This week Richard Dawkins decided to show yet again that intelligence is no barrier to being an utter tool by posting a series of deliberately inflammatory tweets then acting surprised people were inflamed. It’s more than a little disheartening that someone who is obviously far more intelligent than me in pretty much every measurable way can still sink to unprovoked trolling like a pathetic 14 year old who wishes he could grow a neckbeard. I have no idea why he is so desperate for attention – does he have a book coming out?
It’s also depressing to see his slavish acolytes (who are also by and large quite intelligent) rushing to sing from the Dawkins hymnbook as instructed by their high priest. Yes, I’m deliberately invoking religious language to mock them. Because I know it will annoy them. And I’m childish. I’m not as smart as Dawkins – what’s his excuse for being immature? Seeing these people pretend an emotional response is illogical is annoying mostly because they are wrong. When someone makes glib and ignorant comments on a highly emotive subject, effectively belittling the suffering of millions, an emotional response is perfectly logical. Plus it’s exactly what Dawkins wanted.
But let’s ignore the emotive elements of the situation for a moment and just look at why Dawkins is flat out wrong. In case you missed it, he tweeted “Date rape is bad. Stranger rape at knifepoint is worse. If you think that’s an endorsement of date rape, go away and learn how to think” the he went on to tweet essentially the same thing about pedophilia.
It may not be an endorsement of date rape but it’s still wrong. The first problem here is he has declared that there is a measurable scale of the damage done by different types of rape (and that he knows what it is). This is the type of thing a follower of scientific method would say – experimentation, evidence and empirical measurements, that’s how we know what’s real. So what is that scale of measurement? Dawkins has simply stated it’s so with no research and no supporting evidence whatsoever. He just “knows” that it’s true. Does that remind you of anyone?
Now to the assertion that date rape is not as bad. This is incredibly dangerous because it’s a statement of ignorant opinion, not fact. It’s also the line of reasoning that results in 85% of these types of crimes not being reported – the victims feel they won’t be taken seriously (and more often than not told they “asked for it”). Dawkins and his pathetic fanboys will rush to say that it isn’t his fault, he isn’t endorsing date rape, he said it was bad. But words have power.
Talk to people who work with sexual assault victims and you’ll discover that the only part of that message that gets through to rapists is “date rape is not as bad”. Worse still, all too often that’s the message absorbed by law enforcement, the courts, the media and a disturbingly large section of society. Not accepting responsibility for the effects of your words is moral and intellectual cowardice.
It’s easy to feel that “non-violent” rape is worse than rape at knifepoint (despite the implicit violence of any rape) –it feels right. But such a rational thinker as Dawkins shouldn’t accept such illogical “gut feel” assessments. He should only make pronouncement that are supported by empirical evidence. So what is the evidence that victims suffer less from particular rape?
What about the woman who was “only” date raped but has their life ruined when they are rejected by everyone around them, called a slut and a whore and blamed for the whole thing? It’s much less likely to suffer that sort of treatment when you’re raped at knifepoint (but sadly, not unheard of) so this is some actual evidence that the repercussions of date rape can be worse than at knifepoint.
What about the person raped by a family member or partner who is then unable to trust anyone ever again or even see members of their own family because of the betrayal by the person they were supposed to be able to trust the most? It’s not uncommon for this to result in social phobias so extreme the person simply can’t live their lives among other people for years afterwards. That’s bad, isn’t it? And it’s a form of trauma not usually suffered when raped by a stranger.
What about a man raped by another man? When that’s done by coercion or by drugging someone (for example) rather than by forcing submission with a weapon, the stigma can be overwhelming. Men in particular are told they should have been able to stop it – the fact that they didn’t stop it when a weapon wasn’t involved means they really wanted it.
What about a man who is raped by a woman? The victims in these cases are rarely even able to talk about what they went through, let alone get help or report a crime, because of the high likelihood of them not being believed or being mocked. It’s far too common to believe a woman can’t rape a man and it’s even sicker to judge a man who has been raped saying there’s something wrong with him if he didn’t enjoy it.
Where is Richard Dawkins’ objective, scientific system for measuring the suffering of these people?
In simple terms, Dawkins uses the methods of his most hated enemies, religious fundamentalists, whenever it suits him. He just “knows” what’s worse, he doesn’t need any scientific or objective evidence. What’s worse is Dawkins has quite a track record of belittling sexual abuse, he simply doesn’t care. For someone who is considered to be a great mind, he has a really infantile need for attention and he clearly doesn’t care if it’s negative attention. He knew exactly what he was doing with those tweets. It was deliberately inflammatory. It was hateful. It was stupid and ignorant.
For Dawkins and his mindless fanboys to criticise people for reacting emotionally does nothing but show what awful people they are