The Instigator
rross
Pro (for)
Winning
17 Points
The Contender
Legitdebater
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points

Richard Dawkins is a gratuitously unpleasant man

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Post Voting Period
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after 7 votes the winner is...
rross
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,675 times Debate No: 34479
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (29)
Votes (7)

 

rross

Pro

He really is.

gratuitous: done without a good reason, uncalled for (1)

The resolution is taken from a comment by Tom Watson, UK politician (2).

(1) http://oxforddictionaries.com...
(2) http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk...
Legitdebater

Con

Round 1 is usually acceptance so I'll refrain from posting an argument for Round 1. However, I'd like to add one more definition and provide the reader with some background information.

Definitions:

Unpleasant:
adjective: not pleasant; displeasing; disagreeable[1]

Richard Dawkins: A well-known English etholigist, evolutionary bioligist and author[2]. Dawkins is known for his advocacy of atheism[2] and his disputation of religion. Richard Dawkins is the founder of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, which has been granted charitable status in the U.S. and U.K. [2]

Pro is implying that the comment Dawkins made on twitter to British political journalist Medhi Hassan, is what makes him a gratuitously unpleasant man[3]. This is a quote from British politician Tom Watson.[3] In Round 2, I will present arguments on how Richard Dawkins comments to Medhi Hassan weren't Islamophobic and some background information on Medhi Hassan. The Burden of Proof rests on Pro and my job is to negate Pro's resolution and prove that Richard Dawkins isn't a gratuitously unpleasant man. I hope for a great debate against a fellow friend of mine!

Sources: http://dictionary.reference.com...[1]
http://en.wikipedia.org...[2]
http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk...;[3]
Debate Round No. 1
rross

Pro

Thank you for accepting this debate, Legitdebater.

Richard Dawkins wants to convert everyone to atheism

For a while, Richard Dawkins worked for the public understanding of science; however, recently, he has been more notably promoting atheism. Indeed, he sees religious belief as incompatible with science.
The mission statement of the Richard Dawkins foundation, for example, is:

to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering (1).

And in the introduction to his book, The God Delusion, he wrote, "If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down." (2)

The best way to promote atheism is positively, enthusiastically - not by insulting people

Dawkins himself has admitted on several occasions that the best way to promote atheism is through positive persuasion.

For example, in the context of discussing schools and education, he said:

"I would never want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion. Instead, children should be taught to ask for evidence, to be sceptical, critical, open-minded.

If children understand that beliefs should be substantiated with evidence, as opposed to tradition, authority, revelation or faith, they will automatically work out for themselves that they are atheists." (3)

And in an interview with The Times he said, "Ideally what a scientist should do is enthuse people. In the best of all worlds that should be enough to kill religion off on its own." (4)

His continual unpleasantries about religious people are gratuitous

So why the constant griping? It serves no positive purpose. Journalists have put the question to him, and he has only ever given trivial responses as far as I'm aware.

For example, in one interview he agrees that he would be more persuasive if more conciliatory, but says "I seem to have lost patience." (5)

But with De Spiegel, he reveals what I believe to be the true reason: he insults people because it amuses him to do so:

"If I read an author who is ridiculing some idiot, I myself am rather amused. There may be some who will be turned off and I will have lost them...But I suspect they'll be outnumbered by those who are amused." (6)

In the tradition of the schoolyard, Dawkins enjoys flinging cheap insults at people who, for the most part, will not insult him back. Better yet, he has his gang of admirers who snigger along with him. This is an upleasant quality. It does not advance the cause of science, or even of atheism. One observer has suggested that, on the contrary, Dawkins is the biggest recruiter for creationism in the UK (7).

Some examples of Dawkins' gratuitous unpleasantries

Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that British Airways check-in worker Nadia Eweida should be allowed to wear a small cross to work, and that British Airways was wrong to suspend her from work for refusing to remove it. (8)

It's an interesting case. Here's what Dawkins had to say about it:

"I saw a picture of this woman," says Dawkins. "She had one of the most stupid faces I've ever seen. She actually said, 'Christians should be allowed to work for British Airways'."

He continues, face reddening: "Well, of course, Christians are sodding well allowed to work for British Airways. It's got nothing to do with it. She is clearly too stupid to see the difference between somebody who wears a cross and somebody who is a Christian." (4)

Of course, and I really shouldn't have to point it out, Nadia Eweida's intelligence or stupidity is irrelevant to her freedom to manifest her religion. Dawkins is merely amusing himself by indulging his prejudice against people with religious beliefs. It adds nothing to our understanding of the case, and is indeed nothing more than a gratuitous unpleasantry.

