Elevatorgate

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Elevatorgate is a term commonly used to describe a scandal involving atheist Richard Dawkins' 2011 comments made to fellow atheist Rebecca Watson which are perceived to have been inappropriate by a sizable portion of the atheist community and the public at large.

Specifically, in July of 2011, Richard Dawkins was widely criticized within the atheist community and in various press outlets for his insensitive comments made to atheist Rebecca Watson about an incident which occurred in an elevator (see: Richard Dawkins' Elevatorgate comments).[1] Specifically, Watson was invited for coffee and a conversation late at night by a man who was a fellow atheist. Watson was upset by this and subsequently blogged about it. Following this, Richard Dawkins wrote an open letter to a fictitious Muslim woman, satirically equating Rebecca's plight with that of abused Muslim women. Watson has written about perceived widespread misogny within the atheist community and she has received threats of rape (see also: Atheism and women and Atheism and rape).[2].

According to Rebecca Watson atheist women are often punished for being outspoken - particularly when they speak about feminism.[3] In August of 2013, Watson said the harassment she received from male atheists skyrocketed after Elevatorgate. [4] Furthermore, she said she still receives harassment from male fans of Richard Dawkins.[5] The atheist feminist Dr. Sikivu Hutchinson concurs with Watson and says that sexual harassment has been institutionalized within the atheist movement and that atheist men have an investment in censoring, controlling and policing women and also have an investment in "male privilege".[6]

The New Statesman reporter and fellow skeptic David Allen Green said he believed Dawkins was a mysoginist and a racist.[7] In addition, Green wrote: "Can Richard Dawkins still credibly pose as a champion of rational thinking and an evidence-based approach? In my opinion, he certainly cannot, at least not in the way he did before."[8]

Contents

Rebecca Watson and Elevatorgate

As a result of Elevatorgate, atheist Rebecca Watson wrote concerning Richard Dawkins:

This person who I always admired for his intelligence and compassion does not care about my experience as an atheist woman and therefore will no longer be rewarded with my money, my praise, or my attention. I will no longer recommend his books to others, buy them as presents, or buy them for my own library. I will not attend his lectures or recommend that others do the same. There are so many great scientists and thinkers out there that I don't think my reading list will suffer."[9]

Atheist Rebecca Watson and post Elevatorgate claim concerning harassment

See also: Atheism and women and New Atheism

Post Elevatorgate controversy, at an atheist convention, Rebecca Watson claimed:

Hundreds of atheists have informed me that either they wanted to rape me, someone should rape me so that I will loosen up or that no one would ever rape me because I am so ugly".[10]

In July of 2012, Watson declared: "It get regular rape threats. I get regular rape and murder threats".[11] Furthermore, in August of 2013, Rebecca Watson said that post Elevatorgate she received a flood of rape threats and she continues to receive rape threats (see: Atheism and rape).[12]

See also:

Charge of unrestrained attacks on Dawkins by Rebecca Watson and her supporters

In a July 2012, article entitled One year after Elevatorgate the skeptic Chris Willett wrote:

Rebecca Watson and her supporters began waging unrestrained warfare on Richard Dawkins...

Certainly I can understand the outrage of Watson and others – no one relishes the idea of having Richard Dawkins sarcastically shout the equivalent of “first world problem!” at your dilemma, especially when a woman has good reason to feel discomfort in the confined space of an elevator – but they lost all of my sympathy when they reacted in a manner far disproportionate to Dawkins’ remarks:

Watson herself referred derisively to Dawkins as a “stinking rich” “wealthy old heterosexual white man,” thus immediately undercutting her own complaint about being perceived and treated according to her own sex and appearance. This was not a good start. Skepchick’s Mindy, who used the terms “misogyny” and “racist” to describe Dawkins’ comments, was more severe: “I look forward to watching your legacy crash and burn,” she wrote, and “you don’t get a second chance,” revealing as hypocrites the very same people who just finished criticizing Dawkins for his tone. And one wonders if any of the people then writing vicious letters had stopped to consider that Dawkins himself was inappropriately fondled as a child, which made it all the more absurd to claim that he is unfamiliar with and unconcerned about harassment and sexual assault.[13][14]

Allegation that Rebecca Watson was behaving hypocritically

Amanda Read wrote in the Washington Times that she believed Watson was behaving hypocritically and declared:

The point is that because the issue is sexism in the atheist movement, perceptions of sexism are not based on absolute principle, but on relative emotion.

