Annals of dismissive contempt

Oh, god, here we go. Again.

Richard Dawkins subtweets about the Oppenheimer article:

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

Let’s see, now, what was published a few hours before that tweet? Oh yes…Mark Oppenheimer’s article.

…one of the biggest draws [at TAM] was Michael Shermer, a swaggering historian of science who, after an earlier career as an ultra-long-distance bicyclist, founded Skeptic magazine.

He now contributes columns to Scientific American, speaks all over the world, and writes popular books like Why People Believe Weird Things, which are just what you should give to a friend who needs to be deprogrammed from a belief in fundamentalist Christianity, alien abduction, or bogus homeopathic remedies. He is a freethought celebrity, an exciting person for a young activist like Alison Smith to bump up against — which she did, at an after-party on the first night.

“I ran into Shermer in the hallway,” Smith said recently, speaking publicly for the first time about what happened that night. They began talking, and he invited her to a Scotch and cigar party at the Caesars Palace hotel. “He was talking about future articles we could write, and he mentioned this party and asked if I could come, and I said yes.” At the party, they began downing drinks. “At some point,” Smith said, “I realized he wasn’t drinking them; he was hiding them underneath the table and pretending to drink them. I was drunk. After that, it all gets kind of blurry. I started to walk back to my hotel room, and he followed me and caught up with me.”

On their way from Caesars to the Flamingo, where they were both staying, she chatted briefly with a friend on her mobile phone, she told me. They got to the Flamingo. “He offered to walk me back to my room, but walked me to his instead. I don’t have a clear memory of what happened after that. I know we had sex.” She remembers calling a friend from an elevator after leaving his room. “I was in the elevator, but didn’t know what hotel.”

Dawkins is saying that was Smith’s fault.

I’m appalled.


  1. Eric MacDonald says

    Good Lord. He does it again! Does he have no internal monitor that goes off when he’s about to make an ass of himself?! This is hard to believe! A few more notches down in my esteem — no, change that to several! It’s okay, is it, Richard, to take advantage of people who are pissed out of their minds? You’d agree that that’s the time to close the deal. Guy offers you his house for ten pounds, and you get him so sign on the dotted line. All his fault? Right? Give me strength. By the way, nine times out of ten, someone drives home drunk, it’s someone else’s fault, a friend, a family member, a bartender. And they can, by the way, be sued. Ever hear of diminished responsibility? Stop for a moment, Richard, think it through, and then press the “post” button, not before.

  2. qwints says

    It wouldn’t be okay if Shermer had nothing to do her becoming intoxicated, HAVING SEX WITH SOMEONE WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT IS ABSOLUTELY WRONG. How can Dawkins not get that?

  3. johnthedrunkard says

    Jeez. If he’d hidden his drinks because they were spiked with rohypnol, would these morons get the point?

    Just because most GenXers and Millennials can’t imagine having sex without getting blasted (see every damn’ article in Jezebel etc.) doesn’t mean that alcohol isn’t a dangerous drug. One that sexual predators use deliberately to incapacitate victims. To point out that women with special vulnerability/’allergy’ to alcohol are scouted and groomed for rape, is NOT victim-blaming.

  4. says

    We’re just going to have to admit that it’s not a mistake, it’s not a misunderstanding, it’s not a generational difference – He’s just that much of an asshole.

    Bye, bye, Dawkins. You used to be relevant.

  5. says

    To tell the truth, Eric, I don’t think this was a matter of bad impulse-control. I think it was part of a settled determination to defend Shermer. During our discussions about the joint statement, he asked me to use my influence (start with the flattery eh) to dissuade people from alleging that Shermer is a sexual predator.

    It doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind that the allegations could be true.

  6. Kevin Kehres says

    @2 Eric MacDonald: I have been persuaded by folks over at Pharyngula in a discussion of the same topic that this is not just a series of “faux pas” by an otherwise intelligent, credible voice of reason.

    He really is a sexist jerk. These are his true opinions, not just slips of the tongue. We’ve been giving him the “get out of jail free” card far too often, excusing his behavior for other reasons.

  7. doubtthat says

    So, mind-numbingly stupid analogy, shocking insensitivity, chauvinistic attitude…etc.

