It sure was easy to get outraged at those Catholic sex pests

Remember Cardinal Pell? Tim Minchin wrote a catchy song about him. Did you see Spotlight? Even the mainstream movie industry could make critically acclaimed movies about Catholic sex abuse. It was an easy target. Now Rebecca Watson singles out another rape apologist in…watch to the end for the unsurprising twist.

I’ll refer you to the Washington Post, in a 2018 article:

Organized secularism has been struggling with charges of misogyny, sexism and sexual harassment for almost a decade. The problem went public in 2011 when a then-little-known atheist blogger, Rebecca Watson, described unwanted sexual advances from a man at an atheist conference who followed her into an elevator and to her hotel room.

She was flooded with both supportive and haranguing comments. World-renowned atheist Richard Dawkins told her to “stop whining” and “grow up.” Dawkins — whose appearances at secularist gatherings can make or break attendance — has been called out multiple times for sexist statements but remains much in demand as a speaker.

Richard Carrier, a science historian and popular secularist speaker, has both apologized for and denied accusations of unwanted sexual advances at secularist and atheist events. He has been banned from at least one conference.

Michael Shermer, who has denied allegations of sexual harassment and assault from several women, remains editor of Skeptic magazine and a top speaker at secularist events.

Most recently, cosmologist Lawrence Krauss, another star speaker and best-selling author, was suspended in the spring by Arizona State University for what it described as a decade of inappropriate behavior, some of it at secularist events.

Has Dawkins ever commented on the behavior of his good buddy, movie co-star, and lecture circuit partner Krauss? I am also amused by the sneaky low blow of saying that Carrier “has both apologized for and denied accusations”.


  1. DanDare says

    Carrier apologised? I only remember a vague thing that started as a notpology and became an accusation.

  2. says

    Yep, unsurprising twist. I was on to Watson’s trickery from the first couple sentences, whenever she first mentioned the name of her imaginary wrong-doer. Though, to be fair, even before I hit play I was suspicious this might be about Krause because of the tone of PZ’s introduction.

    (I did not read anything below the video before watching the video, but I had read everything above.)

    Anyway, yeah. Consistent morality might be nice.

  3. John Morales says


    Consistent morality might be nice.

    I reckon Donald Trump is pretty consistent. Not nice, but.

    (Yeah, I know. I switched frames)

  4. Matt G says

    Those poor, white, male, atheist defenders of the status quo can’t harass women in peace anymore. Is there no justice?

  5. rorschach says

    Didn’t we do this in 2011 already? Then again, I have no idea what organised atheists are up to these days, but by the sounds of it it’s the same shit.

  6. Silentbob says

    Has Dawkins ever commented on the behavior of his good buddy, movie co-star, and lecture circuit partner Krauss?

    Lol. Just a reminder from an old-timer, gang: Back in the day when accusations against Michael Shermer surfaced, Dawkins tried to pressure a former FTB blogger into covering it up; and she used the exact same analogy to the Catholic Church. Receipts:

    Dawkins asked me to dissuade people from spreading the “libellous allegation that Michael Shermer is a rapist or a sexual predator.”

    I must say, I stared at the screen in shocked disbelief for quite awhile when that came in. What was I supposed to do, tell people who reported their own experiences to stop doing that? On what authority? On the basis of what knowledge? I don’t know that they are not telling the truth, do I.

    I so badly wanted to reply with something along the lines of “How would that be different from what the bishops have been doing for decades?” But that would have been a bad beginning to the post-joint-statement situation, so I didn’t…quite. I pointed out that these were first-person accounts and that I didn’t know they weren’t true, so I couldn’t dismiss them. I did conclude with “It’s too reminiscent of the Catholic church and the rapey priests.” I haven’t heard from him since.

  7. KG says

    I reckon Donald Trump is pretty consistent. – John Morales@3

    No, he’s not. Not in the least. He was elected promising to “drain the swamp” (of governmental corruption); then led the most corrupt administration in American history.

