Almost three years ago, a feminist activist committed what many not-so-impartial observers apparently see as an unpardonable sin: she was less than polite to a small squad of Men’s Rights activists at a demonstration in Toronto. At least one of these gentlemen caught her outburst on video, and uploaded it to YouTube.
You know the rest: the video went viral, and the activist, a red-headed woman known as Chanty Binx (or “Big Red,” to the douchebag army), found herself suddenly transformed into “The Posterchild of Everything Wrong with Feminism,” as one of her haters put it. Her face has become ubiquitous in antifeminist memes, and she’s endured nearly three years of harassment.
Earlier this month, antifeminist YouTuber Sargon of Akkad — who makes his living pandering to some of the internet’s worst lady haters — posted an animated video by another antifeminist YouTuber in which an angry Islamist and an angry feminist sing a song explaining that they pretty much believe all the same things. (For some reason, this nonsensical theory is something that a lot of antifeminists have convinced themselves is true.)
The angry Islamist in the video is a familiar racist stereotype, complete with “funny” accent. [Correction: He’s evidently supposed to be a parody of this guy, known as Dawah Man, a legitimately terrible person you wouldn’t think atheists would have to strawman in order to criticize..]
The angry feminist, meanwhile, isn’t a generic figure; she’s an especially crude caricature of Binx, spouting nonsense that neither Binx nor any other feminist actually believes: the video ends with her encouraging the Islamist to rape her, because it’s not really rape if a Muslim does it, dontchaknow.
It’s a vicious, hateful little cartoon made worse by the fact that these words are being put in the mouth of a real woman who’s been the target of a vast harassment campaign for years.
Yesterday, Richard Dawkins, apparently seeing this horrendous video as a clever takedown of some brand of feminism that he must think actually exists, shared it with his 1.3 million Twitter followers:
Dawkins, a well-respected scientist-turned-embarrassing-atheist-ideologue, has become notorious for his endless Twitter gaffes. But this is plainly worse than, say, his famously pathetic lament about airport security “dundridges” taking his jar of honey; his Tweet contributed to the demonization of a real woman who’s already the target of harassment and threats.
The awesome Lindy West pointed this out to him in a series of Tweets and linked to one of my posts cataloging some of the abuse Binx got after the video of her went viral.
In a series of eloquent and angry Tweets, she made clear to Dawkins how and why he was misusing his huge platform and contributing to an atmosphere of hate online. Dawkins, alternately indignant and defensive, ultimately took down the offending Tweet, but not before making other Tweets that were nearly as bad. Dawkins can’t even do the right thing without being a dick about it.
Let’s watch Lindy at work:
After what was apparently an unsatisfactory response from Dawkins — I couldn’t find his Tweet, if there was one — West repeated and expanded upon her basic points. [EDIT: The unsastisfactory respose, West tells me, was that Dawkins posted a link to one of the videos of Chanty Binx at the Toronto demonstration.]
Well, that got his attention:
So there you have it: when informed that a tweet of his will almost certainly worsen the vicious harassment faced by a young woman whose only “crime” was being rude to a couple of MRAs in public, Richard Dawkins, a one-time winner of the American Humanist Association’s Humanist of the Year Award, replies by saying that “she deserves nothing more than ridicule.”
Dawkins then decided to suggest that perhaps Binx was, you know, crazy:
Dawkins ultimately agreed to take down his Tweet linking to the execrable video. But he offered no apology. And he went on to suggest that just maybe Binx had … threatened herself.
We’ve seen this, er, argument before.
Does Dawkins have any conception of just how much abuse women like Chanty Binx get? If she were sending herself all the threatening and harassing messages she gets, she wouldn’t have time to eat or sleep.
And I wonder if Dawkins thinks she drew the caricature of herself that was used in the video he retweeted.
Thoughtful as ever, Dawkins made sure to remind his 1.3 million followers that Binx still deserved all the mockery they could deliver. Just not the death threats please!
And he begged his readers to think about the real victims here — those people, like him, who might have to curtail their mockery somewhat because their terrible, terrible fans might be inspired to hurt someone.
RIP, Richard Dawkins’ comedy career.
Is Dawkins actually unaware that by punching down at a woman who’s already been the target of a three year harassment campaign he almost certainly is contributing to the threats he claims to deplore? It’s hard for me to believe that he could be so naive. But the alternative explanation — that he knows full well that he’s encouraging the harassers — is even more disquieting.