**********************************************************

Last month, two-year-old Caroline Sparks was accidentally fatally shot by her brother. Her grandmother was reported in the news as saying how sad it was, how Caroline liked singing and playing outdoors and that "It was God's will...I just know she's in heaven right now and I know she's in good hands with the Lord." (9)

Dawkins no doubt amused himself and some of his over 700,000 followers with these tweets:

"It was God's will. It was her time to go, I guess." "Just a tragic accident." Poor little girl, her tragedy was her deeply stupid family. (10)

"I just know she's in heaven right now." No she's not, she's dead. Dead. Killed by some deeply stupid gun-lover who gave a gun to a 5-yr-old (11)

And then, when someone wondered if this was the right time to make these comments, when the family was grieving, he replied:

Yes it bloody well is the right time. Stupid gun-toting idiots. A little girl is dead, killed by her cretinous family. (11)

These comments are gratuitous and unpleasant. And because they are typical of Dawkins, they make him a gratuitously unpleasant man.


(1) http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org...
(2) http://www.amazon.com...
(3) http://www.telegraph.co.uk...
(4) http://old.richarddawkins.net...
(5) http://www.guardian.co.uk...
(6) http://www.spiegel.de...
(7) http://www.independent.co.uk...
(8) http://www.bbc.co.uk...
(9) http://edition.cnn.com...
(10) https://twitter.com...
(11) https://twitter.com...

Legitdebater

Con

I thank rross for presenting her arguments. Now, I many refute my opponent's argument and state my contentions. I would like to note that I don't actually agree with Dawkins, but I wanted to see if I could come up with a good argument.

My Refutations

Dawkins Wanting everyone to convert to atheism


Promoting atheism isn't what makes Richard Dawkins an unpleasant man. Richard Dawkins promotes atheism, because that's what he believes in. This is similar to how Johavah Witnesses knock at your door,(had one at my door this morning) as well as Christians and etc. As my opponent quoted, Richard Dawkins doesn't want to indoctrinate children in atheism, any more than in religion.[1] Basically, he wants children to find out for themselves, and to be "critical" and "open-minded".

Dawkins was inspired by a gay rights movement and established The Out Campaign to encourage atheists to declare their stance publicly.[2] This action isn't gratuituous, as it's been done for a good reason for a good cause. Atheists themselves, are discriminated against around the world, and are subject to capital punishment in some countries. [3] What Dawkins is trying to do, is to encourage atheists that face discrimination to stand up for themselves.

Gratuitous unpleasantries

Caroline Sparks incident
Dawkins himself, admitted the incident was tragic. He claimed that the family was stupid for giving a 5 year old a gun. As tragic as it was, Richard Dawkins comment could be interpreted as true. A family giving a kid .22-caliber rifle for his birthday, seriously! In a way, it was kind of stupid for a parent to give a kid a .22-caliber rifle. The parent was irresponsible to first of all, by the gun for a 5 year old kid, and secondly to not monitor him while he was "playing" with the gun. In summary, it's understandable that he made those remarks. It was kind of blunt, but understandable and not gratuitous or unpleasant. He never said that he didn't care, he admited it wa tragic and he was sorry for the girl.

My Arguments

Unpleasant is very subjective

It's true. Richard Dawkins may be unpleasant in some people's minds, and not to others. At the end of the day, he has more than 700 000 followers [4] than don't find him unpleasant, and see him as a role model. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, has been granted charitable status in the U.S. and the U.K. Is a charity unpleasant? No, I don't think so. Richard Dawkins can create contreversy but his remarks aren't unpleasant in everyones minds. Dawkins advocacy of atheism isn't unpleasant to atheists, and his reasons for disapproving religion are well-supported. This reason leads to my next argument.

Dawkins against Religion

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
R13; Richard Dawkins The God Delusion [5]

Indeed, the Old Testament did include some of these aspects, especially mysogyny.

  1. "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. She must be quiet." (1 Timothy 2:12) [6]
The Old Testament did include some of these things and is part of the reason why Dawkins is against religion.

In Deuteronomy 13, believers are instructed to kill family members or friends for worshipping another god. [7]

In numbers 31, Moses instructs the commanders to kill every man, woman and child, except for the female virgins. [8]

In the documentary, The God Delusion, Darwin reffered to this as genocide.

Also in this film, Darwin discusses how religion acts like a disease. He interviews psychologist, Jill Mytton about the psychological impact of harsh ideals forced on children.

