Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

One of the most painful lessons I’ve learned over the past several months is that there are no heroes. There is always — always — some measure, small or large, of disappointment hiding behind all the awesome things that drew you to idolize one person or another.

Of course, while I always thought of Dawkins as a science popularizer and atheist first, and a humanist dead last, I figured this latest Great Sorting of the skeptical and atheist communities into those that are down with social justice causes and those that would rather entrench themselves in privilege would pretty much end exactly this way. The hyper-privileged folks nearest the top of our movement have pretty uniformly fallen on one side of this divide — the side that would rather not skeptically examine ideas like social conventions, consent, harassment policies and protecting the underprivileged.

So it’s absolutely no surprise to me that Dawkins has, again, sided against Skepchick — this time, instead of writing a “Dear Muslima” comment at Rebecca Watson (telling her that the sexism she encounters isn’t nearly as bad as female genital mutilation, so she should grow up or get a thicker skin), he’s stabbing at Skepchick the organization for a) being on board with the idea of harassment policies, and b) for having written a post last year offering free vaccinations with hugs as your reward.

[blackbirdpie id=”223116208835272705″]

(How heartwarming is this Skepchick open invitation to “HUG ME at TAM”! http://tinyurl.com/6za5gxa . Spontaneous! Carefree! Rule-free! Delightful!)

He was asked to clarify by probably dozens of people — and dozens of people heaped derision at his “timely” reply to the issue in order to smear Skepchick’s credibility as hypocrites, even if it would damage the vaccination campaign in the process. He “clarified”:

[blackbirdpie id=”223125658870611968″]

(I VERY strongly support the vaccine campaign. And I support spontaneous hugs governed by ordinary unwritten rules of politeness. Problem?)

The funny thing is, it doesn’t take a particularly sharp mind to be able to square that circle — first, put aside your predisposition that suddenly Skepchick is all about sex-negativity, or about requiring consent via consent forms written in triplicate, or any other antifeminist trope you’ve heard about them. Skepchick is very much a sex-positive organization. They are also very pro-consent. It is not difficult to be both — if you foster one, you pretty much must foster the other, because if you don’t, people will be almost invariably hurt.

He walked some of this back, because people got the wrong impression of what he was saying. Some people thought he does not support the efforts to increase herd immunity. So he said the following:

[blackbirdpie id=”223144235589828608″]

(Please support http://hugmeimvaccinated.org . Epidemics are nonlinearly favoured if vax nos fall below a threshold. Spread the meme not the disease )

This was a good, strong message, and in isolation, absolutely correct. It’s just a shame that he decided to — now, suddenly, shortly before TAM 10, and using what he thinks is a gotcha moment from a blog post in 2011 — take this stab at Skepchick.

It is an emotive argument about the morality of expecting consent before actions are taken involving other people, and one predicated on paper-thin evidence. It is so far beneath Dawkins that it serves only to undercut his image as a rationalist in my eyes — not that I was any longer under any delusion that he is a pure rationalist. It is similar in scope and in vector to his last stab at a Skepchick, in suggesting that these unwritten rules are all it takes to prevent people from doing nasty things, and that anything that DOES happen must be dealt with via the panacea of a “thicker skin”.

Offering free, spontaneous hugs to people is perfectly fine. There was a very strong harassment policy at CONvergence, and a sur-policy for the FtB and Skepchick party rooms at the convention, and I got more hugs there than anywhere else at the entire convention. Every one of them was enthusiastically consented-to as far as I can tell, and if anyone was being significantly put-upon, they would have had every right and every recourse to ameliorate that situation.

Offering hugs as a reward for vaccination is a nice idea, but at the same time, it’s well within the rights of the person who gets a vaccine to forgo the hug. And in fact, some people are even bothered by the very offer of a hug, so those people must needs make that apparent before they partake in the free vaccination services offered, because the whole event is predicated on something that might be to them a trigger, if not a simple preference.