One good thing has come out of this ugly episode today: The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has un-invited Dawkins from its event this year. A post on the group’s website today explains:
The Northeast Conference on Science & Skepticism has withdrawn its invitation to Richard Dawkins to participate at NECSS 2016. We have taken this action in response to Dr. Dawkins’ approving re-tweet of a highly offensive video.
We believe strongly in freedom of speech and freedom to express unpopular, and even offensive, views. However, unnecessarily divisive, counterproductive, and even hateful speech runs contrary to our mission and the environment we wish to foster at NECSS. The sentiments expressed in the video do not represent the values of NECSS or its sponsoring organizations.
We will issue a full refund to any NECSS attendee who wishes to cancel their registration due to this announcement.
The NECSS Team
Good for them. The atheist movement needs to stand up to the haters and harassers in its midst, including those like Dawkins, who may not directly harass or threaten but who use their huge platforms to amplify and embolden this hatred and harassment.
It would be nice if Dawkins were to actually learn something — a little humanity, a little humility? — from this incident, but when it comes to the subject of feminism Dawkins seems incapable of taking in new information, much less learning anything from it.
EDITED TO ADD: And now, as if to prov what I just said in that previous paragraph, Dawkins is now second-guessing his decision to take down his tweet linking to the video, because GamerGaters are telling him that Chanty and I made up the evidence of the abuse she got.
NOTE: Lindy West has a book coming out soon. Pre-order it below!
CORRECTION: I added a bit noting that the Islamist in the cartoon video is supposed to be a parody of a real person.
EDIT: I added a line about Dawkins tweeting a link to a video of Chanty Binx at the Toronto demonstration.
I really wish Dawkins weren’t such profound and clueless embarrassment to the atheist movement. And I really wish the atheist movement didn’t seem to have so many like him.
“Oh but gawsh, I would never encourage my followers to harass anyone.”
His withdrawn invitation from the NECSS is gunna cause another ‘omg Femanazis taking away our freedom of speech!’ shitstorm within the Yianoppolous/MRA fandom.
As an atheist, I have officially run out of patience with this man.
I wish I could feel surprised or shocked or anything much. But nowadays when I see the Dawkins name come up, it’s dead set to be yet another witless attempt at being edgy or mocking or ridiculing which — every single time — has all the punch of a bowl of wet noodles with all the charm of a sticky doorknob.
Someone should do him a kindness and take his twitter account away.
Online celebrities in this atheist sphere need to realize many of their followers are going to have really biased views and major vendettas against someone.
They can’t afford to just retweet without looking into it.
I think its ridiculous that he said “Mockery and ridicule” is FINE but death threats aren’t.
Are both not attempts to make another person miserable?
With the amount of followers he has, he needs to realize people don’t just make light hearted jabs and forget about it, a mob mentality emerges, the negative views of the person overwhelm their judgement, and they become incapable of seeing them as a real, whole person with good intentions.
When a mob whips up based on a strong dislike of any person, someone is going to end up feeling threats are justified. Every bully, or harasser justifies their own actions by convincing themselves the person they targeted is bad and deserves to feel bad.
I think if I had to between thousands of people ridiculing me – making gross comments about me, following my every move online, sharing my imagine with other for the purpose of mockery, and attempting to silence and humiliate me constantly – and one person saying they want to cut my throat. I’d probably choose the death threat.
This seems quite timely. A judge’s comment from a case today:
I love Lindy West. She cracked me up when she was writ in for Jezebel.
Obviously doesn’t apply to vast majority of humanists/atheists, among whom I count myself. But the minority are pernicious.
Lindy West 5 eveah!!!!!!
Can he at least stop pretending to be a feminist?
Not much of a choice though. ?
I’ve always hated that reaction, because nobody is silencing these individuals or denying their freedom to express any good/bad thought they have and nobody is obligated to give them a platform for that expression. Essentially the withdrawn invite is the organization expressing their own opinion of ‘we don’t want to hang out anymore because we discovered you’re a bit of a jerk’. And that is their right. By telling people they can’t do that is actually an attempt to infringe upon the same right they are claiming is being denied in the first place.
I”m glad he got disinvited from NCESS. More people need to stand up to him and tell him his behavior in unacceptable.
(Pauses to contain swearing).