"Mytton explains how, for a child, images of hell fire are in no sense metaphorical, but instead inspire real terror. She portrays her own childhood as one "dominated by fear". When pressed by Dawkins to describe the realities of Hell, Mytton hesitates, explaining that the images of eternal damnation which she absorbed as a child still have the power to affect her now"[9]

We can see that Dawkins is against unpleasant teachings to children, along with the quotes from numerous scriptures. When asked about the sexual abuse scandal with Catholic Priests in Ireland, Dawkins stated that the pyschological damage from sexual abuse was less than being brought up than a Catholic in first place. When he stated this, he received a round of applause from an Irish audience, who majority were from Dublin. Months later, Dawkins received a letter from and American woman in her 40's agreeing with him. She claimed she was sexually abused by a Catholic Priest at a young age, which was tragic. However, she stated it was nothing like the tragedy of the death of her schoolfriend who was supposedly told by her church, that he died because he was Protestant. [10] If anything, this makes Dawkins a caring man, as he's concerned with children's harsh religious upbringing. Dawkins is against religious leaders abusing their power, and can relate to this since he was sexually abused himself by a school teacher. [10] Dawkins is against unpleasant, gratuitous people.

Dawkins isn't necessarily unpleasant or gratuitous

Dawkins praised Jimmy Carter for leaving his church because of discrimination against women. [11] This proves that Dawkins is against discrimination against women, and is another reason why he's not unpleasant or gratuitous. His comments can sometimes be blunt, but he's necessarily a bad man. He's against religion for a good reason, therefore not making him gratuitous. He's against homophobia, misogyny and racism as represented in the book: The God Delusion. He also has a non-profit organization that has been granted charitable status in the U.S. and U.K. as I mentioned before.


Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://web.archive.org... [2]
http://www.reuters.com... [3]
https://twitter.com...;[4]
http://www.goodreads.com...;[5]
http://www.boston.com...;[6]
http://www.biblegateway.com...;[7]
http://www.biblegateway.com...;[8]
http://en.wikipedia.org...;[9]
http://www.richarddawkins.net...;[10]
https://twitter.com...;[11]

Debate Round No. 2
rross

Pro

Insulting people does not advance the atheist cause. Con did not refute this, and so I assume he accepts it as true.

Dawkins believes in atheism
Indeed he does. I concede that it is not atheism's fault that he is such a gratuitously unpleasant man. I think the opposite - that if he were more devoted to atheism and open-mindedness he would be more tolerant and curious about those with other belief systems and, instead of blindly abusing them, he would be able to engage in constructive conversation.

For example, compare Dawkins' intolerance with the words of Peter Higgs, theoretical physicist:

"The growth of our understanding of the world through science weakens some of the motivation which makes people believers. But that's not the same thing as saying they're incompatible...Anybody who is a convinced but not a dogmatic believer can continue to hold his belief...

...I don't happen to be [a religious believer] myself, but maybe that's just more a matter of my family background than that there's any fundamental difficulty about reconciling the two." (1)

Not only is Higgs the far superior scientist, but how much saner and more humane he is!

The rude things Dawkins says are true
Con says that Caroline Sparks' family is stupid, and this justifies Dawkins' comments.
The man across the road is kind of weedy and has no sex appeal. Should I tell him that the next time he stops to say hello?
No. I shouldn't say those mean things, even though they're true, because they are gratuitously unpleasant. There is no benefit to mean comments like that.

Even if Caroline Sparks' family are stupid, what benefit is there in pointing it out? If Dawkins wants to advocate for the reform of gun regulations in the US, why, that would be lovely. If he wants to contribute funds for the education of new mothers in house safety, again, how worthy and kind. But he is doing nothing like that. Caroline Sparks' family cannot help being stupid (if they are), and anyway it's too late for them to change their behavior to protect their little girl.
Dawkins' comments were gratuitous and cruel.

Dawkins' followers don't think he's unpleasant
Dawkins is like a schoolyard bully, surrounded by his cronies. They find some young kid and Dawkins torments him in various ways. The victim is only one person. But there are seven bullies, in addition to Dawkins, who are thoroughly enjoying themselves. Therefore, according to Con, the net happiness of the bullying is entirely positive! Further, the victim's negative opinion is subjective! There were eight people who observed Dawkins' behavior, and seven of them approved and admired him! How can anyone say that Dawkins is unpleasant?

"Bullying involves an initial desire to hurt, this desire is expressed in action, someone is hurt, the action is directed by a more powerful person or group, it is without justification, it is typically repeated, and it is done so with evident enjoyment." (2)

Bullying is subjective(3). Cruelty is subjective. Unpleasantness is subjective too. This doesn't mean it doesn't occur or that it isn't powerful. It just makes it slightly more problematic to prove.

The old testament is bad and scary; Dawkins has his good moments
Not everything Dawkins says is aggressive and pointless. He has made some interesting arguments about religion and biology. To say that he is a gratuitously unpleasant man does not exclude the possibility of him being pleasant on occasion, or even of him saying something valuable. Also, he must spend several hours asleep every day and I'm sure he's unobjectionable during that time.

When I echo Watson's statement I only mean that Dawkins is often unpleasant, that he is reliably unpleasant, and that his unpleasantness has no substantial benefit.

