Richard Dawkins talks about "mild pedophilia"

Discussion in 'News and Current Events' started by Anonymous, Sep 15, 2013.

  1. Anonymous Member

    I’m more than happy to incorporate repetition of a given act as increasing its severity for the purpose of devising such a spectrum.

    A one-off fondling would be considered less severe than the same act performed on a more regular basis. By the same token a series of prolonged mild fondlings might, if performed over a long period, be considered more severe than a once-off violent sexual act.

    As I wrote in one of my previous posts (here): “When someone is ‘abused’ it is NOT the physical act itself (assuming it wasn’t rough or violent) that fucks them up. It is the psychological aspect that leaves them in a bad way.”

    The purpose of listing the premises was to spell out the argument Dawkins actually made in the most brief way possible, and to try and get folks who disagree with it to actually address its content (rather than relying on quote-mining like The Atlantic did). I’m more than happy to alter a premise to incorporate valid points like the one you raise.
  2. Anonymous Member

    Two points:
    - I have not once misused the term. In my words I have been deliberately using terms like ‘abuse’, ‘molestation’ and ‘sexual acts’ (and derivatives thereof) to avoid this confusion.
    - You quoted me quoting Dawkins. When I have used quotes I have put them in italics to indicate that I am using a quote. Given this, it is bizarre of you to make this claim.
    Repeating myself since you ignored it first and second time around (with added emphasis): “I also find it disappointing that you appear to have adopted a mischaracterisation that was introduced by others in this thread. As is clear from the anecdote itself, Dawkins’ is referring to the act that was done to him and not the actor. It is the act that he is describing as ‘mild’, something that is clear from his comments. Unfortunately, some in this thread have misread his use of the word mild to refer to the actor, a reading that is completely incompatible with his comments as a whole.

    Did you read this paragraph? I’m not saying the term pedophila refers to the act. What I am saying is that, when you read Dawkins words, it is clear that Dawkins’ is referring to the act (albeit by misusing the term).

    Not that it matters, but Dawkins is in some good company with this misuse. From the FBI doc I linked earlier: “There is still confusion, even among professionals, with regard to the terms childmolester and pedophile. For many the terms have become synonymous. For them the word pedophile is just a fancy term for a child molester.”

    Why you are hammering on the misuse of a single word (which we both agree on btw) rather than addressing what Dawkins was trying to say (albeit with a misuse of the word) is a mystery to me.
    This is not even a case of putting words in his mouth. Rather this is a simple case of reading his comments, in context, and seeing that is what he meant. Using the term to refer to refer to the person (while the correct meaning of the term) doesn’t make sense within the context in which that term was used – but using it to refer to the act does.
    That would be pretty much most of the content of your last post.
  3. PP Prout Member

    Right enough; although you omit a major axis of damage, that which occurs when a child understands not that he is powerless to stop the abuse (in his limited understanding thereof), but that it is at his will, and within his power. - One reasons why rape may not be worse than fondling is that pentration is likelier to be painful and overtly distressing than fondling, and break through that wicked illusion. However, that's a tangent...

    .... Except that Prof. Dawkins' own remarks suggest, to me, that these are dynamics of which he has very little inkling; and that to opine on a subject of which one is ignorant is dangerous. (Most of us do it; but even I'd try not to do it in The Times!)

    Thank you. I can't resist observing that it's much easier to see points as valid when one already agrees with them! ;)

    Unfortunately, your representation of Prof. Dawkins' argument omits an important part of the content to which people are reacting, "Although I’m no friend of the Church, I think they have become victims of our shifting standards and we do need to apply the conventions of the good historian in dealing with cases which are many decades old.”

    The Church of Rome has not merely been taken by surprise by a the scale of the problem, or by society's increased willingness to admit it, nor merely failed to recognise the institutional components of an old problem: it has become a victim. Is there any way to read this assertion as other than offensive to the many victims both of predatory individuals, and of a hierarchy which first failed to protect them, and then suppressed their testimony, while failing to punish or even to head off the vice of those who had offended against them - and later failed to reform itself, even after evidence became overwhelming that reform was needed? It's hardly to be wondered at that people are outraged by such outrageous commentary.

    If the Professor were less eminent, less cultured, less humane, one would expect no better. He is eminent, cultured, and humane; and he's slipped a cog.

    Do you, by the way, accept the idea that it's not (a priori, mutatis mutandis, tempus fugit) very useful to link sexual abuse and what one might call abuse by fear of damnation?
  4. Not true.

    Not true.

    Here is what you wrote:

    You aren't quoting Dawkins when you explain that he is 'referring to the act'. Those are your words. The italicised word is not a quote from Dawkins.

    If others have difficulty with Dawkins' meaning, it is his clumsy use of terminology that is the source of the confusion. Your interpretation might be the correct one, but it isn't clearly so. He uses the word pedophilia elsewhere in the correct sense, and I was certainly scratching my head trying to make sense of 'mild pedophilia', as is obvious from my earlier comments.

