The Richard Dawkins Facepalm Watch, Vol. II

So, Richard Dawkins has once again become an unintentional social media star with a sequence of tweets:

And when he received some mockery for this, he got grumpy:

Just to be clear, the point isn’t that Dawkins is wrong when he complains about airport security theater. I agree that ridiculous rules like this are a waste of time and don’t make us any safer. They’re the product of a metastasizing security state, of unimaginative bureaucrats who need to justify their existence by making us think they’re doing something valuable, and cynical politicians who find it useful to top up a climate of fear.

I don’t even object to Dawkins’ laughably overwrought hyperbole, although admittedly that’s easy to mock. Since Osama bin Laden’s corpse is currently being nibbled by fishes on the bottom of the Indian Ocean, I don’t think he’s “won”. Even if he were still alive, I doubt that subjecting airport travelers to petty inconvenience was ever his primary goal.

No, what I object to is the hypocrisy of a man who hits the roof over being slightly irked at an airport checkpoint, and justifies this reaction with a great show of Standing on Principle, when that same man previously wrote this:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and… yawn… don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

It takes a serious deficit of self-awareness to not notice how these situations are comparable. In his infamous “Dear Muslima” letter, as well as other remarks published since, Dawkins has sneered at women who objected to creepy solicitations, sexist condescension and harassment, insisting either that they’re overreacting to a trivial matter or that they brought it on themselves, and if their genitals aren’t being mutilated with a razor blade, they have no right to complain about anything that happens to them. But it clearly doesn’t even cross his mind to apply the same standard to the things that bother him. (The “less objectionable than having your genitals mutilated with a razor blade” standard would rule out a lot of complaints from all of us.)

Dawkins insists that although he doesn’t really care about a jar of honey, this was a matter of principle. Very well. It’s also a matter of principle that women in the secular community shouldn’t be subjected to inappropriate behavior or unwanted sexual come-ons, even if they don’t suffer any lasting harm from it. The fact that he can’t seem to see this parallel – that he casts himself as taking a brave stand on principle, while everyone else is just being petulant and whiny – suggests a troubling lack of empathy for perspectives other than his own.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Christian Pfeil

    Actually I think Dawkins is right on this one, well mabe not about airport security, but on the principle.

    After a moment of weakness we allowed big brother a growth that is unprecedented and now that the genie is out of the bottle we have trouble getting it back in.
    Complaining about the airport security might not be the appropiate outlet, but it is just one of the smaller parts in the bigger picture.

  • dontpanic

    One has to wonder: is he really this self unaware, or too proud/egotistical to apologize (a simple “my bad” would go a long way here), or too afraid of his thunderthudian fanbois (who would turn on him in a second and rip him to shreds)? None of the option seems to speak well of him.

  • GCT

    I think we all agree that Dawkins is right, in principle, that airport security is over-the-top and doesn’t actually make us safer. In fact, Adam said that in the OP. The point being made is that Dawkins is rather tone-deaf when it comes to situations that don’t directly affect him. He publishes letters deriding women for speaking up about harassment, and then becomes indignant over losing a jar of honey and can’t see any sort of connection when it’s pointed out to him.

  • MNb

    Frankly I think this unwillingness to seriously consider other viewpoints than his own also shows through his famous The God Delusion. So I’m not surprised.

  • 8DX

    It’s also rather irksome that small mostly irellevant losses of liquid containers can’t compare to actual harassment that security theatre means to people who are racially profiled and take the brunt of it. Heina on skepchick gives a good example of her experiences – examples where one can see the dispicable nature of it all, while honeypots are not really a problem. Dawkins’ tweet really is completely analogous to if RW had actually said:
    “This dude hit on me in an elevator. That patriarchal and misogynist sonofabitch!”

  • David Cortesi

    I think he’s wrong about the honey. It would be quite feasible to disguise an explosive, or an explosive ingredient to be mixed with another, as honey. The “three ounce of liquid” rule has a factual basis; it was put in place after the British broke up a gang that had planned, although not actually attempted, to mix liquid chemicals in flight to make a bomb (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_transatlantic_aircraft_plot). It’s still a credible, if far-fetched, attack modality.

    Dawkins would be free to carry a jar of honey or any other liquid in his checked baggage, although it would be smart to bag it well in case of breakage.

  • L.Long

    Where did Dawkins get all ballistic? Everyone is throwing this way out of proportion. The Lame rules of the TSA where followed by the SS. They are generally stupid rules as they have not caught or stopped anything. Dawkins was pissed and OMFG he tweeted!!! How awful of him to tweet something!!
    Admittedly there are good people working at TSA and there are more then enough grade-A Aholes there too. But it still aint their fault he US congress started using these dumb-assed rules. If I remember properly their were a lot of people pissing their pants in terror of –??well something???. So they have the air service they asked for.
    As to the muslin tweet, I don’t know the full story, but the only thing I see wrong is his 1st statement, Stop whinning. How does he know they are whinning?? I’ve heard of white american women who have become muslin and went into it fully, so it can’t be that bad to get beaten regular like, not drive, etc.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    *Sigh* Yes, this exactly. When the Elevatorate/Muslima thing happened, the comparison that came to mind for me was that a lot of the things Dawkins talks about aren’t as bad as genital mutilation, either. When it first happened, before PZ Myers confirmed his identity, I was giving him the benefit of the doubt, because I hoped that if he could see how even non-physical-violence things could be harmful to atheists, he should be able to see how that applies to other minority groups as well.

    There are people who set a different standard for what their own group is allowed to complain about and what others are allowed to complain about. It seems that Dawkins thinks atheists can complain about a wide variety of things, but others can only complain about certain things that are above a certain level of severity.

    I would add that another hypocrisy here ties in with his comments about Muslims. There are people who think it’s fine for white people to complain about airport security … But if Muslims or racial minorities assumed to be Muslim complain about it (or other discrimination), then that’s just whining, and they should accept it.

  • GCT

    Where did Dawkins get all ballistic?

    Ranting over twitter and calling people idiots for pointing out his bullshit is going ballistic.

    They are generally stupid rules as they have not caught or stopped anything.

    Read the OP again. We’re pretty much all in agreement that the current restrictions and rules aren’t really there to keep us safe, but are over-reactions. The problem comes in when Dawkins’ behavior is called into question and he’s too wrapped up in himself to see the parallels to the way he’s treated others (women really, with his condescending and sexist attacks).

    As to the muslin tweet, I don’t know the full story, but the only thing I see wrong is his 1st statement, Stop whinning. How does he know they are whinning??

    Adam wrote, right after posting the quote from Dawkins, what it was about. I suggest you read the OP.

    I’ve heard of white american women who have become muslin and went into it fully, so it can’t be that bad to get beaten regular like, not drive, etc.

    WTF? Are you suggesting that women getting beaten isn’t a big deal so long as they entered into Islam “willingly”.

  • Nancy McClernan

    What I’m hoping for is that somebody will finally ask Dawkins point-blank what his proposals for changing airport security would be. Because I suspect that he is in full agreement with Sam Harris’s proposal for airport security – target people who look like Muslims.

    https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2012/05/the_trouble_wit.html

    I think that the real problem for Dawkins is not that there is airport security, I think the real problem is that people who look like Richard Dawkins are being inconvenienced. But until somebody asks him straight out for his solution, he’s going to keep presenting himself as a brave hero of principle.

    Dawkins needs to retire now before he becomes even more famous as a cranky old bigot.