    What I additionally find strange is that it’s like he doesn’t know where to take up the argument. Once you acknowledge that she’s too drunk to consent, which Dawkins seems to be granting, then it’s a sexual assault.

    If you were the sort of person that wanted to defend Shermer, your only argument is that she’s lying on some level. Driving drunk involves behavior from only one party. We’re dealing with a second party, and unless Dawkins wants to argue for the free-will of automobiles, he really should be smart enough to avoid that sort of bullshit.

  8. Jean says

    There’s something missing from Dawkins’ analogy. It’s the guy in the passenger seat who was driving when the cops pulled the car over and he was such a “nice guy” that he put her in the driver seat while she was passed out so that she had to confront the cops.

    And even that is a shitty analogy.

  9. doubtthat says

    I agree wholeheartedly that these aren’t mistakes. He is clearly a sexist ass. I’m just surprised that he’s so bad at it. I thought he’d at least try to make slimy, clever arguments, as opposed to … just really stupid points.

    If you just showed me the list of sexist tweets, I’d bet they came from Larry the Cable Guy. The more smoothly written ones you could convince me came from some vapid shill like Tucker Carlson.

    Before a few months ago, you could not have convinced me they came from Dawkins.

  10. sambarge says

    Just because most GenXers and Millennials can’t imagine having sex without getting blasted…

    Pardon me? Why the generational slur? Dawkins is neither a GenXer nor a Millennial and he’s the person excusing the rape by claiming the victim allowed herself to become intoxicated with liquor provided by a predator.

  11. qwints says

    To comment on just some of the other ways the analogy is flawed:

    *) Involuntary intoxication is, in fact, a defense to crimes. If somebody gets me drunk against my will, I’m not responsible for my actions the way I would be if I voluntary become intoxicated.

    *) The fact that voluntary intoxicated people are responsible for the criminal acts they commit doesn’t, in any way, diminish their right not to be victims of criminal acts.

  12. Eric MacDonald says

    Thank you, Ophelia. It hadn’t occurred to me that he was just a sexist jerk. I had this idea that he just couldn’t see how what he was saying would appear to others, and that if he just stopped and thought about it, he could control these expressions of stupidity. My mistake, obviously. That means he goes way way way way way way down in my estimation. Couldn’t type enough ‘ways’ without my fingers going spastic, so that will have to do. I get the point. The man is a jerk like Shermer is a jerk. (I’m the same age as Dawkins (well, he’s a few months older). I’m not sure which generation we belong to, but Dawkins’ attitudes are orthogonal to mine. I’m not sure it’s a generational thing. He seems to be missing a part of his brain.)

  13. Eric MacDonald says

    Sorry, should have added a number of other names besides Ophelia, as Ophelia’s repeated “What X said” should have made clear to me. So, consider yourselves included. Just thought the man had a problem with self-control, and couldn’t see how his tweets (etc) would strike others. I have been persuaded otherwise. Shermer is a predator and Dawkins is a sexist jerk who wants to protect predators like Shermer. Got it!

  14. drken says

    I’m not sure which myth Dawkins is trying to perpetuate. Is it that women who drink too much and are raped are responsible for giving a man that opportunity? Does he really believe being too drunk to stop somebody from raping you is the same as being too drunk to stop yourself from driving into a wall? Or, is he dismissing acquaintance rape as agreeing to sleep with somebody you wouldn’t have slept with sober? I hear that one a lot from MRAs because a good way to stop people from taking rape seriously is by convincing them they could be accused of rape because she changed her mind in the sober light of day. Maybe it’s both. Either way, he does seem pretty dedicated to making me lose respect for him.

  15. elly says

    Dawkins’ dismissive contempt reminds me of a male co-worker’s response when I told him the following story:

    When I was a freshman in college, I lived in a shared room on the 3rd floor of a 4-floor coed dormitory. It just so happened that a dorm-wide party – with copious alcohol – was being planned (there was to be a “rum room,” a “vodka room,” etc.; not to mention a number of kegs), so I casually invited a guy from my organic chemistry lab – let’s call him “Bradley” – to attend. We were friendly and even held hands once when he walked me back to my dorm/room, so I figured this was a good chance to hang out together.

