that. Now, Myers is singing from a different hymn sheet re Little Lord Fauntleroy, and, guess what? All the little cultists on here are doing exactly the same thing. Though Dawkins’ statements and views on the subject of his childhood experiences have changed NOT ONE IOTA!

    And anyway, you wankers are hardly dominating the moral high ground in relation to Dawkins. You still have writing on FtB an IRA terrorist sympathiser. Do any of you know what the IRA did to young boys? In Warrington England, for example? Well, it was something worse than sticking a hand down their pants. It involved blowing them to bits with bombs planted in the trash cans in busy shopping areas. It gets more hysterically and hypocritically repulsive on here by the day.

  199. 199
    Jafafa Hots

    So can I take it that you don’t feel Dawkins’ comments are worthy of condemnation, NMCC?

    Maybe YOU can tell us how much molestation is too much.

  200. 200
    brucegorton

    Okay, I have just read through the interview at Richard Dawkins’ site again, and do you all terribly mind if I change sides on this and admit I kind of missed the point? It took me a moment to process exactly what he was saying, and frankly I think I was being entirely too charitable.

    Maybe I was unconsciously thinking “He couldn’t really be saying that…”

    And he was. Ewww.

    I mean, the more I think about it, the more it sounds like the precise sort of rationalization the Catholic Church pulled with its child abuse scandal.

    And the more I read what timanthony wrote up above, the more creeped out I am with it.

  201. 201
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    Ah. And along comes jimharrison to remind me why it’s so difficult to talk about the experiences of those who don’t have the more common, expected, severe trauamtic reactions to child sexual abuse (or other forms of violence). Because there’s always some douchecabinet ready to minimize the trauma of abuse victims, in order to prove that he is sooooo much more rational than you, he is Above It All, not burdened with all the taboos of you mere herd animals, he cares not for trivial things like feelings or–ha! please!–personal experiences of those who have suffered. No, he is Rational Man.

    Seriously, fuck off. We’re not impressed. If you didn’t copy&paste that from the last Rational Man post, you just wasted a shitload of time. Blah blah blah witch hunt, yap yap yap tribalism la la la hysteria blah blah moral panic hmmm hmmm hmmm SCIENCE. And dismount. I can’t even work up the energy to be offended, or even just pissed off. I’m fucking bored.

    Is child sexual abuse as harmful to children as, say, poverty?

    You do realize that people, like, fucking study this stuff, right? Like, you–and all of us, thank goodness–don’t have to rely on your condescending, insensitive, ignorant-ass brain shits on this subject. There is sadly, tragically, a huge amount of data on the subject, because we have an awful lot of children in this country who suffer from poverty, and a sickening amount of children who suffer from child sexual abuse. And that is empirical fact, dude, ’cause I know how you just love those.

    I’m not talking about your bullshit “who sufferers more?” question, because that isn’t the point. But how they suffer, what the long-term effects are, the observable physical changes in the brain, etc. etc. yeah that all has been observed and studied and written up in nice little scientific journals, Rational Man, so you can be absolutely sure than the three year old getting felt up by her dad every night before she goes to sleep is really suffering. But I’m not going to do your homework for you. Somehow, I found those studies without anyone holding my hand and leading me to them. So you can just get on that, and shut the fuck up in the meantime. The grownups are talking.

    (Although, if you really need to see the empirical evidence that child sexual abuse devastates lives before you can decide if it’s something you should give a damn about…I really think, for the good of humanity, your time could be better spent constructing a room where you can live out the rest of your days utterly cut off from the rest of society. I’m pleading with whatever shred of human decency you might still possess.)

  202. 202
    Jafafa Hots

    Bruce, happens to me all the time.
    Brain fog.

  203. 203
    Hank_Says

    Gosh, nmcc, you sure do know a lot about, well, everything. Excellent, then – issue resolved, it’s all a hysterical conspiracy of cultists/wankers/self-promoters/ex-sainted ones who all-of-a-sudden hate Dawkins and everyone can go home and stop talking about everything because FtB are completely discredited and wrong about everything because the IRA.

    Cool.

    *waits for two-fisted wanky troll to leave and take his impotent rage with him*

    Anyone else wanna play Slymepit/douchebucket Bingo?

  204. 204
    geroche

    Just chiming in to reiterate that if you’ve read The God Delusion, then this should sound very familiar. If they hadn’t said in the first line that it was said in an interview, I’d have thought they were just quoting the book.

    Child abuse isn’t right. Touching/beating kids is terrible behaviour and we rightly condemn it today (although some people haven’t yet got the memo about not beating kids). I don’t condone what anyone does today or did 50 years ago. Having said that, the idea that today pedophilia can be given disgust and condemnation more on the level with rape or murder, even for the least severe cases of pedophilia, doesn’t seem an outrageous claim. I watched a video asking what an appropriate punishment would be for a certain pedophile (quite a bad one) on a newsy youtube channel. The responses… well… they were imaginative.

    frankb

    Last year I received “The God Delusion” as a birthday present from my daughter. I have not read it yet. I have just changed my plans from simply tossing it in the trash to…..what? Any suggestions?

    Regardless of his views about conflating the murder and rape of children with that of lesser sexual abuses, the book is a good read. PZ himself gave it a favourable review. Certainly if your daughter gave it to you, it would be a shame not to read it.

  205. 205
    Ichthyic

    Richard Dawkins has been saying this for years.

    cite the first time he said it, and the exact quotes used.

    remember, you said years, plural.

    Why the big furore now?

    maybe it’s because there has been a gradual recognition of the fact that he HAS been saying crap for years?

    ? It wouldn’t be because Myers is miffed at Dawkins’ dismissal of the talentless self-promoter Watson, would it?

    logical fallacy much?

    in fact, there is nothing in the rest of your screed that ISN’T a logical fallacy.

    you appear to have all the unjustified furor going in this thread.

    run along and play in the pit, fuckwit.

  206. 206
    Ichthyic

    Anyone else wanna play Slymepit/douchebucket Bingo?

    damn, is it too late to look for my scorecard?

  207. 207
    Ichthyic

    I mean, the more I think about it, the more it sounds like the precise sort of rationalization the Catholic Church pulled with its child abuse scandal.

    yeah, it is disturbingly similar. :(

  208. 208
    billforsternz

    @167 – Thank you for providing a link to the whole story. After reading the whole article including the excerpt from his new book, my longstanding admiration for Professor Dawkins is undimmed. There is nothing in that article that suggests the man is anything other than intelligent, empathetic, engaged and a thoroughly decent human being. I found his musings on the separation he now feels from his childhood self particularly insightful and interesting. I suppose this reveals my worldview doesn’t matchup entirely with the prevailing orthodoxy here, but I hope in advance that doesn’t constitute a hanging offence.

    After reading this whole thread it seems that the major issue people here have is “the fact that he flat-out stated that the way he dealt with it is or should be how all others who experienced it did or should?” (from @194). I don’t see any explicit statement of any such thing in the article. The closest I can see is that his memory of discussions with other victims at the time revealed that the impact on them seemed similar to the impact on him.

    A secondary issue seems to be Dawkins’ use of the phrase “mild paedophilia”. It’s a disturbing phrase but I find it hard to disagree with the real point Professor Dawkins was making; Simply that a teacher from his childhood who would sometimes put his arm around a pupil and make suggestive comments should not be treated in exactly the same way as a someone who rapes or murders a child.

  209. 209
    Ichthyic

    I don’t see any explicit statement of any such thing in the article.

    another blind mofo.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/09/09/i-beseech-you-in-the-bowels-of-christ-please-stop/comment-page-1/#comment-688339

    Simply that a teacher from his childhood who would sometimes put his arm around a pupil and make suggestive comments

    ….PUT HIS HAND IN HIS PANTS

    like I said… another blind mofo, that apparently can’t read simple english.

  210. 210
    Maureen Brian

    Erin,

    We have seen jimharrison in these parts before. He is not improving with age.

    Neither is Richard Dawkins.

  211. 211
    Ichthyic

    Okay, I have just read through the interview at Richard Dawkins’ site again, and do you all terribly mind if I change sides on this and admit I kind of missed the point?

    not only can I say that likely most here would not mind, but be thankful that at least someone took the time to carefully read what Dawkins has been saying on this issue.

    FWIW…. thankyou.

  212. 212
    HaifischGeweint

    Does this mean that, despite his horrific racist tirades which have not yet inspired a widespread voluntary boycott, people other than me have finally surpassed their threshold of tolerance?

    Or is my angry skimming, following my having just sacrificed an hour to listen to two residential school survivors speaking about their experiences, correct in perceiving of people continuing to defend this man?

  213. 213
    marinerachel

    I mean, it’s terrific that he doesn’t feel he suffered any lasting harm as a result of childhood sexual abuse. Really, that’s great. Speaking for others on the subject, not so much.

    And really, “It was OK back then”? No, it really wasn’t. It did the same harm to people affected by it that it does today. The fact people spoke of it less and weren’t demanding reformation to the same extent doesn’t mean it was acceptable at the time or that it didn’t harm.

  214. 214
    Jafafa Hots

    I absolutely agree, but I think him extrapolating his own experience that way is more human than monstrous.

    All things humans do are human, none of them are “monstrous.”
    I personally hate the dehumanizing of our worst humans as monsters (not at all saying Dawkins is one of our worst humans, I’m going off on a side tangent here…)

    Genocide is not the act of monsters, it’s the act of humans. Murder, rape, war… all very human things. Not an excuse, because most of us can choose not to do these things. “He’s a monster” is the excuse, it’s just an excuse for ourselves by distancing ourselves.

    Being a conceited, unfeeling jerk is not only human, it’s extremely common.

  215. 215
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    Okay, I am majorly tired of this meme.

    Just chiming in to reiterate that if you’ve read The God Delusion, then this should sound very familiar. If they hadn’t said in the first line that it was said in an interview, I’d have thought they were just quoting the book.

    No. HE DID NOT SAY THESE THINGS IN ‘THE GOD DELUSION.’ He spoke of pedophilia in ch 9, under subtitle “physical and mental abuse” and his argument boils down to two things:
    1. Dawkins was abused and he didn’t find it very harmful to him.
    2. He thinks vigilante justice against pedophiles is not okay.
    3. He cautions that people’s memories can be manipulated (false memories.)
    4. He believes that people should not simply focus on physical and sexual abuse and ignore the emotional and mental abuse of the church.

    While I do not agree with a lot of these points, Dawkins DOES NOT SAY “Oh, we can’t really judge people in the 50s because it was a different time and they had their own morality and pedophilia was totes okay back then.” Which is kinda the whole icky center of this shit sandwich.

  216. 216
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    Erm, that was 4 things, not 2. *must go to bed soon*

  217. 217
    Cyranothe2nd, there's no such thing as a moderate ally

    @ 208,

    You are wrong. First, Dawkins talked about TWO DIFFERENT TEACHERS, one who made suggestive comments, and another who put his hands down childrens’ pants. Additionally, he talked about older students attempting to rape younger students and having to “fend them off.” So–reading comp.

    Second, while Dawkins’ blanket assertion that it’s okay for him so it’s not a big deal is a huge red flag, I think the crux of the ickiness is the idea that we can’t judge people in the past for doing things that are now considered unacceptable. He used two examples in his article: pedophilia, and sexual harassment (a street harasser grabbing women’s breasts as they walked by, observed by Dawkins in the 60s). I assure you that both were WRONGWRONGWRONG, both in the eras in which Dawkins describe them, and now. But even if this weren’t the case, and Dawkins did indeed live in a society that condones sexual harassment and the rape of children–IT WOULD STILL NOT BE RIGHT. And anyone with an ounce of rationality would be justified in condemning that society for being immoral.

    FFS, Dawkins’ judgement of Islam isn’t even consistent with the moral relativity expressed in this article. Nor is condemning the Holocaust. Or slavery. Or any Biblical atrocity. After all, these societies thought what they were doing was right, right? So, by their lights it was, and we can’t really judge them.

    Fuck. That. Bullshit.

  218. 218
    brucegorton

    214 Jafafa Hots

    That is a very good point. Thankyou.

  219. 219
    chimera

    214 218

    I second the monstrous / human comment.

  220. 220
    Jafafa Hots

    Second, while Dawkins’ blanket assertion that it’s okay for him so it’s not a big deal is a huge red flag, I think the crux of the ickiness is the idea that we can’t judge people in the past for doing things that are now considered unacceptable.

    For me it’s the opposite, because it’s personal.
    It’s my ruined life (among countless others) he’s saying is no big deal.

    I GET that we hopefully learn to be less shitty people as a whole as decades pass.
    I don’t get why he apparently won’t.

  221. 221
    AJS

    Whenever I hear people say “corporal punishment never did me any harm”, I have to add mentally “Except teach you — or reinforce your already-existing ideas — that violence is an acceptable way of solving your problems”.

    If Richard Dawkins is saying that being touched inappropriately by a priest did him no harm, maybe we should qualify that with “Except give you ideas that sometimes this sort of behaviour is OK”.

  222. 222
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    timanthony

    I won’t say R.D. is perfect, but he’s about the best we’ve got to lead a global fight against religion.

    Well seems to me that Richard Dawkins’ world without religion would be just the same as this one with people spending less time in church. He’s only against misogyny when muslims do it, he’s so very convinced of his own infallibility the Pope gets envious and he doesn’t think that pedophelia is a big deal.
    Oh, and btw, your uncritical hero-worship would be better suited for the RCC as well.
    Coming to think of it, Dawkins’ problem doesn’t seem to be the Pope in principal, it seems more like he’s angry that the job is already taken…

    Ingdigo

    Again, somehow pedophilia was an acceptable practice back in Dawkins day? I kinda think it would have been a deal if the molestation was made known. Even if it was spiraling into denial.

    Well, only for the right kind of people. Rich and powerful, you know… There were always two sets of law: One for those with privilege and one for those without. I’m pretty sure that the public reaction 60 years ago at finding a peddler or traveller with his hands in a child’s undies would have been very different and probably violent.

    aaron Luchko #124

    I think that was Dawkins point, for the relatively mild experience he had they all thought it was normal so it didn’t really click in he should be traumatized and he wasn’t.

    I think that’s a very harmful way to frame it. It suggests that it’s not the acts that traumatize but public discourse. We know how corporal punishment has long-lasting psychological effects, whether you found it horrible as a child or traumatizing or whether you approve or disapprove of corporal punishment.

    Stephanie Zvan @ 64:
    Signed

    Craig Mansfield @105
    Richard Dawkins is completely within his right to tell his tale and feel about it as he feels, But that’s not what he’s doing. He’s making general statements and he’s excusing the abuse. That’s something different.
    #124

    And the first time I do, as someone you don’t know, I get insulted, dismissed, and bullied.

    Those words, I don’t think they mean what they think you mean.

    #154

    and, no, I’m not going to give my old nym. I meant it when I said I may want to go back to it. Things were much better then. Really. This, well, this, I don’t like. Not one bit. Nor do I even get it.

    The rules, read them

    hjhornbeck #153.

    We’we all had our confidence shaken in the prominent members of our community, and are on a hair-trigger about any allegations. It wouldn’t take much to get us gathering our pitchforks.

    WTF?
    Do you seriously compare manufactured false rape-allegations that nearly cost Avicenna his job to criticising Dawkins for shit he actually said and that is entirely consistent with shit he said before?

    jimharrisson #169

    Our current hysteria about sexual crimes will probably look pretty silly 50 years from now when people look back and wonder how one class of bad behavior became regarded as magically evil

    Yeah, hysterical bitches. Getting all upset about sexual abuse.

    Is child sexual abuse as harmful to children as, say, poverty?

    So, who’s playing oppresion Olympics again? You might notice that people here are against poverty, too?

    while the presumption that sexual encounters routinely ruin lives is basically anecdotal as far as I can see.

    Yes, it’s just people telling that sexual abuse harmed them. Can’t trust people!
    BTW, Stephanie Zvan has a nice article about the harm with data to back it up. Go search for it.
    I also think you’re disgusting.

    billforsternz

    After reading the whole article including the excerpt from his new book, my longstanding admiration for Professor Dawkins is undimmed

    Yes, and there are people whose belief in god cannot be shaken. I doubt that anything could end your Dawkins’ worship. But be assured, you’re exactly the kind of person he likes.

  223. 223
    billforsternz

    @208 and @217

    Yes, there were two teachers, I mentioned the arm around the pupil teacher, not the hands in pants teacher. Dawkins’ point that there are different levels of abuse is in fact reinforced by the distinction between these two teachers.

    @208

    Maybe I am a blind mofo, but I can tell when someone is dishonestly selective quoting out of context. When I read the full quote;

    “As soon as I could wriggle off his lap, I ran to tell my friends, many of whom had had the same experience with him. I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage, but some years later he killed himself.”

    What leaps out at me as is not that Dawkins is a terrible person who insists on dismissing the experience of others. It sounds to me like he shared and cared with others, at the time.

  224. 224
    Hank_Says

    After reading the whole article including the excerpt from his new book, my longstanding admiration for Professor Dawkins is undimmed

    Nice to know your faith in your infallible hero is unshakeable.

    Who was it that said we don’t have atheist popes?
    Is it too soon to call that person a fucking idiot?

  225. 225
    Ichthyic

    if Richard Dawkins is saying that being touched inappropriately by a priest did him no harm,

    again, not a minor point of distinction, NOT priest… teacher; because I’m sure the issue will get misconstrued on the intarwebs, and it will end up being told as “Dawkins abused by priest? No wonder he hates god!” At which point, I would actually start to feel sorry for Richard, and that ain’t right.

  226. 226
    Walton

    Does this mean that, despite his horrific racist tirades which have not yet inspired a widespread voluntary boycott, people other than me have finally surpassed their threshold of tolerance?

    You’re not alone – I’ve been sick of his anti-Muslim rhetoric for some years now, as some of the regulars can attest, and of his support for outright racists like Pat Condell. Several other bloggers, including Alex Gabriel of FtB, have also called him out for lending rhetorical support to racists.

    As for today’s paedophilia gaffe: as pointed out above, he’s said very similar things in the past. Stephanie Zvan criticized his assertion that childhood religious indoctrination was worse than sexual abuse several months ago.

  227. 227
    geroche

    Cyrano

    No. HE DID NOT SAY THESE THINGS IN ‘THE GOD DELUSION.’ He spoke of pedophilia in ch 9, under subtitle “physical and mental abuse” and his argument boils down to two things:
    1. Dawkins was abused and he didn’t find it very harmful to him.
    2. He thinks vigilante justice against pedophiles is not okay.
    3. He cautions that people’s memories can be manipulated (false memories.)
    4. He believes that people should not simply focus on physical and sexual abuse and ignore the emotional and mental abuse of the church.

    While I do not agree with a lot of these points, Dawkins DOES NOT SAY “Oh, we can’t really judge people in the 50s because it was a different time and they had their own morality and pedophilia was totes okay back then.” Which is kinda the whole icky center of this shit sandwich.

    I think you read more into my post than you should have, finding things I didn’t intend to say. I didn’t say he said the same thing in The God Delusion and I certainly didn’t say or even want to imply he said “Oh, we can’t really judge people in the 50s because it was a different time and they had their own morality and pedophilia was totes okay back then.” now or in 2006. I’m a fan of Dawkins and was just pointing out it had familiar points. Him saying he’d been a victim of sorts and the final paragraph,

    He said the most notorious cases of pedophilia involve rape and even murder and should not be bracketed with what he called “just mild touching up.”

    Even the rest wouldn’t have been terribly out of place in The God Delusion. I doubt it would have been the basis for a huge controversy in 2006. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting Dawkins thinks sexual abuse was “totes okay” in 50s.

  228. 228
    brucegorton

    timanthony

    What you appear to be saying here is that you will accept Dawkins’ weaknesses because despite them he is a very effective writer and leader against religion…

    And that bothers me. It bothers me a lot.

    I say this because one of the things I like about New Atheism in general is that we will not generally turn a blind eye to something being wrong for the sake of political expedience. That was the point to the whole accomodation wars thing, that we wouldn’t suddenly stop criticizing religious ‘allies’ just because they agree with keeping creationism out of science classes.

    Dawkins’ central idea on religion, the idea that made him such a big name and all of that, was that we shouldn’t treat religion all that differently to how we would treat anything else, and I think there is a corollary there, we shouldn’t treat anything else all that differently to how we treat religion.

