If you didn’t spend your Sunday evening on Twitter, perhaps you didn’t realize that Dawkins is once again the star of social media, thanks to this Tweet:

It’s a perfectly understandable aggravation. Who doesn’t hate the TSA? And who hasn’t Tweeted about it? Well, to be fair, most people probably haven’t Tweeted about it lately thanks to the brutal murder of a TSA agent during the horrifying rampage by a bigoted “patriot” at LAX, but still: we all get annoyed at airport security, and we all agree that it’s not actually keeping us safe.

So why would this simple Tweet inspire the often hilarious hashtag #honeygate? Because of context. Had anyone else Tweeted that, it would have been greeted by their followers with little more than an eyeroll at the hyperbole and outdated realization. But Dawkins has become a regular laughingstock for his boneheaded and bigoted online bon mots.

For a start, there’s his dismissal of atheist women’s right to feel safe and respected in our community, and his tacit approval of the ongoing slurs and hatred we get from our fellow atheists for speaking up about women’s rights. By dismissing (and passively contributing to) our concerns over our personal safety while claiming victimhood at the hands of terrorists for having his honey taken away, he was pretty much asking for this hilarious response from DoubtingTom at Dubito Ergo Sum:

Dear Muslimo

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you get stopped and harassed and interrogated and strip searched every time you try to travel . . . yawn . . . don’t tell me yet again, I know you’re constantly judged based on superficial similarities to bad people, and you can’t live where you please without enduring rude questions and harassment from rubes who think you’re a terrorist or infiltrator, and the government is allowed to detain you indefinitely without trial if you behave suspiciously, and you’ll never be able to take a piloting class or run a marathon or buy fertilizer without ending up on a dozen watch lists. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor British brothers have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, he calls himself “Richard Dawkins,” and do you know what happened to him? A TSA security agent took away his jar of honey. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He took his jar of honey. Of course he protested, and of course he knew the preexisting security rules, but even so . . .

And you, Muslimo, think you have inconvenience, intrusion, and harassment to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.

Tom

The other bit of context that makes his Tweet absurd is the fact that in the recent past, Dawkins has actively contributed to the far-right’s anti-Muslim hatred that leads to people of color being “profiled” and harassed at airports around the world. To be fair, he’s never gone as far as the shockingly irrational Sam Harris, who repeatedly argues for the profiling of anyone who looks sort of Muslim. But like Sam Harris, who recently co-opted young Muslim hero Malala Yousafzai, Dawkins isn’t afraid to use Muslim women as props (see “Dear Muslima“) to support his own causes while spitting out poorly thought-out anti-Muslim arguments like:

So now that you have the relevant context, let’s get to it. Here are the Top 10 Responses to Richard Dawkins’ #Honeygate, in no particular order until #1:

10.

9.

8.

7.

6.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

Did you know Joyce Carol Oates is on Twitter, trolling Richard Dawkins? Neither did I! Let’s hear it for #honeygate.

UPDATE: Richard Dawkins: Honey Defender exists now.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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37 Comments

  1. Avatar of BFKate
    November 4, 2013 at 11:15 am —

    Skepchick kicks Dawkins ass FTW.

  2. Avatar of delphi_ote
    November 4, 2013 at 12:33 pm —

    Poor guy! He just cares about the principle, but he’s still getting all this flak. Why don’t you morons understand? He’s standing up for a cause. There is such a clear cut distinction between his complaint here and Rebecca’s complaint about the elevator. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for you mindless drones, but I know you’ll never figure it out for yourselves if I don’t.

    When you were complaining, that wasn’t about the principle that women should feel welcome and be treated as peers and respected equals. Your complaints were just about stupid elevators and coffee. No cause or principle there. Just bitching and breaking apart our movement. Dawkins is a scientist. He knows how to complain about a principle. All you feminist drones and queens clearly evolved to split the atheist movement and rob us of our precious honey. I don’t see anyone around here with the scientific credentials to take on this argument. Especially not arguments about apis mellifera. You’re out of your depth, Skepchchicks!

    • Avatar of marilove
      November 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm —

      Sometimes you really crack me up, Delphi. LOL

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        November 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm —

        I try. :)

        Meeting Bug Girl in person was the first time I heard a solid take down of evo psych. Just off the cuff in our first conversation. I doubt she remembers, but I know she’s a badass. Hive-mind Queen could take all Dawkins’ honey!

