By Rob Slane
Recently the high priest of all things atheist, Richard Dawkins, found himself in a bit of a hole, one entirely of his own making. He had received a message from a lady on Twitter who claimed that she would be faced with a “real ethical dilemma” if she found out that she was pregnant with a Down syndrome baby. This was no such ethical dilemma for Dawkins, who replied on his Twitter account with all the subtlety and charm of a rhinoceros in a library: “Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.”
A predictable backlash followed, which appears to have taken him by surprise, not because he wasn’t aware that some people might have a problem with what he wrote, but rather because he apparently didn’t realize how Twitter works.
According to an article posted on his website a few days later, he seems to have believed that his reply would only be seen by the few people who followed both him and the lady he was responding to. But, of course, Twitter doesn’t work like that, and the tweet was seen by his million or so followers.
So although he still doesn’t know how the universe came into existence or have a plausible explanation for abiogenesis, at least he now knows why people have been referring to Twitter as “social media” and not “private correspondence” these past few years!
Anyway, the backlash came and, according to Dawkins, he received “fireballs of hatred” and accusations of “Nazism, vile, monstrous fascistic callousness.” Probably he did indeed receive some pretty nasty stuff, but he goes on to tar his opponents with a pretty broad brush:
The haters came from various directions:
- Those who are against abortion under any circumstances.
- Those who thought I was bossily telling a woman what to do rather than let her choose.
- Those who thought I was advocating a kind of mob rule.
- Those who thought I was advocating a eugenic policy and who therefore compared me to Hitler.
- Those who took offense because they know and love a person with Down syndrome.
Unless I am reading him wrong, it seems that he defines anyone who fits into one of these categories as, axiomatically, a “hater.” Now I guess it’s possible that all the people who tweeted to oppose his views are indeed “haters,” but that seems unlikely. For example, one mother with a Down syndrome child wrote, “I would fight until my last breath for the life of my son. No dilemma.” That sounds rather more like love than hate, wouldn’t you say? Read the rest of this article…