Politics...

In defence of Dawkins (kind of)…

There’s been a bit of hooha over the past day or two about some comments that Richard Dawkins made on twitter. Essentially these comments provoked a lot of extreme reactions from people because they centred around the issues of sexual assault and rape. And I’m torn because in all honesty I agree with Dawkins’ basic argument it’s just such a shame that he can’t get out of his own way and present things in a manner that doesn’t piss so many people off.

I used to be a big fan of Richard Dawkins when I was a teenager and was in my angry atheist years. Now that I’m a little older I guess I’m slightly less sure. Not about the atheist part, I’m still pretty convinced of that, but of the best way to present those arguments to the world. Something that seems pretty obvious is that offending people and calling them stupid doesn’t work.

Anyways, back to what he said the other day. You can find the info here and Dawkins’ defence of it here (it’s pretty long so I’m kindly summing it up for you below in case you can’t be bothered to read it).

Dawkins makes the point, if in a somewhat unnecessarily harsh and blunt manner, that there are some types of sexual crimes that are worse than others.Which in an abstract sense seems to me  to be a statement of fact.

What we’re asking judges to do when they make rulings on sexual assault and paedophilia cases is to quantify the severity of these offences. The point of the legal system is to make rational and logical decisions about the appropriate punishment for a crime. An issue which is so fraught with emotional responses such as this means that it’s extremely vulnerable to being influenced by these responses.

If you ask a mother, father, sibling or the victim of sexual assault themselves what the punishment for the perpetrator of the crime should be, of course they would wish all sorts of pain and suffering on them. Most people would, which is why we aren’t the ones making the decisions.

Those people that make the decisions need to feel free to make these choices in as fair a way as they see possible. Often they’re unimaginable choices but they have to be made by somebody. We all want to live in a world where this isn’t an issue but for now locking up anyone who has committed a sexual offence for the rest of their lives isn’t a viable solution. Everyone makes mistakes.

I hope I’m not coming across as dismissive of those people who have gone through an experience of sexual abuse, I’m so sorry if that’s you and I have so much sympathy with you. All I want to say is that if we’re going to have a scale for the severity of crimes which has to exist in order to help us to decide on their punishment then that needs to exist for sexual crimes as much as it does for killing or stealing or harming another person.

When we hear about rape we immediately have an emotional response which is often more extreme than for other crimes because the resulting damage can be so awful, to allow that to cloud judgement of a situation, however, is wrong. I believe that was what Dawkins was trying to say, I just wish he’d said it without insulting so many people. When he makes the point that this issue is one which provokes a lot of extreme emotions, then it seems he should have considered that when he made those statements, there was definitely a better way to make the point he was trying to make.

I doubt he’ll change, he’s a man in his seventies who believes in logic above anything else and has made a career out of being divisive, but it’s a shame because he does sometimes makes a good point. Hopefully this time he’s at least learned that 140 characters is nowhere enough to talk about rape.

That’s all for now

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Top Fives..., Uni Life...

A few thoughts on graduating…

I graduated last week. It was a great day shared with great people and most significantly I didn’t fall over when I walked across the stage. I cannot tell you how many times I had nightmares about falling in front of hundreds of people, I need to get a grip!

Anyways, I’m taking to my blog today to help me process some of the thoughts I’ve had about this whole graduating thing. For the sake of tradition I’ll put them in a nice numbered list although there may or may not be five, we’ll have to wait and see.

1) First off it seems appropriate to say how astoundingly grateful I am to the people who helped me get through four years at university. The Vice-Chancellor of my university asked us, the graduates, all to stand up and applaud our friends and families before we left the ceremony last week and this couldn’t have been more of an appropriate way to end my university career. Particularly in my final year my parents and boyfriend read every single piece of work I handed in. They corrected it, gave advice and generally made me feel like I had a shot at doing ok…which I needed….a lot.

And even if they hadn’t done all that, my parents made it financially possible for me to go and live in America for a year, something I’d been dreaming of for as long as I can remember, and my boyfriend put up with a long distance relationship so that I could go and live that dream. So to them and everyone else who helped out and gave support, thanks guys-you’re the best.

2) My second observation about being a graduate…it’s not actually as scary as I thought. In fact, maybe it’s even a teeny tiny bit exciting. I thought I was the kind of person that needed to know exactly what my next step was because I guess that’s all any of us have ever known until we leave full-time education, but it turns out that I’m kind of ok with not being certain.

3) So here’s something of note. I assume it’s down to the fact that you automatically become a proper adult when you put that gown on and manage not to fall over while crossing a stage wearing heels but I actually do seem to be sorting my life out.

Since leaving Nottingham I’ve applied for several jobs doing really cool things that I actually really want to do. I’ve started selling all my worldly possessions on Amazon (this is a big deal for me, I normally vehemently resist getting rid of anything). I’m reading more and trying to use what limited spare time I do have now that I’m working full-time to do useful, grown up  things like read the news and make my CV look cool. I guess I got used to having a clearly defined goal last year…get that 2.1. Now that I’ve left I need loads of little goals, sitting around watching TV all evening just doesn’t cut it.

4) That kind of brings me onto this blog. I’ve been writing about it in my CV and covering letter but I sometimes imagine potential employers reading it and I wonder what they’d make of it. I guess it’s kind of lost its direction. I’m torn over how I should continue with it but I know that I don’t want to give up on it. My final year at uni confirmed how much I like writing and now that I don’t have essays to write I know that I’ll be craving an outlet every now and then.

I guess the thing I’m unsure about is what I’m trying to make of myself through this blog. On my CV I describe it as a place where I talk about my experiences on my year abroad and what it was like coming back to the UK. Well that just isn’t really the case any more is it? Do I need a clear thesis? Does the top fives thing confuse things? Does it need to be a blog about something other than my life? I’m not sure so I guess the next few months will involve me trying to work out the answers to those questions.

5) Wahoo I made it to number 5. My final thought on my experience since leaving uni is that the pain has most definitely been eased by the discovery that I’m going to be an aunt next January. I suppose if you don’t know me you won’t realise how much of a big deal that is for me. But trust me, I’ve been waiting for this a long time and I couldn’t be happier. That baby is going to be loved so much and I really can’t wait to meet him/her. (I’ve had a fairly convincing dream about it being a boy so I reckon I’m having a nephew).

So there we have it. For now, from the graduate…

My family

My family

 

My American Studies Buddies

My American Studies Buddies

 

And Me!

And Me!

That’s all for now

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