    The dorm party was pretty loud and raucous, and included many friends-of-friends from the other dorm buildings nearby in addition to the 4-floors-worth of students from our own. Pretty much everyone was crammed into the common areas/halls on the first floor. I had a good time, got mildly drunk (i.e., buzzed, but not s**t-faced), but eventually tired of the noise and ass-to-back crowd. So far, “Bradley” was a no-show, so I saw no reason to hang around any longer – I located my roommate, “June,” in the crowd, and told her I was heading upstairs to bed. She replied that she didn’t have her room key with her, so she asked me to leave the door unlocked. I agreed, of course, without a second thought. What could possibly go wrong?

    When I got upstairs, I went straight to bed. I slept soundly until I was awakened… with hands running over the sheet covering me up – feeling up the contours of my lower body. I opened my eyes to see a very drunk “Bradley” standing over me in the dark. He leered at me and said, “You’re not wearing anything under that sheet, are you?”

    Fortunately, I’d slept off most of the buzz and was fully alert and aware. So my first impulse, even coming out of a sound sleep, was to play for time – as it was obvious that I was in a VERY awkward – and potentially risky – situation. I was alone in the room, and perhaps even on the entire 3rd floor… I could clearly hear the party still raging downstairs, so if our interaction went south, yelling or screaming for help weren’t promising options. Neither was fleeing – I’d elevated my bed so that it was chest-high (for me, at least – I’m short), and “Bradley” had both feet on the floor. And what he wanted from me was all too clear – he continued to grope me during the moments I spent assessing the situation. I did NOT want to f**k him, although I briefly considered it as an option, as I was trapped in what seemed to be a “no-win” situation. He was considerably bigger and heavier than me; obviously horny; and the situation was such that he could get what he wanted anyway, whether I said “no” or not. Sure, I could have said something like “NO – get the hell out of my room,” but that would have required him to respect my boundaries – and the fact that he’d invited himself into my room strongly suggested he wasn’t likely to do that. Cooperating would have been unpleasant, but it had the potential to be LESS unpleasant than being physically forced.

    In the end, I relied on my acting chops (cultivated from years of starring in K-12 school plays), and pretended to be “interested” – I realized the unlocked door could be used to my advantage as well as his. I touched his hand and told him that my roommate, “June,” would be coming up to bed soon, and that she’d walk in and interrupt us… I told him to wait for me downstairs while I got dressed, and we’d go back to his place.

    He was so drunk that he bought it, and left the room. I immediately jumped out of bed, locked the door (put a chair up against it for good measure) and unlocked the window (there was a catwalk leading to a fire escape – I figured if he came back I could escape out the window while he was banging on the door). He didn’t – given his state of inebriation, he probably lost interest. He remembered something about the encounter, though – I made a point of avoiding him in o-chem lab the next session, and he returned the favor. We ignored each other for the duration of the term – the best possible outcome, from my perspective.

    Oh yeah – “June” had to knock for me to let her in after the party… but I was ok with that, even if she wasn’t.

    When I told my co-worker this story, it was from my perspective: I was (still) angry at “Bradley’s” presumption and – it had been a genuinely creepy encounter and I acted to protect myself. But he, on the other hand, saw ME as the “bad guy” in the story: I’d lied to “Bradley” in the absence of an overt physical threat. As he flippantly put it: “You can’t blame a guy for trying.”

    Dawkins is just like my co-worker, in a sense. Coercion == actual or overt threats of physical force to overcome resistance. In his world, anything else, like abusing the trust of an incapacitated person or (in my case) exploiting a situation in which compliance seems like “the lesser of two evils,” can be swept under the rug.

  16. says

    Well I thought the same thing for a very long time, Eric. In fact there’s probably still a little of that left – there must be, because I was amazed and staggered by his Twitter performance today. It’s taken a long time and a lot of tweets and blog posts and comments on blog posts to change my mind.

  17. screechymonkey says

    Yet another reason why the drunk driving analogy fails is because drunk driving is dangerous to other people who haven’t consented to the risk you (the drunk driver) are imposing on them. That’s not the case with consensual sex.

