…so shall ye reap – as a wise man once said.
Uber-atheist Richard Dawkins is changing the way comments are posted on his website. He is tightening up the moderation and, if I understand the news reporting correctly, removing the veil of anonymity under which commenters were previously able to shelter.
The response has been vitriolic, to say the least, and the blog has been shut down earlier than intended.
The interesting thing, though, is Dawkins’ comments about it: “Surely there has to be something wrong with people who can resort to such over-the-top language, overreacting so spectacularly,” he said.
Readers of Dawkins’ work, particularly his writings about religion, would be justified in wondering if he has taken a look in that particular mirror recently. ‘Vicious language’, ‘remarkable bile’ and reactions that are ‘little short of hysterical’, are epithets which could easily be ascribed to many of his own diatribes. It could be said that he has encouraged a culture of ‘saying what you really think’ and is just receiving a taste of his own medecine (a good caution to us all!).
Yet perhaps I am being unjust. After all, the words I omitted from the end of the first quotation are: “to something so trivial”. Faith, he would acknowledge, is not trivial, either to those who have it or to those who hate it. ‘In what (or whom) should I trust?’ is perhaps the most significant question anyone can ever ask. So perhaps Dawkins’ real exhortation is ‘reserve your passions for things that matter’.
If so, I’ve finally found something he and I agree on.