    But there is more than a simple malapropism here, as I have argued. 'Mild' is a suspiciously loaded term in this context, which may have the sense of 'not severe', or to mean 'no big deal', or even 'quite nice' (as in mild weather). Much better to have avoided the word, as it seems to connote minimising the behaviour described, when there is absolutely no good reason to do so, and when children have suffered great harm precisely because adults have often sought to minimise, for whatever reason, such acts. Take this together with the misuse of the term, and you get an inkling of why people might find his use of the words offensive.

    My answer above covers this, I think.

    I hope you take the time to ponder the answer I gave above, because it touches further on what Dawkins might have meant. I don't get how you could say that 'pedophilia' refers to a person, btw. In its proper sense, it's something a person has.

    You say 'moral grandstanding', I say 'some gentle words to a friend'.
  5. Anonymous Member

    You’ve committed the very same quote mine that The Atlantic article committed. The comment from Dawkins (in bold above) was not made with reference to religious indoctrination. I quoted the entirety of The Times article within which it originated to show the full context of the quotation bolded above, and how linking that to the religious indoctrination argument is one huge act of quote-mining.

    If you read The Times (quoted in full previously) piece you would see that the context was the changing moral zeitgeist. That society is more focused now on prosecuting child sexual abuse, and how that is leading to prosecutions against ‘the Church’, is neither a controversial nor unreasonable inference to make. The Atlantic, and now you, quote mined this to attack the very different and unrelated argument over religious indoctrination harms potentially being more harmful that mild acts of abuse is.

    In posting the four premises I tried to lay out the argument in as simple a way as possible. Surely you can see the problem, and faulty logic, in attacking this argument not through its premises but rather through the use of quote mining from an interview that had nothing to do with that argument?
    Answering this question depends on the context within which Dawkins made the argument. So far you have attacked his argument through using a quote mine from an interview her gave to The Times, but I can forgive you for that given that other anons in this thread have reinforced that misconception.

    For the purposes of his book, The God Delusion, within which the argument originated I would have to say ‘yes’, it was indeed useful. It helped describe the psychological terror that believing in concepts such as ‘hell’ can engender, particularly for those who believe truly in deeply to the point of feeling sustained and prolonged fear. If you disagree with the argument then fine – but surely even you can see that blatantly quote mining from The Times interview in order to attack that argument is indefensible?

    Wow, did you just quote mine me? Seriously? You’re claiming that I was not quoting Dawkins? Seriously?

    Here is my full comment: “The only quote given in The Atlantic article with reference to ‘mild paedophilia’ is this one: “…I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia…”. Caning is referring to the act. Similarly, ‘mild paedophilia’ is referring to the act. This is a pretty basic and elementary misreading on your part tbh.

    Why the fuck do you think I encased the phrase ‘mild paedophilia’ in quotation marks and put it in italics???? Maybe because I was quoting him???? Do you see how, highlighted in red, the phrase was used by Dawkins? Do you see, further, how I am using the terms by quoting Dawkins (indicated by quotation marks and use of italics in the original post, but bolded her so you don’t miss it again)???
    Given the mistake on your part explained immediately above, I have to wonder. But, let’s play your game and see which meaning makes sense.

    First, let’s try your meaning where ‘mild pedophilia’ refers to sexual orientation (key portion bolded): “Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild sexual attraction to children, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.”

    Second, let’s try my meaning where ‘mild pedophilia’ refers to the act (key portion bolded): “Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild sexual abuse, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.”

    I know which one of those makes a hell of a lot more sense and coherency.
    Really? Because in each of the three sources of interest here he has used ‘paedophile’ to refer to the actor and ‘paedophilia’ to the act.
    If you read the comments, in context, the use of the word ‘mild’ is used to differentiate between other more severe abusive acts such as rape. Given attitudes on display ITT, I believe your request to have avoided the term is a fallacy since no word would have sufficed – you would still be making the same misrepresentations. Any attempt at such a differentiation between abuse of differing severity would still be greeted claims that it “seems to connote minimising” <insert favourite phrase here>.
    No, it really doesn’t. And trying to quote mine me definitely doesn’t help.

    Here is a fun experiment for you to do. Goto pubmed or Google Scholar or boot up you academic account or whatever favourite tool you use to hunt down research papers. Do a search for the phrase “paedophila” and count up how many researchers in the field, actual proper qualified researchers with years of experience, also misuse the term. The results might surprise you.
    Other anons ITT have read the term to refer to the person, hence my referencing of that. What I am trying to explain to you is that Dawkins is using the term to refer to paedophilic acts.
  6. Anon, thanks for posting the original Dawkins' story, so that I could read it in context.

    I think it needs no comments from me, and i guess y'all can go on arguing about this until next friday.

  7. But while you rant on, brow-beating me for making my 'mistake', or 'missing' things 'again' you quite clearly fail to grasp the simple fact that I never claimed that you were not quoting Dawkins in the portion in red, nor in repeating his words in quotes. But you do refer to 'mild pedophilia' as referring to an act - your words - which is to repeat Dawkins' error, as I said, because pedophilia is not, in fact, an act.

