In one of the interminable threads that devolved into endless discussions of pedophilia a couple of months ago, I raised an academic question about whether those who were commenting could come up with a reason why pedophilia was "wrong" without relying on a Judeo-Christian cultural context.   The history, I argued, was that in Greece and to a lesser extent in Rome, pedophilia in some forms was culturally acceptable; only those pesky Christians managed to radically change the culture.

For me it was just an academic speculation, but apparently I was much closer than I had ever considered possible.

http://www.salon.com/2013/09/10/richard_dawkins_defends_mild_pedoph...

In a recent interview with the Times magazine, Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”

Dawkins went on to say that one of his former school masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts,” and that to condemn this “mild touching up” as sexual abuse today would somehow be unfair.

...

Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.

-------

I'm just curious what people think?   Even in the midst of the groping, fondling, and raping of kids, and hiding/covering up of the crimes which occurred among clergy of my faith, it was exceptionally rare that anyone actually tried to condone it as being harmless. 

Tags: Dawkins, Richard, pedophilia

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It should be noted, in this thread about Dawkins, that his experience is anecdotal. Anecdotes can add insight, but should not be generalized to all experiences, and in a population with more than one gender. But his insight is, at least, from an ethologist's perspective.

In one of the interminable threads that devolved into endless discussions of pedophilia a couple of months ago, I raised an academic question about whether those who were commenting could come up with a reason why pedophilia was "wrong" without relying on a Judeo-Christian cultural context.

Asked and dismissed. The question credits 2,000 years of Judeo-Christian culture for its role in producing modern human morality, but ignores 193,000 years of human culture for its role in producing Judeo-Christian culture (and the non-Christian cultures of the modern world which outlaw pedophilia).

The history, I argued, was that in Greece and to a lesser extent in Rome, pedophilia in some forms was culturally acceptable; only those pesky Christians managed to radically change the culture.  For me it was just an academic speculation, but apparently I was much closer than I had ever considered possible.

Bob is as far off as ever, this time stepping away from speculation fueled by willful ignorance and back to his old stand-by: flat out lying.

Here is the position the article attributes to Dawkins:

...Richard Dawkins attempted to defend what he called “mild pedophilia,” which, he says, he personally experienced as a young child and does not believe causes “lasting harm.”

Here is what Dawkins actually said:

“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said. Plus, he added, though his other classmates also experienced abuse at the hands of this teacher, “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

Note that in stripping the Dawkins quote from 102 words down to 4 words and with extensive paraphrasing, the author transforms Dawkins into a defender of mild pedophilia. What Dawkins actually said: he is reluctant to use today's standards to judge a teacher who caned and groped him and his classmates some 60 years ago (Dawkins is 72) and that in his judgment they were not harmed by it. Dawkins clarifies the point further here:

Dawkins, 72, who is known for his strong religious criticism, said it was important to distinguish between varying levels of paedophilia, and that cases involving rape and murder should not be compared to 'mild touching up'.

Maybe so, maybe not. Personally, I would distinguish by giving a Catholic priest who gropes a child's genitals five to seven years, a Catholic priest who rapes a child ten to twenty years, and a Catholic priest who murders a child life without parole.

Do we need varying levels of pedophilia crimes? Whatever one's opinion, I don't see Dawkins arguing that any form of pedophilia should be decriminalized, only that there are degrees of it.

Child welfare experts responded to Dawkins’ remarks with outrage — and concern over their effect on survivors of abuse.

If they thought Dawkins was saying child molesters should be excused for their crimes, or that Dawkins was making light of victims of child molestation, then I can understand this reaction. I don't think Dawkins was doing either one.

I'm just curious what people think?

I think this is more a case of haters like Bob eagerly twisting Dawkins' words, not of Dawkins actually mounting a defense of pedophilia (in the meaningful sense that it should be excused or made legal today). I can't read the full article in the Times because it's a paid site, but I'm confident in that preliminary judgment without reading all of Dawkins' words in context.