    If the Pope had come out and said exactly what Richard Dawkins said, we would all be agreed on it being a thoroughly douchebag statement, and we would hold a small degree of contempt for Catholics who actively looked the other way on it. We shouldn’t be flying a double standard here.

  229. 229
    imthegenieicandoanything

    I fear he’s just getting old in the worst sense, and is famous and surrounded by sycophants at worst and fanboys (it is ALL males at the site, as far as I can tell) at best who’ll never, ever contradict him while spewing poison on even the mildest and most-deserved criticism.

    I’ve tries to post a discussion there about the Rebecca Watson affair and a related Skepchicks’ thing, but it seems to still be “awaiting moderation” even though I was VERY polite about why I was suggesting it and what I hoped to learn from discussing it there. It’d kill the site for me if they reject it, permanently.

    We can only not-pray he isn’t becoming some sort of vague parallel to Pat Robertson (though he’d still be honest, well-spoken, generous even when fierce, etc.) That would undo much of what he’s accomplished – about promoting atheism at least.

    No more heroes, but let me not lose respect for people who have been fine, if human, people.

  230. 230
    scimaths

    Clueless. Absolutely clueless.

    It’s not even a difficult concept: “X happened to me and I reacted like Y, though X might happen to someone else and they could react like A,B,C….. ”

    I wonder what the mental block is that people have when such a simple idea is beyond them ?

    Also not difficult: the notion that there are many (well studied) reasons why people suffer differently in response to bodily violation. Past history, social support networks, and so on.

    Possibly slightly more subtle but still not really that hard to grasp: just because people react differently to any set incident does not serve a a reason to dismiss or diminish the actions of the perpetrator.

    Note for anyone who missed it upthread, or for those who want to go down the “unfounded hearsay” route – this interview he gave is proudly displayed on his website, along with a discussion thread full of rape apologetics. Read it if you wish.

  231. 231
    plutoanimus

    First, Dawkins shows little concern for sexual harassment within the atheist movement.

    Then, he displays little concern for child victims of sexual fondling.

    I believe I see a pattern emerging….

  232. 232
    Ichthyic

    Dawkins’ point that there are different levels of abuse is in fact reinforced by the distinction between these two teachers.

    Dawkins specifically makes reference to the touching incident in his own case, and compares it to violent rape.

    THAT was the distinction he made. not between touching and suggestion.

    again, your reading comprehension is dismal.

    I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage

    that’s a conclusion not based on any evidence, and ends up causing him to dismiss a serious case of abuse as something trivial.

    again, you fail at reading comprehension.

    good job, you.

  233. 233
    Ichthyic

    It sounds to me like he shared and cared with others, at the time.

    “You know nothing, John Snow”

  234. 234
    Andy Kimber

    Damnit, I really want to be able to like and support Professor Dawkins. Why must he keep exasperating his natural supporters with this sort of thing?

  235. 235
    carlie

    From the article:

    In the book, Dawkins mentions one occasion when a teacher put a hand down his trousers at a prep school in Salisbury, and four others at Oundle, when he “had to fend off nocturnal visits to my bed from senior boys much larger and stronger than I was”.

    So the older boys commonly sexually assaulted the younger boys, but he’s convinced that none of them were negatively affected by the sexual assault that the teachers foisted on them. He sees no connection between boys being sexually assaulted by adults and those boys growing up into upperclassmen who then sexually assault people younger than them.

  236. 236
    Acolyte of Sagan

    17.
    Ingdigo Jump
    9 September 2013 at 10:39 pm (UTC -5) Link to this comment

    I’m confused at the idea that pedophilia was just an acceptable part of the culture in the earlier part of 20th century.

    (Apologies if this has been answered but I’ve just logged in and haven’t had time to go through all 234 comments yet)

    One has to remember just what type of school Dawkins attended. All-male, privately funded boarding schools, where the only women were the House Matrons and ‘menials’ (housekeeping, cooking, etc); where sexual release could only be got with other males – from group masturbation to buggery, and where what happened in school stayed in school. It was almost traditional, for fuck sake.
    That’s the environment that made our ruling classes the men they are today. A full-scale investigation would make the recent Catholic furore seem like a minor blip in comparison to the British public school system!

  237. 237
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Sweet Jesus…

    The problems here are four fold:

    1- While Dawkins has every right to deal with his abuse as he sees fit, he does not have the right to extrapolate his opinions and claim that because he was not particularly traumatised by his experience, molestation can’t be that bad. This trivialises the trauma experienced by other victims of molestation, and it’s not OK.

    2- The old “they were a product of their time” trope. I agree that culture changes through time and children learn from their predecessors. Behaviours are learned, and people can not be entirely blamed if they are taught since birth that certain reprehensible behaviours are OK or even laudable. However, nor are they entirely blameless when they go on to perpetuate such behaviours. See religious homophobia, for example. However, there never was a time in 20th century Britain where paedophilia was considered OK. No one in the 20th century was actively taught that molesting a child was just fine. And even if they were, it does not exonerate them of blame. The violation of another person’s body, particularly of those who cannot defend themselves, is not OK. Were the rapes committed by Saville or Harris OK because they happened (mostly) back in the 60s – 80s? No, of course they’re not. Their victims are still traumatised, and that is what matters. Dawkins’ attitude is problematic.

    3- The distinction between molestation and penetrative rape. At first, I was tempted to agree, but then realised that what matters is not the act but the effect it has. On average perhaps molestation is less traumatising than penetrative rape, I don’t know, but if someone has been molested and is just as traumatised as a victim of penetrative rape, then the crime is just as bad. Dawkins does not get to dismiss the trauma experienced by other victims of molestation by saying “some people have it worse, buck up”*.

    4- The absolute hypocrisy of applying the “different era” trope as justification for paedophilia but not for religiously motivated murder. Either apply it consistantly or not at all.

    The fact some people on this thread are incapable of seeing this even after much explanation is something I find puzzling.

    * Clearly this is a favourite tactic of Dawkins’; see “Dear Muslima”.

    @ PZ

    I have to agree with Mavaddat #131 regarding this comment:

    Should I have raised my children with such a lack of self-respect that they should have allowed dirty old men to play with their genitals? I would have wanted them to inform me, so that such behavior could be stopped.

    It’s victim-blaming and even smacks of slut-shaming.

    @Amphiox

    While Craig Mansfield is clearly having trouble reading, or at least understanding, what is written to him, I don’t think it’s OK to call him a liar when he says he can’t do bold. Just because it’s possible here on this site doesn’t mean it’s possible for him. It could be anything from a problem with his computer or computer equipment to some sort of obscure disability. I don’t know, and neither do you.

    That said, he is clearly lying about being a regular commenter here under another ‘nym, else he would know that tone-trolling does not work here.

    @jimharrison #169

    Fuck off, you offensively clueless tosser.

  238. 238
    Andy Groves

    RD’s behavior, now and in the past, is all of a piece with him being a member of the white, male, Oxbridge-educated establishment. Patronizing sexism (devoting several paras of TBW explaining why he insists on using male personal and possesive pronouns), the inability to stop himself talking down to his readers (he can’t resist inserting a footnote into TGSOE to remind us that baby mammals don’t suckle, they suck…), the public school tradition of “a bit of fiddling about never did me any harm…made a man out of me, and it made a man out of my wife”….. it’s all cut from the same cloth.

    If we have learned anything about atheists in the past couple of years, it is that there is no correlation between being an atheist and being a decent person. Dawkins is just an intelligent, privileged asshole who happens to be an atheist.

  239. 239
    scimaths

    where sexual release could only be got with other males

    Sexual release could be got by having a wank on your own. No one has a right to another person’s body for sexual release.

    It always comes up in these discussions about boarding schools, celibate priests, prisons – oh if only women or girls were made available for the men and boys to use, then they wouldn’t have to use each other as their “bitches”. That’s what the female half of the human race are for ! How sad that they they need to turn on other men.

    Or maybe: no one has a right to another person’s body. That’s the actual issue. Not “sexual release”, boundaries and consent and not getting off on violation.

  240. 240
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    HaifischGeweint #212:

    Does this mean that, despite his horrific racist tirades which have not yet inspired a widespread voluntary boycott, people other than me have finally surpassed their threshold of tolerance?

    He recently received a serious lot of flak in the British press and blogs for stuff he said about Islam. Don’t know how much of it was heard on the other side of the pond… And as Walton pointed out, Alex Gabriel of FtB was very vocal about it. (Even though his “don’t be a Dickhead” bit makes me squirm. Gendered slurs in a post about racism? Not a good idea.)

  241. 241
    bscoder

    Dawkins needs to start using smaller words or something, so that PZ can understand him.

  242. 242
    w00dview

    Dawkins is digging a hole so deep that any attempts to beg him to stop are distant whispers to him by now. Have just read this article, have there being many apologists for this fuckwittery on the this thread yet?

  243. 243
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    And another thing…

    PZ, in the OP:

    Should I have raised my children with such a lack of self-respect that they should have allowed dirty old men to play with their genitals? I would have wanted them to inform me, so that such behavior could be stopped.

    Seconding what Thumper #237 and Mavaddat #131 already pointed out about victim blaming. I’m all for teaching children about personal physical boundaries and how to respect them, in themselves and in other, but not to imply that it would somehow make them safe from pedophiles! It would have been better if you had phrased it like:

    “Should I have raised my children with such a lack of self-respect that they think it’s OK if dirty old men to play with their genitals? I would have wanted them to trust me with the information, not feel like they shouldn’t complain about it.”

  244. 244
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    bscoder

    Dawkins needs to start using smaller words or something, so that PZ can understand him.

    You need to start using longer paragraphs, explaining just what it is you think people haven’t understood.

  245. 245
    carlie

    bscoder – we have a three-post guideline before tearing into people who haven’t posted before or who post rarely.

    You’ve already wasted one.

  246. 246
    Lyn M: G.R.O.S.T. (ADM) -- Membership pending

    jimharrison #169

    Our current hysteria about sexual crimes will probably look pretty silly 50 years from now when people look back and wonder how one class of bad behavior became regarded as magically evil.

    Because, basically, it’s no biggie? Sexual abuse is really nothing much, right? Because Richard Dawkins said he was fine, so … ?
    If you haven’t had actual experience in dealing with victims or you haven’t studied the field, saying dimbulb things is not going to move things forward.
    If you have worked in the area of prevention of child abuse, or have credentials, please speak up. At this point, all I see is tremendously dismissive and callous words. It will look “silly”, huh, that people were upset over child abuse and tried to stop it?
    Well, dopey me, I guess for being so set against it, and working to ameliorate the damage for years. Let’s not even talk about all the people I worked with for years.
    Oh, and I guess I am silly as anything.

  247. 247
    Lofty

    Dawkins is so great a man that when he dies an important celestial object will be named after him. A ginormous black hole.

  248. 248
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    jimharrison,

    Our current hysteria about sexual crimes will probably look pretty silly 50 years from now when people look back and wonder how one class of bad behavior became regarded as magically evil.

    jimharrison, Gandpapa, speaking around a century ago:

    Our current hysteria about votes for women will probably look pretty silly 50 years from now when people look back and wonder how this single issue of not allowing half the population a voice became regarded as magically evil.

  249. 249
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Oops, missed a bit. My point @248 is that it’s called the progressive movement because, obviously, it progresses.

  250. 250
    torquilmacneil

    This seems to me like a gigantic overreaction. Dawkins said something very mild, that he felt unable to condemn a man for doing things to him that did him no harm. He is not excusing paedophilia, but he is right that there are degrees. I went to an all-boys school where certain teachers were a bit ‘pervy’, one in particular liking to caress the boys while he taught them. It shouldn’t be permitted, but really it didn’t do me or anybody else (as far as I can tell) any harm. It does no good to pretend there are no degrees in this sort of thing. Some experiences of paedophilia are positive, Ingmar Bergman described his as entirely positive, for example. Again, that does not mean it should be tolerated, but we can be adults about it.

  251. 251
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @irenedelse

    Yes, that’s much better.

    @PZ

    To be clear, I know what you were trying to say. Children should be taught the self-respect to realise that they are not a plaything for others, and to speak up when others use them as such. But your phrasing made it sound like the lack of self-respect caused the molestation; that the molestation was Dawkins’ fault for not having enough self-respect.

  252. 252
    Josh Jasper

    Wait, Dawkins spends all this time being a dick – insulting women, stirring up Islamiphobia in general, and tripple-lutzes into defending pedophilia, and you take the last sentence of the last paragraph to poke at Catholics?

    Dick move.

    When someone on your side fucks up, just own his shit as a problem with your side being tolerant of fuckups. Don’t take it as an opportunity to bag on random unspecified straw-catholics. I don’t give a damn how many have been mean to you on the internet.

  253. 253
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    torquilmacneil

    Old and much-trodden ground. Please read the thread, where your contention has been answered multiple times.

  254. 254
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    @Torquil MacNeil:

    Oh my fucking god are you seriously defending pedophilia?! I hope I’m misreading you cause that’s what it sounds like.

  255. 255
    playonwords

    This is not an attempt to excuse Dawkins because, unequivocally, what he has said is unacceptable and is worthy of contempt.

    Firstly, the sexual abuse of minor age males has always been illegal in modern Britain and the sexual abuse by men of women under the age of 16 has been illegal since 1885. I am unsure of the status of adult female/minor female sexual abuse.

    Secondly, and sickeningly, through to about 1980 there was an unacknowledged acceptance of such abuse; both male/male and male female.

    English public schools (which are both highly expensive and privately run) always tolerated a level of such abuse perpetrated by both schoolmasters and senior pupils because it had “always” happened and “… it never did me any harm”. I even heard one (arts) academic give the justification that it was similar to the mentoring of ancient Greek boys in the gymnasia of that civilisation.

    The same blindness is what caused the terrible abuse of adolescent females by members of the entertainment industry examples including Bill Wyman/Mandy Smith, Jerry Lee Lewis/Myra Gale Brown, Gary Glitter (Paul Gadd) and many minors as well as the perversions of Jimmy Savile

    Dawkins belongs to that milieu of silent acceptance and has probably never bothered to critically examine his history.

  256. 256
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @torquilmacneil

    You’ve missed the point.

    It shouldn’t be permitted, but really it didn’t do me or anybody else (as far as I can tell) any harm.

    The key phrase there being “as far as I can tell”. You don’t know it did them no harm; you can’t know that. It’s fine to say that it didn’t do you any harm. It is not fine to extrapolate your experience and assume that, since it didn’t do you any harm, it therefore must not have done any harm to anyone else.

    Imagine how it must feel to read that if you were a person who was suffering trauma due to childhood molestation. Essentially you are being told “Well, it didn’t do me any harm, what are you moaning about?”. Imagine how that must feel for people in that position. That’s why people object to what Dawkins said, and why people will object to what you just said.

  257. 257
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Josh Jasper

    …and you take the last sentence of the last paragraph to poke at Catholics?

    It’s called irony. PZ is pointing out that Dawkins is using the same stupid argument which Catholic abuse-apologists use.

    being a dick … Dick move.

    Please avoid using gendered slurs.

  258. 258
    piegasm

    It does no good to pretend there are no degrees in this sort of thing.

    Know what else does no good? Disagreeing with things nobody said.

  259. 259
    torquilmacneil

    “The key phrase there being “as far as I can tell”. You don’t know it did them no harm; you can’t know that. It’s fine to say that it didn’t do you any harm. It is not fine to extrapolate your experience and assume that, since it didn’t do you any harm, it therefore must not have done any harm to anyone else.”

    No, I can’t tell, and wouldn’t be categorical about it, but I have reason to think it is likely to be true in that specific case. But the only thing that follows from it is, like Dawkins, I would not feel able to condemn that teacher or want to see him punished in any way. That does not mean that I think his behaviour should be tolerated by schools now.

  260. 260
    A Hermit

    I’ve been informed by assorted RealSkeptics and BraveHeros that if names aren;t named and the incident was reported to the police at the time we can’t possibly believe that it even happened. So Dawkins must be an attention seeking professional victim, a spiteful liar or a cowardly “defector” in the war on paedophilia.

  261. 261
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @Josh Jasper

    1- Who are you talking to? Give the poster’s ‘nym and the comment number, or if it’s about the OP then, since that is not obvious, either say so or address it to PZ.

    2- I am the last person to talk considering I have been warned about this myself, but to save you the same experience, and assuming you are new to Pharyngula since I don’t recognise your ‘nym; “dick” is a gendered insult (i.e. using someone’s gender or genitalia as an insult), all of which are frowned upon on Pharyngula.

  262. 262
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    torquilmacneil

    I would not feel able to condemn that teacher or want to see him punished in any way

    The key word there being I.

    You do not get to extrapolate that, as Dawkins does, to “Nobody would/should feel the need…”

  263. 263
    imthegenieicandoanything

    I beseech you in the bowels of whoever you hold dear, please stop!

    Richard Dawkins is very, very wrong on this, and wrong in an embarrassingly stupid fashion. He’s darn wrong! I do not agree with him on this point at all, or excuse him save for “reasons” as awful as any insults.

    But a big part of the comments now are just bullshit self-righteousness. And I hate when that happens here or anywhere (so much so that I’ll leave after this comment.)

    Now for a soon-to–be-spat-at request.

    Don’t impress me (at least) with how huge your… outrage is, about this or anything. Impress me with your humanity and your reasoning. Show how you’re better than this often, at least in the past, admirable man who’s gotten himself into a hole and seems intent on digging it deeper.

    You’re going to be wrong about something important, too. Some day. Un-pray that you have the sense and honesty to recognize and correct it.

    Farewell, here.

  264. 264
    scimaths

    Children should be taught the self-respect to realise that they are not a plaything for others, and to speak up when others use them as such.

    Even a healthy, cared for and self-respecting child will not have the ability to understand, determine and protect their own boundaries in the same way that a healthy adult can. It is why children in general make easy targets for abusers.

    A good parent or guardian will help the child draw and maintain boundaries until they can do it for themselves, and this will include establishing trust and safety such that the child can discuss any violation with the parent.

  265. 265
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @torquilmacneil

    You have reason to think that it is true in your spcific case. You have absolutely no way of knowing that others were affected the same way. If it turns out that your abuser did exactly the same thing to another child, this time resulting in life long trauma for their victim. You have no way of knowing. Presumably, if it turns out that your abuser had traumatised someone else, you would want to see them punished?

  266. 266
    torquilmacneil

    “You do not get to extrapolate that, as Dawkins does, to “Nobody would/should feel the need…””

    Does he? Not in the quoted extract as far as I can see.

  267. 267
    doublereed

    DAFUQ?????

  268. 268
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    You’re going to be wrong about something important, too. Some day. Un-pray that you have the sense and honesty to recognize and correct it.

    And if Dawkins had done this, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, would we?
    </statin’ the fuckin’ obvious>

  269. 269
    piegasm

    “I am very conscious that you[1] can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we[2] don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

    [1] “You.” Not “I.”
    [2] “We.” Not “I.”

    Since some people are apparently not clear on this: one doesn’t generally refer to oneself in the 2nd person.

  270. 270
    torquilmacneil

    “You have reason to think that it is true in your spcific case. You have absolutely no way of knowing that others were affected the same way.”

    I can’t be certain , but I have good reasons, because I know lots of people who went to the same school and I have grown up with many of them and laughed about this sort of thing. It seems to me unlikely anybody could be deeply traumatised by the sort of attention we got from that teacher.

    Being made to play rugby in the December rain was much closer to a traumatizing experience for me, and I mean it.

  271. 271
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Does he? Not in the quoted extract as far as I can see.

    Then what is the point of his anecdote?

  272. 272
  273. 273
    torquilmacneil

    Piegasm, when Dawkins is using ‘you’ in that quotation he is making a generalisation, but on the specific point he comes back to the first person:

    ” I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.”

  274. 274
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    imthegenieicandoanything @262

    I beseech you in the bowels of whoever you hold dear, please stop!

    Richard Dawkins is very, very wrong on this, and wrong in an embarrassingly stupid fashion. He’s darn wrong! I do not agree with him on this point at all, or excuse him save for “reasons” as awful as any insults.

    But a big part of the comments now are just bullshit self-righteousness. And I hate when that happens here or anywhere (so much so that I’ll leave after this comment.)

    Now for a soon-to–be-spat-at request.

    Don’t impress me (at least) with how huge your… outrage is, about this or anything. Impress me with your humanity and your reasoning. Show how you’re better than this often, at least in the past, admirable man who’s gotten himself into a hole and seems intent on digging it deeper.