    If you’re going to claim that sex is still consensual no matter how drunk one of the parties is, then there has been, to use another Dawkins phrase, “zero bad” committed. So then what is it that the drunk party needs to “take responsibility” for?

    Of course, we know that answer — she’s a slutty slut who needs to “take responsibility” for her sluttinesss. She can’t evade the “consequences” of her alleged sluttiness by “crying rape” — that’s only allowed, at best, in “rape rape” scenarios, you know, strangers jumping out of bushes wielding a weapon, and even then only if she was dressed sufficiently modestly and not out too late at night and not in a neighborhood she shouldn’t have been and….

    Seriously: if you think I’m wrong, then tell me what it is that women in this situation are being demanded to “take responsibility” for.

  18. drken says

    @elly: You “lied” to him? That was his takeaway from your story? I’m with Ophelia, wow. Also, while you can’t “blame a guy for trying”, you can hold him responsible for how he tries. Going into the room of a sleeping woman who you’re not already in a physical relationship with, waking her up by running your hands over her, and then expecting sexytimes is more than just presumptuous and creepy. It’s pretty damn rapey.

  19. Onamission5 says

    @screechymonkey #21:
    The drunk driving analogy only works* if one begins with the mindset that being raped is something the victim does to her rapist. One has to view the victim as the actor and the rapist as passive.

    *for values of “works” that equal being totally effing backward

  20. leni says


    Seriously: if you think I’m wrong, then tell me what it is that women in this situation are being demanded to “take responsibility” for.

    I don’t get what people mean by that either. The only explanation I have is that it is a catchphrase that sounds reasonable as long as you don’t think too much about it, but mostly just means “shut the fuck up you stupid, whiny bitch.”

    Since I am such a model of responsible behavior, I’ll tell you how I “took responsibility” for regrettable sex I’ve had: I “forget” about it and never spoke of it again. If I run into that person, I avoid eye contact and pretend to be very busy on my phone. This is what normal, responsible people do!

  21. smhll says

    “As he flippantly put it: “You can’t blame a guy for trying.” ”

    Wow, yuck, that’s repulsive.

    Thank you for sharing. I know it’s hard, but I think painting a picture may help the unsympathetic reader and critic understand what’s being talked about .

  22. says

    During our discussions about the joint statement, he asked me to use my influence (start with the flattery eh) to dissuade people from alleging that Shermer is a sexual predator.

    That’s even more disturbing than his repeated tweet disasters. There’s just no way it could be said that gramps don’t understand this new tech stuff, or he didn’t have time to think about what he was saying (cause you can’t actually compose a tweet right?). Those wouldn’t be good excuses, but they might be effective ones. But no way can anything be used as an excuse for his request to you then. It marks him as completely clueless at best, and likely far worse than clueless.

  23. says

    Can we not call him (or anyone) gramps or granny? I’m pretty ancient myself – albeit thoroughly immature – and I don’t much like those nicks.

    But that aside, yes. It’s puzzling as well as disturbing – I can’t understand why all these people are so ready to assume it can’t possibly be true. It’s so like the military, and the Catholic church, and a lot of university philosophy departments, and so many other hostile work environments. Close ranks; defend the insiders; call the women reporting abuse every name in the book; drive them out; resume business as usual.

    How do they not blush at themselves?

  24. says

    Analogies can be used (carefully and rarely) to clarify something that is difficult, or to obscure something that is fairly straightforward. Which is Dawkins trying to do? The issue, itself, is pretty clear – why doesn’t he use his sciency teachy mind to explain why what Shermer did is OK in its own terms?

    We are all familiar with the notion of “lying by omission” and I’d argue that lying by analogy is another form of omission, since it is a deliberate and unnecessary change of venue from reality to hypothetical. If Dawkins actually thought that there was something wrong with plying a woman with alcohol while deceptively minimizing one’s dosage, then raping her once she was too drunk to consent or refuse was wrong, he could just say that. Why isn’t he just saying that?