  • Bill Miller

    I tend to accept the stance that OBL won. His goal was not to turn USA into a muslim state. Terrorism can be defined as “those violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror)”. Furthermore terrorism alienates the populace from the state if the state uses over-the-top countermeasures and thus weakens the nation easing the takeover by extreme groups (=terrorists).
    And this he accomplished.

  • katiehippie

    He needs to step away from the Twitter.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    I’ve heard of white american women who have become muslin and went into it fully, so it can’t be that bad to get beaten regular like, not drive, etc.

    This is absolutely vile.

    You know what? I’ve gotten really, really tired of people who criticize religion all the time for the harm it does … and then turn around and minimize the persecution and abuse of women and other minorities, suggesting that they deserve it for staying in the religion. Only opposing harm done by religion to atheists while excusing harm to others isn’t advocacy of equal rights. It’s selfishness and cruelty.

  • Johnathan Bunn

    he cannot see any connection because there is no connection, the only connection being made is by people who are trying to use any little thing he says to attack him.

    The only way this situation would be similar, is if instead of having his honey taken and thrown away, he was asked politely if the honey could be taken, and he politely said no and then got angry about them even asking to have his honey.

  • http://rogiriverstone.com/ Rogi Riverstone

    The child’s a white, western, elitist, cis straight man with limitless ego and privilege. He has no credibility any more. There are rumors of dementia, but I just think he’s a spoiled drama queen. He stirs feces for the smell. Because of him, and Harris, I no longer ID as an atheist; I prefer secular humanist: I’ll work with anyone, theist or not, who believes in social justice. Dawkins just believes in Dawkins’ superiority to every one and every thing not like him. He’s a dinosaur, gasping his last. He won’t be missed in my world. He has caused a lot of suffering and damage.

  • L.Long

    OK now what? Keep our mouth’s shut cuz I might use a little irony, and you can’t see it. But what was so vile? The truth? or that I said it in a way you don’t like? What can we do about it even if they don’t like an occasional beating? Its their country, their women, their rules! And they can change it, WE CAN’T. So you can’t see my irony and you sure could not see his.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    It’s not “irony”. It’s minimization and dismissal of a real problem. Not being able to rush in and change something magically isn’t an excuse to minimize it and wrongly label that irony. (And no, it’s not really “their country, their rules” because there are people there who would like for things to change but don’t have the same amount of power as those who hurt them. It’s more like the rule of one group over others.)

  • Nancy McClernan

    GCT just explained the connection.

    Furthermore, Dawkins is an embarrassment to atheism. And because he didn’t feel like following TSA rules, he had his precious honey taken away.

    And instead of speaking out against the horrendous rape threats that increased exponentially as a result of his wretched “Dear Muslima” letter, he said nothing. Because he’s a moral cretin. He deserves every taunting he gets and then some. And so do his pathetic little fanboys.

  • Nancy McClernan

    So what are you saying? You want those muslins to stop whinning and keep their mouth’s shut?

  • L.Long

    So declare war kill everyone and then force the survivors to do it our way??? Of course not and that is the whole point of STOP WHINNING. WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING, they have to do the changing. Will it hurt? YES! did a lot of americans die and get hurt when they decided to change things in 1776? YES! but that is what is required to change or stop a bully. Every-time we interfered in midEast politics it has gone very bad. So helping in almost any way will do nothing but have them hate us more then they do now, after all haven’t we proved ourselves to be nothing less then terrorists in the midEast, with all the death we have dealt out SO AS TO HELP THEM???
    I knew a woman who always whinned about how she was treated by her husband, after a while we were sympathetic and started talking about how things could be changed to the better. She invented all sorts of reasons why this or that could not be done. After a while we simply told her stop whinning and do something to get it changed or stop whinning and accept what she has; and ignored her complaints.

    So stop whinning and start changing the situation, or accept it,. But whine and invent reason to not change and you will be ignored.

  • Alex SL

    Yes, Johnathan, you got that right. Obviously there is no connection between two situations unless they are exactly the same in every minute detail, because this is not about the principle at all.

    But you could have done one better. Let me try:

    The only way this situation would be similar, is if instead of writing “Bin Laden has won”, he had written “security staff, don’t do that”, and that sentence had elicited a never-ending torrent of rape threats and death threats.

  • DR

    He’s 100% correct on this one. We currently live in the “National Security” state, and our freedoms have been severely eroded. The US has wasted massive amounts of money on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all due to the provocation that this one man caused, regardless of whether he is now sleeping with the fishes. He accomplished everything he set out to do with that one act, and more.

    He won. And the security theater is a constant reminder of his victory.

  • RayRobertson

    I think the real problem is that people who look like Richard Dawkins are being inconvenienced.

    That is really the heart of the matter. Sam Harris looks like Timothy McVeigh. Should white males be targeted at airports in case militia groups turn to airplanes for terrorist plots?

    The vast majority of serial killers are white males. Should all white males, especially those living alone, have their homes subject to routine searches?

    Whether or not we agree to responses to terrorism, we must acknowledge that terrorism continues to happen, and as a part of that people die or are seriously wounded. So what do “we” do in response? We whine about airport “theater.”

    I’ve seen no evidence that Dawkins ever was much of a logical or unbiased person. But we all have failings in that area. Dawkins just doesn’t realize that.

  • GCT

    So declare war kill everyone and then force the survivors to do it our way??? Of course not and that is the whole point of STOP WHINNING. WE CAN’T DO ANYTHING, they have to do the changing.

    1. Dawkins was telling women who have been harassed to “stop whining” because they spoke up, not because they were actually whining. Calling it “whining” was an attempt to minimize their problems.

    2. Dawkins told them to “stop whining” and compared it to what Muslim women face in an effort to minimize real harassment and sweep it under the rug, as if no one has a right to speak out against harassment unless they are literally having their genitals mutilated.

    3. You seem to be claiming the whole point of “STOP WHINING” is because we can’t do anything about this, but Dawkins was addressing western women who certainly can and are doing something by standing up and speaking out. IOW, he wasn’t telling them to stop tilting at windmills, but was actively attempting to suppress them when they did try to do something about it.

    4. This really has nothing at all to do with Middle East politics.

    I knew a woman who always whinned about how she was treated by her husband, after a while we were sympathetic and started talking about how things could be changed to the better. She invented all sorts of reasons why this or that could not be done. After a while we simply told her stop whinning and do something to get it changed or stop whinning and accept what she has; and ignored her complaints.

    I’m glad to hear that you are such a great person as to tell an abuse victim to stop whining. Did you ever stop to consider that maybe she was too afraid to do anything about it? Did you ever stop to consider that you have no idea what she may have been going through, thus rendering you unfit to judge her? No, of course not.

  • GCT

    FFS, did you read the OP or any of the previous comments that echo yours and the replies that point out why they all miss the point?

  • GCT

    This is totally inconsequential to the point of the OP.

  • L.Long

    For those who can’t read I never said she was abused and that we tried to help her get help and she did tell us what she was going thru. We did not judge her, she chose to do nothing so we stopped listening. It was an example of whinning and doing nothing, not abuse.
    Sorry for any miss understandings on my part about the tweets, so it seems Dawkins is a schite for tweeting and I guess so am I for not being sympathetic to the targets of the tweet. But for the record I HATE abusers and would never call one a man. I made sure my daughter was trained enough that any man who abused her would never have to face a jury. I’ve taught women’s self defense classes to help them coupe with their fears because until you can handle the fear you can do nothing about it. G’Dae

  • GCT

    Sorry for any miss understandings on my part about the tweets, so it seems Dawkins is a schite for tweeting and I guess so am I for not being sympathetic to the targets of the tweet.