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      November 4, 2013 at 2:38 pm —

      Holy moley, that’s a dead ringer. Great job!

  3. Avatar of marilove
    November 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm —

    You’re not wrong, Dawkins. You’re just an asshole. — The Big Lebowski.

  4. Avatar of jacobv
    November 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm —

    Poor Richard is having a blustery fucking day.

  5. Avatar of scribe999
    November 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm —

    I think Heina had my other favorite response:

    If you’re just noticing TSA problems, I feel bad for you, son. I got NSA problems dating back to 2001 #honeygate #exmuslim

  6. Avatar of mrmisconception
    November 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm —

    To paraphrase Erica Albright: Mr. Dawkins, you’re going to go through life thinking that people don’t like you because you’re an atheist. And I want you to know, from the bottom of my heart, that that won’t be true. It’ll be because you’re an asshole.

  7. Avatar of criticaldragon1177
    November 4, 2013 at 2:08 pm —

    Rebecca Watson,

    Did you see the new video game where Richard Dawkins has to save his honey from airport security. Its simply, but kind of fun.

    Richard Dawkins, Honey Defender!
    http://toys.usvsth3m.com/richard-dawkins-honey-defender/

  8. Avatar of Colin Rosenthal
    November 4, 2013 at 2:29 pm —

    And I thought I’d come up with the best response: http://twitter.com/colinrosenthal/status/397429875029860353 !

  9. Avatar of chionactis
    November 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm —

    No, Richard, I do not think you give a damn about your honey. I fully realize that you were frustrated by the principle of the thing. You have every right to complain about incidents that
    reflect a larger system that seems irrational, like the TSA not allowing you to take something as innocuous as honey on board. That would be very frustrating, and thank you for the insight.

    And a woman who gives rational advice to guys in one of her videos about how not to approach a woman should also be thanked for her insight, and then we men can consider her perspective and how we approach women in the future as we go on with our lives.

    But not you. Knowing that you are influential, that you have gained a large following around the world, you decide that it would be a good thing to sarcastically mock such a woman in a public forum. What did you hope to gain? Were you seriously suggesting that western women should refrain from giving their opinions about men’s behavior and underlying sexism in their
    own communities because there are worse things going on in other parts of the world? Do you believe the way you behaved is a constructive response to Rebecca’s advice and the ensuing discussion about sexism?

    We all know the result of your mockery: A huge amount of negative attention is drawn to Rebecca, and there are thousands of ugly responses to her video and elsewhere on the internet demeaning her; calling her a cunt, a bitch, a whore, threatening her life. You effectively gave a green light to the misogynists in the skeptical/atheist community to let their sexist flags fly.

    Again, thank you for the insight.

  10. Avatar of Dale Husband
    November 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm —

    I keep wondering how so many people can be so brilliant and so stupid at the same time.

    • Avatar of delphi_ote
      November 4, 2013 at 3:57 pm —

      The key word there is “people.” We’re all vulnerable to cognitive bias.

    • Avatar of rmjohnston
      November 5, 2013 at 4:08 am —

      The answer is that he was never that brilliant. Charisma and speaking ability are too often mistaken for brilliance. Dawkins may have learned to talk a good game about embracing skepticism and the scientific methodology in the contexts he cares about, but alleviate him of his preferred contexts and his actions and statements make clear that he utterly fails to understand what either skepticism or science are. Dawkins is a charismatic motivated reasoner with particular distastes for feminism, theism, the poor, big foot hunters, and people who believe child molestation is a big deal. Rather than adopt a system of reasoning, observe facts, and draw inferences Dawkins starts from his conclusions and adopts whatever reasoning and facts seem to best support them..This is what he has ever done. When his preferred conclusions are compatible with empirical reality he is capable of mimicking empirical reasoning, but it’s never been anything other than mimicking.

      • Avatar of Phillip Hallam-Baker
        November 6, 2013 at 1:13 am —

        Dear Yankee

        If you lived in America you would have been subjected to a forced anal probe for having suspiciously clenched buttocks after running a stop sign. The TSA would take your honey and…

        I agree on the assessment of Dawkins, but I think the real reason he went off on Rebecca is that he saw her as a threat. He likes being the face of the atheist movement and he does not take kindly to rivals.