  25. says

    Well yes, you’re a couple years older than I am. I was trying to give examples of the kinds of excuses that could be made but which I think are laughable, and foolish, at best (and not even remotely applicable to his discussions with you). And those are excuses that a lot of people use, either for themselves or those they purport to admire. It’s the logical fallacy of argument from pity. I saw it a lot for years (several decades) in my critiquing the aquatic ape idea both from Elaine Morgan and about her from her supporters. It always struck me as an odd choice.

  26. says

    Wow, does that article make Shermer look predatory. The email especially: it appears that he was compelled to provide some – quite implausible – alternative rationale for pretending to drink because she not only noticed he was doing it but commented on it out loud in the presence of other people.

    I’m annoyed by Jillette’s suggestion that this is some class-based “culture war” – the typical claim that those objecting to his behavior are middle-class people opposed to vulgar, plain speaking. I don’t dislike Jillette because he’s “carney trash” or because he (literally) went to clown college.* I dislike him because he’s a tobacco shill and general corporate lackey who tells dangerous lies under the name of skepticism. I don’t object to his calling women those names because they’re profane, but because they’re bullying and contribute to oppression. And attributing your choices to your membership in a culture is an insult to the other people who share that culture and don’t behave like you as well as an abdication of your own freedom and responsibility for your actions.

    * And as Oppenheimer points out, the fact that Dawkins and Shermer (and Harris) have doctorates pretty much invalidates this whole set-up.

  27. says

    I wanted to let you know that I tracked down the source of those vicious rumors about Alison Smith and I that I mentioned to you: at the scotch/cigar party that Thursday night there were a couple of young guys in their 20s […] Anyway, as you know at these parties everyone gets pretty smashed and has a good time and there’s a lot of flirting and such. I got there around 10:30 […] and was just going to hang around for about an hour, but everyone there was plying me with scotch and yaking it up, and there was a group in the bathroom with their feet in the tub, and people lying around on the bed, etc. So I was just joining in having a good time.

    Alison showed up around 11:30, and of course she’s young and cute and these two guys were panting big time to be with her, but she obviously wasn’t interested in them that way, and was just moving around the room having fun, but when she was hanging on me now and then I could tell that these guys were really pissed off. Long story short, later the next day, after talking to you, I saw both of them standing together and confronted them about the gossip rumors, and [one of them] admitted he was mad at me because he said he felt like I was preventing him from, in his words, “getting into her pants,” and the dreadlocks guy said that he was really drunk and that “I admit that I was running my mouth off.” So, basically, they admitted that it was them spreading the nonsense that I was trying to get Alison drunk and take advantage of her. For the record, by the way, most of the people at that party, Alison especially, could drink me under the table no problem. People kept pouring me scotch, and after awhile I was pretending to drink it and then drinking water instead, and at one point Alison said something like, “hey, he’s not really drinking his scotch,” so I was busted and everyone gave me a hard time (in good fun of course).

    Anyway, I wanted you to know that Alison is a good kid and this was just a typical gossip rumor thing that goes on all the time, but that I’m a bigger target than most in this small skeptical pond, so I have to be especially careful.

    In fact, reading it again, that email looks increasingly incriminating. It really looks like what he’s trying to do there (in addition to trying to spin his having faked drinking) is preemptively discredit her and other witnesses and minimize the event itself (“gossip rumors”), and that his conversation with others who were at the party was an attempt to shape their recollection and interpretation of events. It seems intentional and deliberately manipulative, and like he’s practiced at this sort of damage control.

  28. says

    The explanation for the faked drinking is truly ridiculous. Why would he do that? Why would he bother “pretending to drink it”? He’s a big boy. Why wouldn’t he just say no thanks? Why, if people kept pouring him drinks and wouldn’t take no for an answer, wouldn’t he just ignore the drinks, rather than “pretending” anything?

    That part absolutely reeks of desperation. It fits with his having been spotted pretending to drink, and called out on it, and having to explain it away somehow.

  29. chigau (違う) says

    Calling an adult a “good kid” is kinda 40’s movie talk.
    Who does he see when he looks in the mirror?

  30. says

    That part absolutely reeks of desperation. It fits with his having been spotted pretending to drink, and called out on it, and having to explain it away somehow.