    So, you are ranting about something I did not claim, but is the product of your own, apparently fevered, imagination (all those ????s must mean something). The mistake is yours.

    If others have difficulty with Dawkins' meaning, it is his clumsy use of terminology that is the source of the confusion.
    Your mistake, not mine, as I demonstrated.

    You are incorrectly attributing the first meaning to me. I do not own the term 'mild pedophilia' in any way. The term 'pedophilia' as given in the first example is the normal meaning of the words, while the second relies on changing the words in order to give a more accurate description of what is (might be) intended. Both statements actually do make sense, but mean different things.

    It is conceivable that Dawkins' misuse of the word to mean the act was not accidental, in order to avoid the implication of the words you substituted in the second example. 'Mild pedophilia' is less jarring than 'mild sexual abuse'. 'Mild' and 'sexual abuse' (of children) do not sit well together.
    He uses the word pedophilia elsewhere in the correct sense…
    In the passage from his book 'The God Delusion' quoted in the Atlantic article, I believe that he uses the word in its correct sense, or at the least does not clearly misuse it, as in -

    I take this to mean that, just as people were accused and condemned for being witches in 17C Salem, people are now being pursued and condemned for being pedophiles, rather than for specific criminal acts. This comparison would lose all its force if he really meant the acts here, too, ie it is irrational / hysterical to persecute a person for a condition of their existence, as distinct from any crimes they may have committed.

    'Mild' is a suspiciously loaded term in this context, which may have the sense of 'not severe', or to mean 'no big deal', or even 'quite nice' (as in mild weather). Much better to have avoided the word, as it seems to connote minimising the behaviour described, when there is absolutely no good reason to do so, and when children have suffered great harm precisely because adults have often sought to minimise, for whatever reason, such acts.
    It's not just me (or me and The Atlantic) who finds Dawkins' use of the word ill-advised or objectionable, but the child welfare experts quoted in the articles we are discussing. That tells me, at least, that there is a case to answer.

    I have already stated why I disagree that what Dawkins refers to can be termed 'mild'. School authorities would remove a teacher's right to teach if there was proof he/she did what Dawkins describes, which is an indication that the act is not considered a 'mild' or minor offence. Given that Dawkins believes that society's reactions to such matters are overblown, or reminiscent of the Salem witch trials, he could be interpreted as implying that such punishments are too severe for such 'mild' acts.

    As already mentioned, Dawkins does not exercise care to differentiate the severity of child sexual abuse in the RC church, where (again from The God Delusion) he '[wonders whether the church] has been unfairly demonized over this issue', going on to warn us of the possibility of False Memory Syndrome. This looks like an effort to minimise the seriousness of the problem, and is doubtless offensive to every child who was abused and where documentation exists to prove that the RC church knew about and covered up child abuse, no matter how serious the offence, for their own selfish interests. Were he to research the testimonies of the many victims, or the findings of the courts or of government, he would not have to 'wonder'.
    My answer above covers this, I think.
    Ranting on, accusing me of saying what I did not say doesn't help. What you claim is 'quote-mining' is in fact my effort at clarity, in omitting what is not in dispute - that 'mild pedophilia' is Dawkins term - in order to bring to focus what you yourself said. I did not distort your meaning by omitting what I did, nor did I attempt to attribute to you what was clearly Dawkins' term.

    I don't get how you could say that 'pedophilia' refers to a person, btw. In its proper sense, it's something a person has.
    No, this doesn't make sense. You said:

    The term under discussion is 'pedophilia'. The portion in red says this refers to the person. I'm saying 'pedophilia' does not refer to a person, but to a condition, something a person has.

    Re-reading it, I think the term you intended here is 'pedophile', but I could be wrong. I wouldn't want to be accused of putting words in your mouth, or run the risk of being swallowed up by another avalanche of question-marks. ;)
    • Like Like x 1
  8. PP Prout Member

    Indeed. I'm not sure what that has to do with the price of fish?

    I'm confused. How does the context so change the meaning of what's said that quoting it should be impermissible?

    Your link, or the natural evolved link of the thread/ topic under discussion, not mine. I merely observe that that remark is, in context or out, bound to cause unnecessary offence.

    It is not. To leap from that inference to the Church's being a victim is a very great leap, and one which very reasonably both inspires offence, and questioning of Dawkins' understanding of abuse, its dynamics, and its effects.

    If one's going to discuss relative harms (not usually a good move), it behoves one to understand what one's talking about. If one doesn't appear to understand what one's talking about, if one appears positively to have inverted a reasonable understanding, people will take note of that fact. in weighing one's remarks.

    Bugger the Atlantic Wire! ;)

    There is no need for "quote-mining" to understand that harm-sizing is generally a distasteful proceeding; and that linking sexual abuse and religious terror has the appearance of harm-sizing. I made that point, albeit much more mildly, before ever quoting the Times piece - to which you assiduously directed attention! You ignored it the first time I made it, and have not answered it: I take it that you do not agree with me that it was an error of judgement? - OOps, brain-fart, sorry.