        The interactions between Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould were telling. Dawkins made some pretty nasty attacks on Gould’s competence for having the temerity to suggest Dawkins has the theory wrong. I always thought Gould was more persuasive in that argument.

  11. Avatar of Giuliano Taverna
    November 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm —

    Ok I really have to express some disagreement. Richard Dawkins, complaining about the absurdity of our post 9/11 security apparatus isn’t him being a privileged white guy, its him making an observation about the loss of our civil liberties, one I share and have myself said plenty of times. I feel its valid, I’m confident I can argue that it is valid. If the point of terrorism is to force us to change our behavior due to fear, then its been effective, that is what we have done.

    As for the rest, I more or less accept what you have to say as valid or valid by default. However I think you are seriously exaggerating the idea that criticism of Islam or Muslims is racist and that Dawkins or Harris are bigoted in that respect. I can’t say I agree with everything they’ve said but I know for a fact that they’ve been accused of saying things that they haven’t, and those are indefensible positions. Specifically I’m referring to the abject slander of Glenn Greenwald who accused him of advocating genocide, I’ll just link to the article as posted on Sam’s blog. http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/dear-fellow-liberal2 along with Dawkins’s responce to the idea that he is racist or bigoted because having read it I can’t disagree with it. http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2013/8/9/calm-reflections-after-a-storm-in-a-teacup

    I’m against all forms of racial profiling and I’m opposed to laws prohibiting traditional Islamic garb or practices, it is possible to disagree with someone and not excoriate them, I wish you’d do that less. If for no other reason than the fact that there are plenty of theocrats who will do it regardless.

    Finally, I really wish dawkins would stop with the dear Muslima crap… its just creepy. I have to side with you on that one, (and all the sexism and atheist+ stuff,) I also think Harris is very wrong about profiling, (he has an article defending his view but I won’t bother with it because I disagree with him on it) and both could stand to be a lot more open minded and culturally self aware, I’m nominally on your side. I just wish there weren’t “sides” atheists have enough enemies without us fighting each other, and in my view, bigots, sexists, and people who support “traditional family values” can be atheists, but their atheism is pointless and I’d just as soon disregard them, as both Dawkins and Harris should.

    • Avatar of mrmisconception
      November 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm —

      As a response I will simply link to the article that shows Harris to be not only racist, but frightfully clueless to how anybody could believe it to be so.

      This may be the one you refuse to read, but I fail to see how you can defend his position if you haven’t read the opinion that sparked the controversy.

      As for Dawkins. he is whinging about his liberties being taken while telling others they have nothing to complain about because others have it worse. The replies are simply reminding him of his own opinion, to wit “others have it worse”.

    • Avatar of Heina Dadabhoy
      November 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm —

      One can state a perfectly valid opinion while simultaneously expressing privilege. Complaining about the TSA only when it personally takes your stuff away when they’ve been violating others’ rights, especially the rights of people of Muslim background, for years, is to express one’s privilege.

      • Avatar of marilove
        November 4, 2013 at 6:14 pm —

        Just as The Dude said. Just as The Dude said.

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        November 4, 2013 at 8:08 pm —

        Dawkins specifically trashed Rebecca for complaining when Muslim women have it worse. He can’t have it both ways on this.

        If he thinks his criticism of Rebecca was legitimate, then he can’t exactly cry about his honey without looking like a ridiculous hypocrite. If you can’t complain while someone else has it worse, only the least powerful people in the world would allowed to fight for principles. That’s a really stupid world to live in.

        On the other hand, if Dawkins’ criticism of Rebecca was completely wrong, privileged people CAN complain and speak up when things are wrong. Everyone can fight for principles. Everyone can complain and right wrongs, regardless of class. That’s called “humanism.”

        Dawkins has to pick. He can either cling to his critique of Rebecca and give up on his precious honey or he can let go of his stupid Muslima comments and feast like a Pooh.

    • Avatar of marilove
      November 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm —

      I “love” that you are trying to defend Harris’s opinion WITHOUT ACTUALLY READING HIS OPINION.

      You know, you can read stuff you don’t agree with. In fact, you SHOULD, particularly if you’re going to also defend that person and their opinions YOU REFUSE TO READ.

      Seeriously? I just can’t with this blatant and CHOSEN ignorance today.