    Sigh. No, Dawkins is being criticized because he can’t see past his white, male privilege and because he’s facilitating – or at least minimizing, which is arguably be a form of facilitation – the harassment and abuse of women.

    You are being criticized because you couldn’t be bothered to read and understand the OP, and now are refusing to understand what is going on even when it’s being pointed out to you. You say that you “HATE abusers” but here you are defending Dawkins. You are also displaying the attitude that helps to facilitate a culture where abuse is downplayed and ignored.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    GCT, Thank you. This is what I wanted to say.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    I knew a woman who always whinned about how she was treated by her husband, after a while we were sympathetic and started talking about how things could be changed to the better. She invented all sorts of reasons why this or that could not be done. After a while we simply told her stop whinning and do something to get it changed or stop whinning and accept what she has; and ignored her complaints.

    We did not judge her, she chose to do nothing so we stopped listening. It was an example of whinning and doing nothing, not abuse.

    I obviously can’t judge the specific situation, because I don’t know the person. But these comments just show that you’re continuing the minimize the abuse by acting like it’s easy to get out of an abusive relationship or situation. And if someone doesn’t get out, then by your own words, you’ll stop listening to them and accuse them of whining. If they weren’t able to get out … then you’ll assume that there’s no abuse, nothing going on, and they shouldn’t even talk about it.

    And as for Dawkins, if you think it’s no big deal that he’s talking about his experience with the TSA on Twitter, then why’s is wrong for someone to talk about their experience of abuse, even if they currently are stuck and can’t see a way out? Why’s it whining if they talk about something, but not whining if Dawkins does it?

  • Johnathan Bunn

    No, this would only be similar if in that elevator someone attempted to rape her, or someone attempted to force her to do anything against her will, the sad part here is what I think you want is that men know their role and shut up.

    You want a world where men are not allowed to even attempt to talk to a woman, in any situation because to even have the nerve to ask one out is harassment even if it is done politely.

    I could see Dawkins comments about the elevator situation in a different light if she was actually damaged by the question that was asked, but from what I know about the situation she was simply asked a question politely, and because it happened to be asked in an elevator it is Evil and bad and men are scum.

    In this situation Dawkins was actually damaged by the removal of the honey, sure the damage is minor, but the rule sucks and I complain about it every time I fly having to check a bag just for a bit of honey is not worth it. and it sucks that I would have to.

    You are comparing Dawkins complaining about a real hurt, to a situation where a woman complained about a man not knowing his place was to keep his mouth shut at all times.

  • Elizabeth

    I have transported honey, rum, and delicious, delicious, Belgian beer in my checked luggage. I did not try to put it in my carry-on luggage. Because I’m not like Richard Dawkins, who apparently thinks the rules don’t apply to him.

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve heard of white american women who have become muslin

    Really? Muslin women?

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5134/5497714659_41bba54ba1_z.jpg

  • smrnda

    Dawkins isn’t getting anywhere near the security-state treatment that Black people in the US got, and they’ve been being pissed and shat on since long before bin Laden was on the scene.

    “Dear white guy, sorry about he jar of honey. Should I tell you how many Black teenagers get killed by the cops, have confessions beaten out of them and are subject to stop-and-frisk?”

  • smrnda

    Something I would like more information on. I know that transporting food and such can be restricted because of the possibility of accidentally bringing in some kind of non-native pest to a region. Anyone know if the honey confiscation is over security or over is there any reason to restrict the movement of honey? Just want to make sure the rationalize was, indeed, security and not something else.

  • smrnda

    American women who ‘become Muslim’ don’t necessarily end up following all the rules implemented by the Taliban. They may just take to attending a mosque, covering their hair and such. I know a woman who is a convert to Islam – it makes me question her judgment and rationality, but she’s still driving her car, working her job making her own money, and isn’t even married.

  • smrnda

    I wanted to add – it’s possible to both protest sexual harassment and female genital mutilation, something Dawkins seems to miss. I can be outraged over 1 thing that is bad, and also be outraged over another thing that is worse. It’s not sensible to only protest the worst things.

  • smrnda

    I notice that now that white people at airports are getting subjected to ‘stop and frisk’ (which minorities have been dealing with for a long, long time) all of a sudden it’s an outrage. It would be fairly easy to apply Dawkin’s own “Dear Muslima” logic to himself – he’s whining because someone took away his honey, not because a cop planted drugs on him during a ‘stop and frisk’ and is not kicking his head in at a police station.

  • rusty

    Bin Laden has won. If he were alive, he would be delighted at how the US is now effectively a police state. Frankly I thought that the Dear Muslima comment was churlish but to compare an uncomfortable moment in a lift to vast numbers of people being subjected to the security circus at airports is silly. Pot, kettle black.

  • skyblue

    He said the honey was confiscated at security for exceeding the size limit, so it’d be the 100ml rule for liquids and gels. At the security checkpoint, they don’t check the agriculture import rules for different destinations, just the general “security” ones.

    You’re right that agricultural products can be confiscated at airports, but that’s Customs and generally happens after arrival. If you’ve flown into the US from another country, you might have seen the US Customs “beagle brigade” dogs sniffing around everyone’s luggage as passengers wait to pick up their bags from the conveyor. They’ll confiscate fruit, meat, etc, at that point if it’s found.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    the sad part here is what I think you want is that men know their role and shut up.

    The fact that you think this is a reasonable opinion to air suggests that you have a lot of learning to do before you have anything worthwhile to contribute to this discussion.

  • Johnathan Bunn

    Really? isn’t this exactly what this is all about? how horrible it was that this person was propositioned in an elevator by someone who was too scared to get rejected in front of a crowd? Does anyone think about that man’s feelings when they rally against anyone who criticizes the woman?

    Dawkins is a cretin because he dared criticize her? and now anything he says is twisted to make him more of bad person?

    It is clear that the only thing he can do is shut up. anything else will be more proof that he is a monster.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Adam Lee

    It is clear that the only thing he can do is shut up. anything else will be more proof that he is a monster.

    No, what he could do is say, “I apologize for dismissing women’s legitimate complaints about insensitive behavior that makes them uncomfortable and gives them reason to be concerned for their safety. I’ll make an effort to study the feminist viewpoint more carefully and understand their reasoning and their perspective before I make public statements on this matter again.”

    That’s also what you should do.

  • smrnda

    How would you feel about getting propositioned in an elevator by a guy? How would you feel if this happened about 4 times a week?

  • smrnda

    I just ask since I have known a few people who have had foodstuffs not make it through (coffee products mostly while heading to large coffee producing nations.) It’s not something I generally tote around, so I wanted to know.

  • Johnathan Bunn

    as long as it was a polite question, and when denied my wishes were respected I wouldn’t see the issue.

    I would take it as flattering personally if someone found me attractive and desirable enough that they wanted to ask such a question, guy or girl I would be fine with it.

  • Nancy McClernan

    You want a world where men are not allowed to even attempt to talk to a woman, in any situation because to even have the nerve to ask one out is harassment even if it is done politely.

    LOL – yes, because we think that Dawkins’ response was over the top, and the response of his fanboys was evil, (and Dawkins subsequent refusal to speak out against the rape/death threats was also evil) we want a world where men are not allowed to blah blah blah.