And setting the expectation that hugs are pre-consented (and in a limited fashion — the post he linked to says one hug per vaccination!) is absolutely not an undercutting of the idea that one needs to obtain consent before performing an action. The thing about consent is that it is often negotiated by the neurotypical without verbalizing or formalizing. One can offer a hug by opening one’s arms, and letting the other person approach if they choose. Neuro-atypical folks can explicitly request verbal consent if they are unskilled at those practices, as well. Even asking or motioning, though, crosses some people’s comfort barriers, so setting the expectation — verbally, via that blog post and via the title of the campaign — that hugs are on the table explicitly, and in advance, actually does people like that a huge service.

To be clear, and frank, I am seriously disheartened that Richard Dawkins feels the need to take swipes at Skepchick over concerns that completely buy into the least charitable framings of the issues at hand. I honestly thought that Dawkins would be more intellectually curious and rigorous than to conflate a demand for consent in the form of harassment policies, with sex-negativity in the form of deriding “spontaneity” and lionizing “unwritten rules”, the way he has in this instance. It’s terribly unskeptical, and it exposes a very large blind spot in an otherwise intelligent and rational actor.

I know there are no heroes. I just wish some of the people that I want to look up to, could stop proudly displaying the unheroic bits like so many peacock feathers.

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Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

243 thoughts on “Dawkins stabs at Skepchick over “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated” campaign

  1. Ike
    201

    It’s a tenuous line. Standing up and saying you hate something, and why, and announcing you are not going to involve yourself with that something, when you have a blog with thousands of readers, is basically a call for a boycott.

  2. 202

    It’s a tenuous line. Standing up and saying you hate something, and why, and announcing you are not going to involve yourself with that something, when you have a blog with thousands of readers, is basically a call for a boycott.

    And so what? Even if she had actually advocated a boycott what’s wrong with that? What the fuck is your point? She should encourage people to buy his books and go see him speak despite the fact that he behaved like a stupid sexist ass to her in public? Or just keep her stupid mouth shut because he’s so important to “the movement”?

  3. 203

    Oh yeah,

    when you have a blog with thousands of readers

    You do know that The God Delusion alone has sold millions right? I don’t think the dear old professor need worry about fading into obscurity if a few thousand people stop patronizing him.

  4. 205

    It’s a tenuous line.

    And you’re trying to stretch it much farther than it’ll go.

    What’s your point? Why are you pretending that Watson is pushing something she explicitly denied doing? Why is this point so important to you that you have to lie about it? What’s in it for you?

  5. 206

    Ike:

    Everyone can be unimpressed with him as much as they want – but in the long and short of it, what he’s done, and what he continues to do, is a great asset to humanity. He’s obviously not going to be perfect, and I hate to use majority rules as a thing: but Dawkins has done far more for the atheist and skeptic movement than Watson, by affecting people both inside and out of it.

    Oh hey, it’s “Dear Muslima” in different clothing. Instead of “some people have it worse than you, so stop complaining,” it’s “Richard has done more than Rebecca, so you can’t complain.”

    Look, I agree that Dawkins has done some great things. But you don’t get to decide for anyone else what they spend their money on. We each do a little mental moral calculus when deciding who and what deserves our money. For instance, I won’t eat at Chik-Fil-A (oh shit, did I just call for a boycott?) because I don’t want my money to go to their support of overt Christianity and anti-gay political groups. The promise of decent fast-food chicken doesn’t outweigh that in my mind, but I know other liberal atheists who disagree. And that’s fine. Contrariwise, when I was in CA last winter, I gladly tried In-N-Out burger because the promise of figuring out what west coasters were raving about for so long outweighed my mild unease at having a cup with “John 3:16” inconspicuously written on it. And that was my decision to make.

    Similarly, I’m kind of glad that “Penn & Teller: Bullshit” ended when it did, because I didn’t want to have to make the moral calculus of whether Penn’s overt libertarianism (and bad arguments in support of it) and involvement in the Mallorie Nasrallah affair outweighed my general enjoyment of (most episodes of) the series. I certainly didn’t buy his book, though. I’m probably done with Dawkins, too, over these increasingly depressing forays into feminist issues, where he displays a distinct resistance to having his consciousness raised. I have similar feelings about Hitchens and Harris over their uncomfortable stances re: Islam and so forth. I’m quite glad that DJ Grothe’s incompetence has removed the last real desires I had to someday scrape together enough money to go to TAM. I’d much rather spend my money supporting people whose views better match my own. And so I’ve donated to the SGU, I’ve gone to a lecture by Matt Dillahunty and Russell Glasser, I’ll buy PZ’s book and Greta Christina’s and Hemant Mehta’s next book, and so forth. And I’ve got an unread copy of John Loftus’s “Why I Became an Atheist” if anyone wants it, because I certainly don’t.

