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Richard Dawkins Has Been Cancelled...Again

by Chris Hearn about a year ago in celebrities
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According to the American Humanist Association, Dawkins is guilty of blasphemy and must pay for his sins

Photo by James Willamor/Flickr

Richard Dawkins is, indeed, a polarizing figure. He is hated by many theists and even atheists. He has been called arrogant, mean, and rude. But, when it comes to evolutionary biology, he is one of the best out there at being able to lay out his arguments and evidence in a way that the average person can easily understand and appreciate. He is also a leader when it comes to atheism and challenging religious dogma and has inspired many atheists to come out of the closet, as it were.

There have been many controversies surrounding Dawkins and some of the things he has said, particularly on Twitter. It has led him to be cancelled a time or two. And, now, he has been cancelled once again, this time by the American Humanist Association (AHA). Why? Well, the main catalyst seems to be this tweet:

Now, it's become clear that, currently, transgender issues is just a subject that is so challenging to discuss because as soon as you do you are under scrutiny and are at risk of being called transphobic to even question some ideas pushed by transgender advocates. You WILL be cancelled if you say the wrong thing on this matter. All one has to do is look at JK Rowling to see just awful it can be for those who dare ask valid questions when it comes to gender issues. The entire topic is so toxic that it is worth it to just stay clear.

But, Dawkins raises an interesting point with his tweet. Why is one form of self identity accepted and encouraged, while the other form of self identity is not? Seems like a fair and reasonable thing to discuss, especially when the question is posed by an evolutionary biologist.

He is hardly the first person to question this. He is far from the only person who would like to discuss this and get a reasonable explanation on how this works. Because, quite honestly, it is confusing.

This isn't to say that transgender people don't exist, aren't valid, shouldn't have rights, should be dismissed, etc. That isn't the point here. Clearly, there are people who are transgender, whether we fully understand why it happens or not. It's a reality. Transgender people exist.

But, of course, it opens up an obvious question. Rachel Dolezal believes deep down, whole heartedly that she is black. That is how she feels, that is how she identifies, that is who she believes she is. But, she is, indeed, vilified for it. The valid question is...what is the difference? Aren't these both ways of identifying? Why is one valid (for good reason) and the other not (for murky reasons)?

Unfortunately, this question, and many related to gender issues, seem to be a no-go area. It will get people in serious trouble if they decide to breach it. It will end up, for example, in the American Humanist Association rescinding an award for Humanist of the Year given in 1996. That's right. If you say the wrong thing in 2021, you can have awards given 25 years ago taken away.

Here is part of the explanation contained in a statement released by the American Humanist Association explaining their decision:

The AHA has condemned the question he asked. So, what does this say? Obviously, a very legit question that many wonder about, and for good reason, is seen as a form of blasphemy and must be punished. Dawkins has committed a great sin for asking a pretty straightforward question. What would be more preferable is if instead off condemning the question, they answered the question. But, the answer isn't important. The fact that he even dared to ask the question is all that matters. That's right, a scientist asking questions and pondering why things are the way they are is being censured. Remember back when that was the point of science...asking questions? Remember when open discussion and debate on challenging questions was the bedrock of science? Now, much like questioning if the earth revolves around the sun, asking a question related to how people identify is seen as blasphemous and worthy of punishment.

An evolutionary biologist discussing issues related to humans, identity, gender and race seems pretty reasonable, even if the question is an uncomfortable one. And allowing others to weigh in on that discussion seems quite logical. But, what the AHA seems to be saying is that this discussion should not be had. Not only is Dawkins being told not to ask these questions, but everyone who wishes to engage in that discussion is being told not to discuss it or there will be consequences. This goes against science. This goes against freedom of speech and expression. This goes against liberalism. This goes against humanity. This is a message saying that we must conform and not deviate from pre-selected scripts on certain controversial ideas. How on earth is this any different than religion which sometimes asks it's adherents not to question, but to accept and submit. To religion the answers to all questions have often already been determined and are not to be questioned. Isn't that exactly what the AHA is saying here? It is stifling independent thought and inquiry and working against understanding and progress.

If there is a bright side to all of this, it is that Dawkins comes across as a guy who, when it comes to being cancelled, keeps on going and doesn't let it stop him from doing his job. Thank gods!


About the author

Chris Hearn

I'm a 47 year old writer, amateur photographer and amateur dad living in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

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