    Let me guess – you’re an MRA guy, aren’t you?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Dawkins is a moral cretin because after he used his fame to attack a non-famous person, setting off a shitstorm of horrific abuse including rape/death threats going on for years he refused to speak out against the abuse. He’s a shitty little coward and a bigot too.

    One of the most significant aspects of the Dear Muslima letter was that it brought all the most grotesque aspects of Dawkins personality together in one convenient package:
    1. If it doesn’t bother him it shouldn’t bother anyone.
    2. If you make an off-the-cuff remark in an obscure video you deserve the full Dawkins celebrity smack-down treatment.
    3. Only Muslim women have a right to complain about sexism because only they are being abused by men.
    4. The persistent bigoted Dawkins lie that FGM is a specifically Muslim practice.

    He’s an asshole and only assholes admire him.

  • Johnathan Bunn

    No I understand there are equal rights issues still at play, and rape/death threats are vastly different in my opinion than a simple polite proposition.

    I do think it is rude to ask a woman back to your hotel at 4am in the morning in an elevator, but I think it was quite blown out or proportion and I don’t think Dawkins response was all that horrible. it really was a minor thing in my opinion.

    the rape / death threats are a completely different topic, and I think Dawkins could have saved some face by talking against that, but he wasn’t responsible for those threats, he didn’t cause them, and if they happened because of his comments that isn’t his fault, so I don’t think he is obligated to say or do anything about something he had no ability to control.

  • Nancy McClernan

    He could also say: “I disapprove of people threatening someone with rape and murder. If you are doing this to a woman I had a public disagreement with, I want you to stop right now.”

    He could have made some effort to dampen the shitstorm. But he didn’t. Because he’s a moral cretin, a coward, and a bigot.

  • Nancy McClernan

    And that’s on top of his promotion of the idiotic bullshit debunked “science” of evolutionary psychology.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Generally the rules don’t apply to him, maybe that’s why he was so shocked. He’s rich as hell, puffed up by worshipful fanboys who need a male authority figure to replace the religious authority figures they’ve rejected, and is still a media darling, with the notable exception of Jon Stewart.

    His father had, according to Wikipedia, inherited a country estate. He’s the quintessence of the upper-class twit.

  • UWIR

    “Dawkins is a cretin because he dared criticize her?”

    I don’t know whether there’s a term for the rhetorical device/fallacy in which Person 1 says “X, therefore Y”, and Person 2 identifies some subset Z of X, and then attributes the statement “Z, therefore Y” to Person 1, but given how common it is, perhaps there should be. Dawkins did in fact criticize her, and people are calling him a cretin, and Dawkins criticizing her is a subset of the facts that have led to people calling him a cretin, but people are not calling him a cretin because he criticized her. They are calling him a cretin because of how he criticized him.

  • UWIR

    The issue is not whether something is a theoretically possible attack modality; if it were, every passenger would be subjected to an MRI before boarding. The question is: how much harder does this security measure make an attack, how much harm does it cause, and does the former justify the latter?

  • UWIR

    “Because I suspect that he is in full agreement with Sam Harris’s proposal for airport security – target people who look like Muslims.

    https://www.schneier.com/blog/…”

    I really find it irritating how there’s this tendency on the internet to post a link to some website talking about something, rather than just posting a link to it. Any reasonable person reading what you wrote would expect the link you posted to lead to Sam Harris’ proposal, not to a blog post about this alleged proposal .

  • UWIR

    All claims made in a post are open to rebuttal. Responding to a rebuttal with “This isn’t the main point”, as if one can say anything one wants without anyone being allowed to disagree, as long as it is not one’s “main” point, is not legitimate.

  • UWIR

    You miss the point that if the loss of a few ounces of honey can be a synecdote for the entire security apparatus, then it’s quite hypocritical to treat the moment in the elevator as an isolated incident. As well as missing the fact that comparing the reaction to X to the reaction to Y is not the same as comparing X to Y.

  • UWIR

    The thing about Dawkins’ comment is that is quite oblique and dishonest. It’s only once the reader gets well into the post that it becomes clear that it’s supposed to be a sarcastic mockery of Watson; Dawkins is presenting this as not his point of view, but as Watson’s, but he doesn’t actually say so. So it’s doubly dishonest, in employing implication rather than declarations, and in attributing a position to Watson that she simply did not say. I find dishonesty to be even worse than rudeness.

  • Verbose Stoic

    Bad, bad, bad question. Because the only way her discomfort in that situation has ANY validity is if it is tied to a not-unreasonable fear of being raped, which in the specific situation — which includes that it was late at night and so she was also isolated — was indeed the case. He’s likely not going to have that fear, and most would say that it wouldn’t be a reasonable fear if he did.

    Being propositioned in and of itself might be frustrating, and having it done repeatedly by different people even more so, but that wouldn’t be cause to say about any specific proposition that that person was being sexist, sexualizing her, or treating her as nothing more than a sexual object. And it’s THAT part that caused the whole problem with Elevatorgate, and started from Watson’s first video, and she not only doubled down but TRIPLED down on it when Stef McGraw questioned that.

  • Verbose Stoic

    The problem here is that Dawkins didn’t think that the Watson situation was something to get outraged over at all, and even wondered if that was sexual harassment or objectification or sexualization at all. You might argue that he’s wrong about that, or that his rhetoric was too strong for the point he was making, but you can’t credibly argue that he was arguing that you shouldn’t be outraged over sexual harassment, at least in the abstract.

    Note that I agree with him on that. I see what happened as being nothing more than an awkwardly timed approach, done awkwardly. So if Watson had only said “Guys, it’s not a good idea to approach a woman with a proposition for sex in an elevator late at night because she has to worry if you might rape her”, that would be fine with me. But she added that he sexualized her doing so, which she cannot know and was only able to make guesses about, and then called Stef McGraw out for spouting misogyny for questioning whether or not just asking for sex really counted as sexualization.

    Note also that Dawkins didn’t actually think that a woman had to reasonably fear being raped in an elevator at that time of day. I think he was completely wrong about that, and should have conceded that.

  • 8DX

    So you don’t think that vast numbers of women being treated as sex objects, having their voices and consent ignored, is problematic? Do you think that uppity women daring to complain about society’s treatment of them leading to being barraged with death threats, slurs and abuse is also just fine?

    Security circus at airports is an occasional banaal minor inconvenience compared to that.

  • RayRobertson

    Other than flaws in implementation, people in airports are (by law) treated equally. That’s a huge difference from the elevator incident.

    Yes, the U.S. has lost some freedoms, but if you really believe we are a police state, please read some history. By all objective comparisons, this is not a police state. As for Bin Laden winning, try living in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia and see what you think of the U.S. by comparison. Bin Laden did not win.

  • skyblue

    That’s interesting about coffee – (I work for an airline so I find this stuff interesting in general). I wonder what went on there.

    I should also have said that I am based in the US and only really have first hand knowledge of customs/security in the US/Canada/EU airports, so I can’t say much for sure about procedures elsewhere. One exception to customs being after the flight: most larger airports in Canada do have US customs pre-clear before boarding flights to the US, which is near security and often leads people to think it’s security that took their tangerine.

