Dawkins under fire for ‘mild pedophilia’ remarks

PROFESSIONAL atheist Richard Dawkins has reportedly provoked outrage among child protection agencies and experts after suggesting that recent child abuse scandals have been overblown.

In an interview in The Times magazine, Dawkins, 72, he said he was unable to condemn what he called “the mild pedophilia” he experienced at an English school when he was a child in the 1950s.

Referring to his early days at a boarding school in Salisbury, he recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”

He said other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”

“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.

Dawkins is, of course, promoting a new book this week.


38 thoughts on “Dawkins under fire for ‘mild pedophilia’ remarks

  1. It distresses me how common it was in boys’ schools for some masters to abuse boys. These men had the responsibility of care.

    Also, although of course I don’t condone it, I can understand that the culture was rife amongst students, with younger boys ‘fagging’ for older. Perhaps teens are a time of high sex drive and experimentation for boys? The masters probably had such youthful experiences, so regarding it all as just normal. A vicious cycle taking place.

    Surely, with the subject more openly discussed and condemned, we are losing this abusive culture.


  2. Mr. Dawkins needs to read up on sexual psychology research if he’s writing a book. Corporal punishment and any form of inappropriate ‘touching’ in schools has a detrimental effect in later life. For example, if Dawkins suffered corporal punishment and pedophilia in a religious school…. it probably explains why he’s a devout atheist, and while he may be loathe to admit the possibility, it still remains a strong possibility. Whatever we do to children … they do to us.

    Children are in need of love … especially when they don’t deserve it.

    Personally, I think boys should attend pre-school later than girls, as girls mature much earlier in life than boys, but it’s just a thought.


    • Oh come on Jimbo!
      “psychology research” is what justified the soviets imprisoning dissidents in mental institutions….as well as the nazi convictions about the threat inherent in jewishness and other unter-menschen.

      Even Doctor Spock recanted…after he’d wrecked a couple of generations of kids ….AND their parents.

      Y’can’t gainsay the tried-and-true, and if you want a blatant example of the detrimental effect of modern psychological gobbledegook have a good look around you….and pay particular attention to the (either crazed or blank) hopelessness in youth’s eyes. (perhaps we should reinstitute Nasho to liven ’em up and make them useful members of the community?)

      Psychologists are only busibodies without the brains to qualify as psychiatrists. They should never have been accorded the status/influence they’ve achieved. (Not unlike priests offering sexual/marriage guidance!)

      Child-abuse is most-manifested where a child isn’t allowed to develop naturally, at its own pace (including social conditioning & religious ‘instruction’)….and that also includes sexual experimentation when the kid’s ready for it. Historically and genetically puberty, seems to be the appropriate bench-mark.

      Any other scenario is nothing more than the blind leading the blind.


      • Dabbles… you surprise me. I didn’t realize you live in such a ‘bubble’ it must be heaven (no pun intended) … to dismiss psychiatry and psychology out of hand. I wish I could do it, but in my job, legally , I cannot. Ignorance is bliss…


      • Perhaps I wasn’t clear, Jimbo; I was suggesting that there is probably a place for psychiatry ~ which is after all founded on (organic) medical science ~ but that psychology is the pop-art of social engineering. (which began life as interpretations of statistical assumptions.)
        On that level I’d say it’s not I who lives in a bubble, but, rather ‘psycholgy’ which has created its own little bubble and resides smugly therein.

        But ‘bubbles’ have their place too, and of course you shouldn’t ignore it, if that’s what you get paid to do
        ……and always on the basis that you do no harm.


      • Yes, nobody’s perfect in any profession, and I have experienced my share of ‘nutters’ who call themselves ‘psychologists’ but prey on their clients for sexual gratification, hiding behind their status/influence creating corruption, bribery and misery. As for psychiatrists, well, what can I say dabs? A psychiatrist is a guy who goes to a striptease club to stare at the audience…. but seriously, I personally think many health professionals today completely lose sight of the fact that everyone is different. We’re completely individual…. that’s what makes us unique. They’re too busy putting legal ‘labels’ on our ever increasing mental ‘disorders’ they seem to invent sometimes so they can charge us huge amounts to ‘fix’ us with those wonderful drugs which is another big, big business. Why does life have to be so complex dabs?