    Yes. Some of the phrasing is also…interesting: people were “plying” him with scotch; he was “busted.” In context, these look a little like slips, unintended evidence of a guilty mind.

  31. says

    “I’m not responsible for robbing the house when the owner was passed out drunk.”

    What part of “you are wrong to take what you have no right to take” is too f-ing difficult for these idiots to understand?

  32. Malachite says

    One big difference between the drunk driving analogy and sex while drunk: the decision to drink drive isn’t made while drunk. It is made while sober. It is made when the person knows full well that they are using their car as a means of transport, and they choose to drink anyway. That’s why they get to be held fully responsible.

    There is no such correspondence to drink driving. If there were, as there seems to be in Dawkins-land, then the LOGICAL consequence is that almost all women (all those not interested in being a no-limits sex toy of any man in the vicinity) would be morally obligated not to drink. Really, Dawkins? You think that women shouldn’t drink??????

    Someone needs to point out to him about how he’s being like Catholic high-ups & covering up abuser priests. That analogy works much better.

  33. says

    I do love the way these reactionaries frame themselves as libertines fighting the onslaught of prudery…given my love of cuss words, the sort of consensual reindeer games they probably can’t actually imagine…getting soused and molesting someone at a convention without regard to consent really doesn’t rank as anything to write home about as a “libertine” escapade…it’s what happens at Carpet Manufacturer conventions at the HoJo by the airport and the like…and it’s gross.

    But we’re the prudes.

  34. Menyambal says

    The drunk-driving comparison should be either “she was drunk, so I took her car – hey, she let me” or “she was drunk, so I ran over her – she deserved it”. Or maybe “I kept feeding her alcohol so she’d wreck herself – so what?”

    It certainly all adds up to an unhealthy attitude toward women, sex, truth and humanity.

    Even if Shermer’s tale is true, he was pretending to drink when he actually wasn’t, and he had sex with a person that he had just met. Fake-drinking is social dishonesty – either go somewhere else or be honest (I don’t drink, and have never faked it) – which makes him less trustworthy. And he had sex with a person who he had just met – slut-shaming alert – which in itself is worth warning other women of (he is not serious and may have cooties).

    Dawkins has sided with Shermer, and with an anti-feminist just because she is brave.

  35. Vincent says

    Unless you waterboard them, you cannot “make” someone drink. So, one can never say “he made me drink” without being a hypocrite. That is what Dawkins was talking about, probably irritated by exaggerations like “plying a woman with alcohol”, “sexual predator” and “meat market”. Predators kill, market is where you buy stuff, meat is dead. The use of exaggerations to amplify emotional impact is a sure sign of lack of otherwise convincing arguments. I consider that people old enough to drink alcohol are mature enough to stop drinking before getting themselves into trouble. We live in a world full of dangers for drunks and getting hit on by Michael Shermer is certainly among the least of them. If I ever get so drunk as to wake up in a man’s bed with a dreadful lower-back pain with no memory of how I got there, I would, yes, consider myself partly responsible for what I got myself into. Especially if I let him serve me drinks till I drop while being certain he wants sex with me. Ending up raped cannot be an excuse for acting stupid. If you get home so drunk that you fall asleep with all doors and windows open, and your house gets broken in during the night, that would not be an excuse for the robber, but I’m pretty sure that your insurance company will consider you responsible and will not give you a penny for your sorrow. You can never say that someone “got you drunk”. That is the only thing Dawkins was saying. He is famous for holding hypocrisy in infinite contempt.

  36. says

    Unless you waterboard them, you cannot “make” someone drink. So, one can never say “he made me drink” without being a hypocrite.

    Nor can you “make” someone give you their wallet. You can take it from them, but you can’t make them give it to you, since that requires an intentional action on their part. So, one can never say “he made me give him my wallet” without being a hypocrite.

    As for the rest, I’m going to hold off until I can think clearly.

  37. Vincent says

    Oh. You mean he held her at gun point and order her to drink till she dropped. In the middle of a party ! Any eye witness for this new accusation ?