  • http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/ Ani J. Sharmin

    You’re using Dawkins’s experience as an example of something that happens to a vast number of people. Well, guess what? Rebecca Watson’s experience is also an example of what happens to a vast number of people. And, as has been pointed out in this thread already, people of certain races and religions have a way worse time than Dawkins did. So, if it’s okay for Dawkins to talk about what he experienced, even though others get worse treatment in the name of security, then it’s hypocritical of him to say that Rebecca Watson can’t complain because others have a worse experience than she did. Also: referring to people being propositioned even after they made it clear they aren’t interested as “an uncomfortable moment” isn’t exactly accurate, especially when you consider that (a) it happens to a lot of people, like I said, (b) she received threats when she talked about it, and (c) there’s an ongoing problem of people being sexually harassed and treated as though they’re there to be hit on rather than being treated as equal.

  • GCT

    I actually agree with your first paragraph, in that it’s a bad question because it’s not analogous to what his situation would be. You’re way off, however, in the second paragraph. All she said was, “Guys, don’t do that.” For that, she received rape threats, death threats, and torrent of hatred that has not stopped since then.

  • GCT

    Apparently, rape and death threats don’t count as “real hurt” to you, but taking away someone’s honey is. I think we can see how far off you are from reality.

  • GCT

    Oh, great, now the racist and sexist has joined the fray.

  • GCT

    I do think it is rude to ask a woman back to your hotel at 4am in the morning in an elevator, but I think it was quite blown out or proportion and I don’t think Dawkins response was all that horrible. it really was a minor thing in my opinion.

    So, let me get this straight…rape and death threats are being blown out of proportion? Really? All Watson said was, “Guys, don’t do that.” For saying that she received threats and harassment of all kinds. Then, it blew up as other women stood up and decided to come clean as well, which is when Dawkins came into the fray telling them they had no cause to complain unless they were being forced to undergo genital mutilation. You think that’s a minor thing? Really? What kind of a cretin thinks that rape and death threats are minor or that telling women to shut up unless they are being physically mutilated is minor and OK?

    the rape / death threats are a completely different topic, and I think Dawkins could have saved some face by talking against that, but he wasn’t responsible for those threats, he didn’t cause them, and if they happened because of his comments that isn’t his fault, so I don’t think he is obligated to say or do anything about something he had no ability to control.

    Bullshit. He knew the threats were there and he egged them on. Then, when his supporters made even more threats, he did nothing to tell his supporters to stop the threats. Nothing. In fact, he’s since doubled down. He has no responsibility? Bullshit. He has as much responsibility as any other human to actually act like a decent fucking person. He has failed horribly in that regard.

  • GCT

    No, that’s not the question at all. That’s completely irrelevant to the OP. Quit trying to shift the focus of the issue at hand in order to obfuscate the subject of women’s equality.

  • GCT

    The problem here is that Dawkins didn’t think that the Watson situation was something to get outraged over at all, and even wondered if that was sexual harassment or objectification or sexualization at all.

    No, the problem is that Dawkins is full of white, male privilege and flaunted that fact quite proudly while making some rather sexist remarks and being unwilling to comprehend why those remarks suck.

    …but you can’t credibly argue that he was arguing that you shouldn’t be outraged over sexual harassment, at least in the abstract.

    I can argue that, and I have. He trivialized the sexual harassment of western women claiming they have no right to complain about anything unless they’ve been forced to undergo FGM.

    Note that I agree with him on that. I see what happened as being nothing more than an awkwardly timed approach, done awkwardly. So if Watson had only said “Guys, it’s not a good idea to approach a woman with a proposition for sex in an elevator late at night because she has to worry if you might rape her”, that would be fine with me.

    Um, you daft idiot, that IS what she said. For that, she received a raft of threats and abuse. I doubt you’ll be willing to change your tune, however.

  • GCT

    It’s off topic. I know you would like to see the topic veer wildly away from women’s equality since you are a known misogynist….

    And, BTW, what is being rebutted? We all agree that airport security is way-over-the-top, In fact, Adam even says that in the OP, which you clearly didn’t bother to read.

  • Verbose Stoic

    So, you’re ignoring the part where she explicitly said that it creeps her out “… when men sexualize me in that manner”? And ignoring that a lot of the reaction to that only came AFTER she responded to Stef McGraw in her speech, and that in particular Dawkins didn’t respond until after that point?

  • DJ

    That’s the worst thing I’ve ever heard. Someone comes up to you about ABUSE and you suggest ways she can “fix” things?

    Did you ever think that those excuses are NOT inventions? Some people really ARE powerless you know. There ARE hopeless situations sometimes, and the right thing to do is to actually get directly involved, not just shrug your shoulders as you did. Also, the tone of that is entirely victim blaming. What WERE your suggestions? It seemed like you weren’t suggesting “get him arrested”, but rather “here’s how you change your husband”, as though the onus is upon her to “fix” him.

    I think my eyeballs just threw up.

  • Verbose Stoic

    I can argue that, and I have. He trivialized the sexual harassment of western women claiming they have no right to complain about anything unless they’ve been forced to undergo FGM.

    And you wouldn’t be able to address the point made, which was that Dawkins did not consider “Someone invites you back to their room in an elevator at 4 am” as sexual harassment, and thus he couldn’t actually be trivializing “sexual harassment of western women”. He could be said to be trivializing the event of being invited back to someone’s room at 4 am in an elevator, but I really do think that Dawkins would cop to that and say that he was, indeed, definitely trying to do that. It’s only once you argue that that was sexual harassment that it changes, but if you could convince Dawkins of that I’m not convinced that he’d still stand by his analogy.

    As for what Watson said, she said this:

    “…so I walk to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me and said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?’ Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and–don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner…”

    The “sexualize” part is what people started complaining about, including Stef McGraw, and Watson replied with this:

    “But those are unimportant details in comparison to the first quoted sentence, which demonstrates an ignorance of Feminism 101 – in this case, the difference between sexual attraction and sexual objectification. The former is great – be attracted to people! Flirt, have fun, make friends, have sex, meet the love of your life, whatever floats your boat. But the latter involves dismissing a person’s feelings, desires, and identity, with a complete disinterest in how one’s actions will affect the “object” in question. That’s what we shouldn’t be doing. No, we feminists are not outlawing sexuality.

    I hear a lot of misogyny from skeptics and atheists, but when ancient anti-woman rhetoric like the above is repeated verbatim by a young woman online, it validates that misogyny in a way that goes above and beyond the validation those men get from one another. It also negatively affects the women who are nervous about being in similar situations. Some of them have been raped or otherwise sexually assaulted, and some just don’t want to be put in that position. And they read these posts and watch these videos and they think, “If something were to happen to me and these women won’t stand up for me, who will?”

    Now, she MIGHT have been referring to McGraw’s comment about her or feminism being anti-sex as being the ancient anti-woman rhetoric … but to do that, she would have had to have already considered what EG did to be objectification, which is more than “Guys, don’t do that”. And again, note that Dawkins’ reply came AFTER this response, and AFTER it all blew up on various comment sections. At the time he waded in, we were far, far past “Guys, don’t do that”.

  • GCT

    Um, she was sexualized. But, the point was that guys shouldn’t do that. That’s what got her rape and death threats. It’s only people trying to hide behind some semblance of decency that try to claim that those rape and death threats had some basis in that Watson was too insulting by incorrectly claiming sexualization. Oh, if only she had stopped with, “Guys, don’t do that,” which is really all she did, then none of this would have happened, right? Bullshit.

  • GCT

    Yes, the worst sin he committed was writing it badly…not the whole, you know, part where he minimized the real harm and harassment that women face.

