Richard Dawkins – A strange tale of Twitter

Normally I'd have a photo of the person I'm discussing.  Unfortunately just seeing Dawkin's name is bringing figurative bile to the back of my throat.  For this reason I can't stomach a picture.
Normally I’d have a photo of the person I’m discussing. Unfortunately just seeing Dawkin’s name is bringing figurative bile to the back of my throat. For this reason I can’t stomach a picture.

I’ve very little time or interest for Richard Dawkins.  Whilst I don’t have a faith myself, I have a great respect for those that do and will support peoples right to have a faith completely.

Dawkins, for a man that claims not to have a faith, seems to have built himself quite a career on God (or his claimed absence of)

Normally I’d not give Dawkins time on my blog, he fits into a category of non-entity in my world and the reason is because unlike intelligent reasonable people who don’t have a faith, Dawkins seems to have a great skill in upsetting people and an inability to present his views without causing offence.  It’s silly, its childish and its not clever.

Anyone can upset people on social media if they so desire; the decent, intelligent people are the ones able to stimulate a debate that doesn’t alienate or offend anyone.

Freedom of speech! I hear you cry.  And yes there is freedom of speech, but in that comes responsibility.  Do you walk down the street not caring who you offend? Or is it that some people start to feel brave when they are behind a computer screen and think that upsetting people is ok?  Well it’s not ok.  Just like you or I wouldn’t run through a churchyard having a loud argument about sport whilst a funeral was in progress, we have boundaries.  Boundaries which apparently don’t apply to some cowards online.

Dawkins views could easily be presented without the offence and before you say this is a form of censorship, I think the reverse.  I think a respectful presentation of the same views would mean it would create a more inclusive debate, rather than people being offended and turning off.

I digress, I’ve allowed Dawkins an article on my site because of a rather strange #tag appearing on Twitter.  The tag was believed to have started on Thursday evening, with a #RIPricharddawkins and seems to be announcing his passing away. The purpose of this is unknown.

Richard Dawkins, the prominent atheist, misogynist and biologist, is not dead. But Weird Twitter, a dark, secret, absurd pocket of the Internet is having a great time saying he is. Mediaite’s Tina Nguyen speculates that the hashtag began around midnight last night with this bizarre tweet….

Source: Salon.com

So why are people doing this?  Is Dawkins being ridiculed by a growing number of people on social media? It will be interesting to see if we get an answer.

From his Twitter profile:

Treats all religions with good-humoured ridicule.

Which in my view is incorrect. I certainly don’t find it good humoured or funny and I don’t even have a faith. His followers lap it up though and Dawkins does love to RT.  If you worship hard enough to the “almighty” Dawkins he might re-tweet you.  Step up and offer your praise to him.  The crawling around him his followers engage in, is nearly as sickening as the way he approaches his topics.

Its people like Dawkins who have me staying away from the title of “atheist” lest I be associated with his type of “intellectual” debate (and I use those words loosely)

Ironically Dawkin’s should be praising God.  He’s made a name for himself on the back of religion.

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Drexus says:

    Non-religious question: Is the value of a message proportionate to the level of offence it represents? To that, if a fireman bursts into a building yelling at people to get out — is his message dismissed in favour of a handwritten invitation? “Dear Sir, the city fire department regrets to inform you that your building is on fire, and that we would kindly ask all people to quickly exit the building at this time. Thank you.”

    1. Admin says:

      That’s rather weak. Invading someone’s belief system in a way that causes hurt and upset is on a very different scale to saving someone’s life in the immediate. And a strong message to “get out” of a burning building is hardly likely to encroach on a personal belief system is it?

      Maybe you can’t see a difference here, but as I said before, with freedom of speech comes responsibility. And on a day to day level if you think it OK to offend just because you can (instead of considering others feelings in your response) and if you do offend, its somehow the other persons fault that they are offended, then that’s your world not mine.

      This is not about having an opinion silenced, its about considering the feelings of others when you make yours, as all decent human beings who have respect for others should do.

      1. Drexus says:

        It may appear to many that offensive information is inherently subjective. It could also be understood that an offensive message [is] the message. Communication is a complex process that encompasses many aspects of any species exhibiting sociality. It isn’t what is “said,” but how it’s said that carries the true message. To outright dismiss the core aspect of social communications is censorship — and a fundamental violation of Universal Rights.

        With respect to invading one’s “belief system,” what support is given if the beliefs held by an individual are intolerant to others having a separate belief?

        As per discerning an offensive voice of immediate danger verses one’s personal belief, I’d ask that you give this extra careful consideration — as subjective assertions are also considered offensive regardless of belief.

        1. Admin says:

          Thanks for that. For someone who attempts to explain the more complex facets of communication you seem to have missed my point again.

