BREAKING: Richard Dawkins, live organ donor!

[CONTENT NOTE: minimizing gender-based harassment; misogynist abuse; minimizing pedophilia and rape; ableism; extreme hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; one m-f* bomb.]

Once upon a time, Your Humble Correspondent™ fell madly in love with evolutionary biology, and read every book written by one Clinton Richard Dawkins. When he unleashed The God Delusion, oh how my inner voices screamed yes! yes! upon savoring (nearly) every page. The author of these magnificent tomes came across as a truly decent sort, wicked smart, remarkably deft at communicating philosophical and scientific complexities to the laity without talking down to them—and with a razor sharp wit to boot. Whattaguy.

The Mask Slips

Then came the Dear Muslima gambit, in which a snide Professor Dawkins shat forth a classic relative privation fallacy on a Pharyngula thread. This would have been disappointing enough, coming as it did from such a proclaimed paragon of rationalism. But he deployed this foolishness in the service of (a) minimizing gender-based harassment, and (b) spitefully belittling Rebecca Watson. At the time it seemed so surreal that none of us could believe the words were actually his—until PZ Myers verified his IP address. We sniped back along the lines of “Gosh, Richard, what the fuck are you doing promoting science education when women are being brutally raped in war zones right now huh?!” But it was no use: he just kept digging deeper.

As if all of this were not quite douchey enough, according to at least one source the good doctor allegedly attempted to bully conference organizers into blacklisting Rebecca Watson from the Reason Rally, where His Eminence would be speaking. Only recently did he finally see fit to mumble a two-cent apology, an afterthought in a typically self-serving blog post wherein he wildly mischaracterizes his critics’ arguments. Meanwhile, in the intervening years, Rebecca Watson has been the target of an unrelenting campaign of violent rape threats, doxxing, DDOS attacks, harassment and all manner of misogynist abuse—a crusade during which her attackers were no doubt emboldened by the knowledge that they were on the side of The Great Man himself.

Thus it came to pass that Richard Dawkins broke my fucking heart. But see, here’s the thing: no one breaks my heart twice. Not anymore. This is because I have come to realize that, with very rare exceptions, people don’t really change. Sure, they can become better skilled at masking their more odious views and restraining their more noxious impulses. Alternatively, they can become less concerned about letting the mask slip, revealing the ugliness underneath. Regardless, in my experience this observation turns out to be especially true of privilege-blind narcissistic assholes and unrepentant shitweasels of every stripe. (Those are not mutually exclusive categories, by any means.)

I held my cynical little tongue while others pored over The Dawk’s every utterance that could be—if you rephrased it a bit, then reinterpreted it in the most charitable light (no matter how antithetical this might be to its plain meaning)—a welcome sign that His Grace was finally open to becoming a more decent and reasonable human being. Maybe admitting he had not the first fucking clue about certain subjects upon which he was so imperiously opining? Perhaps even addressing his more knowledgeable critics’ actual arguments? Grokking social media 101?

Don’t be silly. As if.

The Downward Spiral

He kept right on cycling through the same bizarre pattern. Minimizing child molestation(?!) and others’ reactions thereto, and then, utterly predictably, misconstruing his critics and spitting out a defensive notpology. Ranking the relative harms of various contexts of pedophilia(?!!) and rape(?!!!), solely in order to deride imaginary critics for engaging in—wait for it—the very same relative privation fallacy he so relished in Dear Muslima:

LOL, d00d. No one thinks that. Well, except for Richard Fucking Dawkins, all the way back in…2011.

In rapid succession came two more tweets:

Right on cue came his trademarked missing-the-point blog post (*yawn*)—then another one even more absurd, if you can believe it. No, seriously: see, our brave Atheist King merely “wanted to challenge the taboo against rational discussion of sensitive issues,” notwithstanding the (taboo?) rational discussions of these issues that have repeatedly revealed him to be empirically flat-out fucking wrong. But wait—it gets funnier!

“it is also deplorable that there are many people in the same atheist community who are literally afraid to think and speak freely, afraid to raise even hypothetical questions such as those I have mentioned in this article. They are afraid – and I promise you I am not exaggerating – of witch-hunts: hunts for latter day blasphemers by latter day Inquisitions and latter day incarnations of Orwell’s Thought Police.”