      • I LIKE that! (“A psychiatrist is a guy who goes to a striptease club to stare at the audience”)
        …and if you want to go on a real joyride (by way of a Busman’s Holiday), get hold of a copy of ‘The Couch Trip’ (Dan Aykroyd ~ and a brilliant cast! ~1988); it’ll blow your socks off with laughter and cure whatever ails you
        …..or anybody else, particularly the manic-depressives out there, which includes just about everybody. 😉

        If you can’t get a copy (ask at the library too), I can run one up for you.
        ….or Mon, or Kathleen, or Bryan….

        “why does life have to be so complicated?”
        It doesn’t; that we make it so ~ or succumb to the social-conditioning that insists upon it for the purpose of control ~ is our own fault.

        And while I recognise the pressure to toe the line so’s to be able to eat I still think that most of the dependence can be shed.
        As you said:- “We’re completely individual…. that’s what makes us unique.”
        Subduing that in the name of social acceptability, fear or a few dollars probably ranks as the utmost ‘sin’ ….or ‘crime against humanity.’

        I refuse to play that game, and anybody CAN opt out (and still take advantage of benefits offered by technology, etc.); what’s the worst that can happen?
        Take care mate.


      • Did you hear about the two psychiatrist who bumped into each other at the bustop?

        They shake hands, count their fingers, and Ziggy says ‘Hi Emil! Nice to see you again. You’re fine: how am I?’ 🙂


      • Hi Dabbles,

        Now we’re telling Psychiatrist jokes…

        The difference between Neurotics, Psychotics and Psychiatrists?

        Well, the Neurotic builds castles in the air. The Psychotic lives in them, — and the Psychiatrists???

        the Psychiatrists collect the rent!
        Then the ambitious young woman who refused to marry her penniless Psychiatrist boy friend, who couldnt afford to set up his practice?

        She wouldnt marry a Psych. who failed to own his mind business!



    • eerrrk!!
      But on the upside, I think your little stories may offer a useful pointer in how best to proceed with your treatment. 🙂


  3. Well said, Dreamweaver…..almost.

    What “provokes outrage” in me are the professional, careerist “child protection agencies and experts”: those with a financial interest in promoting ‘paedophilia and outrage’ as an industry with a life of its own. …..and absolutely no appropriate skills or talents – or even much empathy.

    Even Joan Kirner publicly declared kids would be safer with a hungry rottweiler than such rrrsouls.

    I had no experience of the sort described, but can categorically state that if I had it wouldn’t have had any great impact on me, mainly because back then such young kids had NO idea of sexuality or its implications (and perhaps many teachers/scoutmasters/priests/etc. ~ all products of their own social-conditioning ~ didn’t either.) Our sex-education more or less ended with the knowledge that boys wore pants and girls wore skirts…and mostly had longer hair..
    ‘mens rea’ ~ and thus intent ~ is an important legal principle applicable to both ‘perpetrator’ and ‘victim’.
    Why ~ shock-horror??? ~ I have a bible that contains a picture of Jesus holding a child on his lap! (both of them wearing loose-fitting unbuttoned robes!!..with only ONE hand in sight!!!)

    On the other hand, I DID have a vast experience in other areas (including being victimised by racism and other humiliations) , like being formally strapped, caned, slapped and otherwise physically knocked around (including non-optional participation in sports) all with legal, departmental and parental approval, since such treatment was considered to be an essential element of my education.
    ….and, social conditioning being what it is, I accepted that was so; neither was I ‘traumatised’ by any such experience , beyond a temporary discomfort and a growing determination that I’d never give in.

    And all things considered my (life) education has stood me in good stead….. and is one that most of the more recent ‘lost, helpless and hopeless generations’ might well envy.

    I can’t see anything in Dawkins’ actual quotes (above) that require condemnation; and none of them suggest for a moment ~ contrary to the cited ‘reported’ hysterics ~ “that recent child abuse scandals have been overblown.”

    Once again the unfortunately-not-very-articulate Dawkins appears to be the victim of those with their own agenda.

    I suspect


    • It depends on the individual Dabs,

      as to who is psychologically scarred and who isn’t negatively affected as a result of the corporal punishment and molestation of that era. I went through similar to what you did and as you say, the caning (yep, they caned girls too), the bullying and being teacher’s pet simply because I had the biggest boobs in primary school, all served to make me aware of life and tough enough to be able to handle it when danger lurked. And, I think I had a couple of guardian angels keeping me fron real harm too.