Now we come to the lie:

Even in the midst of the groping, fondling, and raping of kids, and hiding/covering up of the crimes which occurred among clergy of my faith, it was exceptionally rare that anyone actually tried to condone it as being harmless.

Dawkins didn't condone raping kids as harmless or covering it up as harmless. He said absolutely nothing of the kind.

I'm afraid the shameful history of defending the Catholic Church regarding such events belongs exclusively to Bob on Think Atheist, exceptionally rare and morally repugnant though it may be. It's shocking that Bob would even hint Dawkins was condoning child rape and conspiracy to cover up child rape, let alone state such a ridiculous lie so openly.

I did a little googling and can't seem to turn up the age of the boys the Ancient Greeks supposedly buggered. They are described as "young boys," though I don't know what that means. I think it probably means boys in their mid-teens. 

Also, there is a question in my mind as to whether the Greek men of the era who engaged in buggery were truly homosexual, since today we believe one is born homosexual, and yet this was a common practice done apparently by far more than merely 10% of the males.

 

"..... whether the Greek men of the era who engaged in buggery were truly homosexual....."

I wouldnt call any man who sticks his dick in another man a homosexual. Just like I wouldnt call any man who sticks his dick in a chicken, a rooster.

Men just stick their dicks in anything.

Your prejudice against men is barely concealed.

I've heard enough anecdotal stories to believe that's largely true, Angela! Goes back to Genghis Khan, I think.

Heterosexuals and homosexuals are forever erasing bisexuality. Sexual orientation isn't black and white, folks. Why is that do difficult to accept?

Most Greek citizens (wealthy, male, land-owning) were expected to enter into a relationship with a boy. Men in these relationships were seen as mentors. They were responsible for the education and formation of the character of the boy they sponsored. Adult men most often were married to women, who birthed and raised their husband's children. Their wives were seen as less than human and on the whole as an undesirable necessity, as women were lacking both the superior intellectual development of male Greeks and also the celebrated male form. Often the patriarch of the relationship would develop feelings of love or fondness for the youth. Adult men could bugger their young boy apprentices if they so desired but it was considered bad form. It was more common to simulate intercourse between the thighs of the boy.

This doesn't look like homosexuality to me...but rather an extreme outcome of the intersection of misogyny and idolizing youth.

I see Richard Dawkins primarily as a victim who has yet to reconcile his past with modern moral expectations. Obviously, he is victim of a paedophile but also of a culture that hushed it up, tacitly condoning it. And so he carries the values of the time he grew up in, and has learned to downplay the seriousness of what happened to him. Now, tragically, as an adult, his words condone the very mindset that protected his abuser. This is cycle of sexual abuse. It is tragic and infuriating. That said, victims cannot be excused for promoting harmful ideas. Without the veil of moral relativism, it is clear that paedophilia is wrong whether it traumatizes the young Greek apprentice of ancient times, an English schoolboy, or today's Catholic alter boy.

I am very disappointed to hear Dawkins dismiss his abuse as "mild." That's really preposterous, like speaking of "rape rape," being sort of pregnant, or having been mostly murdered.  I wish Dawkins would seek to better himself with a deeper understanding of topics outside of atheism and his profession. Therapy would be an excellent place to start. It's such a shame. 

Without commenting on Dawkins,...

I am very disappointed to hear Dawkins dismiss his abuse as "mild." That's really preposterous, like speaking of "rape rape," being sort of pregnant, or having been mostly murdered.

You see no distinction between a hand wandering into a girl's panties and then a finger in her vagina that stops after she protests a few times (which would be a rape here in Ohio) and deep vaginal penetration at gunpoint with a filthy broomstick causing her to become barren?

That's a fascinating point of view.

It's not like either you're pregnant or you're not. Rape is a spectrum of behaviors, all wrong but some far more outrageous than others.

My point is you were either molested, raped, impregnated, murdered or you weren't.

Bravo @Kairan

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