If you are part of a major atheist organization or conference, you should be asking yourself a serious question right about now: Do we want to associate our good name with a man who thinks the height of hilarity is promoting racist and sexist videos, and who is now willingly hanging with the MRAs, GamerGaters, white supremacists, and other dregs of Twitter? Do we really want to extend that big a fuck you to women and minorities?
Because honestly, at this point, willingly coupling yourself with Dawkins is basically saying you give not a shit about women, people of color, or reason itself.
But don’t take my word for it. Take Dawkins’s own tweets for it. You can find them, along with other of his assorted nonsense, in the links I have collected. And this is the mere scrape of a fingernail across the surface.
I know it’s hard to accept. It took me a long time to accept the fact that the man I admired, whom I’d braved crowds for and hung on to the every word of, is actually a tremendous jerk. I didn’t want to think that my hero was harmful. But he is. And the sooner the movement accepts that, the stronger we can make it by leaving him and his dawkbros on the sidelines.
Really, though, it’s okay if you don’t want to do that. We’re making our own secular movement right over here. I’m just saying that if you want to stay relevant, you will peruse the information herein, and decide accordingly.
For those who think this is a free speech issue:
Dawkins, a provocative scientist, author and thinker who at one time people actually took seriously, has over the past few years evolved into a round the clock bigot. And hey, business is generally good — being a fan of Dawkins makes other bigots feel like they’re sophisticated and not, you know, bigots. Dawkins himself sets the tone, humble bragging, “Sorry if I go a bit over the top in my passion for truth” while he snarks on “good Muslim” women, shrugs off “mild pedophilia” and yells at clouds.
Earlier this week, Dawkins fancifully linked to a YouTube video called “Feminists Love Islamists.” In the two minute cartoon clip, a redhead in glasses and a grating voice does a piano duet with a Middle Eastern male. Imagine Mark Russell, but somehow worse. In it — and if you decide to watch it just remember you’ll never get those two minutes of your life back — the two whine-sing of how disempowered they are, and then it ends with the man asking, “So do you mind if I rape you now?” The woman replies, “Don’t be silly; it’s not rape when a Muslim does it!” This is what Richard Dawkins apparently finds entertaining.
Making the matter even more offensive, if possible, is that as writer Lindy West and others have noted, the cartoon female is modeled after a real woman who was targeted for doxxing, rape threats, and death threats after speaking up at a 2013 Men’s Rights group event in Toronto.
NeuroLogica Blog: NECSS and Richard Dawkins
There have been many other points expressed that I do not think are fair. The issue here, for example, is not free speech. Dawkins is completely free to express himself and he has a massive audience and plenty of outlets. Far be it for our humble conference to have any effect on his free speech. That is simply framing the issue in the wrong way.
As an analogy, creationists often complain that firing professors who teach creationism is a violation of their free speech, while the real issue is about academic quality control. In our case, the issue is about our right to craft our own conference the way we wish.
People have a right to speech, but they don’t have a right to access a private venue for their speech. In fact, whom we invite or uninvite to our conference is the primary mechanism of our free speech. This was ultimately about the character of NECSS and the statement we wish to make (or not make) to our community. Obviously where one sets the threshold for not inviting, or uninviting, a guest is subjective and there is room for reasonable disagreement here.
For those who think it was just a video, and it can’t be that bad:
He apparently believes that because #NotAllFeminists, because he stated in the original tweet that feminists who love Islamists are the “pernicious minority” of feminists, those feminists in the “vast majority” should not be offended by a video which equates feminism with Islamism.
And let’s mince no words—that is absolutely what it does.
It was made by “Sargon of Akkad,” who I’d never heard of before. Rebecca Watson, however, describes him as a “longtime harasser of me and other women” and Zoë Quinn described Dawkins’s tweet as “promoting a guy who built a career of a stalking and harassing my family.”
Here’s a link to the video, but if it you don’t want to watch it I don’t blame you in the slightest. I didn’t want to watch it either, but did so that I could provide this transcript… [Content warning: Rape, racism]
For those who want to believe it’s no big deal, or just one little mistake, or this isn’t part of a larger pattern:
Almost Diamonds: Dawkins Goes Denialist: An Open Letter to the CFI Board
My main concern is with the governance issues that Dawkins raised by embracing denialism of harassment.
Denialism is a strong word, but it’s justified here. You can watch the process through his tweets and retweets. He started from the idea that there were people who would lie as though the idea were new.
The threats are right there, exactly where Dawkins was told they are. Dawkins is substituting his intuitions and other people’s insinuations for the facts instead of checking them. This is denialism.
More than that, it is denialism that is now present on the CFI website.
I might mention that, before receiving any word from NECSS, I had already deleted the tweet to which they objected. I did it purely because I was told that the video referenced a real woman, who had been threatened on earlier occasions because of YouTube videos in which she appeared to her disadvantage. I have no knowledge of the authenticity of the alleged death and rape threats.
This information has, in fact, been given to Dawkins. He is simply not engaging with it in favor of the narrative that the threats are false and being used to deflect criticism. He’s doing this in CFI’s name.
Sinmantyx: The Most Prominent Member of GamerGate
Beliefs: Richard Dawkins is an anti-feminist, but in the CHS mould. He claims to be a feminist himself, yet spends an inordinate amount of time mocking feminists. His spat with Rebecca Watson is infamous, he’s gone on the record as saying Chanty Binx deserves mockery and may be mentally ill, he’s retweeted CHS favorably, argued women who drink can’t be trusted with rape claims, claims feminism is poisoning science, and so on.
There’s also a tendency to endorse conspiracies. Remember Ahmed and his clock? Dawkins thought it was all a big hoax in order to get into the White House. Much like the average ‘Gator, he thinks victims make up their abuse in order to benefit from it.
And there is far, far more there.
Pharyngula: I can’t take no more
I finally unfollowed and blocked Richard Dawkins on Twitter. He retweeted this, [Content note: graphic image of a woman being murdered] and that was just the final straw.
It’s two photos, one of Matt Taylor and his inappropriate shirt (and I suspect Taylor would rather his pals would stop showing it), and the other is of a Muslim woman being executed by a roadside, which is why I’m not posting it directly here, and why you may not want to follow the link. It has a caption:One of these two pictures upsets Feminists. The other one shows the execution of a woman.
It’s a lie. It’s a patently dishonest misrepresentation of feminist views, and it uses the murder of a woman to make a phony criticism of feminists. I can’t imagine how someone could be so insensitive to the crudity of the message and so oblivious to its rank deceit to consider it a worthwhile contribution to any discussion.
If all that isn’t enough to persuade you that you should be done with Dawkins by now, you are not someone I would ever care to associate with. May the rifts between us widen until we never have to hear the horrible choir of Dawkins defenders ever again.