          At least you’ve not brought to the table another weak example like you did the last time.

          In other words its not your fault if someone else is offended by what you say and its all part of the complex process of communication. Well if your brain cannot convey a message or opinion whilst at the same time keeping in mind anothers feelings then I feel deeply sorry for you. Its not hard and as I say its far more beneficial because instead of turning people away who differ in opinion or degenerating it into insults, they will engage with you and debate.

          A core aspect of communication is not saying things to offend and maybe you can’t differentiate between accidental and intentional.

          “As per discerning an offensive voice of immediate danger verses one’s personal belief, I’d ask that you give this extra careful consideration — as subjective assertions are also considered offensive regardless of belief.”

          I’ve given it careful consideration, since you’ve not provided any justification on the reply I gave, it seems you have too. You were wrong, your example was at best weak and you can no longer support it.

          1. Drexus says:

            Tim.

            It’s unfortunate this must be pointed out at length.

            Your article provides a plethora of subjective assertions while void of impartial reasoning to support stated claims. This article subjectively asserts that only “intelligent people are the ones able to stimulate a debate that doesn’t alienate or offend anyone”.

            “Boundaries which apparently don’t apply to some cowards online.” Is this an example of how not to offend anyone — hence the implied qualification of the author’s intelligence?

            “I think a respectful presentation of the same views would mean it would create a more inclusive debate, rather than people being offended and turning off.” A reasonable sentiment if not completely contradictory from the repeated questions inciting backlash analogous to Fox News (offering a defamatory remark — shielded by the use of a question mark).

            I then questioned the [possible] value of a message with respect to the potential in offending someone. To which your retort was “That’s rather weak” irrespective of the impartial question presented — oblivious to the offence of such an opening statement.

            Then was the offensive implication that I’m unable to discern the difference between offensive comments towards one’s belief and the critical nature of an emergency. I’ll elaborate on this shortly.

            “And on a day to day level if you think it OK to offend just because you can (instead of considering others feelings in your response) and if you do offend, its somehow the other persons fault that they are offended, then that’s your world not mine.”

            This implies offence of a message is onerous to the one offering the message. While this is accurate, you finish with an unsubstantiated claim — outright offending my position — and unacknowledged of evidence to the contrary.

            “Thanks for that. For someone who attempts to explain the more complex facets of communication you seem to have missed my point again.”

            I’d be very interested in your point at this time.

            “In other words its not your fault if someone else is offended by what you say and its all part of the complex process of communication.”

            Is this sarcasm? If not, is this not a complete contradiction to your previous statement qualifying the need for “more inclusive debate”? If this is sarcasm, I must point out the paradox in reasoning your comments evidently present.

            “Well if your brain cannot convey a message or opinion whilst at the same time keeping in mind anothers feelings then I feel deeply sorry for you.”

            It’s clear your derogatory references can’t be interpreted as jest, and I take great offence to such unprovoked attacks.

            “Its not hard and as I say its far more beneficial because instead of turning people away who differ in opinion or degenerating it into insults, they will engage with you and debate.”

            This is your view after the writing the previous sentence? Seriously?

            “A core aspect of communication is not saying things to offend and maybe you can’t differentiate between accidental and intentional.”

            20 years as communications specialist and you offer to lecture me — with such a sentence no less?

            “I’ve given it careful consideration, since you’ve not provided any justification on the reply I gave, it seems you have too. You were wrong, your example was at best weak and you can no longer support it.”

            Tim. Let me first point out that at no time have I offered subjective assertions, derogatory remarks, or unsubstantiated claims. You don’t know me any more than I know you. That said, allow me to present what evidently escapes inclusion in your comments.

            Given your proclaimed respect for those of faith — and your resolve to maintain “…a respectful presentation of the same views…” you felt it necessary to question my capacity to distinguish offensive comments between those towards faith and those in an emergency situation. Had it not occurred to you there are those of faith that subscribe to killing others because they are of different faith — as per the demands of their faith? Does this not qualify a dire situation of emergency to you given the global events taking place today?

            Had it not occurred to you that many of the wars in human history were atrocities to humanity simply because of differences of faith? How much careful consideration was employed in your assessment of my question by disregarding the intolerant nature of faith evident today? Your baseless remark of just how wrong I am resonates your silence on the aspects of communication as necessary for delivering an accurate point.

            Still, even now, I’ve offered nothing critical to your personal views, your intellectual capacity, your brain, or any other subjective reference to your individuality. So please do not lecture people on subjectively offensive material.

            1. Admin says:

              ” Is this an example of how not to offend anyone”

              Yes. We were talking about the personal belief system if you hadn’t noticed. I am critical of the weak responses you gave to an opinion that people should respect others faith. I think some people who act offensively online either with an anonymous nym or not are cowards. Please read the word “some”. Of course there are also “some” people who do not care if they do it in the “real world” either.

