Words Mean Things: “Out of Context”

We’re introducing a new feature on this blog called “Words Mean Things.” It’s where I explore various phrases that have come to be used in pop conversation as defensive or offensive rhetoric, but are completely divorced from any substantive meaning.

The inspiration for this feature and today’s entry comes in the comments for yesterday’s post about Dawkins. Quoted partially.

Way to take on [sic] paragraph out of context and write an essay condemning him. Do you have too much time on your hands?

I have since asked James for the context that makes his statements better and have received no reply, so I assume he’s merely been too busy.

However, there are many people far less scrupulous than James who don’t realize that “out of context” has a meaning and is not code for “thing that makes somebody sound bad.”

Let’s explore.

“Context” refers to the information surrounding something. Data is rarely clear in a vacuum, and is rather influenced by other data surrounding it that gives you, the observer, a sense of perspective by which you can accurately determine meaning from what you are seeing.

This is an aspect of science that particularly confuses Creationists. You see, when we discuss the mountains of evidence for evolution, we are talking about context. We understand how gravity and time work, for example, so we know that things on the bottom of piles got there first and are therefore older, so when we find a fossil that appears to be in an earlier stage of development for various traits buried deeper in the ground, we can draw a provisional conclusion that it may be a transitional fossil to something we found higher up from something that will be found lower. Keep in mind that this is a highly, highly simplified example.

Now, let us take that same fossil discovery and put it to a Creationist. Whether they want to admit it or not, for that discovery to not be consistent with evolution, either time or gravity would have to work differently in order to deposit fossils someplace in the ground that they wouldn’t otherwise be if they were consistent. So, Creationists often try to pick apart the validity of the find itself (often referring to Piltdown Man), rather than addressing that it was found exactly where we predicted it would be. That is taking out of context.

How about another example?

Out of context things are often used in the service of comedy. For example, one of my favorite Tumblrs is Archie Out of Context, which takes one or two panels from Archie comics and separates them from the rest of the comic, letting you draw your own, mostly sexual, conclusions. Here’s twenty that are absolutely hilarious, including a few of my favorites (“Oh! So Jesus is a giant Aspirin tablet!!!”).

One could also argue that the humor in comedies of errors results from taking things out of context. The Life of Brian is a great example, where we have poor Brian of Nazareth who is assumed to be the much hoped for messiah, despite nothing in his life indicating that this is the case. He’s a fairly unremarkable guy who has his every action re-written in order to fit the new context that others have developed for him, such as in this, one of my favorite scenes:

The “context” of the scene that we see is that Brian is running from a mob of fanatical devotees who want him to lead them, and he loses his shoe in the process. However, the zealots don’t understand that he is a normal guy with no wisdom to impart. They have taken the event out of the context of his life and inserted it into the context of a messiah giving them guidance. The shoe stops being a mistake caused by being in a hurry and is now The Sign.

Now that we know what “context” is, let us see how “out of context” is abused.

Remember this ad from the last presidential campaign that seems to have President Obama saying, “If we talk about the economy, we’re going to lose”?

It was the first Romney ad that came out for the general. But when we took at look at when and where that line was actually said, we see that Obama was actually referring to a quote from a John McCain staffer in the presidential election before that. He was trying to summarize the attitude of the McCain campaign at the time, which was suffering from its party identification with the president and Congress that helped put us in what we were just realizing would be one of the worst economic disasters in American history. In this case, context demonstrates that what is being implied is the exact opposite of what was said.

On the flip side of that, last June Rep. Trent Franks from Arizona commented that, “The incidents of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low,” in order to justify having no rape exception in his 20 week national abortion ban. When he was hit from the left for the statement, he claimed he was “taken out of context.” In this case, that is nothing but a dodge, because nothing he said around that statement in any way changes that he was basically ignoring the 32,000 pregnancies that result from rape every year, nor would it make his statement any more relevant (i.e. even if only one woman got pregnant from rape, shouldn’t she not be forced to carry her rapist’s baby?).

It is in this second vein that I am taking claims about Dawkins being “taken out of context.” Maybe there is more to the article that I am missing, but so far it doesn’t look like anything that was said around those quotes changes that he appears to be speaking for his classmates regarding whether they were affected by their molestation, that he recognizes degrees of molestation, or that he thinks that you can’t judge people in earlier generations for their horrible behavior based on social expectations of the time. And taking in further context of previous statements he’s made, it’s directly in line with a demonstrable callous indifference to people who are not just like him or capable of serving his interests.

