Richard Dawkins is seen as a rock star by some in the atheist movement. He’s had best selling books, too many keynote speeches to count, awards and honors out the wazoo, he’s the media’s go to person on religious issues and atheism. He also has a problem with shooting his mouth off about some topics that cause distress and anger in the atheist and secular community. Dawkins seriously needs to join Twitter’s Anonymous because for a man known for thousands of words to explain his atheism he has a terrible time trying to express himself in 140 character bites on Twitter. After his latest foot-in-mouth maybe it’s time to remove Dawkins as the public face of the atheist movement.
Dawkins latest twitter war erupted after he retweeted a video that not only equated some feminists with ISIS but the cartoon also included a character based on a real woman who has been the subject of constant harassment and death threats online for THREE years.
The angry feminist, meanwhile, isn’t a generic figure; she’s an especially crude caricature of Binx, spouting nonsense that neither Binx nor any other feminist actually believes: the video ends with her encouraging the Islamist to rape her, because it’s not really rape if a Muslim does it, dontchaknow.
It’s a vicious, hateful little cartoon made worse by the fact that these words are being put in the mouth of a real woman who’s been the target of a vast harassment campaign for years.
Yesterday, Richard Dawkins, apparently seeing this horrendous video as a clever takedown of some brand of feminism that he must think actually exists, shared it with his 1.3 million Twitter followers:
When it was pointed out to him how bad that cartoon was and how terrible it looked for him to share it with his followers, Dawkins played dumb and wanted to “debate” it.
This isn’t the first time he’s fucked up on twitter so playing dumb now looks like a move of desperation.
Adding to the trouble is he is seen as the public face of the atheist movement so when he says these stupid things and refuses to back down and wants to argue about being seen as a jerk, it makes all of us, in the community, look bad.
I remember decades ago people refused to call themselves atheist because Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the face of atheism back then, was the most hated person in America. She loved the media and would be blunt about religion. She also could be mean to people and groups she disliked.
As Dan Fincke wrote on Facebook:
Finally, Dawkins has a huge responsibility as the de facto face of the atheist movement and his reckless contempt for that responsibility and the negative effects it has on the rest of us who are part of the movement when he is driven by his own arrogance rather than any sense for his potential as a leader makes him an awful leader. That’s not me “denying his freedom of expression”. It’s me registering my dissent with someone who has and seeks positions of leadership in the movement I devote a significant bulk of my energies to.
Since Dawkins has a pattern of being a jerk and doesn’t seem to understand what the problem is, maybe it’s time to give him a “time-out” and remove him as the public face of the movement.
All the major atheist groups should denounce him publicly, rescind any awards and honors given to him, and not invite him to attend or speak at any event sponsored by an atheist group.
He will be free to continue being a jerk but the rest of us won’t have to enable his bigotry and obstinacy.
Or Dawkins can make a public statement admitting he has screwed up and that he plans to change and be more sensitive when sharing tweets.
It’s up to him but personally he has burned his bridge, chopped up the debris, and buried it on the moon.