Dawkins is not a feminist!
Con claims that Dawkins is a feminist, that he is against misogyny and discrimination against women.

Two years ago, Rebecca Watson, athiest, put a video on her blog talking about the conferences she'd been to. At the conference, she's been on a panel with Richard Dawkins, and she'd spoken about sexism in atheism and rape threats she'd received. Afterwards, a man from the audience tried to pick her up in the elevator. In her blog, she calmly said:

"Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and — don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner." (4)

Dawkins must have seen the post, because, on Pharyngula, the science blog, he wrote:

"Dear Muslima
Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don't tell me yet again, I know you aren't allowed to drive a car, and you can't leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you'll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.
Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep"chick", and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn't lay a finger on her, but even so …
And you, Muslima, think you have misogyny to complain about! For goodness sake grow up, or at least grow a thicker skin.
Richard"
(this post has since been removed, I believe, but it was reported widely at the time: 5,6)

Women in Western countries have no right to complain about anything that makes them uncomfortable because there are women in other countries who suffer more, according to Dawkins. As Tracy Clark-Florey wrote, "that’s a crap rhetorical move meant to belittle and silence. It’s an argument that could be easily made against Dawkins’ own work: Why are you arguing over whether God exists while children are starving in Africa." (5)

Then, there's the implication that all muslim women are victims of misogyny.

So no, Dawkins is not a champion for women.

Summary
Dawkins isn't gratuitously unpleasant because he's an atheist. There are plenty of charming atheists about.

He's unpleasant because he keeps making unpleasant comments. Those comments are gratuitous because they do not serve any positive purpose.

If they served the atheist cause, they would not be gratuitous (even if you disagree with atheism). But they don't.


(1) http://www.guardian.co.uk...
(2) http://www.schoolangels.com.au...
(3) http://www.mrbullyproof.com...
(4) http://skepchick.org...
(5) http://www.salon.com...
(6) http://www.newstatesman.com...
Legitdebater

Con

My Refutations

Dawkins belives in atheism
My opponent agrees that it's not atheism that makes Dawkins a gratuitously unpleasant man. Pro then points out that Dawkins is intolerant about other belief systems. However, in an interview with Sri Lankan journalist Smriti Daniel, Dawkins said that he'd be willing to change his mind if you prove that god exists.[1] Dawkins also said to people who find flaws in how he expresses himself: “I don’t think we want to use offensive language. We don’t want to use violent language. We want to win arguments by cogency. I think ridicule is a weapon, but it must be witty ridicule and not just abuse,”[1] This proves that Dawkins doesn't intened to insult people as Pro mentioned. It could be that Dawkins is just blunt, and just wants to get his message out. My opponent then gives a quote from Peter Higgs, a theoretical physicist. If we assume Peter Higgs is more humane than Dawkins is, it doesn't prove that Dawkins is unpleasant or gratuitous, it just proves that Peter Higgs is more compassionate. Even if we assume that, Richard Dawkins is the one that has the charity. Pro also asserts that Higgs is saner, but that's implying that Dawkins is slightly insane, but he's not. We know hat he's an etholigist, evolutionary bioligist, and an advocate of atheism,[2] but there's no evidence that he's crazy.

The rude things Dawkins says are true
If you did something stupid when you were younger, your parents will likely point out that what you did was foolish. All Dawkins was trying to do was to point out that the event was tragic, and that the parents were foolish in giving a 5 year-old kid a gun. It wasn't gratuitous since he said the family was foolish, because the family was foolish. I think that's a good reason to say that. Sometimes it is okay to say that what somebody did was foolish. I mean, you wouldn't call a retarded person a retard, but it's okay to point out that was somebody did was foolish and that it shouldn't have happened.

Dawkins' followers don't think he's unpleasant
It's not only his followers that find Dawkins pleasant, it's also people who have met him, such as Sri Lankan journalist Smriti Daniel. Daniel was pleasantly surprised to meet a "grandfather-like figure" Richard Dawkins.[1] Here's a quote:

"He appears to have an endless enthusiasm for debate and his style could be described as gladiatorial – conceding nothing, he seems to relish the spectacle as he draws his opponent’s blood. So I am surprised to find that when we meet, my primary impression is actually one of, well, niceness. Silver-haired, his glasses glinting under the lights, he looks like a kindly grandfather."[1]

Dawkins is not a bully as Pro asserts. Bullying is defined as the activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person. [3] Dawkins isn't purposely, repeatedly hurting another person. He's not trying to gain power over them. He's just critizing people's religion because of the evil of that religion. He just doesn't understand other people's religous concepts, that's all.