And that is what “out of context” means.

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10 thoughts on “Words Mean Things: “Out of Context”

  1. Your complaint about Dawkins is severely “out of context.” In a number of regards. Let me point it out.

    Dawkins clearly stated that this was “his” reaction to the incident. Dawkins WANTED it taken outside of a larger context. Your placing it within the context that the mob mentality wants to give it makes you guilty of “out of context” condemnation.

    But the situation is worse than that. Dawkins clearly thought it mild in HIS instance. He made no judgments and implications as the people hounding him over it demand he should have. Particularly, the is no possible context in which you could assume that that teacher molested other children, molested other children in more severe ways, or even raped boys. That is a context the mob made up.

    Indeed, the mob context becomes even more wrong when Dawkins’ experience is immediately equated with priestly abuse and similar red herrings. There is no limit to the contexts mobs can and will invent.

    Concerning the context, I also take offense at the word “pedophilia.” It has no place in this context. Pedophilia refers to much younger children. Dawkins was a teen. In the (wrong) context of our erotophobic US-Anglo culture people are routinely accused of “pedophilia” when having sex with people who are of age of consent in many other Western countries. It may come as a surprise to you that age of consent, even in Western Europe, goes down to 13 in some instances. The fact that the teacher broke the law as a person in authority (in loco parentis) has absolutely nothing to do with pedophilia and would be the same if both were of age.

    In the same vein, the accusations against most priest are equally out of context. The vast majority of them had sex with teens and did NOT rape the boys. Only very few priests were bona-fide pedophiles. Making no distinctions certainly puts things “out of context.”

    So, you can see the structure of the larger mob and herd mentality “context.” Truly, it puts most of the accusations against Dawkins out of Context.

    • Did you actually read what was said?

      Dawkins clearly stated that this was “his” reaction to the incident.

      “I don’t think he did any of us any lasting damage.” – Richard Dawkins

      Unless he was referring to himself and his clones, which is unlikely considering this is followed by a discussion about how other boys were molested as well, then it seems pretty clear that he did not “clearly [state]that this was ‘his’ reaction.”

      Particularly, the [sic] is no possible context in which you could assume that that teacher molested other children, molested other children in more severe ways, or even raped boys.

      “As soon as I could wriggle off his lap, I ran to tell my friends, many of whom had had the same experience with him.” – Richard Dawkins

      I never claimed that he raped boys, and I don’t recognize that there is a difference in degree of molestation except that which is set by the individual victim. However, it seems that reading the interview would demonstrate that Dawkins, at least, seems to believe that that teacher molested other children. Unless it was a witchhunt by those boys, just trying to ruin that poor teacher’s reputation.

      Concerning the context, I also take offense at the word “pedophilia.” It has no place in this context. Pedophilia refers to much younger children.

      “…I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild paedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today.” – Richard Dawkins

      If you have a problem with the word, I recommend you take it up with Dawkins. He was the one who used it. That being said, he does go on to say that it shouldn’t be used as broadly, but that doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly the fault of the “mob” for accurately quoting him.

      Dawkins was a teen.

      “One day – I must have been about 11 – there was a master in the gallery with me. He pulled me onto his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.” – Richard Dawkins

      Kinda funny definition of “teen” you have there. The age of consent in Britain since the beginning of the 20th century has been 16. It is no less than 14 throughout Europe (though even if it were 13, that’s still older than 11). So your point about age of consent laws is pretty awful when you realize that he was 11 years old when this happened. An 11 year old doesn’t have the capacity to consent meaningfully to sexual contact with an adult, but even if he did, then this quote indicates that it was against Dawkins’s wishes at the time.

      “He did no more than have a little feel, but it was extremely disagreeable (the cremasteric reflex is not painful, but in a skin-crawling, creepy way it is almost worse than painful) as well as embarrassing.” – Richard Dawkins

      The vast majority of them had sex with teens and did NOT rape the boys.

      Having sex with somebody without consent is rape. Underage kids cannot meaningfully consent to sex with adults because they are incapable in most cases of fully grasping the consequences of doing so, especially when that adult holds power over them.

      Making no distinctions certainly puts things “out of context.”

      No, it actually doesn’t. You might want to re-read the post, since it’s pretty clear that you didn’t understand.

  2. Dear Kaoru:

    I must apologize, I was wrong about the details. I didn’t know them as the detail are spread in drabs all over the net. My reply was written a bit in haste and not really focused enough.

