The Purported Movement, and Statements

I am glad to hear (read) a more positively phrased statement from the likes of Dawkins 1 2 regarding hateful behaviour. By “positive”, I mean to say “not stated as a negation”, as with for example, his absurd (“Stop whining, will you.”) 3 and dismissive (“She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. “) 4 poke 5 at particular Feminists. I suppose one should be able to take encouragement and ethical coaxing from any source, right?

But, I have an actual objection.

It would seem that The Movement is less a movement and more of an aggregation of philosophical tourists who “Fucking Love Science”. Well, not “science”, per se, but the nice pictures of stars, Mars, and DNA. Most within The Movement have very little to say about the methods of science per se or about “the science” itself, much less to say about the introspections of philosophy. A great source of the underlying social problems can be seen in this disconnect. In The Movement I see, rather, a loose grouping of people having a few shared ideas which masquerade as movement.

Among the various emergent phenomena of this perception of Movement are that some character or another who happens to share some of these atheistic ideas regularly pops up to regurgitate a few “sciencey” ideas, perhaps consumed by receptive audiences for little more than their Modernist shine. He or she predictably overtly rejects any public accountability for the effects of his or her words and actions: His trolling smoke-bomb rolls into the room and suddenly The Movement has a crisis and a meltdown! The Movement becomes aware of a rift!

That rift was always there. And at no time was there any such movement!

Personally, I think the statement, offered by Dawkins a bit late in the game, has just a bit too much of the whiff of self-importance. The statement was for the benefit of Dawkins, for his image, and for the image of his so-called “Foundation”, which appears to function more as a revenue stream for a small-scale entertainment venture than as an actual charitable organization. Surely it is little more than feel-good preaching to the choir and fairly oblivious, as well. After all, the objectionable characters, meant to be the supposed objects of this joint wagging of fingers, aren’t going to stop trolling the perceived room because some or another prominent author only just now decides that maybe the implied goals of Atheism-plus 6 might have been a good idea.

Are these “bad atheists” going to stop photoshopping naughty images and resolve never again to produce any more spittle-flecked Feminist-/Liberal-/gay-bashing videos? Probably not. Are the members of this “movement”, meanwhile, going to begin to learn to ask better questions, ones that aren’t designed merely to evoke the answers they want to hear? I suppose that depends upon each of them and upon the mentors they take.


  1. Ophelia Benson, Richard Dawkins. 
  2. Ophelia Benson, Richard Dawkins. “Joint statement by Ophelia Benson and Richard Dawkin”. 
  3. Tracy Clark-Flory, “Richard Dawkins: Skeptic of women?: The famed nonbeliever goes after a female blogger for complaining about a creepy encounter with a male atheist”. Salon (2011-07-08); (
  4. Caitlin Dickson, “Richard Dawkins Gets into a Comments War with Feminists”. The Wire (2011-07-06); (
  5. Jen McCreight, “Richard Dawkins, your privilege is showing”. Blag Hag (2011-07-02); (