    I have no interest in 'attacking' the argument: as stated, it isn't an argument at all. The first three premises in your summary have no logical conection to the fourth: they do not enhance understanding of the fourth, they do not enhance a sense of the gravity of the harm posited therein. There is no merit in making the connection: it can only give rise to the suspicion that Dawkins wishes to downplay one harm in order to bring attention to the other. For what other purpose does he raise it?

    The estimable Professor could have confined himself to the last point, and made a useful, coherent, and un-inflammatory argument for our having neglected an important source of harm. I'd have applauded him.

    Thank you, kind sir. (Madam? Has anyone coined a gender-unspecific term to serve that purpose?)

    My assault on his argument, as so concisely represented by you - my thanks -, rests entirely on the fact that it isn't an argument; indeed, is, at best, maladroit, and clumsy with the feelings of those whose feelings have been subject to much disregard over many years. Unkind, in a word.

    At worst, it's intellectually and morally dishonest. Not a good suspicion to raise if he wishes to be understood by the averagely fair of mind, averagely intelligent, averagely most things - which is to say, most of us. After all, this discussion has not been of the the harm which can be done by an active belief in damnation, but of other things entirely.

    ETA, subsequent to realising I'd misread a bit: I'd have to read up to find out whether I agreed with you. It's possible, I grant you, that it could be useful, given extreme delicacy of touch, but only given same.

    By and large, however, it's better far to describe terror by describing terror, than by comparing it with something else. My experience of such comparisons is that they are usually either the incompetent first steps of those lacking a suitable vocabulary for their own (or others) pain; or under-handed.

    Indeed. I take no issue with the assertion (ETA, for clarity,of such terror from such a cause): far from it, although fairness points out that here, too, there is a spectrum. I take no issue with the idea that research might be instructive, either.

    I take every issue with the suggestion that that kind of terror should be linked to sexual abuse, except in those cases (I am aware that they exist) where one has been used to potentiate the other.

    "Surely even you can see" is inflammatory - and gives an impression of frothing at the mouth. You might have saved it until I'd committed some really egregious sin of discourse!

    There is always that risk. A humane person with sufficient baseline understanding of the subject to say anything meaningful about it is aware of that risk, and at pains to avoid it. It can be done, if one discounts that 5% of the populace which always takes exception to any argument on any subject.

    No-one is so clear a thinker and writer as Dawkins at his best. Could he have left such doubt in reasonable minds, did he truly both understand and care about the implications of sexual abuse for those victims less lucky than he?
  9. Anonymous Member

    The bolded portion seems to be the source of your error. Why, if it was solely my words, did I put the phrase 'mild pedophilia' in quotes and italicise it? Might I have done so to…you know…indicate that I was using Dawkins’ phrase?

    What makes this much more egregious is that, in order to explain to you what Dawkins was saying (specifically that he was using the phrase to refer to the act and not the actor), it was absolutely necessary that I would have to quote the phrase in question (which I indicated with the use of quotation marks and italics). That my use of this quotation, indicated with the use of quotation marks and italics, is being now being branded by you as my words is a joke tbh.
    The first passage clearly doesn’t make nearly as much sense since attraction, in and of itself, does not cause harm (as caning or racism do, which were the other examples given). For the first passage to make sense you have to take it one step further, to consider the attraction being acted upon, which then leaves you with the meaning of the second passage.
    I don’t buy this for three reasons:
    - The Times interviewer brought the topic up in the first place, which makes the ‘not accidental’ claim very unpersuasive.
    - Dawkins is consistent in his use of the term.
    - The comments he made also uses phrases like ‘mild touching up’ which would seem to indicate his use of the term is interchangeable with phrases like these.
    Actually it wouldn’t, particularly when you consider the comments from the book that immediately follow shortly after the one you gave: “All three of the boarding schools I attended employed teachers whose affections for small boys overstepped the bounds of propriety. That was indeed reprehensible. Nevertheless, if, fifty years on, they had been hounded by vigilantes or lawyers as no better than child murderers, I should have felt obliged to come to their defence, even as the victim of one of them (an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience).

    The bolded portions are key, which continue the theme of referring to the acts and how he does not consider what he experienced (although he regards it as “indeed reprehensible”) to be as severe as murder. If Dawkins were using the term “paedophilia” to refer to sexual attraction then his later comments simply do not follow. His entire point here is the false equivalency between what he experienced and much more severe acts such as murder.
    Not a good benchmark to be used tbh. Whenever any politician or famous person says anything whatsoever that even remotely relates to this topic you will have the child welfare folks queuing up to offer condemnation.

    I think the best example to illustrate this was the case of Edward Donnerstein, one of the leading researchers into the links between pornography and violence. The work he did with his colleagues in the field was used (or, rather, misused) for the Meese Report. When he, and his colleagues, pointed out that their research didn’t support the Meese Report’s recommendations there was no shortage of advocates and welfare experts lining up to pan them (for pretty much daring to speak the truth).