    My overall argument certainly stands and is not really addressed by your objections.

    For the longest time now we have been told that we have no right to tell victims of abuse how they should feel or act about it. Any reaction of a victim, now matter how outrageous or disproportional to the offense is declared legitimate.

    Apparently this this rule only applies if a victim chooses to declare herself terribly damaged and suffering forever.

    THAT is the context.

    In the case of Dawkins, the howling mob has decided that he has no right to feel that he suffered no lasting damage. Indeed, numerous writers have taken it upon themselves to enlighten him about what damage he should have felt, suggesting that he is somehow in denial.

    Apparently it is not allowed to integrate past experiences successfully in your character – and state so. That stance is in itself extremely damaging, forcing people to live with a false concept of their past. Psychiatry has developed a huge industry dedicated to keep the “damage” alive in your life forever. Dawkins is being lynched for something that all well-adjusted adults do and should be doing. Accusing him for that is itself pathological. That is the context.

    As far as p(a)edophilia is concerned, 11 years probably falls under “hebephilia,” not pedophilia. You are right, I assumed the boys were a bit older. I had not heard about the ages since I was less reacting to Dawkins’ disclosures than to the reactions of the mob.

    However, pedophilia is a term that does not apply in most of these cases, including priests. The correct term is “hebephilia” and “ephebophilia,” but none of the terms is very helpful.

    The “capacity to consent” is a legal issue with its own absurdities. It declares people mentally ill in one country and when they cross a border they are suddenly okay.

    There’s something else about consent that is rarely noticed. In the US, at least, children can be charged with “adult” crimes down to ages under 10. It is hard to see how someone can commit an adult crime while being unable to consent to have his genitals touched. That, too, is context. Of course it does not excuse those teachers’ abuse of power, but that aspect has nothing to do with the age of the victim.

    My overall argument was that in this context the mob throws things together that simply don’t belong together. When people speak about sexual assault, it rarely is actual rape – but in everybody’s mind it registers as rape.

    Doing some sexual act is NOT the same as rape. I don’t even know what “having sex” (in your reply) is supposed to mean. According to Dawkins’ disclosure the teacher didn’t even expose himself (correct me if I am wrong). Yes, it was sexual, and it was assault, but it was far from rape.

    In the famous study that says 1 in 4 women in college are sexually assaulted or raped, guess what, things like “attempt at forced kissing” was counted as sexual assault. So was having sex if your (male) partner had been drinking. In the latter case, the majority of all sex probably is sexual assault. Unsurprisingly, most of the women questioned did not feel raped or assaulted or having sustained any damage. Yet, they did make the statistic as sexual assault and rape victims. Just as in Dawkins’ case, their experiences were (and still are) simply redefined by the mob who thinks it knows better and denies legitimacy to anybody who feels otherwise. THAT is context.

    Despite my mistakes, my original plea was to keep the torches and pitchforks at home. Your concept of “out of context” is merely one more excuse to thrust one more pitchfork. I stand by what I wrote, despite its warts

    • In the case of Dawkins, the howling mob has decided that he has no right to feel that he suffered no lasting damage. Indeed, numerous writers have taken it upon themselves to enlighten him about what damage he should have felt, suggesting that he is somehow in denial.

      Citation needed. I haven’t seen anyone tell Dawkins what he should feel, only that he shouldn’t tell other people what they should feel by insisting that “mild paedophilia” didn’t “do any of us lasting damage.”

      Psychiatry has developed a huge industry dedicated to keep the “damage” alive in your life forever.

      And resources to deal with paranoia. In other words, citation needed.

      However, pedophilia is a term that does not apply in most of these cases, including priests. The correct term is “hebephilia” and “ephebophilia,” but none of the terms is very helpful.

      A distinction without a difference. It still is sexual behavior with somebody incapable of meaningful consent.

      The “capacity to consent” is a legal issue with its own absurdities. It declares people mentally ill in one country and when they cross a border they are suddenly okay.

      Somebody who can’t consent to sex is not “mentally ill.” They are inexperienced with developing mental faculties and incapable of understanding the consequences of their actions. The more I read from you, the more I suspect you’re one of those guys who looks for technicalities to justify an attraction to teenagers.

      There’s something else about consent that is rarely noticed. In the US, at least, children can be charged with “adult” crimes down to ages under 10.

      I agree that it’s absurd to charge children as adults. However, this is a red herring and I recommend you discuss it someplace where they’re talking about that.