    You’re going to be wrong about something important, too. Some day. Un-pray that you have the sense and honesty to recognize and correct it.

    Farewell, here.

    No, fuck that.

    If I ever fuck up to the scale and wantoness of Dawkins in this (and other) examples, I want people to be all up in my shit saying “That is fucking disgusting, do you not realise what you’re saying? That is heinous for reasons X”

    I don’t want them to coddle, and go “oh, well, everyone makes mistakes. more tea and crumpets goon sire?”

    What he said was terrible. It is fucking attrocious.
    And yet we’ve had no less than five or six people in this very fucking thread jump on this grenade and try to defend the person, and what the person said.
    Until that kind of thing stops, there’s no reason for your appeasement.

  275. 275
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    Jesus Fuck. I have no idea what I just did. Sorry everyone! PZ, please delete my #271

    *Looks sheepish*

    Repost:

    @scimaths #263

    I assume that’s directed at me; since it’s me you’re quoting.

    I’m not sure if you agree or disagree with me. For what it’s worth; I agree with everything you wrote.

    When I wrote “…speak up when others use them as such”, I assumed that, since it is a child we are talking about, going to a parent or guardian for help was implied. Perhaps I should have been more explicit.

  276. 276
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH SOMEONE QUOTE THE ENTIRE EVERYTHING GET RID OF IT AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

  277. 277
    piegasm

    @272 torquilmacneil

    Piegasm, when Dawkins is using ‘you’ in that quotation he is making a generalisation, but on the specific point he comes back to the first person:

    ” I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.”

    He’s saying he doesn’t condemn them because (general) you can’t condemn people of an earlier era, blah blah blah. The reason he gives for not condemning them is because (he says) people in general shouldn’t condemn people of bygone eras. Try again.

  278. 278
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I can’t be certain , but I have good reasons, because I know lots of people who went to the same school and I have grown up with many of them and laughed about this sort of thing. It seems to me unlikely anybody could be deeply traumatised by the sort of attention we got from that teacher.

    Speaking as a (violence-) parental-abuse victim who spent most of his early life being told to “man up”

    Fuck You.

    The entire fucking point is that you do not get to assume that other people should be comfortable with any particular level of abuse, merely because you are/were comfortable with it.

  279. 279
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @torquilmacneil

    Dawkins extrapolated his experience when he said:

    “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

    [Emphasis mine]

  280. 280
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    He’s saying he doesn’t condemn them because (general) you can’t condemn people of an earlier era, blah blah blah. The reason he gives for not condemning them is because (he says) people in general shouldn’t condemn people of bygone eras. Try again.

    And yet he condemns people of the same era for teaching him about Hell.

  281. 281
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    I am an historian. I am also trying to be a survivor of child sexual abuse. When I read shit like this:

    “I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

    I am offended (though (oddly) not triggered (yet)) as both an historian and a survivor.

    All historians view the past through the lense of today. This is what we do. All historians. We reinterpret the data through today’s knowledge and standards and interpret any knew data through the same process. To make that claim that because it was tolerated at the time, even encouraged, we cannot condemn it today is nonsense. Do we accept the white slavery and child prostitution of Victorian and Edwardian England because, though illegal, it was tolerated? Do we accept chattel slavery of the 17th, 18th and more than half of the 19th centuries in the United States because it was legal and supported by many of the churches? Do we accept the militarism of the Second Reich? Or the purges of Stalin? Or the sacking of Madgeburg? The destruction of Carcassone? the willful erasing of Indian cultures in the Americas by virtually every nation? NO! These atrocities can be, and are, condemned. We are aware of the cultural parameters under which such evil happened but it does not mean that we have to accept it as right.

    By the same token, the standards of scouting in the USA were very different in the 1970s than they are today. There were far fewer adults involved with troops and packs. There was far less concern about leaders being alone with scouts. There was little concern about the sexual abuse of scouts (save for at the national level where keeping it quiet was the goal). The standard of the day was that, if a scout reported abuse, it was swept under the rug. What was done to me, and through me, and by me, was not accepted at the time, but it certainly was not condemned. Does this mean I am not allowed to condemn my abuser?

    So, Mr. Dawkins, just as I did when you wrote your ‘Dear Muslima’ comment a couple of years ago, I call BULLSHIT on your commitment to human rights.

  282. 282
    piegasm

    @279 Tashiliciously Shriked

    Exactly. You can’t condemn them unless it’s a Richard Dawkins Certified Condemnable Behavior.

  283. 283
    coelsblog

    “… a trivial offense, to be waved away as harmless.”

    “… pedophilia was just an acceptable part of the culture …”

    “… as justification for paedophilia …”

    “And really, “It was OK back then”?”

    “Just when did it stop being OK …?”

    “… does not mean it was OK, or ‘zero bad’, or something trivial.”

    Just thought I’d point out that at no point did Dawkins say it was “ok”, or “zero bad” or “trivial” or “acceptable” or “justified” or “harmless”.

    What he did say is that “I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today“, which implies that he still condemns the past occurrences, but with some allowance for the fact that in the past many were less aware of the harm such things caused.

  284. 284
    scimaths

    Thumper I assume that’s directed at me; since it’s me you’re quoting.
    I’m not sure if you agree or disagree with me. For what it’s worth; I agree with everything you wrote.

    More an expansion rather than “directed at”. A lot of people do subscibe to the idea that self-respect is enough, (or some sort of magical solution to many other ills) and they need to understand that children really cannot maintain their boundaries the way an adult can.

  285. 285
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    Just thought I’d point out that at no point did Dawkins say it was “ok”, or “zero bad” or “trivial” or “acceptable” or “justified” or “harmless”.

    What he did say is that “I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today“, which implies that he still condemns the past occurrences, but with some allowance for the fact that in the past many were less aware of the harm such things caused.

    And yet he condemns people from the same era for teaching him about hell.

  286. 286
    torquilmacneil

    “The reason he gives for not condemning them is because (he says) people in general shouldn’t condemn people of bygone eras. Try again.”

    No he doesn’t, he is more nuanced than that. Dawkins has condemned many people of bygone eras, but he recognises that the same standards cannot apply. To use is other example, it would be absurd to say that all people who believed in corporal punishment in the past were moral monsters, because that would be everybody. But today we do think it is immoral.

    As to the people who say ‘speak for yourself, but don’t speak for the other victims’, well, tu quoque.

  287. 287
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    torquilmacneil

    To use is other example, it would be absurd to say that all people who believed in corporal punishment in the past were moral monsters, because that would be everybody. But today we do think it is immoral.

    Corporal punishment was still legal, and thus acknowledged by society/the state as morally justified at that time. Sexual abuse of minors wasn’t.

  288. 288
    piegasm

    @285 torquilmacneil

    Except the part where he doesn’t hold himself to the same standards when he condemns religion for teaching kids about hell. Hypocrisy is apparently just a nuance now.

  289. 289
    torquilmacneil

    I have just noticed Coelsbog’s point and I tend to agree.

    There is some confusion about Dawkins’s attitudes to other past beliefs on here as well. He does not condemn Bronze Age nomads for holding brutal and irrational beliefs, he condemns modern people for believing they must be true because they are written down in a book. As he says in The Blind Watchmaker, anyone who didn’t believe in God before Darwin had simply failed to understand how complex the world was (and you can see his point, early atheists tend to be gross egoists with little interest in nature or society).

  290. 290
    torquilmacneil

    “And yet he condemns people from the same era for teaching him about hell.”

    Yes, see above, he is not inconsistent in that. He would not condemn, I assume, a Bronze Age shepherd for teaching his daughter about Hell.

  291. 291
    torquilmacneil

    “Corporal punishment was still legal, and thus acknowledged by society/the state as morally justified at that time. Sexual abuse of minors wasn’t.”

    You have missed the point, we aren’t talking about the law but the moral case. We don’t judge people who used corporal punishment 100 years ago by the same standard we use today. When I was a child it was still very common to see children hit by adults in the street (there is some of this in Mad Men). That was wrong, but I find I can forgive it quite easily so long as it was at a certain level and even though I was on the receiving end once or twice.

  292. 292
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @scimaths #283

    Thanks for the clarification :)

    @torquilmacneil

    “Tu quoque” how? Where did we presume to speak for other victims? Did anyone at any point presume to say that all victims were traumatised? I don’t remember reading that.

  293. 293
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    You have missed the point, we aren’t talking about the law but the moral case.

    You didn’t notice the bit where I said that (most of, but not all, I should add) society would have agreed that corporal punishment was morally justified, at that time?

    blah-blah-blah… That was wrong, but I find I can forgive it quite easily so long as it was at a certain level and even though I was on the receiving end once or twice.

    You really need to fix this problem you have with seeing your comfort level as being indicative of what other people’s is/should be.

  294. 294
    torquilmacneil

    ““Tu quoque” how? Where did we presume to speak for other victims? Did anyone at any point presume to say that all victims were traumatised? I don’t remember reading that.”

    That’s my point, neither you, nor I, nor Dawkins can speak for anyone else. But Dawkins hasn’t tried to. He has simply spoken about his own experience. Others on here do seem to be speaking on behalf of these unseen victims.

    “You really need to fix this problem you have with seeing your comfort level as being indicative of what other people’s is/should be.”

    I haven’t, I have only spoken about my experience and what others have reported to me. That is all you or I know about this particular thing.

  295. 295
    brucegorton

    @290 torquilmacneil

    The fact that it was banned strongly indicates that the moral case was already made. Generally things people don’t feel should be banned aren’t.

  296. 296
  297. 297
    coelsblog

    284 Tashiliciously Shriked:

    And yet he condemns people from the same era for teaching him about hell.

    He didn’t condemn people people for teaching him about hell, since he never had that sort of teaching, he was condemning more extreme forms of religious upbringing. His attitude is that the sort of wishy-washy CofE religion he was exposed to is fairly harmless, but that the more extreme forms of indoctrination about hell can be harmful.

    Anyhow, his point in bringing that up was to condemn people *today* who *still* regard scaring children about hell as acceptable. If people were to reply “yes, we agree with you it was wrong to do it in the past, and we won’t continue”, then he’d be satisfied.

    And I’m sure that if anyone were to argue *today* that child sexual abuse was “acceptable” then he’d condemn them “as I or anyone would today”.

  298. 298
    torquilmacneil

    “The fact that it was banned strongly indicates that the moral case was already made.”

    I must introduce you to Oscar Wilde some time.

  299. 299
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @torquilmacneil

    That’s my point, neither you, nor I, nor Dawkins can speak for anyone else. But Dawkins hasn’t tried to. He has simply spoken about his own experience.

    … What? OK, I’ll try this again.

    “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

    [Emphasis mine]

    That is what Dawkins said. Do you really not see how that is extrapolating his own experience onto others? He has not “simply spoken about his own experience”, he has quite explicitly extrapolated his own experience onto other victims of the same master.

    Others on here do seem to be speaking on behalf of these unseen victims.

    Where? How? the only one I see doing that is you when, while talking about your own abuse, you said:

    …but really it didn’t do me or anybody else (as far as I can tell) any harm.

    [Emphasis mine]

    You did the same thing as Dawkins did. Or do you really not see that? I don’t think this is particularly complicated.

  300. 300
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    torquilmacneil

    The statement that “mild” sexual abuse of minors is worse than telling them about Hell contains two suppositions:

    1: All or most kids get threatened with Hell in such a way that we would term it abusive.
    2: Dawkins’ level of comfort applies to all abused children.

    Please tell me how you can defend either, or preferably both.

    I have only spoken about my experience and what others have reported to me. That is all you or I know about this particular thing.

    No one is saying your, my or Dawkins’ experience isn’t valid. Just that to pass off others’ experiences as unnoteworthy, merely because they don’t match ours, is wrong.

  301. 301
    PZ Myers

    When Dawkins says, “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm”, he is making a judgment about how other people should respond to a child molester and speaking on behalf of other victims. I don’t think he can say what harm was done to others, and I think this insensitivity is a sign of lasting harm done to him.

    He would not condemn, I assume, a Bronze Age shepherd for teaching his daughter about Hell.

    He wouldn’t? I would. Psychological abuse is psychological abuse. A thousand generations of frightened children are not suddenly redeemed because now, at this time, a tiny percentage of the population recognizes that terrorizing kids with imaginary fears is not a good thing.

  302. 302
    Marcus Ranum

    Is there some kind of plea that comes after that??

    Jesus shit!?

  303. 303
    torquilmacneil

    “That is what Dawkins said. Do you really not see how that is extrapolating his own experience onto others?”

    The ‘that’ is: ‘I don’t think it did any of us lasting harm’. But that isn’t speaking for anyone else, it is simply saying what he thinks based on the evidence he has. He isn’t suggesting that any harm reported by anyone else should be ignored or contradicting the reports of others. He is not speaking on anyone else’s behalf. There is no extrapolation beyond what is required in every circumstances (that is, your own experience of the world is evidence of how other people experience it (without being the last word) and if we don’t assume that we can have no communication).

  304. 304
    torquilmacneil

    ” I don’t think he can say what harm was done to others, and I think this insensitivity is a sign of lasting harm done to him.”

    He can’t and he doesn’t. He simply says what he thinks based on the evidence he has. It is interesting, though, that you do think you are able to say what harm was done to others despite their contradictory testimony.

    “He wouldn’t? I would. Psychological abuse is psychological abuse.”

    No, it isn’t. It depends on all sorts of things. Telling your daughter, for example, not to go in the water because there are crocodiles that will eat her is traumatizing no matter what, but it is not abuse if there are crocodiles or if you have good reason for thinking there may be.

  305. 305
    brucegorton

    @torquilmacneil

    And Wilde existed in a time when the people believed his sexual orientation to be immoral, resulting in the laws against homosexuality that were on the books.

    The fact that such laws were on the books during Dawkins era indicates the same regarding sexual child abuse.

  306. 306
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    For those wondering about the OP’s title.

  307. 307
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    @ torquilmacneil #303

    He simply says what he thinks based on the evidence he has.

    But he has no evidence expect his own experience. He should not pontificate on the harms he thinks were done to others based on his own experience. It just doesn’t make sense to do that.

    He could have said a number of different things like, ‘My abuse was not that bad, for me. I don’t know about the experience of others.’

    That’s reasonable, based on the evidence he does have. See? There he’s talking about his own abuse, the thing he knows about and then he’s talking about the abuse of others, the thing he doesn’t know about and can’t know based only on his experience.

    This isn’t that difficult. It’s really quite simple. What he said makes no sense. He very simply has no reason to think that anyone’s abuse was no worse than his based only on his abuse. The honest thing to do would have been to stick to his own experience or to admit the deficit in knowledge about the abuse of others.

    It’s also rather clear that his abuse wasn’t as benign as he seems to believe it was.

  308. 308
    notsont

    In all this discussion some people keep saying things like “caressing children isn’t the same as rape or it was just a little touching up”. These seem to be the things they were doing out in the open what the hell were they then allowed to get away with behind closed doors?

    The teacher that put him on his lap and fondled him surely was assessing the children to see what he could get away with and to decide which ones would make ideal victims for more serious assaults.

  309. 309
    Gregory Greenwood

    The God Delusion was one of the first books about atheism I ever read, and for ther most part I found it very compelling. I still think it is an important work that is well worth picking up, but ever since the ‘Dear Muslima’ incident I have become ever more painfully aware that Dawkins holds some pretty toxic positions once one goes outside the narrow business of laughing at people who think the entire world should bow down to their imaginary friend. Now he is adding dismissal of the seriousness of ‘mild’ paedophillia to his dismissal of the entrenched sexism in our society, and falling even further in my estimation (quite a feat after Dear Muslima left him in the figurative basement).

    This seems like a good example of why atheism needs no gods, no masters, and as PZ mentioned in a thread a few days ago, no ‘heroes’ either. Pretty much all would-be titans turn out to have feet of clay in one regard or another. A community of equals working togther to promote reasoned thought and ethical behaviour – as opposed to the kind of shallow, elitist pseudo-skepticism that is more about looking down on others and maintaining one’s own unearned privilege than anything else – is far preferable to a media circus arranged to massage the egos of a handful of high profile figures.

  310. 310
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    @ torquilmacneil #303

    No, it isn’t. It depends on all sorts of things. Telling your daughter, for example, not to go in the water because there are crocodiles that will eat her is traumatizing no matter what, but it is not abuse if there are crocodiles or if you have good reason for thinking there may be.
    And that is just stupid.

    Talk about a tautology. ‘It’s not psychological abuse if it’s not abuse.’ You are conflating terms. That it may be traumatizing (it certainly isn’t always) to tell a child about the danger of crocodiles it isn’t about. Traumatic =/= abuse.

    Pychological abuse is psychological abuse, independent of any variable. You do know what a tautology is? That’s a tautology. It’s true. It’s necessarily true.

    Don’t be this kind of stupid. It’s disingenuous and unbelievable. You can’t be taken seriously if you continue in this vein.

  311. 311
    torquilmacneil

    “But he has no evidence expect his own experience. He should not pontificate on the harms he thinks were done to others based on his own experience. ”

    I think this will have to be my last comment, I have to talk to some post-docs about ethics. But he does have evidence about the experience of others, he was in a boarding school with them and he is also likely to have conducted an informal 60 year longitudinal study – we can call it ‘friendship’ – with a number of those. It is reasonable based on that sort of evidence to decide whether you think it did any of them any lasting harm, especially when you are using colloquial English in an interview. He doesn’t say he knows for sure or contradict anyone’s testimony, he just says what he thinks based on the evidence he has. It is not really a big deal.

  312. 312
    zenlike

    The biggest problem I see isn’t even Dawkins, he is just one person, one individual, one opinion. The biggest problem is the movement, which seems infected by a lot of people who left religion behind, but not it’s authoritan trappings. Just look what mild criticism of one thing Dawkins has said has as a result: dozens of fanboys, true believers and hyperskeptics crawling out of the woodwork to defend the indefensible, twisting words and meanings to prop up their infallible Pope.

    Really, it’s past time the whole movement is burned down, and the ground salted to make sure nothing sprouts up from the vile swamp that it will leave behind. And this thread is the proof I will point to when anyone asks for why I seem so harsh.

  313. 313
    torquilmacneil

    “Pychological abuse is psychological abuse, independent of any variable. You do know what a tautology is? That’s a tautology. It’s true. It’s necessarily true.”

    It is necessarily true in a trivial circular fashion that I assumed was not meant.

  314. 314
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @torquilmacneil

    He is not speaking on anyone else’s behalf.

    I disagree; I think that’s exactly what he did. I imagine what it must be like for anyone abused by that master who was traumatised by it, and I think they would have every right to be angry at what he said.

    On what basis does he think no one else was harmed? He has no data to base that opinion on, other than the fact he was not permanently harmed by it. Extrapolating his experience is exactly what he did. If he had said something like “I was not permanently harmed by it and, while I can not presume to speak for others, I do not personally know of anyone else who was”, then it would not be such a problem. It’s a small difference but an important one, and as a scientist and a skeptic he should know better than to use such sloppy and imprecise phrasing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do not attribute any malice to what Dawkins said. He’s not deliberately erasing their experiences, it was thoughtless, careless phrasing. But intent is not magic, and regardless of whether he meant to erase others’ experiences, that is what he did.

    For an example of the sort of harm that can be caused by such phrasing, see Daz’s post @#277.

  315. 315
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    But he does have evidence about the experience of others, he was in a boarding school with them and he is also likely to have conducted an informal 60 year longitudinal study – we can call it ‘friendship’ – with a number of those.

    We do not know that he has that evidence. He doesn not say he does.

    And if he knows about the effects of the abuse on a few others, he still cannot say that it wasn’t that bad for any of them. That would be an outright lie or a massive mistake.

    He doesn’t say he knows for sure or contradict anyone’s testimony,

    He doesn’t say that he doesn’t know for sure. And he says ‘any of us’. He doesn’t couch that in any doubt. It’s just plain wrong.

    he just says what he thinks based on the evidence he has.

    He doesn’t have the kind of evidence he needs to say what he did. He was wrong.

    I think this will have to be my last comment

    Please, do not return. Don’t.

  316. 316
    chigau (違う)

    torquilmacneil
    FYI
    <blockquote> paste words here</blockquote>

    does this

    paste words here

    it will make your comments easier to read

  317. 317
    coelsblog

    306 Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    He very simply has no reason to think that anyone’s abuse was no worse than his based only on his abuse.