  8. says

    The reason the edgelords took over is that we’re too afraid to fight them head on. We’re too afraid to make judgements and exercise discernment. At the end of the day, we retreat into “Woah, man! There are no sides man! (And the creator of Innuendo Studios said that to me flat-out) We just need to hug them, balance their chakras and put together a solution bundle man!” in order to avoid a fight.

    As I’ve said before, my working hypothesis is that the left is still enamored with the romanticized nostalgia for the hippies and radicals, but obviously I could be wrong.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    Susan Montgomery @ 10
    “Fight them head-on”
    I just watched a documentary about the giant flamethrower based on the Churchill tank. Since the edgelords are into “macho” things it would be an optimal choice. (stands next to ashes of an edgelord; “He would have wanted it that way”)

  10. says

    the law should be:
    If you know someone molested children, you have to tell the police. If you didn’t, go to jail.
    If you helped cover up (by for example helping pedopriest to move to another place) you go to jail for helping thr criminal to escape and as an accomplice in any further criminal act.
    So any catholic bishop could be guilty of being accomplice to most of rapes of his priests.

  11. says

    @11 I like the cut of your jib.

    But I don’s think it’s necessarily a problem with liberalism particularly but a broader cultural aversion to conflict and unpleasantness in general. It affects either side equally but it’s worse for us because the stalemate it creates obviously benefits the status quo.

  12. mnb0 says

    @13 SusanM: plus the totally misplaced desire of American atheists (granted, you can find them in Europe too, but much less) to admire hero-leaders. Organized atheism is a typically American phenomenon.
    The thumbrule is simple. Don’t trust leaders, spokesmen and other prominents, including atheist ones. Power corrupts atheists no less than believers.

  13. Frederic Bourgault-Christie says

    @11: The thing is that there are plenty loud people, like PZ, Rebecca, Steve, etc. And folks like Matt Dillahunty, Aron Ra, etc. whose public stances lean liberal/left and aren’t prone to Dawkins’ racist grandpaism. But that latter group wants to pretend that you can have an atheist movement where fascists who happen to be atheists and anarchists who happen to be atheists can agree on something. When it comes to the atheist movement in specific, I think the internal problems can be largely put onto the fact that such a movement without any broader goals is not possible. It’s not possible for Sargon, Armored Skeptic and PZ to share a movement. They want radically different things.

    I’m surprised Ian was that daft – was this before or after Angry Jack? Because his Alt-Right Playbook is fairly clear that you can’t really convert folks like that. Either way, though, there is a point there. We can say all we want that we need to confront fascists, and we do, and fight and die if necessary, but the thing is that fascists are very often going to be better at violence than non-fascists. Because it’s what they want. Unless our goal is to exterminate everyone left of the Democratic Party, we have to convince some people to change sides and some other people to moderate their views enough that they won’t actively fight. And as Tim Wise has pointed out, taking the stance that we are morally superior to those bad others is itself fairly authoritarian and elitist. Just like the right is wrong to say that some people just worked harder and that’s why they succeeded, discounting the role of luck and social institutions, so too can we not ignore that those of us who see better than the fascists and sex pests didn’t arrive at feminist and anti-fascist convictions by divine insight. We learned it from people. We got lucky opportunities. So while it is critical to confront, and convincing need not always be hand-holding liberal BS, that doesn’t mean that patience and love isn’t important. Most importantly: If we aren’t modeling how to live in a better world, the fascists sure aren’t going to do it for us.

  14. says

    @ This was a few months ago. He has an “Ask me anything”-type link and I asked him the oft-asked question: “who is on the liberals side – and who ever really was”? and got the “no sides” response. Maybe he was just blowing off what he thought was a stupid question, who knows?

    When it comes to liberal politics, the conflicts we’ve avoided have been the ones around what really is a liberal? We’ve needed to stake out clear ground about what we’re for and what we aren’t and yet we’ve constantly avoided doing that. Too many of us would rather moan about “purity”, “gatekeeping” and “big tents” to avoid the trouble of hashing out what we stand for.

  15. evolutionaryautistic says

    Sigh. This is terrible. I’m a woman and an atheist. Mainstream religion is patriarchal and sexist, atheist organizations are patriarchal and sexist…

    Can we be welcome anywhere?