  • GCT

    And you wouldn’t be able to address the point made, which was that Dawkins did not consider “Someone invites you back to their room in an elevator at 4 am” as sexual harassment, and thus he couldn’t actually be trivializing “sexual harassment of western women”.

    FFS, he was well aware of the shitstorm that was going on where she was receiving rape and death threats, and she was when he wrote his missive. It’s disingenuous to claim that this was solely about being hit on in an elevator.

    It’s only once you argue that that was sexual harassment that it changes…

    Typical. No one is claiming that Watson was sexually harassed in the elevator, but I don’t expect you to be honest.

    The “sexualize” part is what people started complaining about…

    If there’s anything we can be pretty certain about, it’s that this didn’t blow up simply because she used that word. The torrent of abuse and harassment that other women have suffered didn’t happen (before and after elevatorgate) simply for using that word. This is a red herring and meant as an excuse in victim blaming. I find your whole approach to be disgusting. Watson is at fault for using the wrong word and for feeling objectified? Fuck you. Watson is at fault for inviting rape and death threats? Fuck you. Dawkins, completely aware of the situation, inflamed it and facilitated her to receive more abuse and threats, and that’s her fault? Fuck you.

  • Verbose Stoic

    Define “sexualized” in a way that doesn’t just mean “thought of in a sexual manner”. And I don’t think that the rape and death threats were valid … but also note that Dawkins didn’t make rape or death threats, and never referenced them one way or the other.

    As for if this would have happened if she had stopped at “Guys don’t do that”, I think it probably WOULDN’T have happened, because it is unlikely that Stef McGraw would have bothered to reply to that, which would have meant that Watson would not have felt the need to call her out that strongly in a speech where McGraw was in the audience, and then all of the people who started arguing about that wouldn’t have done that, Myers would never have written his piece about that, Watson would not have written her piece about naming names, and Dawkins would not have written a comment on Myers’ piece, and so she would have gotten no more than the normal pushback she would get for saying such things, and at the very least I and a whole host of others would have never heard of the incident.

  • Verbose Stoic

    FFS, he was well aware of the shitstorm that was going on where she was receiving rape and death threats, and she was when he wrote his missive. It’s disingenuous to claim that this was solely about being hit on in an elevator.

    Except that Dawkins flat-out commented that it was all about that incident, and not about the rape and death threats. Do you REALLY thing that his “Dear Muslima” comment was meant to deride her for being concerned over getting rape and death threats for that comment? What evidence do you have of that, or are you simply trying to elevate your claims when your initial statements are proven false?

    Typical. No one is claiming that Watson was sexually harassed in the elevator, but I don’t expect you to be honest.

    Here’s how Dawkins clarified his statement:

    No I wasn’t making that argument. Here’s the argument I was making. 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.

    If she felt his behaviour was creepy, that was her privilege, just as it was the Catholics’ privilege to feel offended and hurt when PZ nailed the cracker. PZ didn’t physically strike any Catholics. All he did was nail a wafer, and he was absolutely right to do so because the heightened value of the wafer was a fantasy in the minds of the offended Catholics. Similarly, Rebecca’s feeling that the man’s proposition was ‘creepy’ was her own interpretation of his behaviour, 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.

    Muslim women suffer physically from misogyny, their lives are substantially damaged by religiously inspired misogyny. Not just words, real deeds, painful, physical deeds, physical privations, legally sanctioned demeanings. The equivalent would be if PZ had nailed not a cracker but a Catholic. Then they’d have had good reason to complain.

    If no one is claiming that what happened in that elevator was sexual harassment, then you seem to have no cause to claim that Dawkins’ comments, at least there and with “Dear Muslima”, trivialized sexual harassment. The most you could claim is that he somehow trivialized it by not mentioning the threats … but he might well have felt that he didn’t need to, and wanted to focus on the incident itself. The incident itself, remember, that Watson was going on about when she replied to McGraw and called it objectification. So you’d be reading into the statement, or else bringing in things said later about later issues and trying to backport it into this specific comment, which isn’t reasonable.

    If there’s anything we can be pretty certain about, it’s that this didn’t blow up simply because she used that word. The torrent of abuse and harassment that other women have suffered didn’t happen (before and after elevatorgate) simply for using that word. This is a red herring and meant as an excuse in victim blaming. I find your whole approach to be disgusting. Watson is at fault for using the wrong word and for feeling objectified? Fuck you. Watson is at fault for inviting rape and death threats? Fuck you. Dawkins, completely aware of the situation, inflamed it and facilitated her to receive more abuse and threats, and that’s her fault? Fuck you.

    Wow, you really DO read in to what people are saying instead of actually, you know, reading what was said and reacting to it. Do I think that Watson deserved rape or death threats over this comment? No. Do I think that she might not have gotten death or rape threats over this comment even if she had left that off? No, she still might well have gotten them. Do I think that she likely overstated what happened in that case by claiming it “sexualized” her? Yes, I think she did. Do I think she completely overstated the case by accusing Stef McGraw of parroting misogyny for disagreeing with her over the seriousness of the elevator incident? Yes, I do. Do I think that Dawkins was commenting on anything OTHER than the elevator incident? No, I don’t. Do I think that Dawkins’ whole point was that that incident was trivial and that she overstated it greatly, both in the initial comments and especially in the later reactions? Yes, I think that was his whole point. Do I think that Dawkins must refuse to comment with his own views on an incident because others might think he supports a stronger position than he stated he did? No, he has the perfect right to wade in and say that the reaction to the incident is stronger than it should be regardless of what others are doing.

    So, which of this do you disagree with? And what is your evidence/argument for doing so?

  • smrnda

    Totally disagree. I’m speaking less of the specific event but the principle – I think sexually propositioning a total strange is out of line behavior in any place that isn’t specifically a place people go to hook up. It’s already crossing boundaries that

    Propositioning a woman is sexualizing her, though thanks for man-splaining and telling me that if a guy says ‘you wanna suck my dick?’ it’s just an innocuous question like ‘what time is it?’ and that I must be reading into it that he’s sexualizing me. Stating something like that is pretty threatening, depending on the circumstances, and not being alone is no guarantee. Women often get raped in front of spectators who don’t intervene.

    But hey, expecting men to follow social norms is what, impossible? Then why do most men NOT do stuff like that?

  • smrnda

    So… a man propositions a woman for sex, and you are arguing that it’s only *possible* that he ‘sexualized’ her? So… if a guy expressing an obvious desire to have sex with a woman isn’t sexualizing her, what the fuck is? I think that’s pretty much the fucking definition right there.

    You’re being obtuse by playing silly word games and splitting hair on meanings.

  • smrnda

    Coffee is a very valuable cash crop which can be incredibly susceptible to foreign pests. So bringing in coffee which hasn’t been properly cleared could have dire consequences for the coffee supply.

  • Verbose Stoic

    So… a man propositions a woman for sex, and you are arguing that it’s
    only *possible* that he ‘sexualized’ her? So… if a guy expressing an
    obvious desire to have sex with a woman isn’t sexualizing her, what the
    fuck is? I think that’s pretty much the fucking definition right there.

    If, to you, “sexualizing” means “has a sexual interest in”, then what in the world is wrong with that? Why is being interested in someone sexually a problem? It’s a perfectly normal response, it happens every day, and it’s certainly not unreasonable. And it would, it seems, be kinda required to have sex with someone, which again isn’t actually a bad thing, I hope we can agree. So if that’s what Watson meant, then it would be ridiculous of her to expect someone to take that as a NEGATIVE. And, in fact, that’s what McGraw argued against, and Watson flat-out DENIED that it was just that.

