On Richard Dawkins Being a Liability to Atheism
Journalist, Kimberly Winston, who often writes about atheism at the Religious News Service has an article out today about Richard Dawkins and his recent “comparison of rape” comments as well as his sorta-not-kinda-maybe apology-comment or statement about civility. The article is called, “Richard Dawkins: Atheism’s asset or liability?” and it is making the rounds in the news. I was quoted in it along with some other fine people such as Greta Christina, Ophelia Benson and Amanda Marcotte. You can read the article and their comments in full by clicking here.
Only a snippet of my words were quoted in the article because that is how quotes usually work, so I figured I’d just go ahead and post the entirety of what I said here. Cuz why the heck not? Here is my full comment on the matter:
Dawkins’ recent comments on the relativity of rape have left me rather stunned. As a writer for the popular blog Skepchick, my life was already negatively affected by his “Dear Muslima…” statement back in 2011. In that statement he told one of my co-bloggers to essentially get over sexism and sexual harassment that she experienced because women have it worse elsewhere. His seemingly ignorant, yet authoritative statements unleashed a barrage of online harassment directed at our blog and it’s contributors that has yet to cease to this day. Dawkins also publicly lashes out at Islam and periodically he brings up specific topics that directly impact the lives of women and minorities such as the concept of privilege (which he dismisses) and as we have seen recently, he brings up the absurd topic of ranking rape. In this case Dawkins has gone so far as to insinuate that his particular emotional reaction to an often emotionally destructive topic, trumps anyone who may feel differently. You can not rate rape on a scale. Full stop. No one can say what type of rape is more damaging to another person. His attitude towards these sensitive topics is extremely dismissive and outright damaging to any community that hopes to be inclusive and understanding of women’s issues or any other issues affecting oppressed groups. If a person wanted to teach a lesson in logic, they certainly did not not need to reach for the example of rape when they are aware that harassment of women is currently a problem within their community. Dawkins’ recent statements at worst highlight his refusal to acknowledge his role in promoting misogyny, sexism and racism in the atheist community and at best show me an extremely privileged man who cares more about being seen as “right” than he cares about any of the victims of violent sexual assault. What he should be focused on is the building of a compassionate community without religion. Perhaps he doesn’t realize the weight and reach of his words. But the rest of the world should know that not all atheists are blind to the struggles of the average person, we do not hate people who are religious, and we want to build a community incorporating atheism, that is intelligent, compassionate, kind and inclusive and Richard Dawkins does not represent all of us.
I was then asked if Dawkins had any effect on me becoming an atheist and my response was this:
I read The God Delusion, and at the time I enjoyed the book, but I was raised without religion and so I don’t hold any specific anger towards religion. It seems to me that his target market is angry youth or those harmed by extreme fundamentalism who wish to rage against the perceived shackles of faith instead of focusing on the more important task of building a functioning society without faith. So any joy I felt from reading his book has far been exceeded by the pain inflicted upon me and my peers by his rabid followers.
Again, you can find the full article by Kimberly Winston and read comments and opinions by other writers by clicking on this link: Richard Dawkins: Atheism’s asset or liability?