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Dawkins, Bin Laden, and the Little Honey Pot

Honey Defender

Richard Dawkins: Honey Defender

by Ilisha

Richard Dawkins recently got a little taste of his own bitter medicine.

In the summer of 2011, Rebecca Watson found herself alone in an elevator with a man at an atheist convention. The man propositioned her, and the encounter made her uncomfortable. She decided to use the incident as an example of how not to behave at a public event, where she believed women were entitled to feel safe and comfortable.

Richard Dawkins thought her complaint was petty, so he publicly ridiculed her. Watson is a fellow atheist, but for Dawkins, apparently anything objectionable is all about religion, even when it’s not. So he ridiculed Watson’s concerns by belittling her, and simultaneously insulting Muslims:

Dear Muslima

Stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and … yawn … don’t tell me yet again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and you can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery. But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.

Only this week I heard of one, she calls herself Skep”chick”, and do you know what happened to her? A man in a hotel elevator invited her back to his room for coffee. I am not exaggerating. He really did. He invited her back to his room for coffee. Of course she said no, and of course he didn’t lay a finger on her, but even so …

Rebecca Watson was not amused.

But the torment didn’t end with Dawkins’ condescending Dear Muslima taunt. His apparent fans picked up the torch and began a campaign of relentless harassment:

Dawkins’ seal of approval only encouraged the haters. My YouTube page and many of my videos were flooded with rape “jokes,” threats, objectifying insults, and slurs. A few individuals sent me hundreds of messages, promising to never leave me alone. My Wikipedia page was vandalized. Graphic photos of dead bodies were posted to my Facebook page…

A man planning to attend an upcoming conference with Rebecca Watson even threatened to assault her, stating on Twitter that if he saw her on an elevator, he would “cop a feel.” Watson wrote about her disappointment at the sexism and harassment coming from what she referred to as the “skeptic community.”

Keep in mind that the Richard Dawkins who spawned this hatefest against Watson is the same Richard Dawkins who routinely complains that Islam is misogynistic. In response to a report on British women converting to Islam, he wrote:

Whenever I read an article like this, I end up shaking my head in bafflement. Why would anyone want to CONVERT to Islam? I can see why, having been born into it, you might be reluctant to leave, perhaps when you reflect on the penalty for doing to. But for a woman (especially a woman) voluntarily to JOIN such a revolting and misogynistic institution when she doesn’t have to always suggests to me massive stupidity.

Once again, evidence atheism does not make one immune to sexism, hypocrisy, or any of the other human flaws Dawkins often attributes to the faithful. Despite his dismissal of Watson’s concerns as petty, it seems Richard Dawkins is not above pettiness himself, on matters far more trivial than sexual harassment.

Despite knowing it was against the rules, he apparently tried to smuggle a little jar of honey onto flight from Edinburgh to Heathrow. The honey was confiscated and discarded, prompting Dawkins to Tweet his consternation:

Bin Laden has won, in airports of the world every day. I had a little jar of honey, now thrown away by rule-bound dundridges. STUPID waste.

Yes, Osama Bin Laden has won. The singular goal of his existence was clearly to deprive the very bitter Richard Dawkins of his sweet little jar of honey. And to make us have to take our shoes off every time we go through airport security. He wins. Every. Day.

One of the world’s foremost evolutionary biologists was trifling over a little jar of honey. Instead of rallying troops to his campaign as he had with Watson a couple of years back, he was subjected to ridicule, as he explained to the Guardian:

I tweeted to the effect that every time I see an incident of this kind I sense it as a victory for Bin Laden. However calamitous the destruction of the twin towers, doesn’t the bureaucratically imposed vexation to airline passengers all over the world mount up to a prolonged and distributed, albeit far less traumatic, victory? And aren’t our rule-merchants playing into Bin Laden’s dead hands by their futile displays of stable-door-shutting?

But because the honey was mine not a young mother’s, my motive could surely not be other than selfish. “Stop whining about your lost honey.” In vain did I protest that I couldn’t give a damn about my honey. I was making a point of general principle, trying to be public-spirited. “If you weren’t so ignorant, you’d know the rules about liquids.” In vain did I reassure the tweeting twerps that I know the rules all too well. That’s precisely why I’m campaigning against them.

I say nothing of the feeble jokes on “bee” and “be” and Pooh Bear…

Maybe it’s time to write Dawkins a letter that starts out something like this: “Dear Brother Dawkins, stop whining, will you. Yes, yes, we know you had your little jar of honey confiscated….”

Dawkins was not only mocked and ridiculed on Twitter. A site called Us vs Th3m even created an online game, Richard Dawkins: Honey Defender. This time it was Dawkins who was not amused. He waxed indignant over what he described as, “a puerile display of sniggering frivolity” in response to his concerns.

A puerile display of sniggering frivolity is not the same as a relentless, frightening campaign of hate. Dawkins did not face an onslaught like the one he and his fans unleashed two summers ago. Nevertheless, Rebecca Watson must feel at least a little twinge of vindication.

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  • JD

    Bin Laden did nothing about that We did. We handed our freedoms over for security. It started with the Patriot act . When it was allowed to pass without challenge it open up the gates for other laws rules and regulations to pass. The terrorist have won America is not the same America it was 10-20 years ago and they didnt even have to do anything just sit back watch the show . Congratulations

  • Markus Sarén

    Actually, the honey is ONE example of how bin Laden won this war a long time ago. The Patriot Act, NSA spying, wars etc. are other examples. He won this war a very long time ago – he wanted to change the US for the worse and destroy its image and credibility around the world, and he did. Simple as that.

  • Al

    Oh dear Dawkins is at it again. This time on Twitter he’s repeating hoaxes about schools not teaching the Holocaust in schools because it will offend Muslims. What a clown.