My Arguments

Unpleasant is subjective
It's true. According to Oxford Dictionaries, subjective is an adjective based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. http://oxforddictionaries.com... I was trying to argue is that not everyone finds Dawkins unpleasant and that he has a lot of supporters.

Dawkins against Religion
My opponent agrees that Dawkins critism of some religions (Christianity) and the Old Testament isn't unpleasant. Pro even agrees that it's pleasant and valuable. So I think we both agree that Dawkins protest against some religious aspects and ideals isn't unpleasant.

Dawkins isn't necessarily unpleasant or gratuitous
As I mentioned before, Dawkins charity: The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science. It's for a good cause: "The mission of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is to support scientific education, critical thinking and evidence-based understanding of the natural world in the quest to overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering." [4] Certainly, Con can't say that this charity is gratuitous or unpleasant. This organization got established because this is what Dawkins stands for. We know that Dawkins anti-mysogyny ideals are disputed, but he's against homophobia, racism, religous fundametalism, superstition, intolerance, and suffering. [4] [5]

Summary: We can see that Dawkins isn't a bully as Pro asserts he is, and he has some ideals that aren't gratuitous or unpleasant as represented by his charity.


Sources: http://www.sundaytimes.lk...;[1]
http://en.wikipedia.org...;[2]
https://en.wikipedia.org...;[3]
http://richarddawkinsfoundation.org...;[4]
http://www.goodreads.com...;[5]

Debate Round No. 3
rross

Pro

Dawkins' insults do not weaken religion
Con argues that "Dawkins protest against some religious aspects and ideals isn't unpleasant." This debate is not about Dawkins' scientific writing or his legitimate criticisms of religion. It is about his rude, belittling comments, his insults of religious people among others. Con has conceded that these insults are ineffective in promoting science or atheism. Even Richard Dawkins himself has conceded as much.

To say that Richard Dawkins is a gratuitously unpleasant man means that he frequently makes gratuitous and unpleasant comments. It doesn't mean that he never does anything positive. If you say that someone is passionate, it doesn't mean they are always passionate or they're passionate about everything. It just means that they are frequently and noticeably passionate. Richard Dawkins is frequently and noticeably unpleasant - about religious people mostly, but also US gun owners, and women who complain about sexism. These unpleasant comments serve no good purpose. Therefore he is a gratuitously unpleasant man.

subjectivity
Con writes that "not everyone finds Dawkins unpleasant and that he has a lot of supporters." Actually, the worst of his supporters like him because he's unpleasant.

For example, Rebecca Watson writes that after Dawkins sent his "Dear Muslima" letter, his fans were so inspired, they joined in the abuse:

"Dawkins' seal of approval only encouraged the haters. My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape "jokes," threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page...

Just a week after Dawkins' "Dear Muslima" comment, I was schedules to speak at...a skeptics' conference in Las Vegas..., a man tweeted that he was attending and that if he ran into me in an elevator, he'd assault me." (1)

This is not an issue of "unpleasant" being subjective. This is about people enjoying abuse because it is unpleasant to the victim. Richard Dawkins did not intend his "Dear Muslima" letter to be kindly and supportive. The whole purpose of it was to ridicule Rebecca Watson and her concerns about sexism in the atheist community.

The Dawkins "charity"
Con has mentioned the word "charity" several times now. Of course, the Richard Dawkins Foundation is not a "charity" in the common sense of the word - it is not "an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need." (2)

"Charity" is a tax-related legal term, which means a non-profit organization that provides some benefit to a section of the community. Most religious organizations are charities in this sense, as are private schools (3). Some of these charities do help those in need, of course, but others maintain public buildings, improve armed forces efficiency, or do artistic activities (4,5). The advancement of science or education is sufficient to be registered as a charity in the UK(4) or the US(5).

I have already conceded that Richard Dawkins does do positive things. He also makes gratuitously unpleasant comments.

gratuitously unpleasant

I have presented several examples of Dawkins being gratuitously unpleasant, and Con has defended only one example - that of the abuse of Caroline Sparks' family. Con said "it wasn't gratuitous since he said the family was foolish, because the family was foolish."

Dawkins never said the family was foolish. He said the family was "deeply stupid," "idiots," and "cretinous." Foolish means lacking good sense or judgement (6). It's referring to the family's decision to have a gun in the house and to teach their son to use it. However, none of the words Dawkins used refer to judgement; they are terms of intelligence. Intelligence is not something people have control over. It's as gratuitous to insult someone's intelligence as it is to insult their looks. As Con has already conceded, "you wouldn't call a retarded person a retard."

Dawkins insults people because it amuses him to do so. Con quotes him as saying, "I don't think we want to use offensive language...We want to win arguments by cogency. I think ridicule is a weapon, but it must be witty ridicule and not just abuse."