    Oh dear, look at all the boycotts I just called for.

    But it’s my money, and you don’t get to decide who and what I spend it on. You get to decide who and what you spend your money on. We might disagree on where to spend money, but you’re not going to change anyone’s mind by saying “but look at all the good X does!” I mean, I imagine that the majority of the Salvation Army’s money and the Boy Scouts of America’s money goes to doing good things that help humanity, but I won’t be dropping my change in the bellringer’s jar or going to the local troop’s car wash until the organizations stop doing bad things too.

    It doesn’t matter if the sandwich is mostly food with only a little bit of shit on it. I’d rather not spend my money to eat shit. Even if it’s only a little bit.

    And I think to some degree, folks like you understand this. Which is why, I think, you’re so desperate to turn “here’s my decision, but I’m not calling for a boycott” into “I AM TOTALLY CALLING FOR A BOYCOTT.” Because if you can make this not-a-boycott into a boycott, then suddenly it’s someone telling others how they should spend their money, and if they’re going to do that, then you can do it right back.

    But that’s not what it is. That is clearly, transparently, obviously not what it is. And so you’re sitting there saying “but the Salvation Army has done so much more for humanity than Richard Dawkins, and nobody’s perfect, so you should just put that book money in the red jar.”

  6. 207

    If we presume that liberating someone from religion increases the standing of women – which seems to be a strong correlation – then Dawkins has done an exceedingly high amount for feminism (with a loose definition of ‘making things better for women’).

    Does it really seem to be a strong correlation? According to who? And based on what? And are you absolutely sure it’s atheism doing it? And is there evidence that there’s a transformation of values about gender roles when men drop religion? And what evidence can you point at to convince me? Because honestly I don’t see a huge portion of atheists fighting for the right of women to be fully included in the movement, and I do see a huge portion of atheists fighting back when women stake their claims.

    I hear this idea a lot–that religion causes misogyny/sexism/patriarchy–and it’s definitely a treasured gem in secular and atheist lore, but if this presumption is wrong, then how does Dawkins fare?

  7. 209

    You will remember the high minded “Dear Dick” campaign?

    “Dick” is a very mild term in the US. People unashamedly use it as their first name. Seven year olds can say it in front of their mothers and grandmothers without reproach. It’s milder than “balls” and “prick” and much milder than most other groin worlds. It was never one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.

    Also, did you read the letter? It was signed by about a hundred victims of molestation, assault and rape. The salutation is not really the point of the missive.
    http://almostdiamonds.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-to-professor-dawkins-from.html

  8. 210

    smhll: fixed the link for you.

    People don’t care that it’s about victims of sexual harassment and assault telling Dawkins that his words were insensitive. They don’t care because DIIIIIIIIIIIIIICK. It’s a gotcha moment — an impolitic and emotive bit of anger (at worst — there’s good reason to believe Stephanie when she says she was calling him Dick as a diminutive form of his name, since she didn’t call him “Dear dick” but “Dear Dick”).

    It lets the dishonest interlocutors dismiss the fact that a hundred rape survivors said the thing that he claimed was “zero bad” was not, in fact, zero bad. Because if you make a rational argument with any hint of emotiveness behind your reason for doing so, you can be summarily dismissed by trolls and people with no shred of intellectual honesty.

  9. 211

    Jason,

    When you allow another poster to call me a “slimy little troll”, “too stupid” and a “shameless little liar”, without intervening, it is clear that you see that as a worthwhile addition to the debate.

    I, however, do not, so it is time for me to back out.

  10. 212

    A ‘Nym Too & Siverlry:
    Hugging was/is associated with acceptance and familiarity and the creation of acceptance and familiarity rather than sexuality among British people of a certain age and background. For example, a hug was a slang term for when a group of rugby players huddled together to plan tactics.

    IDGI=????

  11. 213

    It’s a tenuous line. Standing up and saying you hate something, and why, and announcing you are not going to involve yourself with that something, when you have a blog with thousands of readers, is basically a call for a boycott.