      You say we were naive back then when it came to sex and I agree but even as a small child I still knew instinctively that certain actions, looks, touch, bulges in men’s pants and being subjected to pornography was wrong, even though no one had ever told me they were. You just know that the person saying and doing all these strange things to you has not got your best interests at heart, that there is something to be really fearful about, so I really do not understand where Dawkins is coming from.


      • That’s right Monica. There is much to be said for our instincts of what is wrong and right sexually and morally.


      • He has placed His law in our hearts Kathleen.

        We are without excuse……Romans 2:14-16
        The Message (MSG)

        When outsiders who have never heard of God’s law follow it more or less by instinct, they confirm its truth by their obedience. They show that God’s law is not something alien, imposed on us from without, but woven into the very fabric of our creation. There is something deep within them that echoes God’s yes and no, right and wrong. Their response to God’s yes and no will become public knowledge on the day God makes his final decision about every man and woman.


      • It does, indeed, depend on the individual, Monica.
        But I rather think you’re confusing ‘realities’:-

        How do you suppose that “even as a small child I still knew instinctively that certain actions, looks, touch, bulges in men’s pants and being subjected to pornography was wrong”??

        I can tell you that there’s no “instinct” (in humans or any other animal species) to assess “certain actions” in that way; otherwise the “instinct” wouldv’e been at play from the moment you were born ~ as would any sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. All the things you mention are learnt after birth (consciously or subconsciously): instincts are what you were born with.

        For example, how did you arrive at a knowledge of ‘pornography’, or what a ‘teacher’s pet’ was? How did you KNOW you had the “biggest boobs”: are you suggesting you knew about boobs when you were, say, two years old? How did you know the “things” “the person was saying and doing” were “strange”? ie ‘strange’ compared to what?
        What sort of “instinct” would be responsible for prompting you to look for ‘bulges’ in men’s pants?

        NONE of these things can be called instinctual. You HAD to learn them. Perhaps earlier and more abruptly than some, perhaps more sensitively than others; but nonetheless. I’d suspect your environment and upbringing (including religious) had much to do with teaching you those things, even on a subliminal level, but all the same.
        eg. Do you suppose it was ‘instinct’ that prevented you from playing with a full nappy, fingerpainting on the wall and then licking your fingers clean?
        Take it form me, there’s no ‘instinct’ governing any of that; it’s called ‘potty-training’ and is applied to the mostly-blank mind of of a child.

        And while smaller kids might be curious about various anatomical features and functions and differences, there’s no sense of ‘sexuality’ not linked to puberty.
        It’s sad that kids grow up in the sort of environment that trains them to be afraid, suspicious and insecure, and you’ve heard me rail about it often enough. For my money ‘religious instruction’ both direct and indirect is one of the worst aspects of that sort of conditioning, because it’s much harder to identify, deal with and treat than anything based on bodily features.

        Afterthought:- Is there a single mother out there that hasn’t kissed a child’s bum? Paedophilia?


      • “There is much to be said for our instincts of what is wrong and right sexually and morally.”
        ….see my response to Monica’s post below. ‘Right’ and ‘Wrong’ and ‘Morality’ have nothing to do with instincts.
        For better or worse those ‘qualities’ and man-made and variable.


    • Okay Dabbles,

      I am nine years old. Mum has allowed me to catch the bus on Sunday to go play with a school friend. I have to walk a fair distance to the bus stop and although I am the only one around, it seems, I know this route off by heart as it is the same route I take to go to school, so all should be well. There’s a bridge I have to first go under to cross the road to the bus stop on the other side. In the distance I see a white van parked diagonally under the bridge, blocking my access to the bus stop with a man leaning against his van, arms crossed and beaming a great big smile at me, with van door wide open.

      What is remarkable is that I have no idea how I was able to see him smiling at me because he was too far for me to make out his features. But all of a sudden I freaked because I just knew that he was waiting to abduct me! I had this sudden intense foreboding come upon me and even though I was so looking forward to the day’s outing, I ran as fast as I could back home, screaming in fright that a man was waiting to harm me. Dad took me seriously. He immediately hopped in his car and drove to the location but the van was not there anymore. He drove around and around looking for this b*****d in a white van but could not find him.

      Of course, I could not prove that the guy was intending to harm me. It was just my gut instinct/feelings I was going on, but I can tell you that I was terrified by them.

      Next day it was reported on the news that a child was abducted by a man in a white van.