  • Muslim Comments

    Dawkins is boring. Even many atheists are embarrassed by him…..

  • Santa

    Excellent reply, almost, but I really like it very much, sort of. You are apparently quite certain that you are very knowledgeable in the domain of Muslim Spain history, which is simply swell.

    I am always pleased to see that people are not afraid to aspire to knowledge and greatness, that they are not afraid of eithere, some are born great but stupid, some achieve greatness but never the less stay stupid, and some have knowledge entrusted upon them but lack greatness to understand and use it. You are not afraid of using it, although I’m not sure about “understanding” part.

    I have one objection, though, I’m not accusing you of concealing anything. Eh, wait a sec., wait, … I have another, you shouldn’t object my own “nick” since we all using nicknames instead of full names, although my nick IS my real name, unlike your nick which is obviously not.

    Just to clarify, as a gesture of good will, as one historian to another: I was referring to El Cid and El Bueno when I said that one did far better job in concealing his ancestry then the other, or former did better job then later – kapish ?!
    I have said nothing about your origin, concealed or not !

    Good luck !

  • El Cid

    You are the one mixing British slang with Spanish and marginal English to conceal your identity.

    Your ignorance of Islam, Arabic, and Muslim history is what makes you misunderstand and misinterpret its meaning and intent.

    However, I am glad you like it. Please know that nothing is being concealed. Only the limitation of knowledge, the inability to decipher it, may make it appear so.

  • Tanveer Khan

    That’s a shame. I don’t really care however. If you want to rage against him and Hindus (I’m still not sure why you consider them a Hindu but Ok, whatever), feel free. I’d rather not.

  • Santa

    An excellent choice for a “nick”, I like ti. “El Cid” was Muslim Moor too, like Guzman El Bueno, only with better job in concealing his ancestry and origin ?!

  • Cengiz_K

    Yeah totally overrated..

  • Cengiz_K

    This is a good way to gel along in a scientific environment..

  • Just_Stopping_By : “Currently, the MLA [Modern Language Association] has removed the requirement of brackets in its style handbooks. However, some maintain that the use of brackets is still correct because it clears confusion.” (Closing footnote omitted.)

    Per the same Wikipedia link, the Chicago Manual of Style does not use brackets for ellipses.

    Perhaps you don’t recognize the diversity of styles in English around the world. The MLA has removed the requirement while others maintain that it is still correct. You may have sources that call for the use of brackets around ellipses. That would be fine too. Sometimes we have diversity in various aspects of life; learn to celebrate it!

    In addition, you ended the following sentence incorrectly: “Did you even go to school, … Slumdog wannabe.” The sentence should end with a question mark, not a slur. Similarly, your sentence “Are you able to discern the difference.” also should end with a question mark. The tip-off is that those sentences ask questions. :-)

  • El Cid

    “you leave out that I included ellipses to show that there was more material as well as a link to the comment”

    You did not. You used this: …

    That is not appropriate. This is: […]

    Are you able to discern the difference. Ever written a book, research report, thesis?

    English major, ever go to Idiot High? Did you even go to school, you pretender, Slumdog wannabe. You are not worth my time.

  • El Cid

    Please Note:

    Cite—to write or say the words of a book, author, other. To mention an example in support of a comment, idea, opinion.

    Site—Location as in geography; a point or area on the Earth. Archaeological site, a place or group of physical sites. A building site. A Website–a set of related Internet pages.

    Note that your ilk was “citing” a website but instead “sited” the website. Are you able to discern the difference?

    Besides being of little discernment, poor intellect, emotionally conflicted, full of repressed hate, you have answered my other question too: You are NO English major.

    And confirmed my worst fears…the ‘anal
    retentive’ observation is confirmed.

  • El Cid

    No, you are the smart sane one here…cool too.

  • Tanveer Khan

    Is this really the same guy who used to end his comments with pictures?

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “Perhaps you also know I can lock them if I wanted to. Bigotry concerning the Hindu? Indeed!”

    Then I should make sure to quote one of your comments now before you lock them: “And you, the Hindu, are the Demon Haunted Folk, not Muslims.” . I will note that you were replying to bigotry, but you used bigotry to do so.

    “NOW please, what was your underlying motive for leaving out the last two sentences? They do explain the context.

    The motive was brevity. But, you leave out that I included ellipses to show that there was more material as well as a link to the comment. What was your underlying motive in leaving out that context?

    Also, I don’t see how the additional two sentences change the fact that you moved from one intolerant view to a more intolerant one. Perhaps you can explain for those of us who don’t think like you.

    And I do invite everyone to browse through that page or your comments to see that these are not exceptions.

    “Are you an English major/teacher or simply anal retentive?

    Another of your comments from the same page linked to above: “The word you want to use is ‘Cite’. Not ‘Site’. Cite means to refer. Site is a place. American education?”

  • El Cid

    Not on meds. The Hindu Slumdogs, occasional others, call the Muslim World that.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    “He is standard Hindu Slumdog.”

    Well, at least in a recent post elsewhere you admit that your thinking evolves, or perhaps more precisely, devolves: “Before I discovered these page [sic] I actually used to consider the Hindu as human, even though a cunning ugly depraved species. …”

    “If the moderator allows…”

    From what I have seen, the mods here have a rather generous tolerance or allowance for bigoted statements. Just don’t take that as meaning that people here accept your idea of treating entire religious, ethnic, or national groups as “slumdogs,” not human, or “a cunningly ugly depraved species.” I am sure that most, if not nearly all, of us proudly oppose such views.

  • Heinz Catsup

    20 so far.

  • Heinz Catsup

    I got a chuckle from that honey defender game. Also, great article Ilisha!

  • Heinz Catsup

    Good one!

  • moraka

    Man you must have one sad life.

  • Sam Seed


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