Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Richard Dawkins and Free Speech

Thomas Riggins
Considering all the different views people have it seems impossible not to express religious and political views that might "hurt people." Richard Dawkins has said some incredibility stupid things about Islam and Moslems but should he be banned from giving a talk on evolution, or science, or atheism when he is internationally recognized as a scholar in these fields? 
The station's general manager says “We believe that it is our free speech right not to participate with anyone who uses hateful or hurtful language against a community that is already under attack.” So he cancelled Dawkins' talk. His comment amounts to "We believe in free speech as long as we agree with it." Well we couldn't use "hurtful" language against the Nazi movement since it's a community being attacked.
Granted that as a scientist Dawkins should not get carried away with his emotions and make really dumb unscientific pronouncements about Islam but pointing them out should be sufficient remedy without attacking free speech rights.
Examples: Nobody calling himself a "rationalist" would make this stupid Dawkins tweet: "I think Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today. I've said so, often and loudly." There is no such thing "Islam" tout court -- there are Sunni's, and Shites, and Alawites, and Sufi's, etc., and many permutations of all the above -- saints and sinners just like any other group of humans. Such a general tweet is just foolish ("evil" isn't even a useful term for a rationalist).
" In 2015, he wondered whether Ahmed Mohamed — the boy in Texas who was suspended after bringing a homemade clock to school that officials said resembled a bomb — wanted to get arrested given that the episode led to an invitation to the White House and crowdfunding." Dawkins must think the young man has prescience.
Just like the rest of us Dawkins says stupid things and doesn't always let logic and science overrule his emotions. As a "passionate rationalist" we can hope he will be more rational and less passionate but even if he isn't he shouldn't be censored and have his talks canceled by hypocrites.

A Berkeley radio station canceled an event promoting Mr. Dawkins’s new book, citing past comments and tweets that it said had “hurt people.”

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