    He does have some reason, namely his discussing his experiences with his class mates. This also told him how they felt about it at the time (though of course this doesn’t rule out long-term damage surfacing later).

    He could have said a number of different things like, ‘My abuse was not that bad, for me. I don’t know about the experience of others.’

    Yes, you’re right. Even though his opinion was mildly stated (“I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage” is similar to “as far as I’m aware” and is not a denial that long-term harm could have been caused), he was extrapolating to others more than he should have done; some of the other boys might well have been harmed long term.

    Having said that, though, the difference between your phrasing of what he should have said, and what he did actually say, is not really sufficient to justify all this palava.

  318. 318
    torquilmacneil

    “On what basis does he think no one else was harmed? He has no data to base that opinion on”

    But he has. You don’t, and I don’t, but he has. hes was there and knew (presumably still knows in many cases) the individuals involved. That is some data. He is not being categorical and saying nobody was harmed, just that he doesn’t think they were.

  319. 319
    torquilmacneil

    Thanks Chigau!

  320. 320
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    @ torquilmacneil #312

    It is necessarily true in a trivial circular fashion that I assumed was not meant.

    Your reading comprehension sucks, then.

    sychological abuse is psychological abuse. A thousand generations of frightened children are not suddenly redeemed because now, at this time, a tiny percentage of the population recognizes that terrorizing kids with imaginary fears is not a good thing.

    Read it again. It’s not difficult to understand.

  321. 321
    torquilmacneil

    He doesn’t say that he doesn’t know for sure. And he says ‘any of us’. He doesn’t couch that in any doubt.

    He says ‘I don’t think’ which is generally taken to be a means of expressing opinion, not certainty. It can be replaced, as coelsblog says with ‘as far as I am aware’ with no change in meaning.

  322. 322
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    @torquilmacneil

    But he has. You don’t, and I don’t, but he has.

    You know this how, exactly? If he had data, he should have mentioned it. Nothing in the OP suggests he did. His phrasing is still problematic, as is the attitude it reveals.

  323. 323
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    coelsblog, shove it. You don’t get to tell me what my ire is deserved of. Dawkins was wrong. He is so fucking wrong. This isn’t the first time he’s said something like this about his abuse. He has made a mistake. For others who were abused, that mistake needs to be exposed, expounded on and Dawkins needs to know about it. He should be ashamed.

    You can fuck the fuck off.

  324. 324
    coelsblog

    311 zenlike

    Just look what mild criticism of one thing Dawkins has said has as a result: dozens of fanboys, true believers and hyperskeptics crawling out of the woodwork to defend the indefensible, twisting words and meanings to prop up their infallible Pope.

    Some of us don’t see Dawkins as infallible, but do dislike the way that nowadays in the atheist online community, any criticism — criticism that often does has merit and makes valid points — is ridiculously over-done with hyperbole and exaggeration and always accompanied by a two-minute hate.

  325. 325
    torquilmacneil

    Read it again. It’s not difficult to understand.

    Ach, really got to go. Thomathy, I answered the broader point by showing why I thought the example didn’t make the point it was supposed to (in other words the same action is not psychological abuse in every circumstance even if it has the same traumatizing effect) , but you seemed to want to make a narrower grammatical point.

  326. 326
    torquilmacneil

    Yes, I agree with Coelsblog. I often disagree with Dawkins and did when he was very much flavour of the month around here, but I still think he has a lot to say and the demonising is just silly.

  327. 327
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    It can be replaced, as coelsblog says with ‘as far as I am aware’ with no change in meaning.

    That’s not true. It adds the element of doubt. He does not couch his belief (his thinking) in any doubt in his statement. He ‘thinks’, meaning he believes, that no harm was done to others beyond the harm he experienced. Were he to have said, ‘as far as I am aware,’ he would be admitting to his doubt and ignorance about the possible experiences of others. He did not say that.

    What purpose do you have in defending Dawkins here? Do you believe he meant no harm? Well, his intent isn’t fucking magic.

  328. 328
    carlie

    And again, he said it didn’t do any of them any harm at the same time that he admitted that when those boys got older, they sexually assaulted the younger boys in their dorm. As if there wasn’t even a possibility of a connection there that people who are assaulted can go on to assault others as a direct result of their victimization, or as if that result doesn’t matter to him.

  329. 329
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    the demonising is just silly.

    Fuck you.

  330. 330
    notsont

    But he does have evidence about the experience of others, he was in a boarding school with them and he is also likely to have conducted an informal 60 year longitudinal study – we can call it ‘friendship’ – with a number of those.

    Hmm you don’t suppose that if he were still friends with some of the other boys, that they might not be inclined to share with him their feelings on it because he is dismissive of it?

    This strikes me as very similar to all these guys who claim they are close with “lots of women” and none of them have ever been raped or harassed. In the same sentence that they disparage women who have been assaulted. never realizing that no person in their right mind would share their experience on it with them.

  331. 331
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    carlie, it’s almost like he was harmed by his experience.

  332. 332
    Crys T

    Oh for fuck’s sake, the prevaricating of the Dawkins fanboys is beyond belief…..or would be if I hadn’t seen it so many times before.

    If the exact same example, given in the exact same words, had been given by *anyone* other than their Precious DD–they wouldn’t have any problem at all with the criticisms. And if the person in question had been religious, they’d be using it as yet another example of how religion corrupts.

    The hypocrisy in the Dawkins defenders is sick-making.

  333. 333
    notsont

    btw If there was any doubt that he is dismissive of sexual assault it can safely be removed just by reading his twitter timeline in the past 6 hours.

  334. 334
    Maureen Brian

    No, torquilmacneil @ 317, you do not have enough information to make that assertion in defence of Dawkins.

    Even if all the boys in Dawkins class had exactly the same experience with the teachers, even if they soon after came to an agreement about how it should be spoken of, that does not prove that each boy was similarly affected, It just proves that they were at an English public school in the 1950s – with all its emphasis on conformity and the repression of emotion.

    It certainly does not prove that each boy was affected in exactly the same way.

    Or are you trying to claim that the 72 year old Clinton Richard Dawkins is in equally close contact with everyone in his year at school – those who are still alive, anyway – and has been taken into the confidence of each one of them about the emotional traumas, failed relationships, excessive risk-taking or what ever may have happened in 60+ years?

    Because that would be ridiculous.

  335. 335
    Crys T

    Bwahahaha: just realised I referred to Dawkins as “DD” above. That’s because in my mind he’s always Dicky.

  336. 336
    Crys T

    Ahhh–and no, that is NOT a reference to “dick” as in penis, but merely a reference to the diminutive for Richard.

  337. 337
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Jafafa Hots

    Oh, hell, JH. I was just up to your comment, then got called away by my partner & didn’t read it til this morning.

    I am sorry.

    Your struggle is difficult. I’ve known people with TBIs that affected childhood memory. (My Grandfather, for one, pre-&post-[2nd]stroke conversations were pretty different). I’ve known a lot of people who experienced childhood sexual abuse. The duo can’t be easy.

    I promise to be here in this thread and in the Lounge as often as I can, for you & for other survivors.

    Peace, love, & chocolate to you.

  338. 338
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    And, really? 220 comments in what, 8 hours? Ugh. The workload never ends. I’ll be here for y’all, but it’s going to take a bit to catch up.

  339. 339
    chimera

    337 Crip Dyke

    Are you a monitor? I can’t remember exactly who is on the list. That would be a good thing to post somewhere.

  340. 340
    ludicrous

    That Dawkins appears to at times emphasizes the deleterious effects of abuse and at other times minimizes suggests to me that at one time he needed to utilize minimization as a way to cope. Just suggests, please, I do not know.

    I think that we all, more less, find it useful to manipulate our feelings about things that happen to us. We can get up and brush it off and we can feel the sky has fallen. We are able to do that, some of us can be intentional about it some of us unable to choose our reaction. As children I think we don’t have much choice but as adults we can rationalize, re write our history so to speak. how it affects or doesn’t affect us today.

    As I suggested on another thread when one finds oneself in the position Dawkins is in where he gets lots of criticism and apparently doesn’t get why people are upset, he needs a friend, someone who will gently encourage him to go over those childhood incidents with a view to perhaps recapture some of the feelings that have disappeared

  341. 341
    coelsblog

    326 Thomathy, Gay Where it Counts

    That’s not true. It adds the element of doubt. He does not couch his belief (his thinking) in any doubt in his statement. He ‘thinks’, meaning he believes …

    But he didn’t say “I think …”, he said: “I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage …”. I’m not sure whether you are a antive English speaker and I’m not sure whether there are differences between British English and American or other English here, but in British idom, saying: ” I don’t think he did any of us …” *is* saying it with an element of doubt!

    As I said, it’s roughly equivalent to “as far as i’m aware”. If you want to get even more pedantic, it means “I do *not* {think he caused us lasting damage}”, which is a *lack* of thinking that, as in “I’m not aware of it causing lasting damage, though I’m not fully sure of this”.

    As I said, this is rather ridiculous over-reaction to what he did actually say.

  342. 342
    carlie

    Bicarbonate – it used to be posted in the commenting rules section, but it looks like the new rules page wiped that out. Is it somewhere else I’m not noticing, or do we need to ask PZ to reinstate it?

  343. 343
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    Coelsblog …

    ‘I don’t think he did any of us …’ is the equivalent of ‘I don’t believe he did any of us …’

    English is my native language. I happen to be a linguist. A very angry linguist. I’m neither British nor American.

    There is no difference across English between the synonymous meaning of ‘think’ and ‘believe’. Richard Dawkins is literally saying that he doesn’t believe that any lasting effect was done.

    As I said, it’s roughly equivalent to “as far as i’m aware”.

    It is, emphatically, not.

    If you want to get even more pedantic, it means “I do *not* {think he caused us lasting damage}”, which is a *lack* of thinking that, as in “I’m not aware of it causing lasting damage, though I’m not fully sure of this”.

    No. And I’m not getting anymore pedantic about this. The equivalence of ‘think’ and ‘believe’ is common to all English. Simply swap the words; the sentence means the exact same thing.

    He is stating his belief in the extent of the harm done to others. Also, ‘think he caused us lasting damage’ is not a phrase within that sentence upon which the contraction ‘don’t’ is acting. There is a qualitative difference between saying that you are not aware of something and saying that you don’t think something.

    You are very simply wrong. Stop.

  344. 344
    ajbjasus

    Oh dear. The English Public school system does seem to normalise behaviour like this, and theres a scertain strat of English society that seems to think that learning to cope with it is somehow good for children.

    I won a scholarship to a minor public school, and my parents proudly sent me there, although we had no history of attending such institutions. It was, by the way, originally established to educate sons of the clergy. Bullying was the norm, even from teachers. I watched, in horror a Latin (they always seemed to be the worst) teacher systematically beat one of the slower and most vulnerable boys up and own the classroom for most of a lesson.

    A french teacher used to ask me up to his room and sit me down on the settee next to him and ask me if I liked him, as I seemed to be afraid of him. I only now realise what was going on, but i would just make an excuse and get out.

    A maths teacher (who wrote a number of nationally used text books) would also select a boy from a class each day, and make him go up to his rooms to, quote “Show you some wrestling moves”. At the end of the term some lucky blighter would get to go on his sailing boat for a week of wrestling fun with the salty old bugger.

    It still goes on. For some reason one of my friend thought it would be a good idea to send their boy to a pretty well known public school. Being from a different background and again vulnerable, he was severely bullied and made into a “fag” (as in Tom Browns schooldays). They are paying 1000s of puonds a term for the privlege.

    I know this sounds odd, but the British upper classes still seem to think this sort of stuffis character forming, and I suspect there’s a bit of that in Dawkins rationalisation. When i speak out against these institutions to friends they just don’t seem to get it.

  345. 345
    woodworm

    He’s a dishonest debater. Classic goalpost-moving tactics, and the framing of bogus ‘arguments’ that no-one can actually disagree with. So ‘raping an eight-year old to death is qualitatively worse than inappropriate touching’? No shit, Sherlock. Who the fuck ever said it wasn’t?

    No, Richard: hitting on women in lifts at 4am is not the moral equivalent of gang rape, torture, etc. And nobody EVER said it was. What next? Turn a blind eye to anti-semitic remarks, because they’re not exactly the Holocaust? Seriously? An acorn is not as big as an oak tree, therefore plant lots of em?

    Sorry, but no. I’ve spent 40 years being told by my parents’ generation that hitting the shit out of kids is okay, because it happened to them and ‘it never did them any harm’, and ‘commonsense’, and ‘of course you know that really’. Dawk is free to minimise his own abuse if he wants; he doesn’t get to minimise other people’s. I was hit a lot as a kid, but I wasn’t groped sexually and I wasn’t indoctrinated. I don’t get to decide which is ‘qualitatively’ worse, because it simply isn’t my call … and because it’s a red herring anyway.

    Sure, he knows all this and he’s doubling down. He likes doubling down. He doubles down on 20. He doubles down when he’s bust his hand, and everyone else has left the table.

    Another tell: he’s started tweeting about ‘liberal opinionistas’. When they start using ‘liberal’ as a pejorative, that’s when you know you’re dealing with a full-on rightist reactionary (cf Harris).

  346. 346
    scimaths

    I’m not sure whether there are differences between British English and American or other English here, but in British idom, saying: ” I don’t think he did any of us …” *is* saying it with an element of doubt!

    I’m English-English as are enough others here, and the context and meaning is very much dismissive of other people’s experiences. If it wasn’t he’s had more than enough chance to clarify, but he hasn’t. He’s pulled his usual trick of ignoring those who have vastly more expertise on the subject than himself, refusing to listen to anything other than support for his views and sneering at anyone pointing out the problems.

    Look at his Twitter for examples.

  347. 347
    carlie

    but in British idom, saying: ” I don’t think he did any of us …” *is* saying it with an element of doubt!

    But a small amount, yes? Certainly with much less doubt than saying “I don’t know if he did any of us”. It’s stating that his opinion is that it didn’t do any damage.

  348. 348
    coelsblog

    346 carlie:

    But a small amount, yes? Certainly with much less doubt than saying “I don’t know if he did any of us”.

    Yes, I agree. The wording contains an element of doubt, but not as much as saying that (and he’d have done better to have said that).

  349. 349
    PZ Myers

    Speaking of hyperbole and exaggeration…

    Some of us don’t see Dawkins as infallible, but do dislike the way that nowadays in the atheist online community, any criticism — criticism that often does has merit and makes valid points — is ridiculously over-done with hyperbole and exaggeration and always accompanied by a two-minute hate.

    There has been a variety of responses here, and most of the exaggeration has been done by apologists for rape culture who want to pretend that teachers fondling children’s genitals ought to be no big deal, a minor infraction, a little diddling that everyone was doing, so let’s just sweep it under the rug, shall we? And there has been no “two-minute hate” — most of us, myself included, acknowledge Dawkins’ contributions to science and atheism and are dismayed at and deplore these clueless remarks he’s been making.

    But then there’s always your kind, coming along and trying to shame the people who expect better. Even mild disagreement gets characterized by you assholes as a “witchhunt” — your goal is to squelch all efforts to make this movement better and healthier.

    Goodbye, coelsblog. We don’t need your petty resistance to any dissent from the sacred position of your great heroes around here. Fuck off.

  350. 350
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    But he does have evidence about the experience of others, he was in a boarding school with them and he is also likely to have conducted an informal 60 year longitudinal study – we can call it ‘friendship’ – with a number of those.

    Richard Dawkins and his friends must be the most amazing people. Not only are they still in close contact 60 years later, also apparently none of them had any troubles in their lives. None of them suffered from depression or became an alcoholic. None of them beat their wives and children, or found themselves looking at kiddy-porn themselves. Or remain a bachelor because their ability to trust and bind with other human beings had been shattered. And Richard Dawkins would really exactly know all those very intimate details of their lives.

  351. 351
    Thomathy, Such A 'Mo

    carlie @ #346

    But a small amount, yes?

    I would say none at all.

    I very much doubt if Dawkins, who has been precise about degrees of belief, would make such a statement about something he believes and actually have doubt about the veracity of that belief without stating it in an unambiguous way (though what he did say was not at all ambiguous; he believes it).

    Except for having read this thread I could hardly believe that there could be an argument over this. Dawkins was wrong. Wrong to have said what he has, wrong to keep saying it and wrong this time. This shouldn’t be in dispute.

  352. 352
    PZ Myers

    I was never sexually molested in my youth, fortunately, but I was abused by my school. It was considered quite ordinary, nothing unusual or objectionable at all, for PE classes to be run by psychopathic sadists. “It builds character,” they’d say. “It’s just to keep rowdy boys in line,” they’d say.

    Let me introduce you to Mr Earl, my PE “teacher” throughout high school. He was also the football coach. He had a pegboard in his office with an array of paddles — big things like cricket bats, with holes drilled in them. Some of the suck-up athletes would even make paddles for him in shop class. They had names. Some were painted. He was quite proud of them.

    Any infraction, and he’d whip one out, tell you to bend over and hold your ankles, and WHAM, he’d smack you in the butt with full force. If the class was too noisy, he’d line everyone up and go down the row, swinging. I once got to class late, and he’d gone into a rage before I got there, and shattered three paddles into splinters beating all the other kids. I was so relieved to have missed the spectacle.

    But of course I was bent over and got my welts for being late.

    He also had daily jock inspections. We all had to line up and show him that we were wearing an athletic supporter. If you weren’t, bam, you were going to be squirming in all the rest of your classes that day while trying to sit down.

    Oh, and of course we got all the locker room sex talk. He’d talk with his favorites (the football players, of course) about who got laid that weekend, and who were the sluts at school.

    No one ever spoke out. Not me, either. We were terrified of him. He was a monster. But he coached the football team to a state championship, so he could do no wrong.

    What he did was not OK. I don’t care that this was common practice in schools across the country in the 1970s; it does not excuse it that I survived it and went on to deplore violence; it does not matter that there were far worse things he could have done, or that other coaches had done. It was a criminal system of institutionalized violence, and Earl was a stupid thug.

    He never got his deserved reward, either. He had a son, Robin Earl, who went on to college and a pro football career, and as a perk, his father got hired as an assistant coach at some pro team somewhere. He should have been fired and shamed.

  353. 353
    I've got the WTF blues

    @ imthegenieicandoanything #262

    Don’t impress me (at least) with how huge your… outrage is, about this or anything. Impress me with your humanity and your reasoning.

    Perhaps PZ’s humanity and reasoning led him to be outraged by RD minimizing the vileness of child abuse by claims of historical context and “it wasn’t all that bad for me, and, I assume, for everyone else who had the same experience as me” etc ?

    As a person who came out of the RCC* because of the justifications, minimization, and cover up of child abuse, I have a very low tolerance for anyone who would suggest that there is any excuse for child abuse. Or that the difference is in the “degrees” of the act, not the effect upon the victim. Or that “anecdotes” (by which unscrupulous people dismiss the stories and testimony of victims) are insufficient for claims of lasting harm.Or that their personal supposition can stand in for fact in claims of no lasting effect. And I really don’t give two shits about the “status” of the person engaging in such.

    *first skeptic step along my path to atheism was the end result of sitting in on a meeting in which various tactics for deflecting blame and responsibility were bandied about by high level employees of a diocese in order to craft a press release responding to an accusation against a member of the clergy employed within that diocese – and yes – I did speak up and out – and yes – I was smeared and ostracized. Not that I cared, much, at that point. I had already been subjected to a subtle form of sexual abuse myself within that diocese. No one touched me. So I suppose, according to several RD defenders here, that means it wasn’t really abuse.

  354. 354
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    I wish I could read the whole thread, but I’m skiving off work here and I don’t wanna get busted. I’ll just assumed the fuckwitted fanbois continue to cluelessly cheer their hero and the Horde continues to try and show them where they fucked up. Good work Horde.

    Fuck Dawkins is all I have to say. My main reason for commenting is to thank people like Jafafa Hots and others for being willing to share their stories with us. I’m sure its not easy but it really does help the rest of us understand just how horrible Dawkins is being. So thank you.

  355. 355
    PZ Myers

    Oh, one other little thing: he was a warmongering fascist who worshipped the military. Which meant that he’d play the “Ballad of the Green Berets” at ear-splitting volume in the locker room.

    Builds character, you know.

