Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Defense of Richard Dawkins

One of the Four Horseman of  the Apocalypse is a man named Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist and well-known atheist (or anti-theist, depending).  He's the author of several books, not the least of which is The God Delusion, which many atheists cite as the book that "converted" them.

The man loves his fossils.

He's a darling of the nonbelievers, up there with Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.  He's debated the pious and always come out ahead and, more pertinently, he's defended the theory of evolution and natural law with such grace and beauty as to command assent.

So why then would the atheist community look to tear him down?

Well, to get an idea, you would have to know who Rebecca Watson is.  I've been an observer in atheist/skeptic circles for a quite a while and I had never heard of her before (which doesn't mean that she's not the "big deal" that she is purported to be, just to give you  perspective.)  While at a conference in Dublin, Ireland, she was heading back to her hotel room at 4am when a guy got on an elevator with her.  He said that he was "interested" in her and asked if she would join him back at his hotel room for coffee.  She said No.  She left the elevator.  That was it.

So, far, it seems to me like a lame come-on and nothing more.  Hell, I've had more embarrassing scenarios asking women out while completely sober and what this woman went through (sorry: "went through") was a dream.  That having been said, I think that when she said that she didn't like it, that it made her feel uncomfortable, Ms. Watson was justified and had every right to share that point of view via video.

In that video, she complained that being a member of the skeptic feminist movement has "sexualized" her.  Um... if you say so...

Enter Richard Dawkins (a person that you don't have to be a white, skeptical feminist to know about).  While responding to something completely different, Dawkins compared the incident in the elevator (never referring to Watson directly) to the plight of Muslim women who's clitoris can be hacked away with daggers or sharp stones, who aren't allowed to drive or be seen without a man.  Specifically, Dawkins was sarcastically saying that Watson's situation was more important than any Muslim woman's problem or issue.

Naturally, Watson and those who do not live in, say Saudi Arabia or North Africa, protested, saying that regardless as to the evil abroad, we should still fight the evil at home.

The evil at home?  I do not think that those who feebly ask women to coffee at 4 o'clock in the morning constitute evil.  The vague potential?  Well, maybe, but it's a potential that rests on the idea that literally anything can happen.  There is a difference between forcing a female circumcision, raping a woman and asking a woman to coffee at 4 AM.  There just is.  It's pretty simple.

However, given the response against Dawkins, he responded by asking very simply and plainly what he said he did wrong?  Watson has said that she is going to stop supporting Dawkins (OH NO!) and is calling for a boycott of his books.

He's capable of making more controversial statements than that.  I'm just saying.

This blogger thinks that this has gotten entirely out of hand and had Dawkins not referred to this incident at all, I would still not know who Watson is.  However, because a famous person said something vague about her, she's grabbed it and railed against it.  It's the way that many people try to become famous (or infamous); that way they don't have to work on the merit of their own talents or their arguments.  Why do all that hard work when all you have to do is call down the thunder from someone more talented and more successful than yourself.

It would also seem that the atheist/skeptic community would have more important things to debate and go back and forth than the misunderstanding and misconstruing of one of the movement's important figures.  Instead of debating whether or not Dawkins is a misogynistic pig, maybe the discussion should be the teaching of intelligent design in the English-speaking world's biology classrooms?  Or preventing the election of politicians and leaders who believe that the end of the world will happen in their lifetime?  Or anything else?

I think that not only Dawkins is deliberately portrayed as a chauvinistic bastard but also thin-skinned:  he's criticized as to not having a backbone and not having to deal with being called a variety of racial and sexual epithets.  Really?  Do you think he's never angered Christians before?  You think that he's not been called every hateful name in the book?  If you don't think that, you're not being skeptical in the proper way.

Richard Dawkins will walk away from this and the true taint of the incident will be Rebecca Watson, a person who tried to make a mountain out a molehill and by doing so has done enormous damage not only to herself but to the "skeptical feminist" community.

Watson seen here reading about the reaction to the Elevator Incident.


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Normally, I blog about the 2012 Election and you can expect more of that in the future.

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