Watson speaks out against the sexual objectification of women, but she apparently sees nothing wrong with the pinup calendars that she and her female atheist friends publish. Myers defended her views on his blog, but only last year he linked to an interesting interview with Nina Hartley, a feminist atheist who sees nothing wrong with women performing as sex workers.

You see, sexism and the exploitation of women are not immoral to godless women as long as such things are on their terms.[15]

Previous incident of Richard Dawkins being unkind to a woman

In September of 2010, Richard Dawkins became nasty towards a woman in an audience he spoke before.[16]

For more information please see: Women's views of Richard Dawkins

Aftermath of Elevatorgate

Survey data and website tracking data of prominent atheist websites indicate that in the Western World, atheism appears to be significantly less appealing to women. According to the website tracking firms Alexa and Quantcast women frequent the website of richarddawkins.net significantly less than men.[17][18]

Recently, Vox Day and Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially changed men.[19]

(Flickr photo, see license agreement)

Although major press outlets have covered Elevatorgate[20], most of the commentary surrounding the events of Elevatorgate has been in the atheist blogosphere.

Concerning post Elevatorgate events one atheist blogger wrote:

There was then lots and lots and lots of argybargy, and now it's being said gallons of misogynist men over the net are trying to shout down Rebecca Watson; that is explicitly so presented in this very recent broadcast on Citizen Radio featuring an interview of Watson (the part with Watson starts only a bit after 20 minutes into the recording, so skip the first 20 minutes).[21]

Subsequent to Elevatorgate there was 3 weeks of infighting within the atheist community.[22]

Uphill battle of Rebecca Watkins and female atheists combatting atheist misogyny

See also: Atheism and rape and Atheism and women

Another atheist blogger wrote about Rebecca and her fellow female bloggers at the website Skepchick:

The fatal decision was to extend the fight to tackle the greatest problem remaining in modern skepticism – socially awkward male nerds.

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak - Sun Tzu

The skepchick army, marshalling their forces, decided to attack the nerds their presumed weakest point – on the internet.

Unfortunately, and apparently a surprise for some, the internet is the perfect natural environment of the socially awkward nerd.[23]

As noted earlier, prior to the Elevatorgate incident, Wired magazine made the observation that atheists tend to be quarrelsome, socially challenged men.[24]

Conflict at TAM 9

At "The Amazing Meeting 9", organised by skeptic and homosexual atheist James Randi, Dawkins and Watson walked out of each other's talks in protest at each other's behaviour during the incident. Dawkins also announced that in future he would pay for childcare at Amazing Meetings, probably as a dig at Watson.

Thunderf00t and Greg Laden's removal from freethoughtblogs.com

The atheist Thunderf00t is the most popular evolutionist at YouTube.

On July 1, 2012, atheist Ed Brayton declared:

As many of you are no doubt aware, there’s been a lot of strife in this community lately. Some of it has been in public, some of it was in private and some of it may well go from being private to public as a result of all of this. So let me give you the news and clear the air:

We are parting company with two of our bloggers: Thunderf00t and Greg Laden. We wish them both the best but, unfortunately, their behavior towards other members of the community has made it impossible to keep them as part of our network. This is not a matter of a disagreement or difference of opinion, but of behavior that we cannot condone or support.

None of this is a reflection on the worth of the many contributions that both of these people have made to the atheist cause. I hope and am confident that they will both continue to offer a lot of good things to this community.[25]

The matter which appeared to spark the contention was how to properly deal with the significant amount of misogny within the atheist community (see: Atheism and women and Atheism and rape and Elevatorgate and Women's views of Richard Dawkins and Atheist leaders and immoral relationships).[26][27][28][29]

Vox Day wrote that Thunderf00t's removal from Freethoughtblogs exemplified PZ Myers's unwillingness to intellectually engage his opponents and his lack of integrity.[30]

Rebecca Watson response to Thunderf00t and his fans

See also: Rebecca Watson and Thunderf00t factions of atheism

On July 1, 2012 Rebecca Watson wrote post Elevatorgate controversy:

Skepchick has been exposed for what it is: a totalitarian Nazi clique who created an anti-harassment policy specifically so that men could harass women in bars and Muslim could force us to wear burqas. I know it’s true because noted atheist intellectuals Paula Kirby and Thunderf00t said so!

