Professional provocateur Richard Dawkins today stirred outrage by suggesting some types of rape and paedophilia were “worse” and milder than others.
Despite a backlash and a barrage of angry criticism, Dawkins insisted his categorisations did not “imply approval” and remained adamant of his point.
Dawkins’s statements were met with incredulity by a charity which delivers services to end violence against women and children.
Jody Woodward, a spokesman for East London Rape Crisis, a service within the charity NIA, told Huffington Post UK: “Rape itself is a violent act regardless of whether any physical force is used. For survivors there is no hierarchy as to what constitutes ‘better’ or ‘worse’ rape. Rape is rape; there is no such thing as mild rape."
Dawkins, 73, is no stranger to public skirmishes, as these examples attest:
‘Bin Laden Has Won’
In November last year he declared victory for Osama Bin Laden – after his jar of honey fell foul of airport security rules.
The atheist vented his fury on Twitter after the "little jar" went to waste, presumably because of restrictions on liquids that can be taken on as hand luggage.
Keeping things well in perspective, he tweeted: "Bin Laden has won, in airports of the world every day".
Bin Laden has won, in airports of the world every day. I had a little jar of honey, now thrown away by rule-bound dundridges. STUPID waste.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) November 3, 2013
The professor gained little sympathy for his plight. @Sazza_jay witheringly replied: “You are truly the real victim of terrorism”, while @wefail said: “Bin Laden is eating your honey in heaven. LOL.”
Blaming ‘dundridges’ for the confiscation, this was Dawkins' sniffy reply to those mocking his outrage: “Are you carpers really too thick to see the difference between a matter of general principle and a petty concern with a single jar of honey?”
‘Who (Apart From The Pig) Is Damaged By Bacon?’
In July, Dawkins described the conviction of a man and woman for draping slices of bacon on a mosque as “contemptible.”
Cruikshank received nine months after pleading guilty while Lambie was sentenced to 12 months after being found guilty of the charges.
The author of The God Delusion – who has branded religion a “betrayal of intellect” and “a betrayal of all that’s best about what makes us human” tweeted: “Who (apart from the pig) is damaged by bacon? How can this possibly justify a year in jail? Law gone mad.”
Who (apart from the pig) is damaged by bacon? http://t.co/6Yk4MMQuKv How can this possibly justify a year in jail? Law gone mad.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) June 21, 2014
He later added: “How can you be jailed a year for non-violently draping bacon on a door? Law contemptible gives standing to offence.”
How can you be jailed a year for nonviolently draping bacon on a door? http://t.co/6Yk4MMQuKv. Law contemptible gives standing to "offence"— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) June 21, 2014
'There’s A Very Interesting Reason Why A Prince Could Not Turn Into A Frog'
In June Dawkins declared fairytales to be “statistically too improbable” and advised parents to consider not telling them to children as they “do not foster a spirit of scepticism.”
Making his comments at the Cheltenham Science Festival, Dawkins appeared to slam fairytale authors like the Brothers Grimm for not pausing to think: "Would, on the balance of probabilities, a wolf trick a little a little girl into thinking it was her granny?"
"I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism," he said, according to The Times.
"Even fairytales, the ones we all love, about witches and wizards or princes turning into frogs. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog. It’s statistically too improbable."
But he stopped short of demanding parents stop altogether telling their children fairytales.
He said: "Many people would say you destroy the magic of childhood if you tell them that princes can’t turn into frogs. I’m genuinely uncertain.”
‘Mehdi Hasan Admits To Believing Muhamed Flew To Heaven On A Winged Horse’
The comment was directed at HuffPost UK Political Director Mehdi Hassan, then working at the New Statesman, who was challenged by Dawkins in an interview in 2012 to admit he believed the Prophet Muhammed flew to heaven on a winged horse.
Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged horse. And New Statesman sees fit to print him as a serious journalist— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 21, 2013
Dawkins later apologised in a blog, writing: “None of those three meanings was well conveyed by my ill-judged words, and I withdraw them with apologies. I’m grateful to the many tweeters who came to my defence and saw no problem with my original formulation. Nevertheless, I cannot deny that my words were carelessly chosen.”
“All The World's Muslims Have Fewer Nobel Prizes Than Trinity College, Cambridge”
In August 2013, Dawkins courted controversy by claiming the world’s Muslims have won fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge, but adding: “They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.”
All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 8, 2013
He responded to the barrage of ensuing criticism by telling his followers: "A statement of simple fact is not bigotry. And science by Muslims was great in the distant past." In a further posting he wrote: "Where would we be without alchemy? Dark Age achievements undoubted. But since then?"
He sought to justify the controversial observation by adding: "Why mention Muslim Nobels rather than any other group? Because we so often hear boasts about (a) their total numbers and (b) their science." One angry Twitter user hit out at the remarks telling the author: "You absolutely disgust me."
And finally, this one is less of a rant and more of a curiosity...
‘Nuisance To Find Paired Sock’
Dawkins is often found musing about socks. "Socks, unlike shoes, lack chirality," he says, advising we follow his friend's lead and wear "odd socks as fashion statement."
It is a "nuisance" to find paired socks he adds, expressing his desire to "buy lots of identical grey socks."
He also wants to know: "Do amputees buy pairs of shoes and throw one away?"
Left & right shoes different, so yes, sell them in pairs. Not socks. Nuisance to find paired sock. Want to buy lots of identical grey socks.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 24, 2013
Socks, unlike shoes, lack chirality. Tell Marks & Spencer. Alternative solution: Australian friend wears odd socks as fashion statement.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 24, 2013
Do amputees buy pairs of shoes and throw one away? Maybe contact others same size feet via Internet? My L shoes always wear out before R.— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) April 24, 2013