  356. 356
    UnknownEric the Apostate

    He also had daily jock inspections. We all had to line up and show him that we were wearing an athletic supporter. If you weren’t, bam, you were going to be squirming in all the rest of your classes that day while trying to sit down.

    Yeah, my old high school PE instructor did the same. Except instead of hitting you himself, he’d make you “run the gauntlet,” where your peers all got to pummel you mercilessly.

    AND THIS WAS THE EARLY FUCKING 90s! /still bitter

  357. 357
    Walton

    PZ: Good grief, that’s terrible. I’m so sorry that happened to you.

    It was much the same in British schools of the era, by all accounts. “Caning” and the like – vicious physical punishments designed not only to hurt but to humiliate and degrade – were legal and commonplace in Britain until the 1980s. Thankfully they have been banned (and I wasn’t born till ’89, so I don’t speak from any firsthand experience). But there are conservative assholes who’d like to bring them back.

  358. 358
    AJ Milne

    Sigh…

    It’s impressive, really. Splash damage to go around.

    Minimizing child sexual abuse? Check. That one, it’s been covered here, but seriously, yeah, a little beyond merely wrong.

    Gotta note also, though: anyone thinking gee, it’d be nice if people did take seriously threatening children with visceral accounts of eternal torture, what do we do now? I figure each time we bring it up for oh the next ten years, the approach is going to sound something like: ‘Okay… So Dawkins is dead wrong about child sexual abuse, but still, that hell stuff, it is still pretty damned nasty, too. The fact that someone incredibly clueless about something else entirely may have been the first person you heard give it any profile does not quite change this…’

    I think the reality is it would have been a while before people did generally take that other thing seriously anyway–that being the ethics of attempting to terrify children with threats of hellfire. It’s been so normalized, it’s just how it is. But the way he’s tangled these two things up, together with the prominence he has, I figure it’s probably worth about another decade of seeing it shoved back to the back burner.

    So, well, thanks for nothing, Dr. D. Brilliantly done there, guy.

  359. 359
    ludicrous

    Not in any way to excuse him but I’ll wager his own childhood abuse was special.

    Highly recommend Alice Miller’s “For Your Own Good” historical review of child rearing abuse mostly 19 and 20 century, and how it gets passed on, and on, and on. I think there is more to Dawkins childhood abuse than he has so far revealed.

  360. 360
    ludicrous

    359

    Referring to Earl, PZ’s coach

  361. 361
    I've got the WTF blues

    From “liberal opinionistas” to the white male as victim trope:

    (…….) Besides, I’m white & male so not entitled to an opinion.

    He’s just hitting all the reactionary rightist memes

    His responses thus far seem to suggest he believes his statements the equivalent of ex cathedra pronouncements. (and perhaps they are, just not in the manner he appears to believe)

  362. 362
    PZ Myers

    He’s entitled to an opinion, of course. We also have the right to dislike that opinion.

  363. 363
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    Giliell: They’re a hive mind, obviously.

  364. 364
    tbp1

    One of the hardest lessons of adulthood is learning that people you admire in some regards are often impossible to admire, or even respect, in others.

    Also, admiration and success can go to anyone’s head and provoke hubris if they’re not careful.

  365. 365
    ledasmom

    I’m English-English as are enough others here, and the context and meaning is very much dismissive of other people’s experiences.

    Exactly. The phrasing turns the question of harm into a trivial matter, essentially saying that it’s not worth doing anything more rigorous than glancingly think about it. I mean, would one say “I don’t think guns contribute to lethal violence” and leave it at that if one had a real interest in resolving the question? The phrasing assumes that the issue at hand is not important enough to actually investigate.
    The fact that these English words could be taken at their literal meaning, “It is not my opinion that harm was done, but I am not certain”, does not override their colloquial implication; as I have been known to scream at my computer, denotation does not override connotation; the literal meaning does not override the societal/cultural/etc implications of the word or phrase.

  366. 366
    chrispollard

    De-bagging, de-bollocking, grabbing other boys by their testicles was fairly common in single sex schools in the UK 40 to 50 years ago. Never heard of teachers doing it but certainly a hazard you had to watch out for.

  367. 367
    AJ Milne

    Holy shit re PZ’s and Unknown Eric’s PE teachers.

    I’m suddenly grateful for the teachers I had. The worst of them were maybe less than entirely enthusiastic about their work, or not especially good at curbing bullying students started.

  368. 368
    ludicrous

    tbp1′ @364

    Not as hard as it used to be, thanks to the innertoobz we are presented with clay feets every day.

    Now checking what’s inside my shoes.

  369. 369
    Gen, Uppity Ingrate and Ilk

    Honestly? This is just too much for me right now. His callous disregard for victims of molestation and his classification of “mild paedophelia” is just too triggering right now for me personally to deal with. Yet I can not stay quiet either, because resistance is the only way to show people like him that the ideas they are propagating are abhorrent.

    So no, Richard Dawkins. Just stop, please. You’re doing real harm. Just stop.

  370. 370
    NelC

    I’ve never really felt warm towards Dawkins, and his recent behaviour hasn’t helped, but perversely the quoted bits of this interview have made me feel a bit more sympathetic towards him. It seems to me that, harmed or not, he still hasn’t processed the experience fully, and may actually be trying to work it out even now, fifty years after the event.

    There’s some layers to what he’s quoted as saying which I think need some unpacking, multiple contexts for his remarks. One context is the way in which pedophilia of all degrees can be treated with the same degree of utter condemnation by our societies, even hysteria, sometimes leading to outrageous injustices: from mutually-not-quite-legal-age consensual sexual exploration being prosecuted as serious crime because of badly-written laws slavishly interpreted, to vigilantism against those merely suspected of pedophilia. Dawkins’ remarks can be seen partly as a response to that societal tendency to over-react. Rape is wrong, whatever form it takes, but as a society we do have to perform a moral calculus at some point to determine how each pedophile should be treated according to their behaviour, no matter how viscerally we react to it. Dawkins is right about that.

    However, Dawkins is — I think — wrong in implying that the groping he received was ‘mild’ behaviour. As has been pointed out above, this is an essential part of grooming behaviour, sorting out suitable victims from those who might object, and getting them used to being molested. It’s possible that the schoolmaster doing this didn’t, in fact, go any further; but we know that abusers, having crossed that boundary between fantasy and physical reality, often do go further. It’s quite likely that anyone who was regularly sodomised would have been missed by Dawkins’ straw poll, as they would have been selected for their quiet, easily-coerced personalities or other exploitable tendencies. (This isn’t meant to be victim-blaming, just a description of predatory methodology. No offence is intended.)

    The whole issue of judging the past by our present-day standards is a difficult one. I don’t make a habit of condemning Genghis Khan’s practice of building mountains of skulls outside formerly resisting cities, for example, simply because the opportunity does not come up that often, not because it wasn’t a monstrous thing. There’s a lot of history, and a lot of it is awful, but most of it is outside living memory and I don’t have much connection to it. If Genghis was outside my city now, though, you can bet I’d have some condemnatory words to blog about him.

    Lesser social wrongs than genocide, within living memory, can get treated differently from similar acts committed recently just because we lived in those times; we may know better now, but we remember not knowing better then because that’s how everyone around us behaved and we learnt from them. And it’s the past: we can’t go back and change it, we can only change ourselves, and those around us, now. The present moment is the only time we can act, so of course this is when we commit most of our emotional energy to achieving change. There’s no point throwing rotten fruit at Dawkins’ schoolmaster, long dead and by his own hand at that. We can simply say, “That was wrong” and move on. There is a point to telling Dawkins that he’s missing the point on several issues, because he might finally get it and stop saying such badly thought-out rubbish, treating it with the same clarity of thought that he applies to evolution.

    And finally, and possibly most trivially, there’s the context that this is a verbal (I assume) interview. In response to a question that wasn’t quoted, he emitted an uneditable, barely-planned, stream of consciousness, as we all do in conversation, each thought having ellisions and assumptions and implications beyond what’s at the front of our minds at the time. On the other hand, Dawkins probably had the opportunity to review the interview and revise anything he felt was unclear or wrong, and he definitely has the opportunity now to clarify or change his mind, if he has but the will to take it. But remembering the ‘Dear Muslima’ comment, I’m sadly pessimistic about that.

  371. 371
    David Marjanović

    And that all Richard Dawkins experienced was a brief groping does not mean that greater harm was not being done. That man was a serial child molester; do we know that he didn’t abuse other children to a greater degree? That there aren’t former pupils living now who bear greater emotional scars?

    See, I think Dawkins never thought that far.

    I’m aware this means he’s stunnigly stupid.

    Ugh, that whole “product of their times” argument is a really bad one. The only thing that was different about earlier eras was that perpetrators could get away with sexual violence more easily. Rape wasn’t any less rape-y back then. So what this argument boils down to is, “Back then, people could get away with it, so let’s not criticise them now.”

    Bingo!

    Last year I received “The God Delusion” as a birthday present from my daughter. I have not read it yet. I have just changed my plans from simply tossing it in the trash to…..what? Any suggestions?

    Read it with an open mind. It’s already bought & paid for – reading it has no effect on Dawkins.

    It’s kind of sad, when you think about it. This is exactly the attitude his abuser would have wanted him to have, which I really doubt is a coincidence.

    Seconded.

    Do we even know there weren’t others abused to the same degree but more severely harmed by it? I’m always suspicious of the “It never did [me and a bunch of people I haven't seen in decades] any harm, AFAIK” claims. Would he even be able to know otherwise?

    QFT!

    And a personal note to YOU RD, if you ever read this (which of course is doubtful, because this is not an article praising you.)

    Oh, he read the Elevatorgate thread here, and participated. And then I flat-out couldn’t believe he had made those comments till PZ confirmed it was Dawkins and not a troll pretending to be him.

    He was orphaned at the age of seven and went to live with his uncle, also a minister, who believed in regular beatings needed or not.

    “Beat your wife regularly, she’ll know why.”
    – Ancient “wisdom” from where my dad comes from.

    I won’t say R.D. is perfect, but he’s about the best we’ve got to lead a global fight against religion.

    Your metaphor is wrong.

    It’s pretty funny that a bunch of folks who make a big deal out of the scientific method discard it instantly when sacred offenses are in question. Is child sexual abuse as harmful to children as, say, poverty?

    Wow – wow – wow.

    How stupid does one need to be to think that “A isn’t as bad as B” logically leads to “A isn’t horrible”? Do you suffer from Black And White Insanity or something?

    And that’s before I even address your question. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all answer to it, you see.

    Could it be that public school boys have to shut down a lot of their emotions to survive the meat grinder hierarchy and petty brutality of that crusted over culture?

    Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    Mods feel free to delete that last post. I am not in a position to speculate.

    This is a blog, not a forum; only PZ can delete comments. The monitors can tell PZ and reasonably expect that he’ll read their e-mails in spite of the flood in his inbox, but that’s all.

    Sexual release could be got by having a wank on your own. No one has a right to another person’s body for sexual release.

    It always comes up in these discussions about boarding schools, celibate priests, prisons – oh if only women or girls were made available for the men and boys to use, then they wouldn’t have to use each other as their “bitches”. That’s what the female half of the human race are for ! How sad that they they need to turn on other men.

    Or maybe: no one has a right to another person’s body. That’s the actual issue. Not “sexual release”, boundaries and consent and not getting off on violation.

    All seconded.

    I even heard one (arts) academic give the justification that it was similar to the mentoring of ancient Greek boys in the gymnasia of that civilisation.

    I’m sure it was. This is not sarcasm.

    Don’t impress me (at least) with how huge your… outrage is, about this or anything. Impress me with your humanity and your reasoning. Show how you’re better than this often, at least in the past, admirable man who’s gotten himself into a hole and seems intent on digging it deeper.

    You’re going to be wrong about something important, too. Some day. Un-pray that you have the sense and honesty to recognize and correct it.

    Farewell, here.

    You misunderstand.

    What we’re doing here isn’t trying to classify people. This is not about people, not about the whole person of C. Richard Dawkins. It’s about something specific somebody – it happens to be Dawkins – said.

    Another tell: he’s started tweeting about ‘liberal opinionistas’.

    Wow. That’s a specifically US right-wing thing to say – it doesn’t even make sense when applied to the UK’s Liberal Democratic Party!

    shattered three paddles into splinters beating all the other kids

    …I literally didn’t even know this was possible: to beat people so hard that solid wood breaks but nobody’s bones do.

    Outside of comic books where explosions just cover people in soot.

    For comparison, I’m very surprised that your teacher even entered the locker room. Mine, several, in the 90s, never did, except sometimes to say “what’s taking you so long”.

  372. 372
    Amphiox

    It’s pretty funny that a bunch of folks who make a big deal out of the scientific method discard it instantly when sacred offenses are in question. Is child sexual abuse as harmful to children as, say, poverty?

    Propose an ethically acceptable and methodolically sound experimental plan that can actually answer that question.

    Until you do so, the question is beyond the scope of human science.

  373. 373
    David Marjanović

    Strange. “There was an error”, and I can’t sign the petition – refreshing the page doesn’t help.

  374. 374
    Anthony K

    It’s pretty funny that a bunch of folks who make a big deal out of the scientific method discard it instantly

    You’re talking about Dawkins, right? Whereby he ignores all and any research on an issue and declares his own perspective to be a conclusion?

    Or does your criticism only apply to non-heroes of the movement?

  375. 375
    Bronze Dog

    During my old blog’s more popular days, it was common for trolls to randomly bring up Dawkins for disparagement and I’d simply point out that they’re changing the subject, since he wasn’t the topic, nor was he cited. To me, he was just a popular atheist with no inherent authority and I said so to make it clear I’m not some mindless fanboy like they typically asserted.

    After I got a good enough look at the evidence of misogyny and racism that’s been piling up, I decided to immediately and clearly disassociate myself with Dawkins whenever anyone implies an association. I won’t be buying any more of his books, and if I ever go to a convention, I will not attend anything he’s speaking in. I vowed to flatly reject any assertion that I should be willing to compromise and accept this horrible but popular person for the alleged “greater good” of the atheist/skeptic movement.

    And now, I get a good eyeful of rape culture apologia as applied to child molesters. The person I considered a toxic asset just got more toxic. Given what I’ve seen so far, I’d say his behavior seems to be reasonably strong evidence that he was in fact harmed by his experience: It indoctrinated him into rape culture and has him issuing apologia that is disturbingly similar to religious apologia.

  376. 376
    scimaths

    Given what I’ve seen so far, I’d say his behavior seems to be reasonably strong evidence that he was in fact harmed by his experience: It indoctrinated him into rape culture and has him issuing apologia that is disturbingly similar to religious apologia.

    Someone does not actually have to be molested to be influenced or harmed by rape culture. It is likely that he would have had exactly the same attitude sans groping just like many many others do.

  377. 377
    Amphiox

    He would not condemn, I assume, a Bronze Age shepherd for teaching his daughter about Hell.

    He did. And so do we all every time we criticize any modern person for having “Bronze Age” beliefs. It is only through the explicit condemnation of the actions of bronze age peoples that the comparison even counts as a criticism for a person today.

  378. 378
    Amphiox

    re my #377

    (This is the same reason why insulting a man with a female gendered slur is misogynistic and discouraged, and why insulting a person with a disability referring insult like “retard” or “cretin” is unacceptable)

  379. 379
    Anthony K

    He would not condemn, I assume, a Bronze Age shepherd for teaching his daughter about Hell.

    Only because compared to Stone Age shepherds teaching their daughters about Hell, Bronze Age shepherds teaching their daughters about hell is zero bad.

  380. 380
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Whew, finally made it through the thread. Went about as I would expect. Fanbois, apologists, and tone trolls out in force, adding nothing cogent to discussion, just smoke and mirrors in attempts to distract. Funny how they get upset when the horde ignores their smoke and mirrors, while keeping an eye on the important core.

  381. 381
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    scimaths #239

    It always comes up in these discussions about boarding schools, celibate priests, prisons – oh if only women or girls were made available for the men and boys to use, then they wouldn’t have to use each other as their “bitches”. That’s what the female half of the human race are for ! How sad that they they need to turn on other men.

    I feel I should point out, at risk of drifting slightly OT, that a) a significant portion of the activities described by the post to which you are responding are mutually consensual (although due to shoddy practices by the few people who’ve actually researched the topic it’s very hard to say what the proportion is, and I strongly suspect that it varies significantly by institution), and that b) the same types of both consensual sex and rape are known to occur in all types of sex-segregated environments, regardless of the sex; convents, girls’ schools etc as much as boy’s schools, cattle drives, etc.

  382. 382
    chimera

    Some commentors have mentioned what’s on Dawkin’s twitter feed. So I went and looked it up. And so I discovered that he/they read you, Pharyngula, and that you (or some of you) read them. It’s like having a private conversation with the person standing in front of you when what you are saying is really or in part intended for some other person standing halfway down the block. Curiouser and curiouser.

  383. 383
    Tashiliciously Shriked

    Reading those tweets is like false equivalency bingo.

  384. 384
    Sili

    I’ve recently been speculating that Dawkins was growing senile.

    I’m sorry for the offence that caused.

    I accept that he’s just an arsehole. There is no excuse of diminished mental faculties for him.

  385. 385
    hotshoe, now with more boltcutters
    shattered three paddles into splinters beating all the other kids

    …I literally didn’t even know this was possible: to beat people so hard that solid wood breaks but nobody’s bones do.

    There’s a picture of the kind of paddle PZ’s coach used here – the one with the holes: A Vielnt Education pdf

    It’s about 1 cm thick. I never saw a paddle like that in use, but I can picture that it’s weak enough with the holes that it could splinter. I sure wouldn’t want t be the child it splintered upon.

  386. 386
    cuervocuero

    Just a small observation of the stories of Dr. Dawkin’s school days. When he was able to escape the molesting, he didn’t go to the authorities of the school to report this event, he reported it to his also-powerless peers, who believed him and confirmed it as a common assault among them and apparently, something they just needed to survive to get through school.

    Isn’t that something like all the stories of survivors of sexual assault whispering in the hollows amongst themselves, warning each other of a powerful figure they couldn’t do aught else about except tolerate and/or please?

    Is this why rape culture is so tolerated and dismissed? Because anecdotally, it sounds like so many influentially powerful male humans had to survive the enforced tradition of rape culture, that if they can’t dismiss being sexually and violently preyed upon by their elder role models as trivial, the way they’ve been told to trivialize it, they’d have to face up to the lesser status idea they’re neck deep and deeper in rape culture themselves as assaulted and battered boys.

    Anything short of being a predator man or dismissive man seems to have been firmly coded for generations as being unmasculine, a shame lurking in wait for any man who breaks the code of silence.

    It sounds so very fiendishly… Patriarchal Emperor’s clothes. People in this thread have mentioned wondering about what they would be like without having to shape themselves around the assault traumas they’ve survived, their trust in their own species in shards. I expect the same is wondered of a society where so many have had to survive around the same sort of trauma on a massive scale for generations.

    Just questioning dismissive norms is a seachange brought on by improving communications, secularism and the resultant WTF of collating contradictions. I don’t hate Dr. Dawkins for having clay feet but it’s silly to ignore when he has such an exalted and visible podium.

    He’s been bold and brash in the way a privileged figure can be in questioning one serious constrictor of fair observations. If it’s possible, I’d like to see him become even more aware of his and his society’s internalized defenses than he has. Being challenged in his declarations is fair turnabout in the thinking space he has helped clear. He doesn’t get to simply dismiss critique in that space anymore than his religious opponents do.

    But at the least, even if he doesn’t shift his conclusions when challenged, his celebrity ensures he’s still a genitor of discussion that may very well shift the conclusions of others.

  387. 387
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    …. Yes, it is completely possible to shatter paddles and other wooden implements on human skin.

  388. 388
    cicely

    Obviously, to Dawkins, this newfangled “intersectionality” stuff is something that only happens to other people.
     
    The parallel with “Dear Muslima” is obvious; “a little touching up” isn’t a violent, penetrative violation, so it’s nothing to be concerned about.
    -
    To bold:
     
    left angle bracket
    b
    right angle bracket
    whatever text you want to bold
    left angle bracket
    slash
    b
    right angle bracket
     
    And that’s the play-by-play.
    -

    Why the big furore now?

    Additional data points indicate that his previous such comments weren’t him misspeaking, but that they were and are indicative of his actual opinion on the matter.
     
