It was just a few days ago that we thought there were some in the New Atheist movement who stood on principle. Remember the forceful, clear statements?
We, the undersigned atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers, and other non-believers, hereby condemn Richard Dawkins’ continued comments trivializing what he termed ‘mild’ sexual abuse of children. Dr. Dawkins is seen by many as a representative of the atheist community — but when it comes to his dismissive comments on the incredibly serious topic of sexual abuse, the atheist community emphatically does not stand with him.
Those who have signed this petition vehemently oppose Dr. Dawkins’ trivialization of sexual abuse victims. As humanists, freethinkers, atheists, and agnostics we wish to voice our opposition to his insulting vitriol. We find these statements derogatory, dismissive and harmful to victims of sexual abuse and view his ideas on this subject abhorrent. As such, we utterly repudiate them.
Well, it turns out these atheists have shut down the petition after it was active for only a couple of days. Why?
According to the atheists:
Richard Dawkins has clarified his statements, and issued an apology. I would like to thank him for taking time to realize how what he said could be harmful to victims of sexual abuse.
He clarified his statements? How so? This is the clarification/apology they were so eager to lap up? Did he go into more detail explaining exactly what he means by “mild pedophilia?” No. Did he clarify how he thinks society itself should respond to “mild pedophilia?” No. Did he retract the trivialization of child molestation as “mild pedophilia?” No.
As for the apology, he apologized only for one sentence:
But I was perhaps presumptuous in the last sentence of the paragraph quoted above. I cannot know for certain that my companions’ experiences with the same teacher were are brief as mine, and theirs may have been recurrent where mine was not. That’s why I said only “I don’t think he did any of us lasting damage”. We discussed it among ourselves on many occasions, especially after his suicide, and there was indeed general agreement that his gassing himself was far more upsetting than his sexual depredations had been. If I am wrong about any particular individual; if any of my companions really was traumatised by the abuse long after it happened; if, perhaps it happened many times and amounted to more than the single disagreeable but brief fondling that I endured, I apologise.
You see, “perhaps” he was presumptuous and that he cannot be absolutely certain his companions’ experiences were as brief as his. So:
If I am wrong about any particular individual; if any of my companions really was traumatised by the abuse long after it happened; if, perhaps it happened many times and amounted to more than the single disagreeable but brief fondling that I endured, I apologise.
In other words, Dawkins is only saying that if they, by some remote chance, were not the victims of “mild pedophilia,” he apologizes to them. He never once abandons the notion of “mild pedophilia.”
The atheists claimed they were outraged by his trivializing child abuse with the term “mild pedophilia,” yet oh so quickly abandoned that outrage when Dawkins accepts the possibility that some of that other pedophilia could have been more than mild. So in turns out that in embracing his “apology,” the atheists have actually embraced his idea of mild pedophilia.
It looks more and more like the acceptance of the notion of “mild pedophilia” is becoming one of the positions of the New Atheist Movement.