    We don’t even need to get into how ridiculous it would be to suggest that sexualization is just EXPRESSING a sexual desire, because that leads to “Well, it’s okay to want to have sex with someone, but God forbid you actually TELL them that you do, and use that to ask them TO have sex with you, because we can’t allow THAT”.

    So, to go a little further, you can argue that it is about ONLY having a sexual interest in someone. But even then, that this is bad is debatable. For those who have an interest in more casual sex, it’s quite likely that in a number of cases they will approach — and that applies to men and women, BTW — those who they pretty much find appealing sexually without really caring about their personality or intelligence or whatever. It’s not my cup of tea, but even I have a hard time saying that that’s necessarily wrong; more liberal-minded people should have an even harder time saying that. So that in and of itself is shaky.

    Thus, we would get to the definition that probably best fits: thinking of them not as a PERSON that they want to have sex with, but as a thing they want to have sex with, and not considering them people at all. And that, of course, is something that we can all consider to be negative. But we aren’t sure that that’s what’s happening here. The best evidence for that being what’s happening here is that if he’d heard her talk as he suggested, he would have known that she didn’t like to be approached, and so was ignoring her wishes. The best evidence against that being the case is that when she said “No”, but all accounts he accepted it well and didn’t gripe or call her a bitch or anything, meaning that he accepted her decision and, at least in that sense, treated her like a person.

    So, it comes down to whether he thought of her as a person that he wanted to have sex with, or just as a thing he wanted to have sex with. And I don’t think you can settle that one conclusively from the evidence presented, especially since no one involved can read minds.

  • Verbose Stoic

    Totally disagree. I’m speaking less of the specific event but the
    principle – I think sexually propositioning a total strange is out of
    line behavior in any place that isn’t specifically a place people go to
    hook up. It’s already crossing boundaries that

    You may think that. I kinda agree. A lot of people of the more “liberated sexually” crowd don’t, as long as the propositioning is done politely and in a manner that doesn’t convey a threat. I don’t think you get to judge acceptability for others based on your own personal stances.

    Propositioning a woman is sexualizing her, though thanks for man-splaining and telling me that if a guy says ‘you wanna suck my dick?’ it’s just an innocuous question like ‘what time is it?’ and that I must be reading into it that he’s sexualizing me. Stating something
    like that is pretty threatening, depending on the circumstances, and not being alone is no guarantee. Women often get raped in front of spectators who don’t intervene.

    1) It can’t be called “mansplaining” if we’re talking about what might be going on inside the head of the MAN, since women clearly have no expertise in that over that of men. And if you are going to accuse him of “sexualizing” her regardless of what’s going on in his head, then that term has no meaning and everyone can happily ignore it.

    2) No one in the original case said “You wanna suck my dick?”, and so it has no relevance to it. If you aren’t going to talk about the specific case, then what you are saying has no relevance to any of this because both myself and Dawkins were talking about that specific case, and what we say about that specific case doesn’t mean much about what we’d say in completely different cases.

    3) All I talked about was the specific case of the “Would you like to go back to my room for coffee?” in an elevator at 4 am, and concluded — unlike Dawkins — that it was not unreasonable for her to feel uncomfortable and that there was a risk of her being raped in that circumstance. I’m not sure, then, what the rest of your rant is on about, since again what I said there doesn’t say anything about what I’d say in other cases, and concluding that she was REASONABLE in that case shouldn’t engender a lecture about other cases where you read in that I might possibly not consider it being reasonable, but should instead engender a “Oh, well, good that we agree on that, then.”

    But hey, expecting men to follow social norms is what, impossible? Then why do most men NOT do stuff like that?

    There is no social norm that says that you don’t ask a woman back to your room in an elevator at 4 am, although perhaps there should be. Note that in that specific case, people who were saying that he should have asked her in the bar and not when they were alone were the ones asking him to violate social norms, which frown on any kind of romantic or sexual proposition in front of other people. As for saying “You wanna suck my dick?”, I’ll concede that there is a social norm in place for that, and agree that it should be followed, and go further by saying that people who do that are what I like to call “jerks”.

    So, what was your point, again?

  • Nancy McClernan

    The issue isn’t whether you or I think it’s rude to ask a woman back to your hotel room. The issue is that Rebecca Watson told a brief anecdote, said it made her uncomfortable, and she offered advice about it.

    Whether you agree with her or not, it should have been completely unremarkable. And it would have been except that Richard Dawkins, celebrity bully extraordinaire, decided to make it into an issue.

    Perhaps one of the most shocking aspects of Dawkins’ attack was that RW and he were part of the same group – people involved in leadership roles for atheism/skepticism. And yet he decided it would be good to attack her publicly for discussing something that happened to her. Dawkins apparently decided that Watson had no right to interpret a personal experience any way she wished, and he had an obligation to set her straight – by using his celebrity to publicly humiliate her.

    And if it had been almost any other famous person they might have realized the PR disaster it was to write the Dear Muslima letter, and apologize. But as many people will recall, he doubled-down – he suggested that nobody ever need worry about being raped in an elevator because all you have to do is push a button and you’ll be let off. So if you are raped in an elevator, by Dawkins logic, you either are too stupid to understand how to push a button, or you weren’t really raped.

    And Dawkins’ fanboys, taking their cue from the bully Dawkins, attacked RW in a variety of ways, the most evil being to threaten her with rape and death. And Dawkins could have spoken out against that. It’s been going on for years. He’s had plenty of opportunities to influence the situation. But he didn’t take those opportunities.

    What kind of person, who has the power to change something awful for the better, something that was a direct result of his own actions, would not do so?

    I don’t see why we shouldn’t assume at this point that Dawkins actually gets off on the bullying and thuggery of his fanboys. He’s been obnoxious and irresponsible every step of the way, and is apparently incapable of understanding why a growing portion of atheists despise him.

  • Nancy McClernan

    Richard Dawkins decided that Rebecca Watson had no right to interpret something that happened to her – and which Richard Dawkins had no direct knowledge of – as she wished. Richard Dawkins decided that Richard Dawkins’ interpretation was the correct one, and he was going to teach that bitch a lesson by using his celebrity bully pulpit to flame the situation.

    He’s an obnoxious, power-mongering, irresponsible asshole, plain and simple. What is wrong with you that you don’t get that?

  • Nancy McClernan

    And while Dawkins had the right to say anything he wanted, the power differential between a celebrity with slavishly devoted followers and someone who is not should have made him realize it was irresponsible to flame the situation.

    But he did not realize it, or more likely didn’t care because he’s a huge asshole worshipped by people who don’t give a shit about ethics.

  • Nancy McClernan

    I suspect that part of the problem is that Dawkins fans love him so much, they don’t get why what Dawkins did was so unusual and objectionable.

    So try to imagine for a moment that Jon Stewart had gone to a conference for people who worked in the television industry – everybody from gaffers to show hosts, and a head writer had made a comment about something that happened to her in an elevator. And then Jon Stewart proceeded to mock this person – whom most people had never heard of – publicly for her making observations about this personal incident.

    If you can wrap your head around that, maybe you can wrap your head around how obnoxious Richard Dawkins appears to those of us who don’t worship him.

  • Verbose Stoic

    Consider that Dawkins compared Elevatorgate to Crackergate. In the latter, most atheists didn’t think that religious people should be immune to criticism of how they interpreted Myers’ action, and so that argument wouldn’t apply, if you wanted to be consistent, to Elevatorgate as well.