              And in any case, since the term “some” cowards doesn’t refer to anyone in particular (there’s plenty out there) there is no offence that can be taken.

              “Tim. Let me first point out that at no time have I offered subjective assertions, derogatory remarks, or unsubstantiated claims. ”

              No, you made a silly comparison about saving someone’s life in the context of them possibly being offended. Or did you forget that? I told you that offending someone to save their lives was in no way similar to offending someone’s belief system as they go about their day to day lives.

              “Still, even now, I’ve offered nothing critical to your personal views, your intellectual capacity, your brain, or any other subjective reference to your individuality. So please do not lecture people on subjectively offensive material.”

              But you were the one offering wrong comparison. You made needlessly wordy remarks (which may or may not be an attempt to convince others you are far more intellectual than you actually are).

              “So please do not lecture people on subjectively offensive material.”
              Don’t be so silly. This is about not offending people’s personal belief system, something which your attempts to pad out fall far short of justifying, if that was your aim.

              “Had it not occurred to you that many of the wars in human history were atrocities to humanity simply because of differences of faith?”

              And had it not occurred to you that tolerance and respect (on all sides) is the key to having a belief system and NOT having bad feeling? But this is not about the “world” and you cannot move the goal posts, this is about an allegedly educated person being unable to present their beliefs without being offensive to some. I’ve written and commented much on religion, I’ve not upset or offended anyone, infact in my experience I’ve opened up new dialogues, interesting discussions and often found, much common ground.

              “Your baseless remark of just how wrong I am resonates your silence on the aspects of communication as necessary for delivering an accurate point.”

              Its not baseless, you offered an example of a fire officer offending (or having to write a polite note) in order to get someone from a burning building. As if that in anyway similar to the offending of peoples faith in their day to day lives.

              It is my opinion there is something wrong if you cannot see the need for respect when dealing with others personal belief system and its why I’ve given your words the contempt I think they deserve no matter how you try to pad them out or dress them up.

              1. Drexus says:

                No Tim. You have a talent in offending people outright, your writing speaks for itself.

                1. Admin says:

                  It certainly does, thankfully you didn’t put that into a wordy post and its strange that you imply that after I’ve taken apart your attempts to justify. So are you offended? I’ve not offended your belief system at all (if you even have one) I’ve just highlighted your weak counter and stuck by my opinion of thinking offending peoples belief system (in respect of religion) is wrong.

                  And I’m not the one hiding behind a nym either am I? Maybe in future you’ll think twice before seemingly trying to defend a position that says its ok to offend others beliefs/faith.

                  1. Drexus says:

                    Young Tim.

                    Taken apart? Your faint attempt to skirt my offers of reason is a clear slight on your part to show respect or provide unbiased discussion.

                    This is where I shift gears, not because I need to, but as a point inline with the need for comments potentially offensive to some — as a necessity in conveying a message as accurately as possible (please prove you understand this).

                    As an educator and specialist in communications for over 20 years, it’s easy to circle the baseless assertions offered by your article (they stand right out for all to see). It may take you years to grasp this, so I understand if this continues to go straight over your head. If you handed this article in, I would point you to students in my class who’ve demonstrated an acceptable grasp of grammar, spelling, and punctuation. I would then emphasize the need to check your work before handing it in. 20 years ago, I would have excused the occasional typo, but I no longer offer such forgiveness to even the most handicapped student; as the tools in preventing this blatant failing eliminate any excuse outright.

                    The composition of your article is void of a coherent thought much less a clear objective. As a Wikipedia article it would receive a multitude of flags sighting reference violations — and likely suffer the axe of conjecture. The contradictions in your submission defies reason at the most basic level. How a single sentence can contradict itself is a literary blunder on a galactic scale — instanced multiple times no less. Prejudice and biased come to mind in making sense of a possible purpose dismissive of the need for basic editing or content structure.

                    Yes, offensive you are to reason, and to those you couldn’t care to know. I don’t offer this as speculation, but from irrefutable evidence (yet you refute still the same). As for your literary career, students in my class presenting such atrocious material would receive a well earned “F”. You may take offence to this if you like, but I feel I’m not alone in my professional assessment. To be blunt, Carl Sagan once said “If it can be destroyed by the truth, it deserves to be destroyed by the truth” — and the truth is you refuse accountability for offensive and prejudice material, much less the patience or skill to make a coherent point — thus, your plea for respectful dialog is a blatant sham.