    No. There is a difference between someone taking a personal, public stance and someone agitating for a community to launch a boycott. These are not the same things.

    It seems to me, and please correct me if I’m wrong, that would only accept Rebecca’s stand if she had kept her views private. But as has been discussed a lot around FTB recently, no meaningful change has ever resulted from people staying quiet. So what this comes down to is your personal annoyance that this woman is not staying silent.

  12. 215

    Claus:

    When you allow another poster to call me a “slimy little troll”, “too stupid” and a “shameless little liar”, without intervening, it is clear that you see that as a worthwhile addition to the debate.

    Here’s what I said:

    I will just quickly note that the slimy little troll moved the goalposts from “blacklist” to “boycott” between 117 and 120

    117 and 120 were both written by the same person, who went by “…” and who apparently isn’t you.
    So you read my comment, discussing the content and the author of these two comments, which were not written by you, and somehow reached the conclusion that I was talking about you? Why exactly?
    For the record, I don’t consider you a troll, just mistaken on a relatively minor point.

  13. 216

    Could we, probably, just an idea, look at what Rebecca has actually done in the last year?
    Like did she just fail to promote Dawkins or did she ever even say “I won’t go there because of Dawkins?”, let alone “you shouldn’t go there because of Dawkins”

  14. 218

    It’s a tenuous line.

    No, it’s not, you whiny jackass. The word “boycott” has a widely-understood meaning, and the only people pretending not to understand that meaning are the people still desperately trying to pretend RW is a horrible evil threat to…um…wait, what was she supposed to be a threat to again?

    And besides, as others have said, even if RW was calling for a boycott, so what? Your incessant harping on what RW said (while ignoring huge chunks of what she said) really shows how small-minded and dishonest you are.

    Seriously, Ike, if this is the most important complaint you can find time to harp on, maybe you should just admit you don’t have that much to say, and shut up already.

  15. 219

    Claus @211: it’s funny that your issues with English extend all the way to assuming that people who are definitely and demonstrably talking to others — who are not you — are actually insulting you personally. It’s further funny that, now that I’ve drawn the line and said either accept that you’ve misinterpreted the plain English or back out of the argument, you choose a manufactured bit of outrage with which to back out while claiming the moral high ground, as though anyone was directing those insults at you.

  16. 221

    Is there some backstory behind this (aside from “Dear Muslima”) that makes it obvious that Dawkins’ tweet is indeed intended as a shot at the Skepchicks? His tweets read genuinely positive about the whole idea. That he mentions that the idea is “rule-free” is not necessarily an accusation that the Skepchicks are being hypocritical, at least not without some further evidence. Has he been complaining about the anti-harassment policies prior to this tweet? (And I am not conceding that he’s complaining about them now).

    The first tweet and the ones that followed read as supportive of both the vaccination and free hugs ideas. In lieu of any other information, reading Dawkins’ tweets as sarcastic gotchas aimed at the Skepchicks seems like an intentional attempt to read them in the worst light possible.

  17. 222

    satanaugustine: I disagree. The “rule-free” in the first tweet (who generally uses “rule-free” as a term of praise?) and the emphasis on “governed by ordinary unwritten rules of politeness” (as opposed to what?) in the second tweet, in the context of the policy wars, reads as a jab at policies to me. It’s Twitter: you don’t work a 50-letter clause into your statement unless you mean something by it.

  18. 223

    In contrast to John Loftus other examples (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.de/2012/06/why-does-thunderf00t-stay-at.html) this actually sends a mixed message about what is appropriate behaviour. Clearly you should not offer free hugs or any other intimate services as a reward for anything if you want to be taken seriously concerning unwanted touching.

    Also non-verbal consent is not acceptable. Non-verbal consent gives serial gropers an excuse since they can always claim that they “misread” the verbal cues of the girl.

  19. Max
    224

    Giliell, not to be confused with The Borg
    Sorry I’m so late responding to your response to me.

    “Where do I even start?”
    I know where you will probably not start, and that is with any point of agreement between us. Nor, I will venture to guess, will you seriously deal with the real and obvious hypocrisy that seems to color FTB interactions with its critics.

    “You think that the “Dear Muslima” was a reasnable disagreement?
    In what universe.”