      • You make my point, Mon; and I’ll bet the story gets more dovetailed and seamless every time you tell it. (That, too, is part of the early-years programming.); I’d suspect the “smiling” thing tells the story. If you couldn’t actually SEE it, where did the image spring from?
        And equally telling:- If you were too far away to make out his features, how did you know it WAS a ‘he’?

        As for the report that ” a child was abducted by a man in a white van.”, well, as they say: Shit does happen.
        But so do coincidences, false or faulty reporting and/or memory, assumptions as to, for example, time and place, mental ‘adjustments’ to make connections where there may well BE none, etc. The mind has remarkable powers. Some kids freak out at mention of the Boogey Man. Perfectly healthy blackfellers sit down and die if they have a bone pointed at them. etc. etc. etc.

        Consider:- Though a child may well have been missing, how was it established that it was “abducted” (?) …by a “man” (?)…in a “white van”?
        And did YOU note the date of the ‘report’ ~ or even the date of your own experience? Do you, to this day, know whether the “child” was a boy or a girl? (here assuming the ‘report’ would’ve made that clear.)

        It could feasibly be suggested that you heard the report (guessing you didn’t read it yourself), were sternly warned not to go near strangers ~ even if they did seem nice and were smiling or offered you a ride, lollies, whatever,
        ….and then set about (subconsciously of course) getting your father’s approval and effection by pleasing him: a perfectly common and well-documented syndrome. (yeah yeah: I know I was shitcanning ‘psychobabble’ just yesterday! 🙂 )

        Of course all that could be quite incorrect, but I was twelve years old when my sister was born, and was always very (BIG-brother) close to her ~ and learnt a lot from the experience that I’d never have learnt restrospectively from my own experiences.

        Just a vagrant thought…….When you have your tete-a-tetes with god, does he sound like, or otherwise, remind you of your father?

        But the bottom line is still this:- None of what you describe can be seen as being motivated by ‘instinct’. It’s all a learnt response to learnt stimuli….even if you’re not aware of them.
        Keep smiling: we all need an interest. 🙂


      • Pretty incredible ‘co-incidence’.

        Here’s another co-incidence. One of my brothers-in-law was a Ward of the State as his mother was mentally handicapped. He went through a gamut of foster homes and was often wandering on the streets late at night from a young age, so was never really fussed about it.

        Except one night he saw an outline of a man at the end of the street and knew instinctively it was a warning not to continue towards there.

        My damn fish brain prevents me from properly remembering the rest of it, but I remember hearing him explain it (he’s not religious, spiritual etc.) – and thinking, he was looked out for that day.


      • Exactly Kathleen.

        We know there’s a God who looks out for us, and that some children/people are more sensitive than others to His leading (still, small voice)…..and thank God for our guardian angels.


  4. ps….. BillyBob says he’s not going to stop checking out the genitals ~ and sniffing the bums ~ of any other mutt he meets, regardless of age or gender, and that any idiot who gets hysterical and/or disapproving can get stuffed!

    Mind you, he’s never read Freud or Greer….and thinks PC is something in a blue uniform that you cock a leg on.


    • I notice that a lot of atheists take their cues for morality from dumb brute animals! Dabbles for example condones paedophilia by saying that BillyBob tries checking out the genitals of other mutts regardless of age… so maybe paedophilia is not wrong at all!


      • Sometimes you do remind me of BillyBob, grumpy old fart that he’s become lately. HIS redeeming feature, however, is his intelligence. 😉

        …..as for the ‘checking out of genitals’ perhaps you need reminding that the first thing ‘checked out’ by all present in any human (or even christian) birthing ~ including yours ~ is…..you guessed it!:- the genitals. (is it a boy?? is it a girl?? is it a duck?)
        Just as well, too: if the first thing the inquisitive assemblage ‘checked out’ was the IQ there’d be a lot more newborns accidentally dropped on their heads.

        According to your bent, all those people ‘condone paedophilia’, do they?


      • Ah Dabbles you like to dig your own grave don’t you? We are not talking about Billybob checking other mutts genitals to ascertain whether they are male or female, the way we do to determine gender.
        Billybob probably does it to every dog, I believe you used the phrase “regardless of age”?!
        And I believe that the context of this story on Richard Dawkins is that perhaps accusations of paedophilia have been blown out of proportions


    • Nobody would suggest that checking out the genitals of a new born baby to determine gender is classed as paedophilia so why are you bringing it up?


      • I’m “bringing it up” because the motives of the those zeroing in on the crotch of a newborn are exactly the same motives as BillyBob’s: CURIOSITY.