                    I’m appalled at your blind smattering of offensive remarks regardless of who it insults. I provide clear argument for reason, and you miss it consistently — as though stricken with selective cognition — yet clear as day to anyone else blessed with the gift of literacy. It’s likely you will post more responses (to what end I’m unsure) employing your special logic as further proof of your prejudice — while hypocritically claiming sensitivity to offensive comments of particular people, and carelessly insulting individuals such as myself all the while.

                    1. Admin says:

                      “Young Tim.” – Not sure about that. You hide behind an anon nym and claim to be a “communication specialist”. Oh dear.

                      Since this is how your type of communication is presented, I wonder, just how low the requirements are to claim such a moniker. I see now why you won’t put your real name to your words.

                      “As an educator and specialist in communications for over 20 years”

                      Priceless.

                      “The composition of your article is void of a coherent thought much less a clear objective”

                      Funny that after so many reads and comments on other social media’s you are the only one saying that. (1803 reads so far)

                      Your words read like an answer you would get from a piece of AI software in the future. Yes its gramatically very good, nice long words and a fudging around a topic, but in that its devoid of any soul at all. I’ve read patent applications that had more soul in the responses.

                      ” thus, your plea for respectful dialog is a blatant sham.”

                      Of course, respectful dialogue when it comes to personal belief/faith. Sure, I’ve completely not addressed that have I? Are you just incapable of understanding?

                      If we a moving outside this article, then I think anything else goes. My article was, is, and still stands by the fact that insulting peoples faith/religion/belief is wrong and that respect should be given to such topics.

                      You with your anonymous nym and claims of “communication specialist” have not only tried to bring the article away from that but also seem to have given some pretty weak answers in trying to justify yourself.

                      I completely understand why you won’t use your real name. I wonder how old you are?

                      “carelessly insulting individuals such as myself all the while.”

                      Nothing careless. I looked at your answers, I challenged them and I said they are wrong. Further than that I question your claims of “communication specialist” not only because I believe you’ve approached this poorly, but because you hide behind a nym.

                      Your site (which in my view follows the same souless wordy responses) is an echo chamber isn’t it? Why don’t you show your stats?

                      How is it I get the readers yet it only you who has a problem? And maybe more importantly why do you hide behind an anon nym?

                      Maybe you should think on this. Apply your claimed “offence” feeling to someone who has their faith/religion offended. Not nice is it? Now I’d suggest me highlighting your weak argument is very different to having one’s faith insulted. Maybe now you can see why I believe above all else, personal belief system/faith/religion should be talked about with respect, less it deeply upsets someone. I’m not upset with your silly remarks like “young Tim” or your attempts to “word out” an answer, akin to a piece of AI software from the future trying to be a politician.

                      Let me, just one more time, stress the point of the article which you don’t seem to understand.

                      WE HAVE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, HOWEVER IN THAT COMES RESPONSIBILITY . WHEN TALKING ABOUT OR HAVING A DISCUSSION ON PEOPLE’S FAITH/RELIGION, RESPECT SHOULD BE GIVEN AS THIS IS VERY PERSONAL TO THEM.

                      Communications specialist? That perhaps is the only thing you’ve said to lighten the mood.

                    2. Drexus says:

                      Tim. You would place respect of one’s religion above someone without?

                      I think I see the problem here. You are aware that you just contradicted yourself again… are you?

                    3. Admin says:

                      If someone doesn’t have a faith, then there’s no faith to be offended. Please don’t try to be clever. If you are wishing to suggest that an atheist’s non belief is a faith in itself then thats wrong. A faith is something more than just a belief in God, it is part of their upbringing (usually) and part of their life.

                      And you are comparing a belief system one hand to a person who doesn’t have a belief system. To be fair though I wouldn’t respect a non-beiief any less, infact I would agree with a non-belief and a scientific answer to creation.

                      So how is this silly point related to anything? If you are moving goalposts again, I don’t recall offending a non faith infact I respect that in the same way.

                      “You are aware that you just contradicted yourself again… are you?”

                      No, you’ve got it wrong again. Show me where I say its OK to disrespect a non-belief? I repeat yet again just for you. IT IS WRONG TO INSULT PEOPLES BELIEF SYSTEM.

                      I can disrespect your weak arguments and silly comments. But I don’t think I’ve disrespected any belief system you may or may not have. But you have so catastrophically failed to grasp anything that you’ve not even seen where I myself am an “atheist” – the only difference being I don’t like the title because it puts me in mind of some of the Dawkins followers I’ve had the displeasure to see in action.

                      No I don’t place any respect over another. I ask that whatever the view people hold in RESPECT OF FAITH, that consideration is given to the fact that it’s a very personal matter. Anything else, choice of OS, football team etc is fair game, but belief systems? they should be dealt with respect whatever they are.

                      Do I have to repeat myself any more or do you finally understand?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s