      My overall argument was that in this context the mob throws things together that simply don’t belong together. When people speak about sexual assault, it rarely is actual rape – but in everybody’s mind it registers as rape.

      “Actual rape”? Can you please define that.

      Also, another red herring. Nobody is talking about rape.

      In the famous study that says 1 in 4 women in college are sexually assaulted or raped, guess what, things like “attempt at forced kissing” was counted as sexual assault. So was having sex if your (male) partner had been drinking. In the latter case, the majority of all sex probably is sexual assault. Unsurprisingly, most of the women questioned did not feel raped or assaulted or having sustained any damage.

      *sigh* Nobody is talking about rape. They’re talking about how Dawkins has no right to tell us how his classmates felt, even if he doesn’t think it was so very wrong to feel him up back then.

      That being said, again, citation needed. We like links here on this blog. Please avail yourself of the ability to use them. Credible sources, please.

      Your concept of “out of context” is merely one more excuse to thrust one more pitchfork. I stand by what I wrote, despite its warts

      So despite none of the parts of your argument being correct, you still feel the whole is? Cognitive dissonance is a marvelous thing.

      The worst part? The arguments that you just clarified, by and large, are absolutely meaningless to the conversation. This is the very definition of a strawman argument, since you seem to be focused entirely on the rape accusations that are not actually being leveled against this particular school master, the use of the word “pedophilia” which was Dawkins’ term, and more about rape which, again, has nothing to do with this and isn’t being suggested as having anything to do with this. And then your repeated references to the “mob” making all of this up when you seem to be the originator of most of these ridiculous parodies of the actual arguments being made. And considering that, by your own admission, you haven’t read the original source (which you can find by either clicking on one of the many links to it or using The Google for all of two minutes), then I suspect that you’ve read very little, then merely constructed a proposition in your head that you could safely argue against.

  3. Well, okay, here are some references. I don’t want to turn this into a pissing contest. I made my point, you can take it or leave it.

    May I, though, point out that your whole rebut is strenuously arguing now that we should only look at the Dawkins’ statements and everything else is a strawperson. So, suddenly the context doesn’t matter any more.

    Actually, the rape accusations ARE being leveled at the schoolmaster. See my references. In addition, the people writing the references bring exactly those things I mentioned into play. They clearly also apply to the “1 in 4” study. Strawman indeed!

    Here is a petition, widely circulated that wants Dawkins to RETRACT his statements and wants to force him to interpret his experiences according to the wishes of the mob: Apparently Dawkins already retracted – caving in to the bullying of the mob.

    https://www.change.org/petitions/richard-dawkins-retract-your-trivializing-statements-regarding-victims-of-sexual-abuse.

    Here is a link proving my “strawman.” On FreeThoughtBlogs (no less) you find this post strenuously arguing that all non-consensual sex needs to be called rape. No distinctions allowed.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/brutereason/2013/09/12/all-nonconsensual-sex-is-sexual-assault-how-we-categorize-and-minimize-rape/

    Posts like this are all over the internet.

    Contrast this with a well-considered, level-headed post discussing similar issues, especially in the comment section. This one is also (surprisingly) from FreeThoughtBlogs.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/hetpat/2013/09/04/the-startling-facts-on-female-sexual-aggression/

    I think this makes my case.

    Birric Forcella – birricforcella@gmail.com

    • Here is a petition, widely circulated that wants Dawkins to RETRACT his statements and wants to force him to interpret his experiences according to the wishes of the mob

      “We are very glad that Dr. Dawkins did not suffer any ‘lasting damage’ from the abuse he experienced as a child. But he does not have the right to trivialize the very real damage experienced by other victims.”

      How, again, does this prove that rape accusations are being made against the schoolmaster or that people are telling Dawkins how he is feeling?

      Here is a link proving my “strawman.” On FreeThoughtBlogs (no less) you find this post strenuously arguing that all non-consensual sex needs to be called rape. No distinctions allowed.

      Because all nonconsensual sex is rape. That’s what rape means: nonconsensual sex. There are no degrees of nonconsensual sex. And this remains a red herring because nobody had sex with Dawkins, they molested him, which is sexual but not sex. Do you have links to people saying that Dawkins was raped, or just ones that don’t define rape narrowly enough for your comfort?

      Posts like this are all over the internet.

      If only any of them had anything to do with your point, that would be meaningful.

      Contrast this with a well-considered, level-headed post discussing similar issues, especially in the comment section.