    Yes its as reasonable as anything snarky can be. Surely FTB, Skepchick, you and other supporters wouldn’t fault some one for using snark as a component of an argument? Because if you would then you would of course be demonstrating that hypocrisy many of us see in FTB, Skepchick and its supporters.
    Dawkins was pointing out that while uncomfortable, nothing happened to Rebecca. She said (and I paraphrase) no, not for me, elevator guy accepted this and that was that. He compared this to what he saw as real misogyny in the world. I will not get into “Elevatorgate” here. I’m not sure its important to the main point. We do all get bothered by people that we would rather not be bothered by, at times we would not prefer. I’m not sure if this is an issue of real sexism or not. Given what Rebecca described it could best be filed under inconsiderate, and tactless. Dawkins didn’t think what Watson experienced was misogyny, or even sexism, but human life. We are all free to dispute this, but I do think the scorn he received for having the temerity to disagree with Watson and others was uncalled for.

    “And after that, his reasoning was that “elevators aren’t dangerous, they have buttons and doors!”, thereby showing his ignorance of the fact that assaults in elevators happen more often than one could wish for and that doors and buttons are fuck use to you if the agressor is standing in front of them.”

    After some effort, I cannot find the above quote about elevators, danger, buttons and doors. I did find this. If you can provide the quoted phrase I would appreciate it.
    Dawkins: “The man in the elevator didn’t physically touch her, didn’t attempt to bar her way out of the elevator, didn’t even use foul language at her. He spoke some words to her. Just words. She no doubt replied with words. That was that. Words. Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that….Rebecca’s feeling that the man’s proposition was ‘creepy’ was her own interpretation of his behavior, presumably not his. She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. But he does me no physical damage and I simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator. It would be different if he physically attacked me.”

    Dawkins simply doesn’t seem to think this is an instance of misogyny. He is not dismissing elevators as undangerous places. Or suggesting that they cannot become hard to get out of in a bad situation.

  20. Max
    225

    Illuminata, Genie in the Beer Bottle says:
    “Max said that Dawkins has “championed” women.”

    This is true. I did say this. Which is, I must say, a far cry from this.

    “Becauase slimepitters define “championing” women as “haven’t beaten them up . . . yet”. it’s a very low bar a sexist sets for the ‘good’ treatment of women.”

    Get fucked. Seriously. This is not how I, nor anyone I would consider a friend or comrade defines championing women. You really do need to grapple with what I am saying, and quit attributing to me ideas that I don’t hold, and would never support. Don’t construct straw men.

  21. Max
    226

    Smhll,
    ““Dick” is a very mild term in the US. People unashamedly use it as their first name. Seven year olds can say it in front of their mothers and grandmothers without reproach. It’s milder than “balls” and “prick” and much milder than most other groin worlds. It was never one of George Carlin’s seven dirty words.”

    That’s as may be. However for a group of people who claim gendered epithets are an evil, it smacks of more than slight hypocrisy to use one against someone. Your defense of its use here seems strange to me. In the use, when used as an epithet, dick, still makes people wince. When preceded by the words ‘suck’, and ‘my’ it is still cringe worthy in polite circles. As to whether balls, or prick are harsher, I suppose that is all in the ear of the beholder. I don’t think twat is all that terrible, but I dislike the word bitch. Everyone has a different reaction to these words regardless of what language mavens like George Carlin may think. The point is there was a hypocritical use of a gendered epithet. If you want people to take your values seriously, then you must also take them seriously.

    “Also, did you read the letter? It was signed by about a hundred victims of molestation, assault and rape. The salutation is not really the point of the missive.”
    That’s cool. They sent a letter that began with a gendered slur, to another person who has also survived sexual abuse. The salutation may not be the point of the letter, but it was indicative of the way some FTB/Skepchick personnel and supporters operate. Specifically what it demonstrated that the rules were for everyone else to follow, not the good guys (supporters of RW) The salutation demonstrated a lack of integrity.

  22. 227

    @Max

    Is “cracker” as bad as the n-word? You could say they’re both racial slurs, but you’d have to ignore the fact that African-Americans have been treated like they’re less than human for hundreds of years, and the n-word part of that history. It’s meant to dehumanize a group of people or an individual who is part of that group.