    And it’s quite possible to deplore both sexual assault and exploding people (and also, at the same time, any number of Other Bad Things). We are not choosing either/or—this thread is not a conversation about explosives, or terrorism, or religious/politically motivated “civil unrest”. That conversation belongs elsewhere.
    -

  389. 389
    Eamon Knight

    Well, this thread sure filled up fast, but I can’t let this one go:

    @44: Let’s not forget he’s FUCKING GOOD at least 99.9% of the damn time!>

    Bullshit. IMNSHO, he’s never been more than about 80% right, and was wrong to some extent the rest of the time, even to the extent of saying something rather stupid on occasion. And that was my opinion, like, six years ago when I first read TGD, long before the latest Deep Rifts over feminism and social justice issues. So that 80% number has been declining over time, and lately has been in free-fall. And while he’s scored some palpable hits, he’s far from the only, or best, critic of religion on the scene.

    But far be it from me to interfere with your hero worship. I try to respect other people’s sincerely held religious beliefs, I really do.[/sarcasm]

  390. 390
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    Re: my own #381
    I don’t mean to minimize the abuse that did and does go on in these institutions, nor to claim that it doesn’t exist, because it does, and it needs to stop.

  391. 391
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    “I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

    So that “earlier era” was the 1950s? What else was going on in the 1950s that he doesn’t condemn people for? He’s already downplaying offenses against children, how about racial minorities? women? developmentally disabled?

    I get what he’s saying, but he’s got to think about how his words affect people today. Plus, I’ve never heard of child molestation being “ok” in the 1950s.

    There’s also a difference between forgiving the people for being a product of their times and dismissing the impact of the *behavior*. Doesn’t make the behavior any less harmful even if it was acceptable at the time.

  392. 392
    carlie

    How stupid does one need to be to think that “A isn’t as bad as B” logically leads to “A isn’t horrible”?

    Dawkins, for one. He keeps saying that the kind of abuse he suffered, and the “milder” kinds that other people suffered, are “zero bad”, but then when challenged on it says “of course the first is bad, it’s just not the same”. But then he says the first is zero bad again.

  393. 393
    Inaji

    PZ:

    Any infraction, and he’d whip one out, tell you to bend over and hold your ankles, and WHAM, he’d smack you in the butt with full force. If the class was too noisy, he’d line everyone up and go down the row, swinging. I once got to class late, and he’d gone into a rage before I got there, and shattered three paddles into splinters beating all the other kids. I was so relieved to have missed the spectacle.

    But of course I was bent over and got my welts for being late.

    I was lucky and missed out on the PE abuse altogether. I never had PE classes until high school, because 1-8 grades were in private Catholic school. That didn’t mean I escaped physical punishment, though. The nuns were quite enthusiastic about physical punishment, and I was hit with metal-edged rulers often, and a fair amount of them ended up broken over my hands or the back of my head. Wooden paddles were kept in the principal’s office, and they were used.

    By the time I got into public high school, and had to have PE classes, I went straight for swim and dive team, and also being female, wasn’t subjected to the brutal nastiness my male classmates received in PE class. I was lucky.

  394. 394
    Inaji

    Handy HTML:

    To quote someone, use: <blockquote>Place Text Here</blockquote>:

    Place Text Here

    Bold: <b>Text</b>

    Italics: <i>Text</i>

  395. 395
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    @scimaths #239

    It always comes up in these discussions about boarding schools, celibate priests, prisons – oh if only women or girls were made available for the men and boys to use, then they wouldn’t have to use each other as their “bitches”. That’s what the female half of the human race are for ! How sad that they they need to turn on other men.

    Or maybe: no one has a right to another person’s body. That’s the actual issue. Not “sexual release”, boundaries and consent and not getting off on violation.

    QFT. If I had money, I’d buy up billboards up and down the country and put this up in giant letters thirty feet high.

    Y’know, if I was a guy, I would be highly insulted by the idea that I’m a mindless, slobbering beast who needs to find a hole to stick it in, and if I lack willing females, I’ll just use whatever is available, regardless of how young, non consenting, or inanimate it is–and that this is normal. Hell, just as a woman with brothers, with a father, with men in my life that I love, I find this offensive.

  396. 396
    woodworm

    Bicarbonate

    “Some commentors have mentioned what’s on Dawkin’s twitter feed. So I went and looked it up. And so I discovered that he/they read you, Pharyngula, and that you (or some of you) read them. It’s like having a private conversation with the person standing in front of you when what you are saying is really or in part intended for some other person standing halfway down the block”.

    Not all that weird, really. I’ve tried saying my piece to his face. Queries on his twitter feed get ignored, and questions on RDFRS get removed. I asked him why he’d linked to the Deity video, for example, and the question got removed. Someone mentioned that Islam was not exactly a lifestyle choice that one could ‘opt out of’ at will, but he chose to ignore that and concentrate instead on someone who had written an illiterate comment. An Arabic speaker asked him a question and was mocked for incorrect English (I don’t know how good his Arabic is, but hey). That’s how he rolls.

  397. 397
    Erin (formerly--formally?-- known as EEB)

    Oh, an additional thought:

    Dawkins reminds me of a roommate I had in college. After our orientation, she informed me that she thought the safety lecture was totally bogus because, and I quote: “Like, that whole “one in four” women have been raped thing is way exaggerated. I know, like, way more than four people, and none of us have been raped!”

    I didn’t doubt it. After listening to more of her blamey-shamey beliefs over the semester, I would have been shocked if a friend or acquaintance did disclose a rape to her. Likewise, Richard Dawkins doesn’t seem the be the safest person to confide in about issues stemming from childhood sexual abuse. Except, my roommate was a sheltered, ignorant 19 year old. You’d think Dawkins would be able to grasp that logical fallacy.

  398. 398
    Inaji

    Woodworm @396, that wasn’t the point of Bicarbonate’s comment. It’s on the strangeness of twitter, where people read a thread here, but refuse to discuss it here, instead, hollering down the block on twitter. It gives a person a disconnected feeling.

  399. 399
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Hotshoe @385

    There’s a picture of the kind of paddle PZ’s coach used here – the one with the holes: A Vielnt Education pdf

    It’s about 1 cm thick. I never saw a paddle like that in use, but I can picture that it’s weak enough with the holes that it could splinter. I sure wouldn’t want t be the child it splintered upon.

    The purpose of the holes is to raise welts.

  400. 400
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    PZ
    I’m sorry about the abuse you suffered.
    Our PE teacher, oh he was touchy with the girls. He “helped” us, not by holding our arms like with the boys, no, while holding our waists, touching shoulders, backs, butts…
    We complained. We were told not to make a fuss. And you got a good grade as a reward when you didn’t complain…

  401. 401
    David Marjanović

    There’s a picture of the kind of paddle PZ’s coach used here – the one with the holes: A Vielnt Education pdf

    Ah, with 3 rows of holes, that looks physically possible… still scary, though. :-S

    I was hit with metal-edged rulers often, and a fair amount of them ended up broken over my hands or the back of my head

    *contracts and bares teeth*

  402. 402
    David Marjanović

    The purpose of the holes is to raise welts.

    *headdesk*

    Our PE teacher, oh he was

    In my experience (90s), the sports/PE teachers for boys were all male, and the ones for girls all female, possibly for this exact reason…

  403. 403
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    We had sports together.
    I expect adult men to keep their hands off teenage girls, especially when in a position of power.
    Oh, wait, I’m an evil feminazi, I always think the worst of men, like they’re on average reasonable people with self-control….

  404. 404
    daniellavine

    Re: “hyperbole”, “witchhunts”, etc.

    Dawkins’ stalward defenders: read the OP again. Seriously, nincompoops, this is a rather mild rebuke and it’s worded downright politely compared to PZ’s typical style. In what sense is this, again, mild rebuke disproportionate to what Dawkins said?

    To seriously advance the argument that this response is “disproportionate” to what Dawkins said I would think one would have to believe that a mild, politely-worded chiding in a blog post is worse than trivializing the sexual abuse of children. Any of Dawkins’ Brave Heroes care to actually own up to that assertion?

    Probably not; worded like that it sounds pretty fucking stupid, doesn’t it? But when you sound off about how a mild criticism of Dawkins is completely disproportionate to what Dawkins said that’s an implicit premise of your argument.

    TL;DR fanboys should try thinking their arguments through and not being so incredibly stupid.

  405. 405
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @ Craig Mansfield, 105

    Or does that only count when the speaker says what we want or expect or are most comfortable hearing?

    Please…

    Let me introduce you to Ogvorbis, who said something that no one **wants** to hear and with which no one is comfortable save sociopathic child molesters. Also, Ogvorbis is an adult cis man. IIRC, he’s in relationship to a woman and I’ve never read anything about him being queer. I have no idea of his race.

    Next let me introduce you to Jane Doe 143, who clearly is scared out of her mind [or at least her community] about saying that after she was raped, she abused someone else. Not at all expected, given we hadn’t had survivors other than Og talking about anything remotely connected to that here. Not at all comfortable.

    Then let me introduce you to Elyse, who encouraged us to shut up certain people. It was uncertain whether or not this included Ogvorbis & Doe. Nonetheless, what she said was very, very commonly heard in survivor-support circles. There is a long history of demonizing abusers and rapists, requiring a manichaean split between them and survivors. People are thrown out of support groups for admitting this kind of thing, and a culture of not admitting it has grown up over decades for fear of losing resources.

    While we agree that some survivors aren’t ready for/helped by this complex narrative and need a space without such, we did the difficult and uncomfortable thing, defending the openness of Ogvorbis and Doe.

    Things became more heated when another survivor, Cyranothe2nd, jumped in, not knowing Og’s backstory and assuming that his story had nothing to do with being a survivor of childhood abuse. She specifically named Ogvorbis and Doe as people who should not be allowed into survivor space, while specifically omitting persons like Jacob Schmidt, who told a common tale of assault from the assaulter’s perspective. It appeared to be for several motives, at least a large portion was to provide proof to survivors that there stories were changing individuals – and thus cultures – for the better. While this is almost as good a motive for such stories as I can imagine [and the best I can imagine, processing it so as to really learn as much as one can about how to not act in F ways, was almost certainly present as well], the conspicuous absence of JS from the critique placed the brunt of it entirely on survivor shoulders – and almost entirely on the shoulders of Ogvorbis, a good person in a fragile place.

    If you think that doing that specifically in that way was expected, go win a million bucks from James Randi.

    Elyse, btw: not old. Not a guy. Very possibly white, I wouldn’t know.

    Cyranothe2nd? Not old. Not a guy. Very possibly white, I wouldn’t know.

    ===================
    I state the above for a reason, and that is to say this:

    Walking in here and dismissing the struggle against sexual abuse and the culture that minimizes it as some kind of reactionary, reverse-racist, reverse-sexist, compulsive lashing out is one of the most ignorant and F interpretations of honest critique I’ve seen. The straw man concept doesn’t do it justice.

    It would be easy enough to point to a substantial component of Dawkins’ statement with which you agree without opining that the disagreement with Dawkins’ present here is insincere and based on prejudice.

    You didn’t.

    Your comment is an exemplar of the statements of the fools who think themselves wise. Simultaneously, it exemplifies strategies for maitaining the racism of the status quo by dismissing criticism of white folk as racist. It exemplifies strategies for maitaining the sexism of the status quo by dismissing criticism of men as sexist – and women as thoughtlessly overreacting (i.e. hysterical). exemplifies strategies for maitaining the cultural barriers to ending rape of the status quo by dismissing criticism of minimization of child molestation and child rape as, well, too harsh.

    Those poor, poor people who minimize child rape. I really do have to concede that above all people, it is their ideas that should be beyond reproach due to their oh-so-sensitive sensitivity about being criticized for maintaining the cultural barriers to ending rape when all they were doing was saying, “Rape, y’know, it’s not a bad thing inherently. We just don’t like it much lately.”

    Yeah. You go. Get on with your devil’s advocacy. But I really mean it: go.
    ========
    [NB: This written before he was banned, but not posted b/c school. I still thought it was important b/c I find the worst part of Mansfield's statement to be the twisted use of oppression's impact to support someone who is saying he can't condemn "it" - in this case molestation - as vehemently when "it" was done 50 years ago as he can when "it" was done 50 minutes ago.]

  406. 406
    Inaji

    daniellavine:

    Any of Dawkins’ Brave Heroes care to actually own up to that assertion?

    I really think the only thing necessary is to ask “if the same thing were said by a clergy member in any religion, would there be outrage?”

  407. 407
    daniellavine

    DM@402:

    In my experience (90s), the sports/PE teachers for boys were all male, and the ones for girls all female, possibly for this exact reason…

    Not a perfect solution. The girls’ PE instructor at my high school made a lot of girls in my school uncomfortable with the way she “supervised” in the girls’ locker room. Later when I was teaching someone told me about the male PE instructor/wrestling coach who had liked to peep in the boys’ locker room (and was subsequently let go).

    The impression I got teaching is that the amount of student/teacher relationships that make it into the news is the tip of the iceberg; that these sorts of things are really horribly common and usually just hushed up.

    Christ, what the fuck is wrong with human beings?

  408. 408
    Inaji

    Crip Dyke @ 405, I don’t think it is at all alright to bring that situation up in this thread, nor to bring specific people into it. I understand why you did it, but it’s not okay. I see that as a violation of this rule:

    Do not bring arguments from elsewhere into the comment threads. Do not talk about another commenter in the third person; do not call out commenters from other threads.

  409. 409
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @ Caine.

    Fair enough.

  410. 410
    Dave, ex-Kwisatz Haderach

    …I literally didn’t even know this was possible: to beat people so hard that solid wood breaks but nobody’s bones do.

    Its certainly possible. My father broke no less than 6 on me, and more on my brother. But he was a woodshop teacher, so there was always a brand new paddle ready for the next time. And the principal of my elementary school regularly broke the “Board of Education” he kept in his office. And this was as recent as the mid-90′s, though the school is still open and probably still doing it. Private religious schools in small fundamentalist towns don’t really concern themselves with laws regarding corporal punishment.

  411. 411
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    PZ, UnknownEric, Caine, Gilliel:

    I’m sorry you had to endure such things.

    **TW for physical abuse**

    I’m lucky, that kind of physical abuse wasn’t tolerated anymore when and where I went to school, but my mother was subjected to severe beatings as a child by her schoolmistress (who happened to also be her mother, talk about twisted!) in a French public school in the 1950s. And yes, we’re talking wooden sticks broken on bare legs, or on children’s backides. As for the parish priest, he wasn’t into sexual molestation, thankfully, but he was the kind of sadist who makes children kneel on a thick wooden ruler for an hour on end if they so much as talk during religious lessons. Urgh. ><

  412. 412
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I really think the only thing necessary is to ask “if the same thing were said by a clergy member in any religion, would there be outrage?”

    This, over and over again. I don’t think I’ve read a social-justice thread in the last two years where I haven’t thought “If we were talking of a priest, these hyper-sceptics would be all over it like a rash.” Bloody hypocrites.

  413. 413
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Oops, tag fail. Must preview. Must preview. must prev…

  414. 414
    Inaji

    Irenedelse:

    And yes, we’re talking wooden sticks broken on bare legs, or on children’s backides. As for the parish priest, he wasn’t into sexual molestation, thankfully, but he was the kind of sadist who makes children kneel on a thick wooden ruler for an hour on end if they so much as talk during religious lessons.

    :shakes head: Yes, physical abuse was all too common because it was accepted, and unfortunately, still has a foothold in too many places even now.

    There was a monsignor at my Catholic school who was fond of making girls kneel out on the playground, as it was rough asphalt. Did your knees in completely.

  415. 415
    Inaji

    Daz:

    This, over and over again. I don’t think I’ve read a social-justice thread in the last two years where I haven’t thought “If we were talking of a priest, these hyper-sceptics would be all over it like a rash.” Bloody hypocrites.

    Exactly. All those who are defending, it’s just the basest form of “hey, he’s one of our own, cover it up, cover it up!” It is not all right, in any way, shape or form.

  416. 416
    Amphiox

    Danielevine @404;

    Dawkins’ stalward defenders: read the OP again. Seriously, nincompoops, this is a rather mild rebuke and it’s worded downright politely compared to PZ’s typical style. In what sense is this, again, mild rebuke disproportionate to what Dawkins said?

    About as mild as “guys don’t do that”, no?

    These people, it would seem, have fully embraced the digital revolution. All their responses are binary. 0 or 1.

  417. 417
    aluchko

    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    I think that’s a very harmful way to frame it. It suggests that it’s not the acts that traumatize but public discourse. We know how corporal punishment has long-lasting psychological effects, whether you found it horrible as a child or traumatizing or whether you approve or disapprove of corporal punishment.

    Corporal punishment is designed to inflict pain, it’s going to be significant regardless of the cultural expectations. But with mild pedophilia there isn’t pain or even significant sexual feelings (depending on the age), the main injury is being involved in a huge cultural taboo.

    I’m not sure this perspective is helpful in influencing policy, it’s more just a reason to explain why some people might be fine with their experiences.

  418. 418
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Caine #414:

    My mother also noticed something interesting some time later, in the early 1960s I think, during an excursion in Spain and Portugal organised by a Church-sponsored youth cultural association. They were housed in convents, of course, and took trips to the most notable churches and cathedrals, admiring all sorts of baroque art and architecture that most tourists don’t get to see, because those convents and cloisters are not open to all. They made an exception for some nice Catholic groups, like theirs. Apart from the gorgeous architecture, and marble, and mosaic, my mother was also impressed by an insight into how these convents operated: the people doing the hard cleaning work on those marble floors and monumental staircases were all too often 12 or 13-year-old girls, wearing the uniforms of the orphans that the good sisters (!) housed by “charity”.
    My mother never renounced her catholic faith, but she did become quite anticlerical after all that.

  419. 419
    TonyJ

    frankb #13:

    Since you already own it, why not just read it? You don’t have to agree with everything (or anything) an author says in order to read their books do you?

  420. 420
    Inaji

    aluchko:

    But with mild pedophilia there isn’t pain or even significant sexual feelings (depending on the age), the main injury is being involved in a huge cultural taboo.

    No. You will not be going down this route in this thread. You have absolutely no business attempting to define the harm or lack of harm involved in pedophilia.

    Rape apologetics are not acceptable, under any guise, so don’t do it. Consider this a warning. More apologetics will result in an alert being sent. Thank you.

  421. 421
    Inaji

    Irenedelse:

    Apart from the gorgeous architecture, and marble, and mosaic, my mother was also impressed by an insight into how these convents operated: the people doing the hard cleaning work on those marble floors and monumental staircases were all too often 12 or 13-year-old girls, wearing the uniforms of the orphans that the good sisters (!) housed by “charity”.

    Shades of the Magdalene Laundry. Yes, it was common for orphans to be used as work slaves, under the guise of ‘doing good works’, of course. It’s despicable.

  422. 422
    brucegorton

    @aluchko

    The thing with physical abuse I found was it it was the feeling that what I felt about a situation didn’t matter and that in real terms I didn’t matter, I was just there to be a convenient punching bag to my older sibling.

    What I am getting at here is it was never really the physical damage that lasted, it was that build up of feeling not just helpless but like I didn’t deserve to be helped. That is what got me.

    Now I can’t speak for other survivors, I can’t claim that my experience is universal, but I think it is very important to recognise that the physical damage caused by abuse isn’t necessarily the real marker of the trauma caused by it.

    “Mild” paedophilia might not be to cause pain, but it is to objectify, it is to use a child as an object of sexual gratification.

    And a sex doll is every bit as much an object as a punching bag.

  423. 423
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Richard Dawkins’ treatment of his own sexualt assault (to say nothing of the experiences of his friends) really makes me wonder if he grasps two of the most important reasons why pedophilia is wrong:
    1- the inability of children to offer informed consent
    2- the violation of the childrens’ bodily autonomy.

    I question the degree to which he understands either of the two based on his assessment that he was subjected to ‘mild pedophilia’. Whether it is ‘hands down pants’ or any other form of sexual assault, such offensive actions are wrong. That Dawkins perceives a difference between types of Bodily Autonomy Violations of Children is particularly scary because it arbitrarily allows for the dismissal of certain actions that do not meet his standard. While I support his choice in how to deal with his assault as he chooses, I do not support any position that provides support for violating bodily autonomy. Dawkins does this very thing by making any kind of distinction between kinds of pedophilia. IANAL, but such distinctions are appropriate in criminal proceedings. “He put his hands down the pants of a ten year old” vs “He raped a ten year old” are dinstinctions that may be necessary in determining sufficient punishment for an offender, but that is not under discussion here.