    Also, note that I’m not a fan of Dawkins. I think that this was an example of Dawkins being Dawkins: arguing for points on rhetoric and mocking and less on making actual arguments. But I find it bemusing when people singled him out on that the instant he said something they disagreed with, and that people continually forget — as you do elsewhere — that the issue was already well-enflamed long before Dawkins waded into the fray.

  • Verbose Stoic

    This may come up in another comment … but I don’t actually care much for Dawkins. So that doesn’t apply to me, at all. Try again.

  • skyblue

    That certainly makes sense!

  • Nancy McClernan

    I don’t know what “Crackergate” is.

    Sorry I’m not that much of an atheist insider.

    Which is why I didn’t know anything about Elevatorgate until Dawkins got into it, which proves my point – it would have been just an insider squabble, except that Bigfoot had to jump in and blow it way out of proportion.

    I will agree that it is “Dawkins being Dawkins” which is as good an argument as any to stop paying attention to anything he has to say.

    But I already despised Dawkins, before Elevatorgate, not only for his promotion of evolutionary psychology, but also because when, on Pharyngula comments, I criticized a paper that his friend Helena Cronin had written, and later turned into an editorial for a British paper,

    http://www.theguardian.com/comment/story/0,3604,239317,00.html

    he suggested that my criticism was due to my not understanding the science. He knew nothing about me and we hadn’t discussed it enough for him to have any reason to make that assessment. But since I was criticizing evolutionary psychology the only possible reason was that I didn’t understand the science behind Cronin’s paper.

    It’s interesting that Stephen Jay Gould criticized Cronin for not understanding evolution in her The Ant and the Peacock.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1992/nov/19/the-confusion-over-evolution/

    Dawkins absolutely despises Gould and shared an anecdote on Pharyngula about how Gould snubbed a friend of his once. Well after Gould was too dead to defend himself. And BTW Dawkins despises people who criticize the dead when they can’t defend themselves – he complained about critics of Hitchens for the very same reason here:

    Look at the list of those who obsessively attack Sam Harris and you’ll get an idea of what a dangerously effective writer he is: clear, eloquent, penetratingly intelligent, suffers no fools. Much the same could be said of Christopher Hitchens, and the attacks on him have increased now he is no longer around to fight back.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/15/books/review/richard-dawkins-by-the-book.html?hpw&_r=0
    He’s a nasty petty hypocrite.

  • Nancy McClernan

    That’s funny because I could have sworn you said this, which is exactly what I’m addressing:

    …he has the perfect right to wade in and say that the reaction to the incident is stronger than it should be regardless of what others are doing.

    Seems to me that your “has the perfect right” is being used to argue that it was not unusual and obnoxious for a celebrity to do what Dawkins did. Since nobody could possibly argue that Dawkins doesn’t have “the right” to express an opinion.

    The issue isn’t over the right to express an opinion, the issue is Dawkins wading into a small-scale in-group argument and blowing it all out of proportion – and the result was an exponential increase in the death/rape threats, as Watson explains here:

    (quotes Dear Muslima)
    Dawkins’ seal of approval only encouraged the haters. My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape “jokes,” threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2012/10/sexism_in_the_skeptic_community_i_spoke_out_then_came_the_rape_threats.html

    So clearly Dawkins contribution increased attacks. And he’s never done a thing to protest against it. And I suspect it’s because he approves of it. Because I’ve come to believe that that’s just how nasty and vile he really is.

  • smrnda

    First, my previous response wasn’t a good one. Apologies, I got totally off track.

    I know quite a few people who are fine with casual sex and seek to have a lot of it, who are involved in kink/BDSM, who have open relationships, pretty much every type of sexually liberated thing you can be into. I’ve actually found that people who are like that tend to be better than average at negotiating boundaries when it comes to approaching people for sex. On top of that, there exist entire subcultures formed by such people, which leads to places and events which have totally different norms for what is considered appropriate in terms of approaching people for sex. People I know who are part of such subcultures know that propositioning a person for sex, outside of a space where that’s considered normal, is probably a bad idea. There is a tiny probability that expressing a purely sexual interest in a person won’t be taken the wrong way, but the risk of making some uncomfortable is so high it’s never really a good idea.

    On ‘sexualization,’ it’s true that one can have a personal and sexual interest in someone. However, it’s also true that established social norms imply that people expect the personal interest to be expressed first, or at least the first statement made by someone *not* to be explicitly sexual. As I said before, there do exist spaces where the rules are a bit different, but it’s generally assumed that you don’t just walk up to someone and proposition them for sex.

    There’s also an issue that, if a person seems to be crossing the boundaries of what’s appropriate, they have an obligation to not just respond to a “NO” but to leave and put some physical distance between themselves and the person they propositioned. A person who crossed boundaries and makes people uncomfortable isn’t just obliged to stop and take no for an answer, but to understand that their continued presence will make someone uncomfortable. There’s no reason to assume a person who crosses one boundary is going to respect others.

    I probably come across as suggesting that there’s almost no way to, in a socially acceptable and polite and responsible fashion, express a sexual interest in a person you don’t know. Regrettably, that kind of is the case. Overall, balancing the desire of people to proposition and the desire of people not to be propositioned, the latter seems to take precedence to me.

  • smrnda

    Whether the US is a police state – this depends a lot on who you are. For certain demographics, the US has been a police state for a long time.

  • UWIR

    Quit calling posts that dares discuss something you don’t want to be discussed as misogynist/racist/whatever bullshit you come up with. You don’t get to dictate to other people what the subject matter of their posts should be. The OP discussed airport security. I responded to a post discussing airport security. You didn’t attack that post, or any of the other posts that responded to it. You’re clearly motivated by your obsessive vendatta against me, not my actual post.

  • UWIR

    I really don’t understand why Adam Lee goes to the trouble of having post moderation, if crap like your posts gets through.

  • UWIR

    “It’s off topic.”

    It’s responding to something in the OP. Therefore it is on-topic. As I said. As usual, you are simply dismissing my post.

    “I know you would like to see the topic veer wildly away from women’s equality since you are a known misogynist….”

    Apparently, as it takes in to be a “misogynist” in your world is to say discuss any topic at all that other than women’s equality. Yet strangely you’re not calling Adam Lee a misogynist, when he’s the one who brought the topic up.

    “And, BTW, what is being rebutted?”

    The statement “I tend to accept the stance that OBL won.” is rebutting the claim that OBL did not win. Duh. You seriously need this explained to you?

    “Adam even says that in the OP, which you clearly didn’t bother to read.”

    He also said that OBL did not win, so clearly you’re the one who didn’t read the OP.

  • RayRobertson

    From Merriam-Webster…

    Full Definition of POLICE STATE:
    a political unit characterized by repressive governmental control of political, economic, and social life usually by an arbitrary exercise of power by police and especially secret police in place of regular operation of administrative and judicial organs of the government according to publicly known legal procedures.

    So what demographics in the US have been under a police state “for a long time.” Certainly Native Americans remain the most ill-treated, but does even that fit the definition?

  • Nancy McClernan

    Oh poor you. I linked directly to Schneier’s rebuttal of Harris, which has a link directly to Harris’s “In Defense of Profiling” at the top of the page. Thus requiring you to click TWO whole links instead of one.

    I’d rather give Schneier traffic than the loathsome Harris. Next time I’ll leave out the link entirely and let your lazy ass Google it yourself.


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