  38. says

    I didn’t mention any gun. There are way to manipulate people without overt force. There are ways to make people drink without them even realizing they’re doing it. One of those methods have already been associated with Shermer; constantly filling the victim’s glass, so they can’t easily keep track of how much they’ve drunk. That way you’re not physically forcing them to drink, but an unsuspecting victim will likely drink much more than they planned to, because they simply don’t realize it until it’s too late.

    Likewise, there are many social pressures that may cause people to drink more than they meant to. For example, i the person they’re with drinks more (or, through subterfuge, pretends to – incidentally another tactic associated with Shermer) the victim can easily be pressured into following the pace. All this is leaving out overt pressure, such as saying “come on, let your hair down”, “don’t be boring”, etc.

    Finally, there’s the fact that the deliberate use of alcohol is a known tactic of predators. It’s not just a coincidence. Studies have shown that predators are quite intentional in their methods.

    When you provide excuses for them, as you have in your previous post, you’re sending the message that you’re on their side. They know that if they rape someone, you won’t turn them in. They can count on you to attack the victim a dozen times before ever saying a word about them… as you proved by your comment.

    You may say that alcohol is no excuse, but you still made it clear that you’re going to place much more scrutiny on the victim than on the perpetrator. Maybe you’d like to correct that bias. If not, make no mistake: You’re part of the problem.

  39. Maciej Wojnar says

    I think Vincent’s analogy of getting drunk and leaving all the doors and windows in your house open is a very good one.

    The first thing to note is that if a burglar walks by, notices that your house is wide open with you passed out in the middle of the hallway snoring in a drunken stupor, and he takes advantage of the situation by robbing you; then, regardless of your recklessness, the burglar has still committed a crime: theft. You being passed out, the door being open, and a provocatively expensive car being parked outside does not give the burglar the right to help himself to your possessions.

    The second thing to note is that there is a difference between an opportunistic burglar that takes advantage of a situation he happens across and a predatory burglar that acts to engineer the situation in the first place. For example, suppose you’re having a good time at a bar on a Friday night with a group of friends. After a few drinks you start bragging about your expensive car, your jewellery, your record collection, and the fancy electronic equipment you have back at your apartment. Your ‘friends’, hearing this, start pressuring you to drink more and more. Not wanting to be a wet blanket, you comply until you are stumbling drunk. They then take you back to your apartment where they proceed to rob you blind. In the morning, you wake up to find that your apartment has been stripped bare of all of your belongings.

    Your friends never forced you to drink more than you could handle. They never put a gun to your head. But they did plan to rob you and socially pressured you to drink in a pre-meditated way which makes their crime worse.

  40. Nathanael says

    Verrrry nice analogy, Maciej…. especially considering that under law what the “friends” did in your analogy is pre-meditated conspiracy to commit burglary, and several other felonies.

    Dawkins’s behavior is depressingly sad and awful. It’s deeply irrational, and as Eric said, his tweets seem like they were written by a very thoughtless person. We know that he’s capable of thinking quite clearly (unlike, say, Sam Harris, who is always wooly-headed and bigoted); we of course know that he’s espoused support for rational, empirical thinking; we even know that he had made long-standing verbal commitments to equal rights for men and women. His behavior is therefore *hypocritical*. We have no reason to believe that Dawkins ever assaulted people himself, or deliberately tried to get people drunk, or wanted to do anything like that (unlike Shermer, Grothe, etc.), which eliminates the classic motivation for such hypocrisy.

    So why is Dawkins being massively hypocritical in defense of a serial rapist? Is Shermer just such an oleaginous sociopath that he’s managed to manipulate Dawkins into ignoring the evidence? Probably…. (and it may be that Dawkins doesn’t want to admit to himself what was *done to him* or how he reacted).

    There’s strong evidence that this sort of thing has happened before: Freud was manipulated by his “friend” Fleiss into abandoning his theories of actual child sex abuse in favor of fantasy theories,… and it later turned out Fleiss was abusing his own son. (And there’s some evidence Freud was abused and didn’t want to admit it.)


  1. […] we had Dawkins trying to suppress the allegations against Michael Shermer by exerting his influence behind the scenes. Then we had him try to suggest that date rape isn’t so bad. Then we had him try to suggest […]

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