The more the merrier.
Well, I saw Dawkins name on the post and thought much the same as mildlymagnificent, but much cruder: “What’s shitbiscuit up to now?”
Suffice it to say the professor has comfortably exceeded my expectations.
(Unless he’s just a Fundamentalist plot to discredit science, rationality and atheism by spouting off this kind of stuff whenever he gets a chance? I mean, NoTrueScientist would really spout the kneejerk rubbish he does? Someone trained to spot confirmation bias, cherrypicking evidence, acknowledging sources etc?)
also this video is another product of MRA hate and propaganda machine
but dawkins reaction is explainable
dawkins himself receives a lot of threats, but most of the time his reaction is laughing at them, maybe he expect the others to be like him
and i can assure you religious fundamentalists are not less serious than MRA members
It’s been exacerbated by the fact that his group has merged with the center for inquiry, putting him at the forefront as an explicitly selected leader.
If you want a skepticism/atheism blog that doesn’t build itself on hating religious minorities and smug condescension, I highly recommend Rebbecca Watson’s skepchick network.
How ironic that he’d choose that name, considering that what once was Akkad is now part of a majority-Muslim middle east. And that before Islam came there, the predominant religions were all Goddess-worshippers. And in the earliest days of Mesopotamia, women had much higher status than they would later on. An imbalance which early Islam later sought to redress, BTW.
And trust him to be totally perception-impaired when it comes to said ironies, among others.
History is misandry!
Dawkins is such a fucking ass and a huge reason why the athiest community is such a hotbed of MRA neckbearded anti-feminist rape apologists (The Amazing Atheist, Thunderf00t).
I was involved in a small secular group last year and was in for a rude awakening. I had no idea how misogynistic and sexist it is. I got into an argument about rape culture and of course atheist “wanted proof” and when i spent hours providing cited sources and statistics of how vital it is to dismantle it and call it out I was met with that same dismissive smugness. The group has since split because of that because many of the men in that community creeped on women that were involved and passionate about atheism, and we formed a secular women and allies group. The small secular community really fell appart after that because the only thing those men wanted to do online was troll people and get into ideological pissing matches while theorizing about whether or not rape was really ‘that bad.’
It’s fucking sad is what it is. And a real shame.
But Lindy West is a fucking bad ass feminist goddess and I raise my coffee mug to her!
Are you familiar with the ‘Satanic Verses’ (the bits in the Koran, not the overrated novel)?
For those who don’t know, the Koran contains verses specifically acknowledging that the old goddesses exist and it’s fine to pray to them to ask them to intercede.
(If you believe the Koran is the work of humans rather than god, the reason for that was to make Islam acceptable in a goddess worshiping culture. Pretty much how the Virgin Mary became equated with pagan goddesses in Ireland)
After the conquest of Arabia such concessions were no longer necessary, but it became a problem explaining why the verses were in the, inerrant, Koran.
So the explanation put forward was that Satan had whispered these verses into Muhammed’s ear whilst he was listening to god dictate, and he didn’t realise. (Men eh? You give us one simple task…)
One of my many annoyances with ISIS is that they are systematically destroying everything related to the original goddess worshipping culture.
I’ve gone to NECSS in the past and have some friends near where it’s held. They’ve been trying to get me to come for it and I’ve been dragging my heels. Kind of considering it now…
It’s like Elevatorgate II, Son of Coffee Guy.
Bluecat, it’s because he’s so sure of his use of scientific merit in science stuff that he doesn’t think to apply it to the personal biases and thinking errors he has in daily life. It doesn’t help that he’s extremely privileged, so he’s never truly been one to understand oppression from experience.
well actually scientists are prone to biases just like us in fields they are not specialised
Yes, and so is awareness of irony!
Heh. I hadn’t read those, even though I’ve a copy of the book. (And the boring-ass Rushdie novel, too, alas.)
No doubt those verses were initially included, and widely accepted by Muslim believers, only to be later suppressed as “satanic” by would-be leaders jockeying for power as Islam grew in popularity. Paleo-theistic stuff usually is…just as depictions of the Greek god Pan were later proclaimed to be of Satan. Really it was just a catch-all label for anything inconvenient to power-hungry fundamentalists.
Long pedantic dissertation cut short: All religions are man-made, but only some of them are made for the convenience of men only…and early pagan stuff most definitely was not!