These poor atheists live in paralyzing fear of NO EXAGGERATION witch hunts! ACTUAL Inquisitions! LITERAL Orwellian Thought Police! Yes friends, that is exactly what it’s like to be rebuked for spewing pig-ignorant, long-debunked bullshit on Twitter. And yet! In a noble and selfless endeavor to ‘splain Teh Logickz™ to the rest of us overly emotional and hopelessly irrational inferiors, they and they alone are courageous enough to regurgitate harmful rape culture myths that have plagued sexual assault victims for millennia.

More Shitweaselry

Shortly thereafter, we were all treated to a terse dismissal of the humanity of people with Down Syndrome and righteous judgement upon parent(s) who might be willing and able to welcome such a child:

This was immediately followed by (surprise!) grandiose thrashings of straw critics, hilarious backfilling and (OMG! surprise again!) a smarmy notpology. Lather, rinse, repeat. Zzzzzz.

WHAT?! Oh sorry. I must have dozed off there.

Ordinarily at such junctures we would snort derisively, and wonder bemusedly whether his hapless defenders would ever, finally, just give it up. And then the other day, lo and behold two more tweets emanated from the sacred thumbs of His Excellency:

Yes: our pontifex maximus has just decreed that a person ought to be enslaved and forced to donate his (or perhaps her?) tissue and organs to a hypothetical poet-fetus, else face the penalty of murder charges. Most foul indeed, Sir! And nothing new, as it turns out: just last year we were all to be enslaved organ donors to fetuses that feel pain. And possibly to pigs as well, although as usual with the preeminent science communicator’s Twitter rantings, who even knows what the fuck he is talking about. (I guess I snoozed through this one, thank the Lard.)

And so it has come to pass that a certain Richard of Dawkins fame now finds himself participating in our world-famous involuntary organ donor program—wherein we perform extractions of lifesaving organs whether people consent to them or not!

Live By It, Motherfucker

Of course we don’t go around forcefully harvesting organs from just anyone willy-nilly. No! Our involuntary donors all meet one very strict criteria: they would eagerly force others to donate lifesaving organs without their consent. Since they feel so strongly about this principle, it is only right and fair that they live (or die) by it! We are saving lives, people! (Maybe even poets.)

It is true that organ extraction does involve some risks. But none of our donors could possibly object to any of that when they are openly hostile to the very notion of consent, at least with respect to the fair use(s) of living human bodies to which our society is morally entitled. Still, rest assured that we harvest organs using only state-of-the-art equipment and extraction procedures. It’s not like we’re running an illegal abortion clinic here! Finally, to ensure donors are fully informed (if not consenting!), they are subject to a trans-vaginal (and/or rectal) ultrasound, for an exquisite view of the organ(s) from which they will soon be permanently parted.

The Lord of All Logic will find much in common with his many fellow involuntary donors, as they pass the time waiting until someone has a life-threatening condition requiring one or more of their body parts. There’s the gaggle of 447 active and retired members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who I am told are most anxious to hear more of his insightful pontifications on the relatively minimal harms of “mild pedophilia.” There is Sarah Palin of course, who can provide him with a more humane and enlightened perspective on people with Down Syndrome (<—I cannot fucking believe I just typed that. Fuck you for that alone, Richard Dawkins.). We’ve got various and sundry godbots and media personalities just as pompous as His Highness, which should make for some entertaining drama. Unfortunately, there are also U.S. Senators. (The congresscritters are always the most despicable of the lot, I’m afraid.)

Sorry, Richard: go away until you learn how to MORAL.


PROJECTION: It’s Not Just For Movies.

[CONTENT NOTE: f*-bombs.]

I have long been interested in subverting the U.S. conservative movement, which I am certain is the root of all evil despite what you may have heard elsewhere. If you are not convinced of this proposition, consider for a moment precisely what it is that conservatives wish to conserve: a status quo that is violently racist and sexist, patriarchal and heteronormative, ubercapitalist and imperialist, ableist and classist, Christian supremacist and anti-intellectual, sadistically punitive and social-Darwinist—I could go on (and on and on).