    It’s the same old story. Take comment A from some well-known person, and combine with outraged comment B to create controversy and sell papers and/or advertising space. Rinse and repeat. That sort of journalism, which side steps any meaty or meaningful discussion in favour of “People Outraged!!”-style headlines is pathetic and more unhelpful to understanding on the topic than the original comment A used to begin to the story.
    I don’t blame you if you haven’t read the particular passage in The God Delusion, but you have missed a seriously important piece of the context here. Immediately before the Salem quote you used he wrote “Priestly abuse of children is nowadays taken to mean sexual abuse, and I feel obliged, at the outset, to get the whole matter of sexual abuse into proportion and out of the way.”

    Later he goes on to explain with reference to Ireland as follows: “In the particular case of Ireland, even without the sexual abuse, the brutality of the Christian Brothers, responsible for the education of a significant proportion of the male population of the country, is legendary. And the same could be said of the often sadistically cruel nuns who ran many of Ireland’s girls’ schools. The infamous Magdalene Asylums, subject of Peter Mullan’s film The Magadalene Sisters, continued in existence until as late as 1996. Forty years on, it is harder to get redress for floggings than for sexual fondlings, as there is no shortage of lawyers actively soliciting custom from victims who might not otherwise have raked over the distant past.

    Again, I don’t hold it against you if you haven’t read the passage. But, with the above context posted, can you see how both you and The Atlantic are grossly misrepresenting his intent? At the time the book was published there wasn’t a furore over it because the context was clear. Now, some years later, you have folks like the author of the The Atlantic piece more than happy to engage in a bit of quote-mining. To leave out the above context isn’t defensible, and isn’t compatible with your claim that “This looks like an effort to minimise the seriousness of the problem, and is doubtless offensive to every child who was abused and where documentation exists to prove that the RC church knew about and covered up child abuse…

    Quoting a passage, devoid of its context, and using it to attack an argument that had nothing to do with the quoted passage is generally considered a quote-mine – something considered very bad form in debate.
    As I wrote above to AnonymousVanAllen, every time a well-known person speaks on any topic of controversy this shit happens – regardless of the content and context of the comment. It’s pointless and unjustifiable kneejerk journalism that makes society, as a whole, stupider.
    He wasn’t using the term ‘victim’ in the manner you are implying. He was merely saying that, with a stronger societal focus on prosecuting such cases, groups like the Church are getting prosecuted – why this sentiment is considered controversial is baffling to me.
    When you use a quote from The Times interview, which had nothing whatsoever to do with what you reference here, how is that not a textbook example of quote-mining? If you want to take issue with the linking above then why not quote from a source where that was the topic of discussion??
    This claim makes no sense since, in argumentation, there is no requirement that premises be connected.

    Arguments are structure as follows. First, you begin with a set of premises. Second, you apply logic, reasoning and deduction to said premises. Third, on the basis of step two you reach some conclusions. The starting premises do not have to be logically connected, they just have to be true.
    As I explained, it really is a good analogy that allows quantifying indoctrination harms in a manner that others can grasp – particularly with reference to psychological aspects.
    But I haven’t represented the argument, all I have done is state its premises. Until at least some agreement can be reached on those premises then, frankly, it would be a waste of my time to even try articulating the argument itself. Don’t you find it odd that you haven’t actually challenged any of those premises themselves? That you are even pursuing the line of reasoning you are, without touching those premises, is very illustrative of why (at this point) my moving beyond getting agreement on the premises would be a road to misrepresentation, strawmen and kneejerkism.
    My experience with cultism tells me that this, while well intentioned, is not accurate. Without a frame of reference for a person to analogise with, any explanation on my part about aspects of cultic terror are completely doomed to failure. Been there, done that, have the T-shirt to boot.
  10. Ah, but I did not say that they were 'solely' your words. That's entirely your spin on what I said.

    How can you possibly argue you're not repeating Dawkins error by stating that 'mild pedophilia' refers to the act, repeating Dawkins phrase without qualification or clarification, when the plain meaning of what you wrote is that pedophilia - a condition of existence, a sexual attraction for children - is an act.


    It's egregious that you accuse me of saying that those were your words (those in quotes), when I said no such thing. It is the entire sentence, including the quote and the part outside the quotes that repeats Dawkins error, because it is meaningless to say that pedophilia is an act, whether you have those words in quotes or not, or whether you repeat them by citing them unaltered. You can't seem to grasp that there is a reason for criticising Dawkins terminology, and you don't even bother to correct his misuse, thereby adding to the confusion caused.


    I very much doubt that, if you had thought about this for longer than the the time it took to write down your three reasons, you would have come to your conclusion, ie, that you 'don't buy' his misuse as non-accidental.

