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.
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.
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.
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.)