Richard Dawkins defends Pedophilia!
Richard Dawkins has gotten himself into some hot water by appearing to defend ‘soft’ or ‘mild’ pedophilia. He did this not by encouraging assault but by minimizing the effect on his own person. That is, he dismissed as insignificant, a sexual assault by a man who should have been a father figure and a protector to him. While he may be sincere, he demonstrates his ignorance in both the effect of sexual assault on children as well as on himself.
Richard Dawkins is one of the world’s best-known and most outspoken atheists. The scenario in question was part of an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday (Sept. 7). Dawkins, who is 72 years old, experienced the assault as an English school student in the 1950s. His exact statement was part of a description of how one of masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.” He went on to say other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”
His conclusions are deeply flawed. For starters there is no possible way for him to gauge the effect of this assault. He can never know what or who he may have been without the experience. To suggest there was ‘little effect’ is a grand and arrogant presumption. One could understand the necessity of self-preservation goading him onward in order to escape a fatalistic self-pity, but to dismiss an effect is utter nonsense. Presumably he believes this to be a fact because he became successful and did not become a predator himself. However there could still be a myriad of influences dictating his life choices.
Let’s take for example his atheism. A limited intellect, such as we all have, would assume we are free moral agents choosing to believe and disbelieve as an exercise of freewill. This for him would justify his rejection of God. What if that were not the case? What if the assault itself was the source of his atheism; a subconscious rebellion against a God he holds accountable for this treachery? The pain goes on, howbeit concealed as bitter cynicism.
Let’s look as his primary conclusion. He assumes an absence of ‘effect’, but on what basis? What plausible proof could convince him he is immune from that critical moment in his development. He, of course, believes this because he thinks he could know the difference. Delusion! He is not equipped to detect or navigate this kind of trauma, particularly as a child. Then, when he thinks of his life presently, what he has become, the shadow of this vile intrusion does not even enter the equation. This would be like a blind farmer believing the sun does affect his crops because he cannot see it. Our ignorance does nothing to establish or disprove anything. Still, despite this flaw I feel sorry for him.
Malice or Pride
I do not see malice at the heart of this story, only pride and ignorance. The blinding power of hubris convinces man he is unaffected by what he could never see. As such, I fault him no further than others equally guilty of blindness. Yet, I know that fuelling many predators today is a similar ignorance. One which is far from innocent, but which justifies preying on children they believe will also have ‘no lasting harm’.