    If someone consistently misuses a term, either they are ignorant of correct usage, or they are deliberately choosing to misuse the term. It's extremely unlikely that Prof Dawkins would not know the correct term, which leaves us with the only plausible explanation - that he is consistently choosing to misuse the term.

    Now that we've settled that, we must consider why he deliberately misuses the term, and I went on to speculate about his possible reasons. It is not inconceivable that he does it for precisely the reason I gave, ie because the phrase 'mild sexual abuse' is more jarring, less likely to be accepted.

    However, it also completely muddies the distinction between the sexual orientation and the criminal acts, and I wonder whether this, too, is not deliberate, ie, that by refusing to be precise, he can always rebut criticisms by responding with 'Ah but you see, I'm referring here to the other sense of the term' (whichever is most convenient for his purpose at the time).

    The false equivalency is Dawkins' own invention - a strawman. If courts routinely punished individual acts of sexual abuse such as he experienced as severely as child-murder, he might have a better argument.

    That's your opinion, one that I don't share. What is the point of discovering that, for generations, the authorities failed to protect children in their care, and then levelling the criticism at those whose job it is to advocate for that protection and to do something about it?

    There are, of course many counter examples to the one you give above. I agree with you on your second point, but it isn't an argument against child advocacy, but rather tabloid journalism, greedy proprietors and people's preference for scandal and gossip.

    If you have been able to follow my argument, it will be clear to you that I do not agree that The Atlantic or I have grossly misrepresented Dawkins' views, or that either indulged in 'quote-mining' to distort those views. Rather than negating the points raised, the passages you cite here only add further weight to them. For example:

    If (as I have done in an earlier post) Dawkins is accused of being at the least, clumsy in the way he uses certain terms, or of minimising sexual abuse, the above would serve as a good starter. He wants to talk about other forms of religious abuse, so he wants to get the sexual abuse 'out of the way'. Well, that might be understandable, since the book is about religion, but it is hardly a felicitous turn of phrase. Why does he want to 'get it out of the way'?

    If he goes on to compare abuse through indoctrinating the fear of hell with sexual abuse, he owes it to his readers to at least know and understand the terms he is using.

    I am quoting the entire second passage you cite, though I want to highlight only the last part, just to avoid any further accusations of missing context or quote-mining.

    I defy you, or anyone else, to claim that the above is not a fairly systematic minimising of sexual abuse. Firstly, he again gets sexual abuse 'out of the way', by not referring to it - "even without the sexual abuse..."

    Then, he refers only to 'sexual fondlings' (as opposed to, say, 'sexual gropings', or 'sexual assaults'), strongly implying that such things are trivial, or even benign - nothing more than a bit of slap and tickle. Grrrrr!

    But there is worse yet: those seeking redress are 'rak[ing] over the distant past' and only do so now because ambulance-chasing lawyers are soliciting for their custom. This is an outrageous misrepresentation of the truth, where families have complained about serious sexual abuse for decades, only to be silenced or rebuffed by those in authority.

    I would expect to read such distortions in a publication devoted to pedophile advocacy.

    Dawkins here reproduces the exact language used by perpetrators of child sexual abuse. 'It was only a bit of fondling'. 'Why rake up stuff from forty years ago?' etc. Ugh!

    This is systematic, non-accidental minimising, period. Your accusations of misrepresentation are demonstrably without foundation, as are your utterly spurious claims that I have taken Dawkins' words out of their proper context.

    One last thing: The Atlantic is not some scurrilous tabloid rag, it is a distinguished publication with a record of quality journalism that goes back over 150 years, is read by 'thought leaders' and numbers some of America's most prominent writers and thinkers amongst its contributors.

    I would not be rushing to accuse such a publication of 'gross misrepresentations' and 'quote mining' without some more convincing evidence than you have provided so far (and, just to be clear, by that I mean: none).
    • Like Like x 2
  11. Anonymous Member

    OCD is when you can't stop.
  12. ^ Ad Hominem attack: when you have nothing to counter your opponent's arguments.
  13. Anonymous Member

    ^ that was not your opponent
  14. Anonymous Member

    ^ The definition of an Ad Hominem attack is true for any value of <opponent>.
  15. PP Prout Member

    Some snippage, to save us getting utterly bogged down, and because your quotations merit attention.

    I'm open to that point of view, in a general way. "90% of everything is junk". However, lumping all commentary together as "this shit" risks disallowing validity to any instance of commentary; and there will often be validity, even when there is also over-excited jumping up and down.

    That "90% of everything is junk" goes even more for what people say about the abuse of children than for most things. Our (mis)understandings shape what we do next, and therefore bear examining, regardless of who the speaker is. If anyone, random internet presence or eminent scientist, asserts, simplistically, that molestation, or maybe some paedophlia, or maybe both at once, but no, he really means molestation, is "mild", that assertion suggests a grotesque lack of understanding of the subject - and no-one who so lacks understanding should be free with his opinions on the matter!