      • Avatar of delphi_ote
        November 4, 2013 at 8:50 pm —

        I think he’s specifically NOT defending Harris’ opinion on profiling. I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he disagrees with profiling.

        • Avatar of mrmisconception
          November 4, 2013 at 9:27 pm —

          No, I get that. But he did say…
          Blockquote>However I think you are seriously exaggerating the idea that criticism of Islam or Muslims is racist and that Dawkins or Harris are bigoted in that respect.

          I believe that the blog post that he specifically said he did not read proves that Harris is bigoted in that respect. I personally agreed with Harris up until the unnecessary suggestion that the TSA…
          should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.

          Instead I believe we should drop the entire charade as it is not really providing security but rather only the appearance of doing something.
          He not only made those statements but refused to back away from them when shown how wrong he was about the worth of profiling (or rather lack thereof) and how bigoted his statement came off as.

          Doubling down seems to be a bit of a hobby to both Harris and Dawkins.

          • Avatar of mrmisconception
            November 4, 2013 at 9:30 pm

            dammit, blockqoute fails.

          • Avatar of delphi_ote
            November 5, 2013 at 1:29 am

            Yea. Harris definitely stepped in racism there. Gross.

            Doubling down is a problem for this entire “movement.” If you’re a skeptic or atheist because you want to look smart and like argument, you’re going to have a tough time admitting you’re wrong. You’ve got to show you’re smarter than all the rubes, right? That means you end up defending some really stupid positions. This attitude is contrary to every basic value we all supposedly espouse, but it’s very common.

    • Avatar of biogeo
      November 5, 2013 at 7:45 pm —

      Giuliano Taverna, I think you’ve misunderstood what people are criticizing Dawkins for. I can’t speak for Rebecca, of course, but my understanding of her post is that her reaction is similar to mine. Namely, Dawkins is not actually wrong about the honey. In fact, I’d say he’s right. Yes, this is a minor annoyance that he’s reacting to, but he seems to understand that. But it’s okay to react to minor annoyances, and it’s okay to recognize them as symptoms of deeper problems.

      But Dawkins is right here for EXACTLY the same reason that he was wrong for Dear Muslima, as DoubtingTom’s parody makes hilariously clear. Which means that he is failing to consistently apply his own reasoning, in ways that just so happen to privilege his own experience and interests in both cases. Were Dawkins consistently upholding the principle that small frustrations can be protested for the larger problems they illustrate, he would never have written Dear Muslima, and I doubt anyone would respond to his honey troubles with more than “Yeah, airport security rules are dumb.” Given that he only seems to apply this principle when it gives him license to complain about HIS annoyances, his claims that this is about principle ring false. Were he really being honest with himself, I think he’d realize that these criticisms have teeth and he’d disavow Dear Muslima, but by this point I think it’s clear that Dawkins lacks that degree of introspection.

      Honestly, Dawkins reminds me of Stephen Fry’s character in this sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie.

  12. Avatar of terryp
    November 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm —

    aww, what did pooh ever do to invite such a disparaging comparison? :(

  13. Avatar of Anne S
    November 4, 2013 at 8:43 pm —

    MFing Joyce Carol Oates ftw!

  14. Avatar of victoriadashtwenty
    November 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm —

    That fallacy needs a good name. I’m just going to call it the Dawkins fallacy. Everybody call it the Dawkins fallacy.

  15. Avatar of DrShell
    November 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm —

    Joyce Carol Oates OMG
    I taught “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” just today! My freshmen were like, THIS STORY IS WHACK WHERE CAN WE GET MORE? She is the shit, is what I’m saying.

  16. Avatar of MarlowePI
    November 9, 2013 at 2:32 pm —

    Oh my god, I can hardly believe this is a thing that actually happened. It’s just… it’s just too comedically perfect. It’s not enough that he’s complaining about a fairly trivial annoyance in a manner that makes him a hypocrite and exposes his extensive privilege (small incidences can be a symbol of a deeper, more systematic problem? YOU DON’T SAY.) but that it’s about something so patently ridiculous and upper-crusty as a little jar of honey, probably artisanal. I mean, I can’t even read that last tweet of his, the one that Joyce Carol Oates so masterfully slammed, without hearing it in a Thurston Howell III voice. Seriously, read all his stuff like that from now on. It improves it immensely, and reveals much of the subtext.

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