It's hardly "witty" to say an elderly check-in worker "has one of the most stupid faces I've ever seen." (7) It's a child's insult, completely without sophistication.

Dawkins added, "She is clearly too stupid to see the difference between somebody who wears a cross and somebody who is a Christian." (7) Actually, it was the European Court of Human Rights that was "too stupid to see the difference," but Dawkins didn't direct his remarks that way. It might have been interesting to do so. The laws related to freedom of religion are interesting and complex. The judges' decisions were controversial. But he didn't; he made an empty and rude comment about the worker herself. Nobody was surprised, because Dawkins is famous for being a gratuitously unpleasant man.

Thank you, Legitdebater, for debating with me.


(
1) http://www.slate.com...
(2)
http://oxforddictionaries.com...
(3)http://www.mondaq.com...
(4) http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk...
(5) http://www.irs.gov...
(6) http://oxforddictionaries.com...
(7) http://old.richarddawkins.net...

Legitdebater

Con

My Refutaions

Dawkins' religious criticism
Dawkins is against the idea of religion, he usually criticizes people associated with it because he detests what religion is about. Dawkins can get a bit over the top with criticizing religous people, but what he's trying to do is get his message out about the fallacies of religion. The comments are not so much about Dawkins being unpleasant, it's mostly about his controversial ideals. As Dawkins' quoted before: “I don’t think we want to use offensive language. We don’t want to use violent language. We want to win arguments by cogency. I think ridicule is a weapon, but it must be witty ridicule and not just abuse,”[1]
All Dawkins is trying to do is get his point out. I don't think he's intentionally trying to be abusive.

subjectivity

Dawkins criticism of Rebecca Watson through the "Dear Muslima" letter wasn't meant to be abusive. The letter was meant to be sarcastic, and how trivial Watson's experience was compared to abuses Muslim women deal with on a regulat basis.[2] Dawkins explains his thoughts:

"The man in the elevator didn't physically touch her, didn't attempt to bar her way out of the elevator, didn't even use foul language at her. He spoke some words to her. Just words. She no doubt replied with words. That was that. Words. Only words, and apparently quite polite words at that....Rebecca's feeling that the man's proposition was 'creepy' was her own interpretation of his behavior, presumably not his. She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. But he does me no physical damage and I simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator. It would be different if he physically attacked me."[2]

What Dawkins was trying to say is that she shouldn't have made a big deal out of it, and she wasn't in a high risk situation[2]. His rationalization for the Muslim comment was that some Muslim women suffer from physical misogyny and "legally sanctioned demeanings",religiously.[2] Really, this comment isn't necessarily gratuitous or unpleasant, just controversial. As for his rude followers, they follow him for the wrong reasons. They didn't understand the point Dawkins was trying to make.

Dawkins charity
Pro states that the Richard Dawkins Foundation isn't really a charity, however, it is. The Richard Dawkins Foundation is about teaching kids about science and education which is a charity. As defined by Pro, "a charity is a non-profit organization that provides some benefit to a section of the community." The Richard Dawkins Foundation is doing this, while also trying to help society overcome religious fundamentalism, superstition, intolerance and suffering.[3] Pro concedes that Richard Dawkins does to do positive things, and one of them is his charity.

gratuitously unpleasant
Dawkins criticism of Caroline Sparks' family wasn't necessarily unpleasant. As I've mentioned before, he's not trying to be abusive, he's saying what he thinks is true. Dawkins used the words "deeply stupid," "idiots," and "cretinous," because he was upset about what happened to the little girl, and let his comments out in the heat of the moment.

Some of Dawkins comments are unpleasant but a lot of them are rationalized. His criticism of Rebecca Watson was trying to make a point. I think Dawkins can kind of be blunt, but some of his criticism of other people can be rationalized. Dawkins isn't trying to purposely be abusive, I think he's kind of a blunt person.

My Arguments

Unpleasant is subjective
If you or I met him in person, maybe we would have different opinions. Different people say different things about him. As Sri Lankan journalist, Smriti Daniel said: "So I am surprised to find that when we meet, my primary impression is actually one of, well, niceness." [4] People have different opinions on Richard Dawkins, but as Pro states: Richard Dawkins can have positive things to say. Obviously, some people find him unpleasant and some people see him as a nice person.

Dawkins against religion
Pro concedes that Dawkins' criticism of religions aren't unpleasant, and that he can have some positive things to say. However, Dawkins protest against religion and it's ideals is a huge part of who he is. He's written numerous books on scientific, legitimate criticism of religion. If Richard Dawkins is so unpleasant, then why are none of his books quoted as abusive or insulting. As far as I know, he hasn't published a book that was deemed gratuitous or unpleasant. In fact, they're anyting but that. He's highly respected for his documentaries and books. Dawkins has dedicated his life to science and atheism, not abusing people.