      Which also doesn’t address whether the “1 in 4” study has a flawed methodology, whether anyone is saying that Dawkins was raped, or whether anyone is telling Dawkins what to feel.

      You’re not very good at this, are you? I mean, you’re trying, I see that, but something is happening between your brain and your fingers and your actual points are getting lost. I’m not sure if you just fill in the enormous and obvious gaps in your thinking without realizing it or what, but let me help.

      First, “context” does not mean “I point to vaguely related things and don’t actually present direct evidence, ergo I’m right.” “Context” means “examining the evidence in light of outside factors.” In other words, in order to demonstrate, as an example, that there are a bunch of people saying that Dawkins was raped, you need to actually link to people who have said that Dawkins was raped, not people who said that nonconsensual sex is rape. If you want to prove that people are saying that Dawkins doesn’t have a right to feel how he feels about something, you probably shouldn’t link to a petition that says that Dawkins has every right to feel what he feels, but not to speak for others.

      Does that clarify things at all?

      Actually, the rape accusations ARE being leveled at the schoolmaster. See my references. In addition, the people writing the references bring exactly those things I mentioned into play. They clearly also apply to the “1 in 4″ study.

      You see? Nothing that you presented supported any of that. Some actually contradict that. All the stuff in that above quote? 100% incorrect.

      I think this makes my case.

      Yea, well…Bruce Campbell holding the Highlander sword, in Clan Campbell tartan, before statues of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace at Edinbrugh Castle.

      Your argument makes just about as much sense the way you’re presenting it. If you really want to try again, stay on point. I’ll even do you a favor and tell you what to look for.

      1. A credible source showing that the 1 in 4 study doesn’t represent an accurate number, and provides citations to back that up.

      2. A few blogs that say that Richard Dawkins is wrong to not be ok with what happened to him

      3. A few blogs that claim that Dawkins was raped.

      Ok? Think you can do that? Because that would be great.

  4. After this I give up.

    You yourself state that all non-consensual sex is rape. Then under 3 you talk about “a few blogs that claim that Dawkins was raped.” Well, that would include . . . yours then. You say “All non-consensual sex is rape. That is what rape means.” Seems quite clear, or are you saying Dawkins consented? Or do you think there was no sex involved? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth. It seems more to me that you define and redefine sex and assault (even in the same sentence) to suit your whims. Suddenly you seem to make fine distinctions – the kind that would be lost on the crowd condemning Dawkins. What exactly is sex for you? How is molestation not sex? You would need to answer those questions before you can ask me what my definition of rape is.

    Re 1: I really don’t have to show any debunking papers for that study (many exist) since the study debunks itself – or do you think all sex where the partners had a drink are sexual assault? Indeed, most of the participants didn’t even feel sexually assaulted. I guess their voices don’t count since they “deny” what people like you know is their “real” state.

    Dawkins didn’t trivialize anything. He took pains to say that that was his experience and opinion. I guess that is erased, too. I think his retraction was ill-advised.

    My references clearly show that the mob doesn’t think Dawkins had a right to call his experience what he called it. Again, I use you as my witness: “All non-consensual sex IS rape. That’s what rape means.” – well, so, you yourself state then that those schoolmasters raped – or did I miss something? You say, “, in order to demonstrate, as an example, that there are a bunch of people saying that Dawkins was raped, you need to actually link to people who have said that Dawkins was raped, not people who said that nonconsensual sex is rape.” I guess I did miss something! How does the one not mean the other? It also clearly means that Dawkins misunderstood his experience. He was raped. That’s how you inflate rape statistics. That’s context.

    Concerning your #2, I suspect you should fix the double negative (“to not be ok”). I don’t think it means what you want to mean – but then I don’t have a clue what you mean in either case.

    I, too, could put a lot of [sic]s in the quotes of your text, but I’m not petty. I don’t even mind your attempt to smear me with the innuendo that I like 14 and 15 year-olds.

    In that spirit, I leave the field to you. I agree with you, I’m not very good at this. I’m honest, so all I can do is try. I’m not an accomplished spindoctor as you seem to be, since context only matters to you only when it suits you. I agree, you’re very good at this and I always feel humbled when I come fact to face with sublime narrow-mindedness.

    It leaves me speechless. Oh, well.

    Birric Forcella – birricforcella@gmail.com

    • You say “All non-consensual sex is rape. That is what rape means.” Seems quite clear, or are you saying Dawkins consented? Or do you think there was no sex involved? You are talking out of both sides of your mouth. It seems more to me that you define and redefine sex and assault (even in the same sentence) to suit your whims.