        (Yes, I realise that’s only an assumption; but given the ‘christian’ track record there could well be one or a few paedophiles in the crowd…… even if they’re only interested in adding to their foreskin collection.)

        Of course, a pervert of some sort or other (often of the witch-hunting christian persuasion) can see paedophiles lurking EVERYwhere.

        To draw the conclusion that “maybe paedophilia is not wrong at all!” because a dog insists on sniffing bums is about the level of intelligence one might expect from “a pervert of some sort or other”. It’s not a suggestion BillyBob, nor I, nor Richard Dawkings have made or would make.

        And before you again start attributing opinions or attitudes to others (including four-footed ones) I suggest you make sure you comprehend what those others actually said, and thereby try to avoid looking like a fool.

        For example, what Dawkins is reported as saying is :-
        “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.

        (See what I mean about ‘intelligence”? BillyBob would never have made such an obvious blunder.)


  5. “…then there’s Jimmy Saville and all his seediness…. but we’re not allowed to say anything, are we?” Johnny Rotten 1970

    It take over 30 years to prove him right? Then there’s Rolf Harris…. Australia’s pin-up boy.

    Nah … what’s the harm in a little slap and tickle?

    Ask the new child psychologist on the block Richard Dawkins ….


      • I suspect the problem is that those who bring it up (right and wrong) most often and severely are the least qualified to do so, Kathleen.


      • That’s right Dabbles.

        Dawkins, the atheist gave it a go, telling us what is right and wrong and he got it wrong.

        No wonder so many of us take God’s word over his.


    • I dunno about the other bloke, but ‘Our Rolf’ was picked as a tamperer by half the population of A Div., Pentridge when he performed out there in the early ’60s; prisoners have a sense for identifying the signs.

      As I understand it the ‘children’ he’s accused of being involved with were a couple of girls in their mid-teens.
      While not the most tasteful of images, to call that paedophilia is bloody absurd!
      Post-pubescent females touting themselves as being available ~ and especially to a ‘celebrity’ ~ is not only par for ANY course, it’s as ‘Ma Nature’ and/or ‘God’ decreed it should be. (I wonder how many teenaged groupies’ offers the Beatles, say, or the Stones, took advantage of or had to beat off?) Keep in mind there’s been no suggestion of rape.

      Even god’s mother was a bloody teenager, for christ’s sake (sic) and probably rather younger than the girls in the Harris case; the difference being that Mary wasn’t given any option about being tampered with by the father of her child.
      Who among you are ready to declare your god a paedophile and a rapist?

      Mohammed on the other hand……..


  6. Paedophiles would agree with Dawkins.
    Ohhh, there’s nothing wrong with it.
    It’s natural and harmless.
    Who gets to say what is wrong and right anyway?
    Don’t follow your God given conscience, listen to my persuasive words.
    All sex is good. There is no such thing as a line.


  7. I don’t know about paedophiles (never having been a practising catholic), but if this is a snide shot at me I’m willing to pick up the gauntlet on Dawkins’ behalf (as well as my own), Kathleen. Just say the word!

    Meanwhile, how about using YOUR “god-given conscience” (and the bible from which it stems) to discuss “what is wrong and right(sic)” about this other comment of Dawkins describing the source of your conscience’:-

    ““The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”


    • Dawkins doesn’t seem too fussed about paedophiles, why bother worrying about anything else? He could just throw them into ‘pffft’ basket.


      • Not at all. I’m not going to get into why Dawkins is so absolutely wrong about God. I can’t be bothered. He’ll just keep hitting his head against the wall.


      • Indeed? (but the ‘headbutting’ thing is an irrelevant distraction.)
        If I had the time I’d find biblical references to validate EVERY single claim made by Dawkins. (and a few he hasn’t mentioned!)

        Meantime, why don’t you flick up a few references to dispute the accusations?
        …..Perhaps begin with the filicide of having his own son crucified…..and in the same stroke having demonstrated his sadomasochistic streak. 😉


  8. ….and a couple of relevant quotes (the first (tellingly) from one of Bryan’s favoured sources:-
    “…. an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy. If a man’s mind is open on these things, let his mouth at least be shut. ”

    and from someone else “…….. it was wrong to murder even before Moses brought down the commandments. Right and wrong doesn’t come from God. It’s inside us. And we know it. And even if God appears right in front of us, and tells us to our faces to murder, it’s still wrong.”


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