Dawkins isn't necessarily unpleasant or gratuitous
Dawkins mission is to promote his scientific ideals. He isn't trying to purposely be abusive. I've also refuted Pro's point about Dawkins being a bully, he's not. He's just trying to get his point out. If Dawkins has a charity and dedicates his life to ideals that aren't gratuitous, certainly he isn't a gratuitously unpleasant man.

Conclusion: The Burden of Proof was on Pro, and I think I did a good job of negating the resolution. I think Pro's evidence is good, but not enough to uphold the Burden of Proof. I thank rross for an excellent debate!

Debate Round No. 4
29 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Legitdebater 3 years ago
Legitdebater
@badbob, why were you impressed with Pro's sources? Sources are about quality not quantity.
Posted by Legitdebater 3 years ago
Legitdebater
Thank you for your vote wrichcirw!
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
17) CON (quoting Dawkins): "She was probably offended to about the same extent as I am offended if a man gets into an elevator with me chewing gum. But he does me no physical damage and I simply grin and bear it until either I or he gets out of the elevator. It would be different if he physically attacked me." Very true, and I fully agree.

18) CON: "Dawkins used the words "deeply stupid," "idiots," and "cretinous," because he was upset about what happened to the little girl, and let his comments out in the heat of the moment." True as this may be, CON concedes that Dawkins was gratuitously unpleasant at this moment.

---

CONCLUSION

This was an excellent debate. PRO started strong and ended strong. CON gave a rebuttal that I probably would have given myself had I been CON. I wish I accepted this debate myself, but I had no idea who this Richard Dawkins character was until I read this debate. I must say I like this man! =)

Basically what this debate came down to was whether or not Dawkins's unpleasantness was unwarranted. IMHO after cross-examination by CON, PRO's case barely survived in any convincing form. CON did not address the cross-wearing incident, and unnecessarily conceded the point about calling a retard a retard, which may be warranted in certain situations and thereby lost the semantics argument. However, he did refute the general case, that Dawkins is dealing with a myriad of unpleasant subjects, and so his comments will invariably be unpleasant. That does not make them gratuitous however.

Again, very well debated by both sides. Arguments CON. I will to give S&G to PRO as it was clearly better, even though CON's S&G was sufficient and did not interfere with readability. I do this merely because I thought the debate was quite close and not a full 3-point victory.
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
10) CON: "He appears to have an endless enthusiasm for debate and his style could be described as gladiatorial " conceding nothing, he seems to relish the spectacle as he draws his opponent"s blood. So I am surprised to find that when we meet, my primary impression is actually one of, well, niceness. Silver-haired, his glasses glinting under the lights, he looks like a kindly grandfather." I'm beginning to like this Richard Dawkins. =)

11) PRO: "Con has conceded that these insults are ineffective in promoting science or atheism." Yes, but they are quite effective in [CON] "critizing [sic] people's religion because of the evil of that religion."

12) PRO: "Actually, the worst of his supporters like him because he's unpleasant." This has nothing to do with Dawkins's gratuitous unpleasantness, and much more to do with Dawkins's ostensible supporters engaging in gratuitously unpleasant behavior.

13) PRO: "I have presented several examples of Dawkins being gratuitously unpleasant, and Con has defended only one example..." This is quite true, but I find that CON's stance on the subjectivity of gratuitousness to be fully justified.

14) PRO: "However, none of the words Dawkins used refer to judgement; they are terms of intelligence. " Fascinating semantics argument. I'll wait to see CON's response.

15) PRO: "As Con has already conceded, "you wouldn't call a retarded person a retard." Also quite true, this was IMHO an unwarranted concession by CON, especially if the retarded person thought themselves more intelligent than non-retarded people.

16) PRO: "It's hardly "witty" to say an elderly check-in worker "has one of the most stupid faces I've ever seen." Very true and indeed gratuitous.

(con't)
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
6) Ah...I just looked over PRO's definition of "gratuitous". Well then. I take back what I wrote in my prior comment. I've found that everything Dawkins said was indeed unpleasant, but "done without a good reason?" Absolutely not. That would be akin to saying that cops should not act in any coercive manner against criminals, because cops with guns, handcuffs, and billy clubs do unpleasant things. Maybe cops should carry chocolate instead of bullets and send invitations to "cheer me up events" to murderers and rapists.

7) In this same manner I find that Dawkins's comments on feminism, while unpleasant, were not gratuitous. It noted the easy potential for hypocrisy, or at the very least acute tunnel-vision, in the feminist movement when applied globally. The retort that "Women in Western countries have no right to complain about anything that makes them uncomfortable because there are women in other countries who suffer more," is IMHO unjustifiable...it could be much more of an issue about pointing out the relative standards of treatment of women across cultures. Regardless, I will wait for CON to rebut.

