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Controversial Comments From Richard Dawkins
Posted: 26 September 2013 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Tim,

It wouldn’t bother me if a person, whose licentious instincts lead them to cause lasting damage to a child, were tortured and killed.

But if he didn’t cause lasting damage to a child, then he’s not wrong enough for torture and capital punishment? That’s the confusion of most of the previous posts, and part of Dawkins’ original mistake: he seems to evaluate the wrongness of the act from the reactions of particular victims of a child molester. (If I wasn’t harmed much, it wasn’t a very wrong thing to do; it was more wrong when the other guy was affected more.) Rather, the severity with which we treat child molesters comes from (1) the general consequences, not individual reactions; and from (2) the wrongness of the act itself: an adult who fondles a child is using someone who almost certainly cannot assent to that use with knowledge. Children lack maturity and experience. In this area, Dawkins may even be wrong about the evaluation of *his own* experience (let’s pass over the fact he’s made claims about other classmates’ feelings on the matter). Richard Dawkins was not mature enough to understand the full extent *and gravity* of what was happening to him at the time.


Chris Kirk

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Posted: 26 September 2013 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Dawkins was speaking as a capable and mature adult, in retrospect, when he conveyed what he believed was the effect of what happened to him. 

It does not seem to me to be difficult to understand that some forms of abuse (including sexual abuse) are worse than others.  What is so difficult about the idea of letting the punishment fit the crime?  Fondling a child once, should be punished severely and kept from happening again.  Viciously and sadistically raping a child over a course of years should be punished more severely, and absolutely insured from never happening again.

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Posted: 26 September 2013 09:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Tim,

It does not seem to me to be difficult to understand that some forms of abuse (including sexual abuse) are worse than others.

Not difficult at all. But it’s not relevant to Dakwin’s errors. One such error is the strangeness of judging child molestation by the mere fact that some of the children molested grew up to be, well, Richard Dawkins.

Sexual use of minors is deemed horrible (1) as an act in itself - as making an instrument of someone who cannot fully consent to it; and (2) because of its *common* consequences; it’s severity is *not* judged based on the fact thate some minors *seem* to have escaped its harms.

There is another BIG problem we haven’t discussed: Dawkins brought up the subject, and expanded on it, partly in order to claim that such abuse is *not as bad* as religious education of children. Remember, he’s called that a form of child abuse. This is a two-fer: he downplayed sexual use of minors, *and* used it as a mere instrument in his anti-Christian campaign. Note the comments in the British blogger linked above.

Chris

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Posted: 27 September 2013 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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inthegobi - 26 September 2013 09:20 PM

Tim,

It does not seem to me to be difficult to understand that some forms of abuse (including sexual abuse) are worse than others.

Not difficult at all. But it’s not relevant to Dakwin’s errors. One such error is the strangeness of judging child molestation by the mere fact that some of the children molested grew up to be, well, Richard Dawkins.

How is that strange?  Because it prompts us to consider that some forms of child molestation are more likely to cause lasting harm to a child than others?  If one is working to help children who have experienced abuse, this is relevant information to have.

inthegobi - 26 September 2013 09:20 PM

Sexual use of minors is deemed horrible (1) as an act in itself - as making an instrument of someone who cannot fully consent to it; and (2) because of its *common* consequences; it’s severity is *not* judged based on the fact thate some minors *seem* to have escaped its harms.

If someone punches me in the face without my consent, I would deem that to be a horrible thing that they did.  If they snuck up behind me and sliced off my leg with a Samarai sword, I would deem that to be much more horrible.  You and I and Dawkins and most people in the modern world, deem any form of child abuse to be horrible.  You seem to be saying that the drunk uncle who touched his nephew’s penis, through his pants, one time, should be punished at the same level as a sadistic psychopath who keeps a child in a hole for years, torturing him with repeated sexual assaults.

I would want the uncle put in a position where he can never be around children again.  But I would want the psychopathic child molester to die.

inthegobi - 26 September 2013 09:20 PM

There is another BIG problem we haven’t discussed: Dawkins brought up the subject, and expanded on it, partly in order to claim that such abuse is *not as bad* as religious education of children. Remember, he’s called that a form of child abuse. This is a two-fer: he downplayed sexual use of minors, *and* used it as a mere instrument in his anti-Christian campaign. Note the comments in the British blogger linked above.

