Day 39. 100 pages, 46,224 words.
Well, looks like Dawkins has been smacked down for being basically the exact person I always thought and said he was.
Can you laugh at something if it’s this closely linked to rape? I love Dawkins’s little “lessons learned” plot summaries.
Seriously though, the sad thing here isn’t that he was being stupid, it’s that he was hopelessly ignorant of how people actually react to things and think about stuff. This is evidenced by almost everything else he has ever said, on basically any subject. His logic (his relentless, tireless, vastly self-inflated logic) is sabotaged by his personality, his choice of ‘shocker’ examples, and the darn pesky Twitter format.
His driving point, to me, seems to be that just saying you consider one thing to be worse than another doesn’t mean you think the other is OK (and this is borne out by his explanation here, and yet another self-justifying oh-look-I’m-so-logical-and-smart essay here – here’s a clue, if you need to write essays like this to make people stop calling you a dickhead, then you were being a dickhead. Take it from someone who knows). This is classic anti-binary thinking and (as you can probably imagine after all my ranting about it) obviously I approve. Saying you think one thing is worse doesn’t mean you think the alternative is OK. Any more than saying you think one thing is better doesn’t mean you think the alternative is bad.
He should probably have stuck with his original tweet:
He then fleshed it out with examples, which is the point at which, if this were a court case and I were on the witness stand, I would point at key locations on the doll and say “this was where Dawkins fucked up. Here, and here.”
Right, just saying you consider one thing to be worse than another doesn’t mean you think the other is OK. He didn’t, however, stress the “you consider” bit anywhere near enough (or, in his explanations, stress sufficiently that this was a hypothetical quote situation or logical exercise), and he still seemed to leave the idea out there that you have to consider one or the other as worse: date-rape by a familiar person, or knifepoint-rape by a stranger. That this is a decision you have to make. There’s always a line in the sand with Dawkins, and he can’t abide people wandering messily up and down on his intellectual beach.
Logic, untempered by empathy or common sense, is just compulsiveness.
It’s difficult in the Twitter format (so a wise person wouldn’t have even tried unless he was just being a drama troll, one would think), but what he probably should have said is that these things are subjective and everyone will have their own experiences or lack thereof and opinions about which is worse and why … they’re so subjective, you might as well not even try. Don’t say one is worse than the other. If you want to go out on a limb and say you think one is worse than the other, make very clear that this is purely your subjective opinion based on X, Y and Z experience, and with repeated acknowledgement that nobody else needs to think this way and indeed that thinking otherwise is in no way invalid, because invalid personal opinion on rape’s awfulness simply doesn’t exist. It becomes a meta-point to the original argument, in fact: saying that you think stranger-rape is worse than date-rape not only doesn’t mean that date-rape is okay, it also doesn’t mean that anyone who thinks date-rape is worse is wrong. Or that someone who thinks both kinds of rape are equally awful is wrong. Or anything.
 And let’s face it, this has generated multiple blogs and web pages and shouting and general awareness, so it’s a net win for a known (justified or otherwise) publicity whore.
Difficult, of course. US President Obama made a pertinent remark in response to the “legitimate rape / the female body has ways to shut that down” fuckwittery that went on in 2012 or so (amusingly, this was trotted out again and the Dawkophiles thought Obama was actually saying it in response to Dawkins’s tweets, Jesus H. Christ, self-absorbed much?), basically saying that people – especially out-of-touch men – needed to stop ranking issues in order of imaginary severity in order to weed out ones we don’t need to deal with. Which I think Dawkins would probably agree with, at least after reading his final word: there’s no solid line on which is worse, because some people might think X is worse than Y, others that Y is worse than X.
His only point was that having a personal opinion about which is worse does not mean the less severe case is held to be acceptable. So even if a person does have a ranking system for rape, it doesn’t mean they don’t want to do something about every kind of rape. It’s just … easy to start thinking that way, once you have a ranking system. Because then it becomes triage. Which variant of a hideous crime would you eradicate, if you could only eradicate one variant? Well, it’ll be the one you consider the worst of the lot, I’d guess.
But that’s just my poor illogical brain at work.
I also think it’s mildly amusing that Twitter gives me a mute option for Dawkins. And, indeed, everyone else. But I noticed it with Dawkins.
And that’s Dawkins in a nutshell: kernel of rational idea, thick caramel coating of arrogance, naïveté, abrasiveness and general lack of understanding of human nature and behaviour. If you seriously believe you can spout off about logic and reason, Richard, and then so dramatically lose touch with how people actually behave … go away and learn how to think.