8) I found the Peter Higgs quote to be irrelevant, as Higgs did not see himself as dealing with a matter far beyond gratuitous unpleasantry, and so both Higgs and Dawkins's comments are appropriate.

9) CON: "If you did something stupid when you were younger, your parents will likely point out that what you did was foolish. All Dawkins was trying to do was to point out that the event was tragic, and that the parents were foolish in giving a 5 year-old kid a gun. It wasn't gratuitous since he said the family was foolish, because the family was foolish." Agree.

(con't)
Posted by wrichcirw 3 years ago
wrichcirw
LOL, I'm guessing that PRO will note the irony of me commenting on this debate about gratuitous unpleasantry. =)

1) Both round #2s were excellent. PRO established why she thinks that Dawkins is gratuitously unpleasant, and CON establishes that Dawkins is dealing with a matter that is well beyond gratuitously unpleasant, and is in fact " misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, [and] capriciously malevolent". CON also rebuts PRO's point about the infant shooting, although he does not address the cross-wearing.

2) PRO notes that "[people] shouldn't say those mean things, even though they're true, because they are gratuitously unpleasant." I will simply say that the shooting of an infant is well beyond gratuitously unpleasant, although PRO is also right that such words are themselves gratuitously unpleasant.

3) PRO: "Even if Caroline Sparks' family are stupid, what benefit is there in pointing it out?" IMHO, the idea is a personal appeal to like-minded families, that maybe they should change their habits. This is a wholly separate affair than to "advocate for the reform of gun regulations in the US," which does nothing to address the habits of families that would object to such legislation.

4) PRO: "Caroline Sparks' family cannot help being stupid (if they are)..." Wait...so people cannot learn from their mistakes??

5) PRO: "When I echo Watson's statement I only mean that Dawkins is often unpleasant, that he is reliably unpleasant, and that his unpleasantness has no substantial benefit." I think PRO has established this well, although I would object that being socially unpleasant regarding acts of extreme negligence/cruelty provides "no substantial benefit". Should cops give murderers and rapists solace and comfort, instead of telling them to "FREEZE, DROP YOUR WEAPONS"?

(con't)
Posted by badbob 3 years ago
badbob
I did read the debate. That is why pro won the debate over you. He did a better job. It is true you numbered your sources but pro beat you 26 to 19 and I was impressed with his sources. Don't be angry, you will do better next time!
Posted by Legitdebater 3 years ago
Legitdebater
@Guy_D, you didn't explain why you took off source points. Technically your vote is a votebomb since you didn't actually explain why rross won arguments; you basically stated your own beliefs.
Posted by Legitdebater 3 years ago
Legitdebater
@badbob, I numbered my sources too... I don't understand why you docked me source points. I correctly numbered them. Maybe you should actually read the debate, before you vote next time.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 3 years ago
RoyLatham
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Reasons for voting decision: The debate is not about whether Dawkins is unpleasant or whether he could be more pleasant. I think both of those accusations are true. The question is whether he is gratuitously unpleasant; that means that being unpleasant has no purpose other than that he enjoys it. compare it to the Occupy Wall Street Movement, whose people are unquestionably unpleasant, but they think they are promoting a just cause by using foul behavior to show their moral outrage and draw attention to their cause. I think Dawkins is in the category of believing that being abrasive serves the purpose of drawing attention to his cause. Of course, advocating atheism or fundamentalism or whatever is not of itself evidence of being unpleasant. I think Pro should have phrased the resolution as "unnecessarily unpleasant."
Vote Placed by gordonjames 3 years ago
gordonjames
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Reasons for voting decision: Dawkins is unnecessarily unpleasant
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments. Very well debated, a pleasure to read. I like this Richard Dawkins =)
Vote Placed by makhdoom5 3 years ago
makhdoom5
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Reasons for voting decision: haven't read the full debate so dont know what is in it. but i agree on my knowledge with rross
Vote Placed by HeartOfGod 3 years ago
HeartOfGod
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro clearly showed that dawkins is unpleasant.
Vote Placed by Guy_D 3 years ago
Guy_D
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Reasons for voting decision: Anybody who reads, or watched Dawkins long enough can conclude that he is often times insulting to believers. Insults are typically used when one?s argument is weak, or has intellectual short comings. Dawkins knows science pretty darn well but philosophically fails when he is challenged on an intellectual level.
Vote Placed by badbob 3 years ago
badbob
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Reasons for voting decision: Interesting debate. In read it and agree this Dawkins is unpleasant. He made some horrible comments and con was not able to explain those away even though he made a valiant effort. I also give pro sources because he had to research this topic and even numbered all the sources. Good job pro. I say we take this Dawkins fellow and skin him. He sounds like a fool.