I debated whether or not to write about this because the recent insults about Skepchick have been so self-evidently ignorant and wrong that I felt it would look like we were picking on tiny, angry babies. And no one likes to see that. I’m relenting only because the sheer amount and absurdity of the insults have reached a level that cannot be ignored, like a large mob of angry babies brandishing pacifiers and blankies as weapons.[31]

Post Elevatorgate comment about atheist conferences

Rebecca Watson post Elevatorgate wrote at Slate about atheist conferences:

[W]omen started telling me stories about sexism at skeptic events, experiences that made them uncomfortable enough to never return. At first, I wasn’t able to fully understand their feelings as I had never had a problem existing in male-dominated spaces. But after a few years of blogging, podcasting, and speaking at skeptics’ conferences, I began to get emails from strangers who detailed their sexual fantasies about me. I was occasionally grabbed and groped without consent at events.

I started checking out the social media profiles of the people sending me these messages, and learned that they were often adults who were active in the skeptic and atheist communities. They were reading the same blogs as I was and attending the same events. These were “my people,” and they were the worst.[32]

Abundance of vitriol and a lack of calm and reasoned discussion post Elevatorgate

The blog Freethought Kampala described the aftermath of Elevergate thusly:

Elevatorgate is the unprecedented INTERNET WAR that erupted after Rebecca Watson (above) posted a video in which she discussed an ordeal she experienced in an elevator while attending the World Atheist Convention which took place in Dublin, Ireland, from June 3rd to June 5th, 2011.

During the months of July and August 2011, the atheist-skeptic blogosphere was ablaze with accusations, counter-accusations, verbal fights, moral declarations and insults as hundreds of bloggers and millions of their readers tried to determine whose assessment of the events narrated by Watson best represented the facts at hand.[33]

Subsequently the blog Freethought Kampala wrote in a blog post entitled Elevatorgate – Part 2 – The Failure of Skepticism:

You would think that being skeptics, whatever disagreements arising from how the events surrounding and following from Elevatorgate were to be interpreted would be done calmly, rationally, and above all, skeptically.

But this is not what happened at all.

My concern is not so much about whether someone takes one view or another with regards to Elevatorgate. Indeed, even among the members of Freethought Kampala, there are different opinions on various aspects of the matter. My concern is about how the matter has been handled, the poor quality of arguments that have been advanced, the astounding amounts of hypocrisy on display, and above all the intolerant attitude towards viewpoints that don’t tow the radical gender feminist line – all this, among people that call themselves skeptics.[34]

Christian creationist response

The Question evolution! campaign by Creation Ministries International is a worldwide campaign which poses 15 questions that evolutionists cannot satisfactorily answer.[35] The 15 questions posed to evolutionists can be found HERE

A supporter of the Question evolution! campaign wrote concerning Elevatorgate

In a letter to fellow evolutionist Richard Dawkins which was subsequently quoted by The Daily Telegraph, Oxford University atheist Dr. Daniel Came wrote concerning Dawkins' refusal to debate the Christian apologist Dr. William Lane Craig: "The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part."

...No doubt being very publicly labeled a coward and having a worldwide grassroots anti-evolution campaign launched by a leading biblical creation organization contributed to the already abrasive Richard Dawkins being a very grumpy and irritable old man...

Richard Dawkins may have had a chip on his shoulder as well post the William Lane Craig debate challenge and charges of cowardice. His abrasive remarks to Rebecca Watson could have been Dawkins trying to be a "big man on the atheist campus". Well, if this is the case, Dawkins's remarks didn't work out so well, did they?

The Elevatorgate has caused the factious atheist community to be even more fractured in a significant way with various factions of atheism criticizing or supporting Richard Dawkins's remarks after the Elevatorgate incident.