    On top of that, what is the basis for Dawkins’ standard? Last I checked, this is not Dawkins’ area of expertise. Aside from his own, personal evaluation of himself, in what way is he qualified to make statements on the mental health of those who have been abused?

    Mixed in with all this is Dawkins’ lack of empathy and his priviledge.
    He did not suffer from his assault?
    I am happy for him.
    Unfortunately, a staggering number of people have suffered.
    Categorizing any pedophilia as ‘mild’ dismisses the experiences of anyone who’s assault does not measure up to RDs standards.

    Understanding the concept of bodily *autonomy* should* result in understanding that *no* rape, sexual harassment, or sexualt assault is acceptable.

  424. 424
    Jenna Healy

    Oh, FFS, some of the comments on this post are utterly knee-jerk reactionary idiocy. It’s just a big circle-jerk for PZ Meyers arse-lickers who already hate Dawkins and are looking for a new reason to wank over how much of an arsehole he is.

    It actually reminds me how Rihanna was beaten up by Chris Brown and then was criticised for not demonising him, for collaborating with him musically and seeming to condone his behavior through her actions. And, you know what? Maybe that’s not alright. It was irresponsible and, yep, it probably had negative repercussions for fans of hers in similar situations. (It could, likewise, have made others realise how wrong it seemed for her to apparently forgive him and that made them reconsider their own situation.)

    And, guess what? Same applies here. You don’t get to dictate to anyone how they get to feel about something negative that happened to them. Even if you had a similar experience (and especially if you haven’t). I’ve had much worse things happen to be than being sexually abused – and that’s up to me to decide. It doesn’t mean I condone it happening to others.

    Nor do I see him condoning sexual abuse, I see him rather naively stating that it happened to him in a specific cultural setting did not particularly harm him. (Anyone read Moab Is My Washpot by Stephen Fry? He has similar experiences of attending public school and has formed a similar opinion). And, as uncomfortable that it may make us, there are certain times and places and cultures where certain immoral behaviors were condoned, either openly or under the surface of society, and that did make people more likely to engage in those behaviors. You’ll always, fortunately,have people to stand up against injustice and immorality, but on the other hand, the majority of people have a certain level of ignorance-led social conformity who will allow themselves to think something is okay because other people do it, too. That’s what rape culture IS.

    And I feel that’s what RD is saying, or was trying to say, or frankly, should have said more effing clearly for once in his life. Because, IMO, his biggest problem is not the things he says, but the fact he says them and rather ego-centrically assumes people will automatically understand certain implied nuances.

    But you’d think skeptics and supposed rational, critical thinkers would at least give a benefit of the doubt and give a measured response saying that you disagree, or think it was irresponsible, or whatnot — instead there’s a massive outcry against him like he’s some kind of monster whose entire character is blackened and people who previously respected him for whatever reasons should now totally reverse their entire opinion of him based on this, burn his books, tear down his posters, etc;

    It’s like we’re, I don’t know, blaming him for being a victim of sexual abuse or something.

    So, yes. I think he should be more mindful of what he says and stop acting so outraged when people jump all over every comment he makes. But I’m not going to burn my copy of The Blind Watchmaker at my PZ Meyers shrine. (Nor swear to only check out RD books from the library instead of purchasing them. *eyeroll* “Yeah, I disagree with him on this and am outraged, but admit that I still want to read his work because I still value his knowledge and viewpoints. But I’m not allowing him to profit unnecessarily from the fact that I wish to read something he has put time and effort into producing?” And,BTW, depending on what country you live in, he’ll probably still benefit monetarily from library loans .)

  425. 425
    Anthony K

    It’s just a big circle-jerk for PZ Meyers arse-lickers

    my PZ Meyers shrine

    Well, there’s a nuanced and measured response if ever I read one.

    You’re not really very good at this, are you?

  426. 426
    Inaji

    Jenna Healy:

    You don’t get to dictate to anyone how they get to feel about something negative that happened to them.

    No one has said that. What has been said is that Dawkins does not get to extrapolate his experience onto all other people.

    No one cares if you still want to support Dawkins. What people care about is his callousness in regard to other people when it comes to abuse, sexism and racism.

  427. 427
    daniellavine

    Jenna Healy@424:

    Maybe you should read the thread more carefully and take into account what RD is actually being criticized for instead of shouting at a bunch of imaginary people.

    instead there’s a massive outcry against him like he’s some kind of monster whose entire character is blackened and people who previously respected him for whatever reasons should now totally reverse their entire opinion of him based on this, burn his books, tear down his posters, etc;

    I also think it’s hilarious the amount of hyperbole you’re engaging in order to accuse others of hyperbole.

  428. 428
    PZ Myers

    Everyone who has a PZ Meyers Shrine — could you send me photos? I don’t have one, and I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to look like.

  429. 429
    Inaji

    Anthony K:

    You’re not really very good at this, are you?

    Not terribly. As there’s no PZ Meyers here, I suppose we have no need to worry about being circle-jerking arse lickers.

  430. 430
    daniellavine

    Jenna Healy doesn’t like people doing this to Dawkins:

    instead there’s a massive outcry against him like he’s some kind of monster whose entire character is blackened

    But Jenna Healy thinks it’s totally cool to describe people she disagrees with like this:

    It’s just a big circle-jerk for PZ Meyers arse-lickers

    Also, the Dawkins hero worship radiating out of your wall o’ text makes it hard to take the “PZ Meyers shrine” crap seriously.

  431. 431
    Inaji

    PZ:

    Everyone who has a PZ Meyers Shrine — could you send me photos? I don’t have one, and I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to look like.

    First, we need to find this PZ Meyers person.

  432. 432
    Anthony K

    instead there’s a massive outcry against him like he’s some kind of monster whose entire character is blackened and people who previously respected him for whatever reasons should now totally reverse their entire opinion of him based on this, burn his books, tear down his posters, etc;

    Don’t worry. I never respected Dawkins. (True story: long before I knew anything about his atheism, I’d read his explanations of how he felt it was incumbent upon us to ‘rise above our natures’, our natures being the gene-centric view he’d put forth in TSG. It was apparent to me even then how little he actually understood of human beings beyond biology.)

  433. 433
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Jenna Healy

    So Dawkins said the wrong thing, in the wrong way, but we shouldn’t be all nasty an’ mean an’ all by, erm… pointing that out? Even though you just spent a whole comment… pointing that out?

    Far be it from me to point out that your logic appears a little screwed, but, well, your logic appears a little screwed.

  434. 434
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Jenna Healy @424:

    You don’t get to dictate to anyone how they get to feel about something negative that happened to them.

    Yet you have no problem with Dawkins doing the same thing? And, before you start screaming, here is what he said:

    “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

    Do you see it? The part where he says ‘any of us’? He was molested, sexually assaulted, and he has my sympathy. However, when he starts taking his own experiences and projecting them onto other survivors, telling others that there was no lasting harm, I object. How the fuck does he know? Does Dawkins get to tell me whether or not there is any lasting harm?

  435. 435
    Inaji

    Daniellavine:

    Jenna Healy doesn’t like people doing this to Dawkins:

    What seriously bothers me about that is the othering. I don’t approve of othering, and have never once characterized Dawkins as a “monster.” He’s not a monster, he’s a human being engaging in all too human behaviour. It’s important to point out just how wrong that behaviour is, and it is equally important to make it clear that it is human in nature.

  436. 436
    carlie

    Public school, midwestern US, late 1980s, those same types of wood paddles with holes in them were the standard for corporal punishment. The required stance was to bend over with hands on ankles, and it was usually administered in the hallway just outside of the classroom so that everyone inside could hear, but not see it (although anyone who happened to be in the hall could). Girls usually got it easier than boys, and paddles were sometimes broken on the boys. Some offenses/teachers let one choose between detention and a swat (number determined by the offence). As I recall, swats were not necessarily reported to parents while detention was hard to hide, so a lot of kids chose swats to get it over with and hope their parents wouldn’t find out. I got one once. I remember getting it clearly, but I honestly can’t remember what caused it. I do vaguely recall that it was a purposeful act of insubordination for something we thought was unjust (there was a group), and it was a perfunctory swat because of said reason.

    One of our PE teachers was quite insistent that we all shower every after gym period every day, our grades were partly based on that, and she would stare through the window that went straight from her office into the shower room (yeah) to make sure everyone did. We’d keep our underwear on but pull down our bra straps, wrap in a towel, then make a show of opening the towel in front of the showerhead while standing far enough away to not get wet. I still feel kind of creeped out thinking of the way she looked at us, but there were never any hints of inappropriate behavior from her other than that.

    So yeah, I still remember physical violations I felt I had from teachers clearly; they still reverberate in my head, and they were nothing. Nothing at all compared to even what Dawkins went through, and yet they stick with me a quarter century later. I can only imagine how much he’d laugh at it.

  437. 437
    Inaji

    Carlie:

    I can only imagine how much he’d laugh at it.

    Which is an excellent example of the harm he continues to cause with his sweeping generalizations.

  438. 438
    Jafafa Hots

    As to the people who say ‘speak for yourself, but don’t speak for the other victims’, well, tu quoque

    I guess my comments came out invisible.

    That seems to happen a lot.

  439. 439
    daniellavine

    Caine@435:

    Yeah, agreed, people are already capable of heinous stuff, no need to make up stuff about monsters.

    Also no need to make up stuff about other people describing Richard Dawkins as “a monster” or “monstrous” b/c I’m pretty sure that didn’t happen here.

  440. 440
    Inaji

    Jafafa Hots:

    I guess my comments came out invisible.

    That seems to happen a lot.

    Happens to a lot of us. That’s why we often refer to ourselves as The Invisible Pixels™

  441. 441
    David Marjanović

    Not a perfect solution. The girls’ PE instructor at my high school made a lot of girls in my school uncomfortable with the way she “supervised” in the girls’ locker room. Later when I was teaching someone told me about the male PE instructor/wrestling coach who had liked to peep in the boys’ locker room (and was subsequently let go).

    Oh, of course it’s not a perfect solution. But at least it shows that the people in charge of such things have considered that the problem may at all exist.

    But then, to my surprise, this “solution” wasn’t available in this particular case anyway (see comment 403).

    It’s just a big circle-jerk for PZ Meyers arse-lickers

    We may lick the Grand Poopyhead’s arse, but at least we can spell his name, LOL.

    I think you should read this entire thread more carefully (not just PZ’s name).

  442. 442
    David Marjanović

    the window that went straight from her office into the shower room (yeah)

    Jesus Haploid Christ, what was the architect thinking???

  443. 443
    aluchko

    @Caine, Fleur du mal

    It’s not rape apologetics, I have absolutely no sympathy or excuses for the abuser. I’m just trying to understand what causes the harm to the child, and why some people like Dawkins believe they escaped that harm and believe that others in a similar circumstance did the same.

    I’m not trying to stir things up, it’s just that the post is a really harsh attack on Dawkins and I feel there should be someone presenting a defense and trying to empathize with his experience. But according to the rules you’re almost not allowed to defend him since there’s no margin for error in how you present your view.

    @brucegorton

    That’s an interesting perspective. I suspect even ‘mild’ paedophilia can cause serious harm regardless of culture if the sexual aspect becomes an important aspect of the relationship.

  444. 444
    SallyStrange

    You don’t get to dictate to anyone how they get to feel about something

    This is the Skeptic™ Talking Point for Defending the Dawk: pretend that people are dictating to him what his reaction should be to the sex abuse he experienced as a child. It doesn’t matter how careful people are to recognize that Dawkins has every right to assess his own experiences as mild and non-traumatic. It doesn’t matter how careful they are to distinguish from criticizing Dawkins talking about his OWN experiences vs. characterizing the experiences of other abuse victims. This is the talking point. Get used to it.

    I just want to second the suggestion to read Alice Miller’s “For Your Own Good” for an excellent exploration of what happens when child abuse, sexual or otherwise, is normalized society-wide, which is, in fact, what we’re talking about here.

    I’m also seconding Carlie’s observation that Dawkins’ own admission that the same boys who were assaulted later on went on to assault other boys pretty much negates his claim that little harm resulted.

  445. 445
    Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden

    @Bicarbonate, 339

    I was just asked to join the monitors a couple days ago. Then, today, promptly did not one, but two unwise things.

    Go figure.

    But we’re all here to help each other be accountable to each other, and if I want to help in that modeling being held accountable for things I do is at least a silver lining when I mess up.
    ——-
    That said, when monitors are speaking as monitors, we will use a monitor note unless there is reason not to.
    [for instance, not everyone knows how Alerts work: I can send one to PZ, but his opinion of the situation might be different from mine. By *not* speaking as a monitor when I let someone know that their behavior is close to what I need to see to send an alert - as happened yesterday - I'm hoping to make it clear that sending an alert is not an official determination of bad action and/or inevitable consequences. PZ is the sole holder of absolute power on Pharyngula.]

    When I’m not speaking as a monitor, I’m not speaking as a monitor, so whether I am one or not should be irrelevant – especially since the handy button to message the monitors requires no knowledge of who gets them or to what e-mail address they intend to send a message.

    Hope that helps, Bicarbonate!

  446. 446
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    aluchko

    I’m just trying to understand what causes the harm to the child

    Ask yourself why you would feel violated if someone were to sexually assault you as an adult.

    Now ask yourself if you can think of any reason why a child wouldn’t feel any differently about it.

  447. 447
    daniellavine

    aluchko@443:

    I’m not trying to stir things up, it’s just that the post is a really harsh attack on Dawkins and I feel there should be someone presenting a defense and trying to empathize with his experience.

    Is it really a “harsh attack”? Care to re-read it and quote the juicy bits? I’m just not seeing it.

    It’s not rape apologetics, I have absolutely no sympathy or excuses for the abuser. I’m just trying to understand what causes the harm to the child, and why some people like Dawkins believe they escaped that harm and believe that others in a similar circumstance did the same.

    This is what you said:

    I think that’s a very harmful way to frame it. It suggests that it’s not the acts that traumatize but public discourse. We know how corporal punishment has long-lasting psychological effects, whether you found it horrible as a child or traumatizing or whether you approve or disapprove of corporal punishment.

    Corporal punishment is designed to inflict pain, it’s going to be significant regardless of the cultural expectations. But with mild pedophilia there isn’t pain or even significant sexual feelings (depending on the age), the main injury is being involved in a huge cultural taboo.

    Sounds an awful fucking lot like rape apologetics to me.

  448. 448
    Jenna Healy

    In fairness, my comments (circle-jerk, etc) aren’t really very different from the imaginative language PZ uses (bowels-of-christ anyone), and they also weren’t aimed at any one person, so I don’t feel so bad about being hyperbolic. They were aimed at the majority of the first 150 comments I got through before I decided that most of them were knee-jerk “Dawkins is a twat, let’s all get together and agree about what a twat he is” (along with a large group of people who also decided to jump down the throat of anyone who dared disagree). So, I think – regardless of colourful language – my comment was a critical evaluation of what I genuinely saw happening on the thread. If you weren’t among the circle-jerkers (and there were a fair few), then I apologise. But, otherwise, if you can’t see how the comments appear to be a collective “We Hate Richard” club, then I’m afraid we’ll just have to disagree.

    I didn’t support what RD said at all – I just think that the comment thread of Team PZ/FTB is a pre-loaded cannon on the topic of RD and it doesn’t really matter what RD says or does, just as long as he provides some fodder.

    Also (to someone who actually responded to what I said instead of pointing out a minor and easily-made spelling error as if it it rendered everything else I said invalid) I assumed when RD said “it didn’t do any of us lasting harm” he was referring to his schoolmates that he actually knew, and maybe at school, none of them had behaved as if it bothered them. — If not, then that’s a different matter. I don’t agree with pushing one’s experience on others – I had it done to me only a few days ago. But, I didn’t feel angry at the woman who did it to me, or think she was ignorant or arrogant or condoning my suffering or her own – I simply registered the fact that her experience does not define my experience and I “wished” people could see that.)

    (And, furthermore, that any depiction I’ve seen of english boys’ public-school has carried the same sentiment. Again, I DO NOT think this means it’s okay. It just means he’s probably just a product of that culture possibly even moreso than his abusers.)

    (The “Shrine” bit was mainly triggered by a comment who said they didn’t need to learn anything from RD about atheism, they got everything they needed from PZ and FTB Like that’s not hero worship. I didn’t realism there was anything to learn about atheism other than “No god.”)

    *Note: I avoided even using PZ’s last name in this comment because I didn’t want to render my comment invalid because of something so silly. If you disagree with me, please have the decency to disagree with what I’ve said instead of ridiculing something so utterly irrelevant.

  449. 449
    Jafafa Hots

    One of our PE teachers was quite insistent that we all shower every after gym period every day, our grades were partly based on that, and she would stare through the window that went straight from her office into the shower room (yeah) to make sure everyone did. We’d keep our underwear on but pull down our bra straps, wrap in a towel, then make a show of opening the towel in front of the showerhead while standing far enough away to not get wet. I still feel kind of creeped out thinking of the way she looked at us, but there were never any hints of inappropriate behavior from her other than that.

    My gradeschool gym teacher (that’s what we called in back then) was an abusive ass who targeted me specifically because I’d somehow already started to develop my lack of deference to assholes in power…
    Anyway, this guy made all the boys take swimming class naked – “for sanitary reasons.”
    He’d stand watching us shower, telling us “wash those peckers!” and when we didn’t he’d make other “favored” boys wash the ones who weren’t doing it “right.”

    Then we’d all have to line up for inspection. His favored students would inspect as we showed our feet were scrubbed, pried our buttcheecks open to make sure we were clean there… then off to swimming, where he’d oftenh make us play “chicken.”

    In the pool, naked, another boy would get on your shoulders and you’d carry him about and everyone would try to knock each other off. Naked boys climbing on each other, genitals draped across the backs of each other’s necks.

    Body shaming came into it too.

    I stopped going, I was in 4th, 5th grade and started skipping class, hiding in the bathrooms, anywhere in the big old building. He’d leave class and come looking for me, dragging me away painfully by my ear.
    Used that wooden paddle with holes in it too.

    I held a personal battle with this asshole for quite a while, and was suspended from school in 4th grade for skipping his class.

    When the male principal, Ray Cooley, changed schools and a new one came in, Judith Ricca, maybe more receptive to complaints, and my friend Todd Fling deserves the credit for ending this BS – he went to her and complained, she was shocked, and swimsuits quietly became mandatory. Todd usually had a more practical approach to things than my “FUCK NO, you can’t make me” attitude.

    My fully-rational rejection of this crap actually ended up hurting me in the long run, I think, adding to my distrust of adults and authority figures… something which hasn’t made me slide easily through the world.

    Anyway, off topic, but this man, who I WILL name – Elmer Hinterberger, did damage to me without touching me (besides the ear pulling) and he did far worse damage to kids who were ostracized already for being “fat” or whatever.

    I guess that was “mild” but it wounded scores of boys, as he’d “taught” for decades.

    The “never did us any harm” thing is bullshit. These are KIDS we’re talking about. WORDS can do severe harm to them.

    When I tell people about the years of naked “playing chicken” in swimming, they are generally shocked.
    But you have to remember, these things went on in an entirely different era – the mid to late 1970s.
    When it was considered NORMAL for teachers to peer into kids’ spread asses.

  450. 450
    Inaji

    Aluchko:

    I’m not trying to stir things up, it’s just that the post is a really harsh attack on Dawkins and I feel there should be someone presenting a defense and trying to empathize with his experience.

    You have a history of shit stirring. That said, this ^ is pure bullshit. PZ’s post was not harsh at all. It was a plea. This is not a fucking courtroom, and you don’t get to play defense lawyer. You can empathize all you like with his experience, however, you will not be doing that at the expense of others. Full stop.

  451. 451
    carlie

    David – my guess is that they assumed the most amount of possible peer harassment would be in the showers, so the teacher had to be able to keep an eye on it. However, they neglected to think of the fact that kids spent far more time in the locker room portion than in the showers, and that the locker room provided two opportunities per gym period for harassment (while the shower was only once). And the locker areas weren’t visible from the office at all.