  23. 228
    “Becauase slimepitters define “championing” women as “haven’t beaten them up . . . yet”. it’s a very low bar a sexist sets for the ‘good’ treatment of women.”

    Get fucked. Seriously. This is not how I, nor anyone I would consider a friend or comrade defines championing women. You really do need to grapple with what I am saying, and quit attributing to me ideas that I don’t hold, and would never support. Don’t construct straw men.

    And yet you seem sympathetic to Dawkins’s claim that since EG didn’t do anything downright violent and criminal to Watson, she has nothing to complain about.

  24. 229

    Dawkins simply doesn’t seem to think this is an instance of misogyny.

    Everyone knows this, Max. Nobody claims that he said that misogyny is just fine. The convenient elisions in his retelling of the event and his complete dismissal of Watson’s perspective in favor of his own (LOL, so what if you get dozens of rape threats from strangers for the crime of having a blog? I say you’re wrong to feel nervous when a strange man goes out of his way to hit on you in a secluded space!) are what’s wrong with what he said.
    “I’m against sexism, but what you’re complaining about isn’t it, and I’m the man so I know better” —>sexism

    Also, the comment from Dawkins that you couldn’t find can be viewed here. Scroll down to the third screenshot.

  25. 230

    Lousy Canuck jumped the gun. Now the folk who jumped in complaining have egg on their faces.

    Think before you open your gobs, next time.

  26. 231

    Crybabies has made a bunch of vague, unsupported statements using enough clichéd language to make an editor weep, yet not a single supporting detail, making them look like an incompetent troll.

    Think before you post a content-free comment next time.

  27. Max
    232

    Forbidden,
    You said “And yet you seem sympathetic to Dawkins’s claim that since EG didn’t do anything downright violent and criminal to Watson, she has nothing to complain about.”

    I am not saying Watson had nothing about which to complain. I am not saying Dawkins was correct in saying that RW had nothing to complain about. I thought Elevator guide demonstrated a remarkable lack of tact, and/or good sense. I don’t think that this demonstrated any overt sexism, misogyny or male privilege. These kinds of uncomfortable scenarios happen all the time, and are perpetrated by both sexes. I am basing this on the details of Watson’s story not on things I imagine could have been said or that might have happened. Given a different set of details, of course, I would have a different opinion. I’m sympathetic to Dawkins because I think he has been subject to excessive venom, motive conjuring and often bad faith attempts at dealing with what he actually said. Now I think Dawkins should have measured his words more carefully, as it would’ve led to a less inflamed discussion of his point and the questions embedded in it.

    This is a far cry from the definition of championing women (having not beaten them yet) that was invented out of whole cloth, and then attributed to me, and I guess slimepitters (and perhaps Dawkins himself). Again I would ask readers to deal with what I am saying, not that which you imagine I am thinking.

  28. Max
    234

    callistacat”

    You ask me, “Is “cracker” as bad as the n-word? You could say they’re both racial slurs, but you’d have to ignore the fact that African-Americans have been treated like they’re less than human for hundreds of years, and the n-word part of that history.”

    They are both racial slurs, and even taking into account the atrocious history of racism and slavery in this country, that fact doesn’t change. I am not devaluing, or minimizing the experience of African-Americans by noting that that calling white people crackers is also a racial slur, “meant to dehumanize a group of people or an individual who is part of that group.” If we are going to say one is bad we probably shouldn’t condescend to another group and say well you have had it too rough to apply the rules you would have other people observe when interacting with you. Lets not apply double standards shamelessly. The same seems to be true of the term dick.

    Is dick worse than cunt? Is mick worse than wop, dago, nigger, kike etc? Is this really the discussion we want to be having? What gives you the right, or authority to decide who gets hurt by what term? Or what term in a category of bad is more acceptable to use than another? This is the same kind of behavior FTB/skepchick/supporters all decry when they see it in their critics. Why the double standard?