    That is a possible interpretation: it's certainly the concrete case. My interpretation is no less possible. (Indeed, that word choice echoes apologists for the foot-dragging and obstructionism of the Church of Rome, who use victim, of the Church, exactly and literally to mean "one who is (intentionally) harmed by another".)

    We can probably agree that emotional import and linked ideas are a great part of meaning conveyed to a listener or reader; and thus, that, Dawkins' words were infelicitous at best.

    [Re. linking sexual abuse of children to indoctrination into fear of hell)]
    Mm. Merely saying that two spectra overlap does nothing to quantify.

    Systematic child abuse can drive people to gibbering insanity, or kill them; some isolated incidents may barely ruffle a well-protected child's equanimity (but others may kill them). How the devil does learning that "this form of abuse, like all the others, falls somewhere on the extremely broad spectrum of abuse" enlighten anyone?

    It doesn't. What it seeks to do is to gain some of the emotional energy attached to the idea of OMG!Abuse!Bad!, while downplaying the severity of sexual abuse. In the Top of the Pops of abuse, if sexual abuse is no. 1, then abuse by fire and brimstone can only reach that slot if sexual abuse falls from its position. This is the essence and inevitable result of harm-sizing - whoever does it, and for whatever reason.

    Zero-sum; which is daft, since emotional abuse has become recognised far more than ever before, at the same time that sexual abuse has become recognised; as anyone who understood much about either might expect! That increased recognition ought to pave the way for recognition that, indeed, terrifying children in the name of religion is a Bad Thing.

    You have a point regarding analogies and frames of references, yup.

    However, it is far from apparent to me that Dawkins' argument constitutes a frame of reference.

    Intrinsically, there is no analogy between, what was it, "sexual fondling" or "mild paedophilia" and terrifying children with hell-fire: it only becomes analogy when you compare aspects of sexual and non-sexual abuse which are directly comparable: the psychological manouevres, the limited ability of children to interpret the world, the power adults have over children...

    To draw that analogy, competently, one has to understand the dynamics of abuse, and to care about them: to draw the analogy, competently, one has to make it clear that one cares, even-handedly. Dawkins' own use of language and his incompetence in simplifying "molestation = mild, rape = severe" suggests that he does not understand, and fairly little cares. Bad way to begin, if one wants to bring light to a subject.

    I'm going to examine your quotations from The God Delusion:
    1. "Into proportion" = "make sure everyone realises it's overstated and overblown". I have never heard anyone speak of "getting something into proportion", who felt that it was being under-estimated, under-recognised, under-anything.

    2. "out of the way.” = out of the way. You don't get something which you intend to use as a frame of reference, an analogy, out of the way. Analogies are not impediments.

    Shome mishtake, shurely?

    That might be just a slip of the - word processor. Or is it a way of asserting how far past, and therefore irrelevant, the abuses were?

    1. Does Dawkins adduce evidence for this assertion? Alternatively, are you, is anyone here, aware of evidence elsewhere? If true as stated, this is scandalous.

    2. I can only echo Anon. Van Allen's revulsion at this appalling turn of phrase: his analysis of why it is objectionable is precise. "Fondling" is minimising par excellence.

    1. "Raked over" = brought up, in an unseemly manner, that which is best forgotten. In whose interests is it that abuse be forgotten?

    2. "The distant past": that past which is distant for the abuser may be relived, daily, weekly, every so often, annually on significant dates, by the victim; in flashbacks, in damage to daily life, in relationships spoiled or aborted... Only those with a vested interest in suppressing "the past" find it necessary so to label it.

    Again, I have to echo Anon. Van Allen: this is *exactly*, precisely, in fine detail, the language used by abusers and apologists for abusers - and those who, well, have to say it's a bad thing, but really don't want to say it's a terribly bad thing, or look to hard at it.

    3. "there is no shortage of lawyers actively soliciting custom from victims": It's a bit too overt to say outright that the victims are at fault in bringing their cases, so instead, we'll make them victims again; this time, of those mercenary and unscrupulous lawyers (a nearly universally accepted trope - but surely, such lawyers might also wish to profit by the suffering of those who were flogged?), who have solicited their otherwise forgotten experience. Encore un fois, a common manouevre among apologists for abusers.

    Textbook examples of how what dresses itself up as mere, concrete, unarguable fact can be used to further a truly vile agenda. That is the severest suspicion you've been battling in this thread; confirmed by the man's own words, the suspicion or hope of mere clumsiness and mere ignorance banished.

    I'm truly shocked, and saddened.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. Anonymous Member

    Except when it is not an attack^
    But humor
  17. Anonymous Member

    I’ve been involved in Chanology since January 2008, and have been an active poster on WWP without cessation since February 2008.

    In all that time I have never seen a more deliberate and determined attempt to defend blatant quote-mining as I have ITT.

    Here is another piece for you to misrepresent and quote-mine from:
  18. Anonymous Member

    Irishfag here. For Ireland, yes, this probably is true.