Chris

Okay, I’ll give you that if Dawkins does not have extraordinary evidence to back up his claim of the ill effects of religious education on children, he should not have said it. (I am not a connoisseur of Dawkin’s work, so I don’t know if he does have that evidence.)

But I am not sure that he was incorrect to point out that society’s evolving morals with respect to child sexual abuse has not expanded to include morals that proscribe other kinds of child abuse. For instance, instilling children (who are not able to consent) with the fear of an imaginary hell, may well be a form of child abuse. Most children can probably develop with no significant problems at all, when exposed to this sort of religious education. But I expect that it contributes to some serious psychological problems for some. (Perhaps depending, to some extent, on the severity and duration of this sort of religious indoctrination.)

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 28 September 2013 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 11 September 2013 05:35 AM

I don’t know why this is suddenly a controversy as Dawkins even mentions the incident in his book “The God Delusion” So it’s not as if he suddenly announced to the World that he favors pedophilia as his critic seems to presume. Sounds like another cheap shot at an atheist leader.

Cap’t Jack

Its controversial because we have a bad habit these days of treating the news as an academics sources OR something that all tells the truth and nothing but the truth.

Until the link to Dawkins own website was given, i was thinking of just dismissing this as a possible misunderstanding.
Even in the link http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2012/12/22/physical-versus-mental-child-abuse#
he clearly states that his anecdotal evidence is not sufficient to make a general ruling.

I’m not in favor of Dawkins, but I dont see how this comment of his would affect any arguments against God he makes.


When will we ever learn to actually read scholarly and academic sources downer

[ Edited: 28 September 2013 09:56 AM by I.J. Abdul Hakeem ]
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Posted: 29 September 2013 01:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Dawkins is not my favorite person. As a matter of fact, he is speaking near me and I don’t plan to go. But it doesn’t make him wrong about claims of the lack of existence of deities.

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Posted: 29 September 2013 06:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I agree, Asanta. It’s annoying when people can’t be consistent.  smile  I have a very bright Libertarian in my Wednesday lunch group.  He and I almost always agree about social problems and their solutions, but we just as stongly disagree about anything to do with government finances. 

Occam

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Posted: 05 October 2013 07:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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asanta - 29 September 2013 01:27 AM

Dawkins is not my favorite person. As a matter of fact, he is speaking near me and I don’t plan to go. But it doesn’t make him wrong about claims of the lack of existence of deities.

I don’t dislike him, but I’m not a huge fan either.  I’ve read some of his books and many of them seem on the level high school or younger concerning Evolution.  He makes it so simple that I get board with his books very easily.

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Posted: 25 October 2013 02:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Excuse me for jumping into your conversation. I’m new here. However, sex offenders, and specifically child molesters, is my area of study (I’m a criminologist). I’d like to address two points- one about pedophilia and one about harm done to victims.

Molestation victims don’t experience “mild pedophilia.” Pedophilia is a mental disorder characterized by persistent sexual fantasies about pre-pubescent children. It may or may not involve the actual harm of a child. Child molesters aren’t necessarily pedophiles; some pick children as easy victims but would prefer adult victims. Children are molested (sadly enough), they don’t experience mild pedophilia. Pedophilia isn’t a verb. They aren’t pedophiled. There isn’t even such a gradation to pedophilia. Either you fantasize about children or you don’t.

There is a small and very unpopular body of literature on child sexual abuse that focuses upon societal reactions to the abuse. This literature posits that the harm from sexual abuse may actually derive from society’s response to it. If the child is young enough to not have learned that society considers this behavior wrong, they may not consider themselves damaged until others tell them they are. Dawkin’s experience may have been such. That’s not to say his attitude is correct, since irreparable harm- physical as well as emotional- is done to the majority of child molestation victims. But if his experience was different from the norm, of course it would color his perception of the topic. Add in the fact that this is crime that’s specific to this era and culture and it may be a little easier to understand the position he came from.

Stacy

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