Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Mild pedophilia" and major drama

I love Richard Dawkins' books. I think they are masterful examples of explaining science clearly and simply for a general audience. But when he speaks off the cuff, or tweets, he has been far less successful. His usual clarity seems to desert him, and he has to spend far more time explaining and doing damage control than he spent on the original remarks.

It's not always his fault. I've seen many tweets from him whose meaning seemed perfectly clear, and yet hordes of people were working themselves into a frenzy condemning him for saying the opposite of what he actually said. Some people just don't have adequate reading comprehension skills. And quite a few, I suspect, have it in for Dawkins to begin with, and they will see what they want to see. Or even understand perfectly well what he is saying, and still attack a strawman.

PZ Myers, never one to miss a chance for intellectual dishonesty, channels Oliver Cromwell. Many others are gleefully joining in the dogpiling. It's quite an astonishing display of victim-blaming by those who have the privilege of not having been victims. Perhaps some "STFU and listen" is called for here?

I've previously blogged about my own abusive childhood. I was groped on a couple of occasions, mostly by bullies at school, but the non-sexual physical, emotional and psychological abuse that I suffered was far more damaging.

It seems pretty clear to me what Dawkins is saying - the molesting that he personally experienced did not do significant lasting damage to him, though he acknowledges that there are degrees of sexual abuse and many victims had a more severe and harmful experience than him. Groping is bad, tearing someone's clothes off is worse, forcible penetration is worse still. This isn't rocket science, people!

When did the FTBullies become more morally absolutist than Bill Donohue? Why must they immediately jump to the most uncharitable possible interpretation of every word out of Dawkins' mouth? Okay, we know the answer to that one - they hate his guts, but lack the intellectual wherewithal to refute him.

So here's a final question: if Richard Dawkins can find it in his heart to forgive the man who groped him, rather than nursing a grudge for decades, who the hell are Myers & co. to condemn him for doing so?

1 comment:

  1. At a CalTech talk, he defended himself again saying that he, in effect, was a non-issue and that there are more serious victims out there. (Forgive me if I fk'd up the paraphrase.)