    Imagine if Ghandi or King had preached their non-violent message, but allowed for a little bit of violence to used in their favor. Maybe they wouldn’t burn down a house, or church, or a Klan meeting. King supporters would just beat the shit of out the occasional white southerner but not so bad that he couldn’t go to work the next day. Well which is worse, burning down an African American Church or beating the shit out of a white southerner occasionally? I suppose its the latter, but they are both a moral evil and should be avoided altogether . You can imagine, can’t you,how such hypocrisy would have set back the respective movements of Ghandi and King? I think the defense of of Dick, adn the occasional defense of bitch damages the crediblity of FTBers/Skepchick/supporters on this issue.

  29. 235

    @Max

    I don’t believe calling Richard Dawkins “Dick” is a-ok if it was meant in an insulting way. If his name wasn’t Richard, I would say it would be really rude and juvenile and out of line. I can’t say what the people who wrote that letter intended by using it, given that it *is* short for the name Richard.

    You’re bringing up violent scenarios that would obviously be equally wrong as if it’s equivalent. Call someone behaving like a jerk or asshole a “dick” is not in the same ballpark.

    If men find ‘dick’ offensive and dehumanizing then yes, you shouldn’t use it. But historically it’s not used to denote that men as a group are subhuman. I’m not deciding who should get hurt by the term, I honestly don’t find that most men think calling someone a dick is on the same level as the n-word or the b-word. I don’t use that term personally, but if I did and I was told it was hurtful I would stop using it, no arguments.

    I haven’t heard anyone say that Richard should be kicked in his [slang for private parts] for his opinions, which is done quite regularly by the people who claim people at the Free Thought Blogs are bullies.

  30. 236

    I thought Elevator guide demonstrated a remarkable lack of tact, and/or good sense. I don’t think that this demonstrated any overt sexism, misogyny or male privilege.

    Actually, he did display male privilege, by not considering how his come-on may be intimidating to her. But we’re not talking about him, we’re talking about Dawkins, and his display of obliviousness.

    I’m sympathetic to Dawkins because I think he has been subject to excessive venom, motive conjuring and often bad faith attempts at dealing with what he actually said.

    I think he has been subject to less venom than literally any other party in this debate. I also think that his original remarks leave little room for interpretation of his position. He obviously thinks so to, otherwise he would have qualified them or issued a follow-up statement.

    Now I think Dawkins should have measured his words more carefully, as it would’ve led to a less inflamed discussion of his point and the questions embedded in it.

    You are defending him as though he misspoke or chose his words poorly. That is not true. His lack of qualifying statement, apology or any kind of response to the hundreds who attempted to answer his questions suggest that he said exactly exactly what he meant and what he still believes. If he were anyone else, we would call what he did “drive-by trolling”.

  31. 237

    I appreciate his knowledge, but his privilege leaks through even in his books. For instance, I love The Greatest Show On Earth, I’ve read it 3 times – but I always come up short at the comment that boils down to “why should we use local Chinese names for their cities when we have perfectly good English names for them?”

  32. 239

    I must be missing something. This is the first lousy canuck post I have read.

    Did Dawkins write something other than the 3 tweets that was offensive?

    Or are we assuming his first tweet was being sarcastic and he wasn’t really being supportive?

    His second and third tweets seem to indicate that his first was intended to be taken literally; and he was supporting the get vaccinated, get a hug campaign.

  33. 240

    My conclusion from all this bullshit drama: Atheists are utterly socially inept, at least the ones in this “movement.” That goes for all sides of this. I’m done with this petty movement and its petty drama.

  34. 241

    All this anti/pro-feminist bullshit is just too much. How about simply acting like normal freaking human beings? Among many other things this movement lacks, that means being open to criticism, not taking disagreements, even about things you care deeply about, personally, respecting on another, and just being a kind person. If you all can’t even do that, this movement is doomed to be an extreme fringe.

  35. 242

    I am a christian and I want to tell you that I think that skepchick is a God sent person to destroy the antichrist Dawkins. Nobody in the world can do something about what is happening at the moment.
    The whole atheism movement will break into peaces!YES!!
    Dawkins gets defeated by his own people !! Thank you God! Thank God for Rebecca watson!

  36. 243

    I figured this latest Great Sorting of the skeptical and atheist communities into those that are down with social justice causes and those that would rather entrench themselves in privilege would pretty much end exactly this way.

    Dissapointing to see this nonsense being peddled.

    This whole piece is nothing more than an incredibly biased attack on Dawkins.

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