    The use of the word ‘probably’ here is due to the lack of real court cases on the issue, with most compensation claims being done through government schemes. In my experience the focus on sexual abuse in terms of compensation has far far outweighed any focus on physical or emotional abuse – and this is despite the latter two topics being covered in some depth in the Ryan Report (a difficult read, have your barf bucket ready).

    So far most enquiries here (Ferns, Cloyne, Murphy, etc.) have focused on sexual abuse only. Whenever numbers have been available (eg: Ryan Report) the level of physical and emotional abuse outnumbers the sexual abuse. We aren’t talking just a spanking or a mere scolding either, we’re talking systematic (and ritualistic) beatings, degradations, floggings, public humiliations, etc.

    It is hard to describe the culture in our recent past. Beatings where the norm rather than the exception. It is a scary thought to realise that if you get into a conversation on this topic with someone of sufficient age, odds are that person probably experienced beatings of some description. Schools run by religious orders were a level of extremity all on their own.

    But, yes, even if you go the shoite kicked out of repeatedly it is much more difficult for you to get compensation than if some priest had touched your cock.

    Extract from the Ryan Report:
  19. Anonymous Member

    LOL Pwn'd.
  20. PP Prout Member

    The latter, I understand (deplore, but understand). Emotional abuse is generally hard to demonstrate, and make intelligible. The former seems immensely depressing.

    Thank you both for warning and link. I confess to having but skimmed chunks: distressing enough, at that.

    In that context - and thank you for providing it -, that makes a sad sort of sense.

    I can't help thinking, your unfortunate country... Such things should never be unremarkable.
  21. Anonymous Member

    Does it change anything in your post previous?
  22. PP Prout Member

  23. FloGold Moderator

  24. Anonymous Member

    Genuine question – why not? The portion quoted seems to be one of the more accurate descriptions of what happened in Ireland that I’ve seen in print from a non-Irish source.
  25. FloGold Moderator

    Because anything that has to do with harm coming to children in any way elicits a more heated fervent emotional reaction from normal psychologically sound people.
    Religion, unless it deals with its use to harm children, not so much.
    But seeing as hes a known atheist i don't think the latter applies.
    If you cant figure something that incredibly obvious out then out then you much be impaired in some way or just really dense.
    • Like Like x 1
  26. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    Please post it here
  27. Anonymous Member

    • Like Like x 1
  28. I love and miss Christopher Hitchens, and I deeply respect Dr. Dawkins. This was a very thoughtful piece of writing. And, it stands on its own without any commentary even necessary.
  29. Anonymous Member

    I wish I could thank him personally for this.
  30. I got to meet the Hitchens when he was freelance writing for Vanity Fair. Talked to him a lot.
  31. Anonymous Member

    Thank God the patron saint of Anonymous survived this kerfuffle.

    Selfish meme.jpg
  32. FloGold Moderator

  33. Anonymous Member

    Why people would feel the need to consistently misrepresent and quote-mine is far from obvious to me.

    Why you would think that is in any way defensible to misrepresent and distort another’s words and comments, which has the effect of slandering that individual, is not obvious to me.

    Why you, specifically ITT, would post material from another person (in this case Kinsey) rather than take issue with the man this thread is actually about is not obvious to me.

    I think you have confused moral indignation towards a thing with that thing being ‘obvious’.

    There is something rather ironic about all of this though. My biggest detractor ITT has consistently harped on about the difference between ‘paedophile’ and ‘child molester’. Remember the last time that topic of discussion came up? Was it ‘obvious’ then too?
  34. PP Prout Member

    I keep trying to work out how to answer this, and not coming up with a good answer, since I can't imagine why you think it might. Perhaps that is the answer.
  35. FloGold Moderator

    I posted Kinsey because hes another man that has had his work, even tho there is more proof about his misdeeds than Dawkins (he's just a dumb idiot that like you, needs to take a step back and look at what he writes so he does not come out looking like a douchebag), torn to shreds and has been himself criticized, just like Dawkins has for his dumb comments, even if there was no malicious intent behind them, so people would have something to compare to the alleged misdeeds that Dawkins perpetrated and realize that altho his thoughts on the matter are insensitive and deplorable he is a saint compared to Kinsey,

    Wish you would lose that fervent need you have to always be right and take a look outside of yourself at what you write and how you come off. So what if you're 101% correct on all your wall o' text responses? People have always and will always have a diferent opinion than you.

    The mature thing would be to just walk away from the thread if you feel so wronged or irritated by it or if you feel people are deliberately misinterpreting of flat out ignoring what you have said. You already had your say on page 1 of this thread,and it will be there for the rest of eternity for all individual who pass through here to read and decide how they feel about it on their own, why do you feel the need to reiterate it every few posts?

    Your MO might work and work perfectly in other parts of the forum, but in this part, not so much.

    Oh, and about your other point, when it comes to the abuse or welfare of children, especially the abuse, its pretty expected that people will react passionately if not downright aggressive about it, regardless of how rational or irrational they appear to be to the common onlooker.
    • Like Like x 1
  36. Dawkins haters ITT need to STFU now, or lrn2English.

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