While atheism has been publicly humbled and in a state of confusion and factionism, Bible believers and believers in biblical creation are energized and biblical Christianity is growing explosively as can be seen in the data and articles below.[36]

See also:

Richard Dawkins apologizes three years later for Elevatorgate comment

On August 6, 2014, three years after Elevatorgate, without mentioning Rebecca Watson's name, Richard Dawkins issued a one sentence apology for his Elevatorgate comments. He posted the apology near the bottom of one of his blog posts.[37] In response, Rebecca Watson wrote in Twitter post: "Richard Dawkins did the blog-equivalent of coughing into his hand while mumbling "sorry" to me. Eh I'll take it."[38]

Disharmony, factionalism and global decline of atheism

Hong Kong Christians at Gateway Camp. In 2005, there were four times as many non-Western World Christians as there were Western World Christians.[39] See: Global Christianity

(photo obtained from Flickr, see license agreement)

See also: Atheist factions

Jacques Rousseau wrote in the Daily Maverick concerning Elevatorgate, "Some might observe that we indulge in these squabbles fairly frequently."[40] An ex-atheist wrote: "As an Atheist for 40 years, I noticed that there is not just a wide variety of Atheist positions, but there exists an actual battle between certain Atheist factions.[41]

Decline of atheism and the explosive growth of global Christianity

See also: Global atheism and Desecularization and Global Christianity

In 2011, the American Spectator declared concerning research published in the International Bulletin of Missionary Research:

The report estimates about 80,000 new Christians every day, 79,000 new Muslims every day, and 300 fewer atheists every day. These atheists are presumably disproportionately represented in the West, while religion is thriving in the Global South, where charismatic Christianity is exploding."[42]

See also

Comedy and satire:

Essays:

References

  1. The Privilege Delusion by Rebecca Watson - Skepchick
  2. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  3. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  4. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  5. Calling All Female Atheists - Huffington Post - video
  6. Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
  7. Sharing a lift with Richard Dawkins by David Allen Green - New Stateman - 06 July 2011
  8. Richard Dawkins Gets into a Comments War with Feminists by Caitlin Dickson - The Atlantic Wire, Jul 06, 2011
  9. PZ Myers and the Art of Shameless Dishonesty
  10. FreeThoughtBlogs and PZ Myers
  11. Sikivu, Ophelia, and Rebecca — who says atheism lacks women stars?
  12. One year after Elevatorgate
  13. One year after Elevatorgate
  14. Of sexism and atheism: Richard Dawkins gets in trouble with feminists, Washington Times, July 16, 2011
  15. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/richard-dawkins-i-never-meet-people-who-disagree-with-me-2080451.html
  16. http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/richarddawkins.net
  17. http://www.quantcast.com/richarddawkins.net#demographics
  18. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2007/08/socially-autistic-atheist.html
  19. imb—By Atheists - Gawker]
  20. ElevatorGate: Rebecca Watson & Richard Dawkins are not the droids you're looking for - Heathen Hub
  21. Elevatorgate - the power of words
  22. Elevatorgate: Dawkins strikes back
  23. http://voxday.blogspot.com/2007/08/socially-autistic-atheist.html
  24. Major changes at freethoughtblogs - Ed Brayton
  25. Thunderf00t, check your email - PZ Myers
  26. Thunderf00t on how to handle misogny in the atheist community
  27. SkepchickCON and the Harassment LOL-icy
  28. Is it ‘Freethoughtblogs’ or ‘Group-think-blogs’?
  29. [http://voxday.blogspot.com/2012/07/free-fascistthoughtblogs.html Vox Fay on Freethoughtblogs
  30. Hot Gossip: We’re All Burqa-wearing Nazis
  31. Sexism and the New Atheism
  32. Elevatorgate - Freethought Kampala
  33. Elevatorgate – Part 2 – The Failure of Skepticism
  34. Question evolution! campaign by Creation Ministries International
  35. Will future historians see May through August of 2011 as being a major turning point in the Christianity vs. atheism/Darwinism culture war
  36. Who is “belittling” what? by Richard Dawkins
  37. Rebecca Watson's Twitter post about Dawkins' apology
  38. Is Christianity taking over the planet?
  39. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can rip my soul
  40. http://www.atheism-analyzed.net/The%20Reasoning%20Atheist.htm Atheism Analyzed
  41. Thriving Christianity
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