  452. 452
    Inaji

    Jenna Healy:

    (bowels-of-christ anyone)

    Seriously, your justification attempt using this is idiotic. It’s fine if you are ignorant of Cromwell, but you should make a better effort if you actually have a substantive point and wish for people to pay attention to it.

  453. 453
    daniellavine

    Jenna Healy:

    Yeah, you know what kind of person says mean shit while complaining about other people saying mean shit?

    A hypocrite.

    You also don’t seem to have A) acknowledged what RD is actually being criticized for in this thread (i.e. you don’t seem to be reading for content) or B) contributing anything useful or interesting to the discussion. In fact, you seem to be engaged in defending RD using the same tactics which you are defending Dawkins against…which brings me back to my first point. About you being a hypocrite.

    *Note: I avoided even using PZ’s last name in this comment because I didn’t want to render my comment invalid because of something so silly. If you disagree with me, please have the decency to disagree with what I’ve said instead of ridiculing something so utterly irrelevant.

    It’s something of an inside joke — everyone criticizing PZ or the commentariat here at Pharyngula makes that exact same typo.

    Also, not necessarily silly to note that anyone misspelling Myers’ last name probably isn’t reading too closely because it’s printed on literally every single post Myers has authored at this blog including this one here.

  454. 454
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Jenna Healy

    I don’t agree with pushing one’s experience on others – I had it done to me only a few days ago. But, I didn’t feel angry at the woman who did it to me, or think she was ignorant or arrogant or condoning my suffering or her own – I simply registered the fact that her experience does not define my experience and I “wished” people could see that.

    See what you did there?

  455. 455
    Ogvorbis: Still failing at being human.

    Jenna Heally:

    I assumed when RD said “it didn’t do any of us lasting harm” he was referring to his schoolmates that he actually knew, and maybe at school, none of them had behaved as if it bothered them. — If not, then that’s a different matter.

    TRIGGER WARNING — CHILD RAPE

    Around my friends, I acted as if nothing had happened. Same for my family. I buried it so deeply that I had no memories (other than “I didn’t like Cub Scouts’) until only a couple of years ago. The kids I went to school with, even the ones who were abused at the same time, all acted the same way. If we ignored it, it didn’t happen. It is called denial. So if I had said, ten years ago, that I had a bad time in scouts, got touched, got raped, was photographed, was involved in the abuse of others, that, since, other than a generalized depression (one suicide attempt), I didn’t act the right way it wasn’t that big of a deal?

  456. 456
    Jafafa Hots

    Everyone who has a PZ Meyers Shrine — could you send me photos? I don’t have one, and I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to look like

    I had one, but then my sushi-loving niece came to visit and ate it.

  457. 457
    Ichthyic

    @#386:

    You raise some issues worth discussing, thanks.

    ust a small observation of the stories of Dr. Dawkin’s school days. When he was able to escape the molesting, he didn’t go to the authorities of the school to report this event, he reported it to his also-powerless peers, who believed him and confirmed it as a common assault among them and apparently, something they just needed to survive to get through school.

    Isn’t that something like all the stories of survivors of sexual assault whispering in the hollows amongst themselves, warning each other of a powerful figure they couldn’t do aught else about except tolerate and/or please?

    sounds like it to me.

    Is this why rape culture is so tolerated and dismissed?

    Seems likely to at least play a role, along with the fact that those already in power won’t want to rock the boat.

    Because anecdotally, it sounds like so many influentially powerful male humans had to survive the enforced tradition of rape culture, that if they can’t dismiss being sexually and violently preyed upon by their elder role models as trivial, the way they’ve been told to trivialize it, they’d have to face up to the lesser status idea they’re neck deep and deeper in rape culture themselves as assaulted and battered boys.

    Anything short of being a predator man or dismissive man seems to have been firmly coded for generations as being unmasculine, a shame lurking in wait for any man who breaks the code of silence.

    I do believe, by simple inductive reasoning, you have likely hit on a big part of the local history of such abuse.

    makes me wonder if someone has already written a book on the subject.

  458. 458
    aluchko

    Daz,

    Ask yourself why you would feel violated if someone were to sexually assault you as an adult.

    Now ask yourself if you can think of any reason why a child wouldn’t feel any differently about it.

    I think the specific class of assault we’re talking about is basically a more extreme statutory rape, except the age factor is more extreme and the degree of violation is a lot milder. I’m honestly not sure what a similar adult experience would be like. I can try to understand how I would have reacted if I was a child, and I suspect I would have been weirded out but not damaged if I had an experience like Dawkins described, but that’s just speculation.

    Is it really a “harsh attack”? Care to re-read it and quote the juicy bits? I’m just not seeing it.

    Ok

    He was a victim of an inexcusable violation; that he can shrug it off does not mean it was OK, or ‘zero bad’, or something trivial.

    I read that as saying Dawkins characterization of his own experience is invalid.

    Just when did it stop being OK for acquaintances to put their hands inside Richard Dawkins shorts? I presume it would be an utterly intolerable act now, of course — at what age do the contents of childrens’ pants stop being public property?

    Dawkins didn’t say it was OK, or that the children’s pant were public properly, he said it wasn’t as serious a violation as it’s portrayed now.

    Should we be giving pedophiles the idea that a “mild touching up” is reasonable behavior? It’s just a little diddling…it does no “lasting harm”. Christ, that sounds like something out of NAMBLA.

    So Dawkins is not only supporting pedophiles, he sounds like a member of NAMBLA meaning he sounds like a pedophile.

    I think calling Dawkins an enabler of pedophiles, saying he wants childrens’ genitales to be public property, and half suggesting he’s a pedophile himself is a pretty harsh attack.

    Sounds an awful fucking lot like rape apologetics to me.

    But I wasn’t trying to minimize the harm, I was trying to locate the source of the harm, and why Dawkins and some of his classmates might not have experienced it. Dawkins pretty much states he got away unscathed in part because of the culture that didn’t take it as seriously. Just look at his statement:

    I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.

    He says he’d judge modern people giving a touching up much more harshly than people from that era, and the implication I take is that he wasn’t traumatized in part because it wasn’t taken as seriously.

    If relating Dawkins own interpretation of his experience is considered rape apologetics then how can we discuss this?

  459. 459
    Ichthyic

    I read that as saying Dawkins characterization of his own experience is invalid.

    bass ackwards. that statement does not pronounce judgement on how Dawkins dealt with his abuse personally, it clearly is directed at the idea that since he handled it OK, that MAKES the behavior itself OK.

    curious you seem to reverse the entire meaning of it.

  460. 460
    David Marjanović

    It’s fine if you are ignorant of Cromwell

    No, not in this thread, where the full quote is presented and attributed to Cromwell in comment number six.

    Jenna, why do you try to participate in a discussion when you don’t even know most of it???

  461. 461
    Ichthyic

    So Dawkins is not only supporting pedophiles, he sounds like a member of NAMBLA meaning he sounds like a pedophile.

    this is what we who understand english typically would label “hyperbole”.

    even bordering on being a strawman fallacy.

    nobody should take you seriously.

    I’m not.

  462. 462
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    Caine #421:

    Shades of the Magdalene Laundry. Yes, it was common for orphans to be used as work slaves, under the guise of ‘doing good works’, of course. It’s despicable.

    Yeah, I did the same connection. When the facts came out about these abuses in Ireland, I had a sad “oh, wait, I knew about this” moment.

  463. 463
    Inaji

    David:

    No, not in this thread, where the full quote is presented and attributed to Cromwell in comment number six.

    True. It’s also proof that despite claims to the contrary, Jenna did not bother to read the thread.

  464. 464
    Stephanie Zvan

    Jenna Healy @448

    I didn’t support what RD said at all – I just think that the comment thread of Team PZ/FTB is a pre-loaded cannon on the topic of RD and it doesn’t really matter what RD says or does, just as long as he provides some fodder.

    So you took an instance of Dawkins saying something that you also felt was wrong and used that to confirm to yourself that the reaction here would be the same if he’d said something right. Do you see the problem with this?

  465. 465
    Inaji

    Stephanie:

    Do you see the problem with this?

    Personally, I’d say that anyone who thinks it’s reasonable to use something like “Team PZ/FTB” has a very dim understanding of any possible discussion of ethics, the importance of being a decent human being, and the impact of apologetics.

  466. 466
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    I think the specific class of assault we’re talking about is basically a more extreme statutory rape, except the age factor is more extreme and the degree of violation is a lot milder. I’m honestly not sure what a similar adult experience would be like.

    Oh come on! Be honest. I didn’t ask you to consider “a similar experience. I asked you to consider what your reaction to “the same experience” would be, as an adult.

    Someone bigger than you, stronger than you, and with authority over you thrusts their hand inside your trousers.

    I’ll ask again. How would you react, and, in relation to your original query, why is it difficult to understand that a child would react in the same way?

  467. 467
    aluchko

    Ichthyic,

    this is what we who understand english typically would label “hyperbole”.

    even bordering on being a strawman fallacy.

    So maybe I should have said hyperbolic attack instead of harsh. Some people react more strongly to hyperbole than others, personally I try to save my hyperbole for people who really deserve, I don’t think Dawkins deserved it.

    Daz,

    Oh come on! Be honest. I didn’t ask you to consider “a similar experience. I asked you to consider what your reaction to “the same experience” would be, as an adult.

    Someone bigger than you, stronger than you, and with authority over you thrusts their hand inside your trousers.

    I’ll ask again. How would you react, and, in relation to your original query, why is it difficult to understand that a child would react in the same way?

    As an adult I have very strong personal boundaries and that would be a forcible sexual assault.

    As a child it’s entirely commonplace for adults to pick me up, restrain me, help me dress, give me instructions I don’t understand, etc. As I said the comparison doesn’t make sense.

    Frankly the only comparable experience I can think of is playing some sport like soccer or football and during the play some other guy shoving his hand down my shorts and feeling me up. In that case I’d personally be creeped out but otherwise unaffected.

    Now if I couldn’t leave the league and that guy kept doing it then I could see the potential for harm, but if that was an occasional, but not uncommon artifact of team sports I wouldn’t like it, but I don’t think it would harm me.

  468. 468
    Al Dente

    Like several other here I was physically abused and mocked by a physical education teacher who ran my 9th and 10th grade PE classes. We had to run a mile every class, either outside on the track or inside in the gym when the weather was bad. The teacher had a riding crop which he used to “encourage” the boys in the back of the pack to run faster. As one of the slower runners I got encouraged at least once per class. He would also scream abuse at those he was encouraging. I hated that man.

  469. 469
    Daz: Experiencing A Slight Gravitas Shortfall

    Jebus save me!

    aluchko

    You defined what the harm is yourself, if only you’d noticed.

    The harm is the fact that you don’t like it. People doing things to you which you do not like constitutes harm. The more you do not like somebody doing something to you, the more harmful that person’s actions are when they do that thing to you.

  470. 470
    Stephanie Zvan

    Caine @465, I agree. I simply thought it might be instructive for Jenna to see what she’d typed under the influence of that kind of thinking.

  471. 471
    ck

    Caine, Fleur du mal (#463) wrote:

    It’s also proof that despite claims to the contrary, Jenna did not bother to read the thread.

    Given the idea that someone is not entitled to speak about someone else’s experiences cropped up at comment #9 & #10 as a criticism of Dawkins, and has been said repeatedly since (I said it at #45). Skeptifem posted something that sounded like she was saying that Dawkins (and other rape victims) must’ve been traumatized, and received a lot of criticism for it, although it seems she may have just been misunderstood. So, this idea that we’re collectively saying that Dawkins is wrong and that he must have been traumatized is laughable at best (or outright dishonest at worst).

    I do, however, take some exception to the idea that these sexual assaults are the reason why he can’t seem to empathize with other sexually abused children that PZ and others have implied. Armchair psychoanalysis isn’t terribly useful, and the facts are damning enough.

  472. 472
    Inaji

    ck:

    I do, however, take some exception to the idea that these sexual assaults are the reason why he can’t seem to empathize with other sexually abused children that PZ and others have implied. Armchair psychoanalysis isn’t terribly useful, and the facts are damning enough.

    Oh, I agree with this so much. Discussions like these do not need anyone saying “aha! I know what his problem is!” or the like. It’s enough to know that Prof. Dawkins does not wish to examine his own privilege, or certain experiences in his life. And that is, well, his privilege. I sure as hell wish he’d stop dismissing everyone else’s experiences as invalid.

  473. 473
    quixotictendencies
  474. 474
    carlie

    Bzzzzt. Sorry, quixotictendencies, you don’t get to claim that “your experience doesn’t speak for everyone” is somehow claiming universality for a different point.

  475. 475
    ck

    And here comes another one: Quixotictendencies, can you please do us all a favour and read the damn thread before tilting at windmills? I realize 472 comments is a lot to take in, but I promise you that your incredibly clever snipe has already been addressed ad nauseum.

  476. 476
    ck

    And I failed at closing my HTML tags. I only meant to italicize “please”.

  477. 477
    quixotictendencies
  478. 478
    kittehserf

    ck, @475: “And here comes another one:”

    Am I the only one hearing Monty Python’s “Here comes another one” now? It seems apt for all the Dawkins trollfanbois.

  479. 479
    notsont

    I think the specific class of assault we’re talking about is basically a more extreme statutory rape, except the age factor is more extreme and the degree of violation is a lot milder.

    Giving a handjob to a 7 year old is a form of statutory rape? I think I am starting to see the problem here. It was the little boys faults for wearing those cute uniforms eh?

    Yeah I know this isn’t really what you intended but seriously “statutory rape” and “a lot milder”? How the fuck did you type that without throwing up on your keyboard?

  480. 480
    theignored

    Well, as suspected, Ray Comfort is taking advantage of this.
    https://www.facebook.com/official.Ray.Comfort/posts/640191462667997

    I figured I’d remind Ray and his supporters of something:
    https://www.facebook.com/official.Ray.Comfort/posts/640191462667997?comment_id=93157490&offset=0&total_comments=267

    From the original article on the The Christian Chronicle here:

    Apologetics Press, the Montgomery, Ala.-based church organization that has waged a quarter-century battle against atheism and the theory of evolution, has fired its longtime director, Bert Thompson, amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

    Interim executive director Dave Miller said the organization, which has a $1 million annual budget, intends to proceed “undaunted by Satan.”

    “We are deeply grateful for Dr. Thompson’s longstanding warfare against the sinister doctrine of evolution, with his eloquent affirmation of the biblical account of Creation,” Miller wrote in an open letter to Apologetics Press supporters. – See more at: http://www.christianchronicle.org/article/longtime-director-of-apologetics-press-fired#sthash.fhQdbpzq.dpuf

  481. 481
    Ichthyic

    child molestation is always or almost always catastrophically harmful to the child. P.Z. himself did it,

    looks for the word “catastrophically” in PZ’s claim…

    “not reasonable behavior”

    “not OK”

    “not ‘zero bad’”

    conclusion:

    go away, you’re just makin’ shit up for shits and giggles, clown.

  482. 482
    quixotictendencies
  483. 483
    Ichthyic

    “We are deeply grateful for Dr. Thompson’s longstanding warfare against the sinister doctrine of evolution, with his eloquent affirmation of the biblical account of Creation,”

    frankly, I’m happy to see them using terminology like that. Just marginalizes them that much faster.

  484. 484
    Ichthyic

    Well, I can’t speak for the person in question, but a good deal of us manage to read words on the internet without being moved to sudden sickness.

    says the person who just barfed on the tail end of this thread…

  485. 485
    Inaji

    quixotictendencies:

    ITT: A bunch of non-victims telling a victim that he’s wrong about his experience.

    No. A lot of people saying that extrapolating a personal experience onto others is not okay.

    ITT: A few victims berating another victim for speaking for more than just his own experience, and proceeding to speak for more than just their own experiences by claiming that they hold universality.

    No. People saying that extrapolating a personal experience onto others is not okay.

    Better do up your zip, Pharyngula. Your hypocrisy is showing.

    Way to to add that serious creep factor. Yikes.

  486. 486
    quixotictendencies
  487. 487
    Inaji

    quixotictendencies:

    Well, I can’t speak for the person in question, but a good deal of us manage to read words on the internet without being moved to sudden sickness.

    Well, I can’t speak for asses who are looking to score a point at any cost, but a good deal of us are sickened by the constant rape apologetics we see on a regular basis.

  488. 488
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Better do up your zip, Pharyngula. Your hypocrisy is showing.

    Better reread the thread, your illiteracy is showing….

  489. 489
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    quixotictendencies

    Perhaps you should direct your ire at P.Z., or is he too sacred a cow?

    People routinely criticize what PZ says sometimes. There’s an example of it in this very thread and no one is jumping the collective shits of those who dared to speak up against what PZ said. Mainly because the criticism was justified by a reasonable argument. And that’s the difference you can’t parse.

  490. 490
    Inaji

    quixotictendencies:

    Funny that you should say that. I must have missed the part where Dawkins said that child molestation was ever “OK”, or “reasonable behavior”, or “zero bad” (whatever the fuck that means).

    This is where reading the thread is not only handy, but absolutely necessary. And no, don’t repeat that you just don’t have time to read hundreds of comments. If you have time to comment, you have time to read, and I strongly suggest you choose quiet and reading, rather than continuing on in your attempt to score points.

    Monitor Note: you may consider this a warning.

  491. 491
    notsont

    Well, I can’t speak for the person in question, but a good deal of us manage to read words on the internet without being moved to sudden sickness.

    Whoopi Goldberg fan eh?

  492. 492
    A. Noyd

    quixotictendencies (#486)

    or “zero bad” (whatever the fuck that means)

    What a surprise that you don’t get that reference.

  493. 493
    Ichthyic

    I must have missed the part where Dawkins said that child molestation was ever “OK”, or “reasonable behavior”, or “zero bad” (whatever the fuck that means).

    so, when people correct you on your lies, you just go all gish gallop on them.

    right…

    time for you to run along now.

  494. 494
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    And doctors who had to work 100-hour weeks as residents think that residents should be OK with working 100-hour weeks now; and those who are hazed as freshmen want to haze the next batch of newcomers; and those who are bullied may turn around and bully others; and those who see or experience sexual abuse or violence may see it as normal. It becomes part of the culture: in this case, rape culture, the acceptance of rape and sexual harassment as normal and trivial.

    “That girls are raped, that two boys knife a third
    Are axioms to him, who never heard
    Of any world where promises are kept
    Or one could weep because another wept.”
    —W. H. Auden. “The Shield of Achilles

    “I and the public know
    What All schoolchildren learn:
    Those to whom evil is done
    Do evil in return.”
    —W. H. Auden. “September 1, 1939

  495. 495
    quixotictendencies
  496. 496
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    windmilltilter

    maybe some benefit can be found in a discussion on exactly where this supposed criticism can be found.

    Boom.

    *drops the fucking mic*

  497. 497
    Inaji

    quixotictendencies:

    I was wondering when the exalted Fleur du Mal

    I’ve been in this thread from the beginning, you fuckwit. You wouldn’t look like such a fucking ass if you bothered to read.

    Caine: Perhaps you could oblige me by giving an example of rape apologetics that you see on a regular basis.

    Sure. There are a couple of requirements, though. You need to read, and you need to have good reading comprehension. You seem to be lacking in those skills. Just a few which have taken place recently, as I don’t have the patience to go through the years worth of discussions we’ve had:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/08/what-do-you-do-when-someone-pulls-the-pin-and-hands-you-a-grenade/comment-page-1/#comments -There are 4,240 comments in that thread.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/08/15/this-is-not-an-update/comment-page-1/#comments – only 657 comments on that one.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/01/16/nyt-women-cause-rape-by-being-too-scarce/comment-page-1/#comments – a mere 780 comments on this one, which is stuffed full of rape apologia.

    Given your demonstrated inability to read, I’ll leave you with the sum of 5,677 comments. That should suffice for now.

  498. 498
    throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble

    I think that demonstrates a reasonable approach to criticism. If you’re in doubt of your own comprehension, then you defer to the other person’s clarification. If you say why you might object should no clarification arise and your argument doesn’t boil down to presumptions of fear of the “sacred cow” or fawning admiration blinding judgments, then you might actually have a case. Nah, you don’t have one. Stop trying to pretend.

  499. 499
    A. Noyd

    *picks up mic*

    Then there are these.

    Your play.

    *hucks the mic in quixotictendencies’ direction*

  500. 500
    Ichthyic

    throwaway: I won’t waste your time

    too late.

    you’re nothing BUT a waste of time.

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