What the fuck. Two sentences in, and I've already bummed everyone out. :

But it's not all bad news! Having dedicated much of my adult life to the study of conservatives in the wild (and not coincidentally, much of my childhood to navigating those worlds to survive), I am here to provide you with practical tips that can save you a whole lot of time you would otherwise spend scratching your head in dumfounded bewilderment. The most important thing to know about conservatism is this: there is nothing new in any of it. Not one single thing. I have pored over tracts by Buckley, Schlafly, Will, Friedman, Rand, Coulter, Kristol and Krauthammer; I have listened to Limbaugh and watched Fox News; I have read The Wall Street Journal editorial page and countless right-wing blogs. And I have satisfied myself beyond any doubt that it always—always—boils down to a comically grandiose sense of self-importance and entitlement. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about panty-sniffing Catholic bishops or reckless Wall Street traders, the entire "intellectual" basis of conservatism can be summed up thusly: “I’ve got mine, Jack. Fuck you. And especially, fuck them.”

Naturally this point of view leads conservative minds to spin increasingly bizarre rationalizations for their own privilege, and corresponding justifications for oppressing others. One of the more common manifestations of this phenomenon is psychological projection. Projection is a theory in psychology whereby people avoid acknowledging dissonant thoughts and unsavory impulses in themselves by attributing them to others. Everyone is prone to this, especially in times of crisis. But right-wing conservatives deploy it to such an extreme degree and with such a total lack of self-awareness that it borders on comic farce. Allow me to illustrate.

So, some conservative Christians made a terrible movie based on a silly chain email endlessly promoted by a bunch of Liars 4 Jeezus™. (Here's the trailer, if you're a masochist.) Of course I have no intention of seeing this film. (See: nothing new in any of it.) Happily, it turns out we don't have to see it because some d00d named Neil Carter did and wrote about the film's egregious characterizations of atheists. For example:

Atheist professors are predatory, and they are out to convert everyone into ideological clones of themselves. Clearly the concept of people committed to “freethought” and “liberal arts” is utterly foreign to the writers of this flick. Ironically, while no secular university I’ve ever heard of would hesitate to fire a professor who demands a signed renunciation of religion from his students, I have heard of Christian schools which demand written statements of belief from both their students and faculty. In real life only one of these two cultures threatens people with everlasting torment for not believing the right things, and it’s not the group being caricatured in the movie.

Christian colleges require sworn statements of faith from their students, under threat of eternal torture in the next life [sic] and expulsion in this one. So, the filmmakers conjure up a villainous atheist professor who demands Christian students renounce their beliefs under penalty of failing his class. (Okay, strictly speaking they didn't conjure him up. They heard about him from an awesome email.) Except that such a professor is complete fiction. Pure projection.

See? Lets try another:

Atheists are cocky, self-sure, and totally enamored with their own superiority.

Reminder: the entire point of this movie is to illustrate the superiority of Christians.

Projection: it's what's for dinner.

Atheists will openly threaten you, bow up, get in your face, stare you down, and even chase you down a hallway and grab you to force you to listen to their angry diatribes because your faith makes them so angry!

We don't have to imagine this is what some Christians would like to do to non-believers: they already do it—and worse. [TW: extreme bullying, violence, rape and death threats, animal cruelty.] Project much?

Atheists are clearly incapable of love. If you’re hurting or sick they’ll abandon you.

Translation: "I'd be a horrible person if not for…Jeezus nagging me not to be."

Atheists lack ethical boundaries, so they’ll date students against virtually every university’s rules.

But not Christians. Never happens. Got projection?

Atheists have no basis for morality…If there’s no God, then there can’t be any good reason to follow rules or be honest or do anything moral.

Translation: "The reason I'm not a murderous, thieving rapist is because of an invisible Sky Daddy.” Okay, player. Stay away from me.

Obviously, none of this paints conservative Christians in a positive light. And it’s all pretty amusing, if you don’t think too much about the consequences for their children. But there is a frightening aspect, too. For example, if the religious right fears Obama coming to put them all in FEMA camps for their beliefs, consider what that might mean if (when?) they obtain such power for themselves. Even now, while we laugh at their ridiculous claims of persecution, conservative Christians are busy enacting religion-based laws that harm, oppress and yes, persecute their fellow citizens.