Will the real Richard Dawkins please stand up?

Normally, a piece in Raw Story does not move me to set something to paper. Indeed, the online “publication” triggers my chuckle-and-ignore switch with as much ease as the average Tumblr feminist.

Today, though, they ran a piece about noted scientist and skeptic Richard Dawkins that I had already had confirmed from several other sources. While nothing in it changed my mind about RS, it did cause me to question whether Dawkins is a victim of his own celebrity—or if he is just selling out.

The contemporary darling of the skeptic community appears to have become so insulated in his ivory tower that it has disconnected him from anything, well, contemporary. He seems so unplugged at this point that he actually seems to think that ideology is good for science.

He has also never heard of the men’s rights movement.

“Of course feminism has an enormously important role,” he told Kennesaw State University’s Michael L. Sanseviro.

Feminism, as I understand it, is the political drive towards the equality of women — so that women should not be discriminated against, nobody should be discriminated against on grounds that don’t merit discrimination. So, yes, feminism is enormously important and is a political movement which deserves to be thoroughly well-supported.

That was his response to Sanseviro’s question about alleged contributions of feminism to, get this, science.

For some reason, Dawkins elected to give a non-answer to the actual question. I suspect that was because actually naming things that feminism has contributed to science (other than a gag) is too challenging, even for the biologist’s notably sharp mind. At least for today. He seems to have made a tectonic shift from earlier beliefs, as evidenced here:

Dawkins’s air of disconnection was amplified when asked what he thought about the Men’s Human Rights Movement.

I didn’t, I hardly knew — is there a men’s right movement?

He probably did not catch the meaning of the laughter that followed. The amusement in the room was undoubtedly driven by the fact that controversy over the men’s movement had already swept through the Kennesaw campus like a brush fire and that some members of his giggling audience were neck-deep in a smear and censorship campaign aimed at silencing members of that movement on campus.

He also must have missed a boatload of stories from the likes of ABC News, The Washington Post, National Post, Salon.com, Huffington Post, Fox News, and several others.

Dawkins goes on to explain his information gap in his next breath.

If there is discrimination against men, then that’s bad too. I don’t know whether there is. I haven’t heard of it.

Richard Dawkins has not heard of discrimination toward men? Really? Sorry, Richard, but please tell me this is because you have invented human teleportation and have managed to remain in an academic setting constantly for the past several years. Tell me that you have so successfully avoided the real world that you are unaware of the ongoing problems of fathers and children in family courts, the egregious and blatant discrimination against men in criminal sentencing, and the transparent sexual double standards applied against males in the domestic violence and sexual assault industries.

Perhaps you have actually done so well with insulating yourself that you have managed to exist completely within the walls of interdisciplinary studies departments, lest you may have actually heard of the loss of due process for young men now rampant across college campuses. Or maybe it was harder to notice, even for the great scientist-skeptic, because there are so few young men left?

A respectful suggestion for the illustrious Dawkins: feminism, “as you understand it,” is not anything like you understand it. In fact, you don’t seem to understand it at all past a myopic, politically expedient definition which depends strictly on who is listening at the moment.

The snickers in the audience had two meanings, Richard. One, they were the auditory equivalent of eye rolls. And two, they were an acknowledgement of hateful ideologues (the feminism you no longer seem to understand) that you have been sufficiently conditioned or cowed into being useful to.

That is the problem with living the insulated life. Not only do you end up making foil-hat-worthy observations that translate to ideology being good for science, but eventually the insulation becomes so thick, so protective and muffling, that whatever tiny spark remains in the wire is of little use to science or to society.

It is even more disturbing when insulation and ignorance seem to be retroactive.

Will the real Richard Dawkins please stand up?

And while you are standing, please explain to us what “real” feminism is. Is it the variety that you have repeatedly mocked and scorned as anti-scientific but suddenly fell into a memory lapse when addressing a group of “atheist-feminists” at Kennesaw State University?

Or is it the kind found only in the dictionary and in the denial-ridden rhetoric of feminist defenders?

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