First 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 that people who have been plied with alcohol by others remain responsible for…something (terrible analogy) and that feminists don’t respect women if they believe it’s possible to victimize them. Today, we have these:
Raping a drunk woman is appalling. So is jailing a man when the sole prosecution evidence is “I was too drunk to remember what happened.”
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) September 13, 2014
Don’t EVER rape anyone, drunk or sober. But also, don’t accuse anyone of a crime if you can’t remember what happened (& no other evidence). — Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) September 13, 2014
As I pointed out to Dawkins on Twitter this morning, we have significantly more evidence against Shermer than that.* As I promised him, here is an enumerated list.
- We have Alison Smith’s original statement that she was raped.
We have the parts of the night that she does remember that tell us she didn’t want to have sex with him.
- We have the fact that she left the party without Shermer.
- We have the fact that she was supposed to be walked back to her room, not Shermer’s.
We have statements from others that lend credence to her story.
- We have a witness who confirms this was not consensual, that Smith was distraught immediately after the incident.
- We have confirmation from another skeptic that Smith was distraught that night and that other women have come to him with similar stories over a period of years. (This is currently in a private forum but I’ll make it available to Dawkins if he has any interest in looking at it.)
- We have Smith’s statement that other women have come to her with similar stories.
- We have a JREF forum poster telling Smith (Remie V.) that a woman has come to him with the same story. I’m working to confirm whether the woman was Smith, but it appears likely on its face that, if he knew her well enough to hear her story, he would know her JREF forum handle. (ETA: The poster confirmed that the woman whose story he heard was not Smith.)
- We have a witness who confirms part of Shermer’s M.O., that he has been known to get women drunk while displaying interest in them.
We have other reports of nonconsensual sexual behavior aimed at women by Shermer.
- We have Pamela Gay’s statement that Shermer tried to grab her breasts.
- We have two people confirming that D.J. Grothe told them he witnessed and intervened in Shermer’s attempt. We have also been told that Grothe repeated this in a court case and on two recordings.
- We have Pamela Gay’s statement that other women have come to her with similar stories.
- We have Ashley Miller’s statement that Shermer was rubbing his crotch for several minutes while talking to her after selling her a book.
We have inconsistencies in Shermer’s various stories told to different people over time.
- We have him suggesting in the email he sent to a TAM organizer that he didn’t have sex with Smith but saying in his current statement that he did.
- We have him saying in the email and statement that he was at least relatively sober the evening in question but telling James Randi that alcohol was to blame for his “bad boy” behavior.
- We have him saying in his statement that he’s remained silent on the matter “because I find the entire matter unseemly and suitable for tabloid trash”, but in fact, he mockingly tweeted about the allegations last September. (ETA: Oh, yeah. Also his statement to Ian Murphy and his statement for his fundraiser and his discussion with John Loftus. Thanks to Jason for reminding me how silent Shermer was.)
- We have the continuing insistence of Shermer’s friend and colleague on trying to attack the parts of Smith’s story that are directly contradicted by Shermer’s. That Dawkins keeps poking at the fact that Smith was drunk strongly suggests he doesn’t believe Shermer’s statement in which Shermer said they were both sober.
Does all that conclusively prove that Shermer raped Smith? No, but not even a confession would be conclusive proof. That’s not how proof works.
What this does say is that we’re not reliant on some hole in Alison Smith’s memory.** We have quite a bit of information about that night, about Shermer’s behavior toward women, and about the credibility of his words regarding the incident.
It says, in fact, that Dawkins is once again swinging at irrelevancies and obscuring what we know about these accusations in the process.
*Of course, the fact that she was drunk enough to have gaps in her memory is, on its own, evidence of sexual assault under both UK and U.S. law.
**It’s worth noting in passing that this is not particularly uncommon in incidents that nonetheless end up being described as he said-she said.