      “And this remains a red herring because nobody had sex with Dawkins, they molested him, which is sexual but not sex.”

      Often reading what was already written answers your questions. But by all means, please pretend that I said that everything sexual is also sex. It’s the best way to fight the “mob”.

      Re 1: I really don’t have to show any debunking papers for that study (many exist) since the study debunks itself

      Translation: “I really don’t have any debunking papers for that study, but I’ll pretend there are several.” You’re right, you don’t “have to,” but you won’t be taken seriously until you do. If that doesn’t matter to you, great, we’ll both be happy.

      My references clearly show that the mob doesn’t think Dawkins had a right to call his experience what he called it.

      That’s a lie. Your references do nothing other than point to other things and say, “See? If you interpret people’s words the way that I do, then it’s obvious that they believe this thing that I want them to be saying!”

      …you yourself state then that those schoolmasters raped – or did I miss something?

      Yes, you did. Like the part where I never said that the schoolmaster had sex with Dawkins. You continue to insist that everything that is vaguely sexual is sex, and that’s not the case. Massages are not sex. Dancing is not sex. Dirty talk is not sex. Brief touching is not sex (though manual sex is sex). See all of those things that are sexual and not sex?

      What was done to him was still wrong, but it was not rape. And that can happen, because not everything bad is rape.

      It also clearly means that Dawkins misunderstood his experience. He was raped. That’s how you inflate rape statistics. That’s context.

      No. Just, please, stop using the word “context,” since every time you do it becomes abundantly clear that you don’t know what it means and I have failed to educate you.

      That’s not “context”. That has nothing to do with context. That’s you burning straw like it’s going out of style.

      …but then I don’t have a clue what you mean in either case.

      I find that entirely unsurprising.

      I, too, could put a lot of [sic]s in the quotes of your text, but I’m not petty.

      Style guides are not insult books. I’ve been a editor for several years and try to make a point of always doing that when I notice it. I’m not insulting you with that. And seeing as you’ve given me plenty of other things to work with, I don’t see why I would bother making fun of simple typos. It would be like eating crackers at The French Laundry.

      Now that you have utterly failed to demonstrate even the most basic claim you made without trying to tell me what I believe and defining words to suit your argument, it has been an absolute pleasure. Thank you for the distraction and the accomplished flounce at the end there (classy), and I hope that one day a better teacher than I can explain to you what “context” actually means.

  5. I don’t know how much clearer I can make it. I was talking about context. I don’t care what your personal opinion is about the dividing line between sexual and sex. I am talking about context, about what the mob thinks, and there the facts could not be clearer.

    By all definitions Dawkins was sexually assaulted, or don’t you think so? The blog post I linked to states clear as glass: “All non-cosnsensual sex must be called rape.” Can you read? A zillion other blogs and comments chime in in the same vein. Your heartfelt private division between sexual and sex does not matter in the CONTEXT.

    By all means, think that I don’t have any references debunking that study that Ms. Mag bruited about. You’re right, I don’t have any at the moment, and I wont bother to find any. But don’t assume they don’t exist. They exist like sand on the seashore. Most people know about the infamous study and what it was based on. Find it yourself. I’m sure you know how to google.

    I’ll leave you with one more link. This one is to one of Dawkins’ gracious non-apology apologies.

    http://www.richarddawkins.net/foundation_articles/2013/9/11/child-abuse-a-misunderstanding#

    I’m sorry my original concern got buried in the flurry of your spins. I stand by it as before, despite its warts.

    For all it’s worth, I’d like the takeaway of all this to be this paragraph from above. It sums up pretty much all of what I tried to argue for:

    “Apparently it is not allowed to integrate past experiences successfully in your character – and state so. That stance is in itself extremely damaging, forcing people to live with a false concept of their past. Psychiatry has developed a huge industry dedicated to keep the “damage” alive in your life forever. Dawkins is being lynched for something that all well-adjusted adults do and should be doing. Accusing him for that is itself pathological. That is the context.”

    I’m ending this without snark. I’m used to being ripped apart and I bear you no ill will. Indeed, I enjoyed this exchange, but it’s always hard to end these things. I’m taking much of what you say under advisement (as I do with others). Your points may not change my position, but in any case, they will enrich it. Again, I apologize for my earlier mistakes. When you wade into a new pool, the water is usually first cold.

    Decades ago I did editing, too. I wish I hadn’t forgotten most of it.

    Thank you very much.

    Birric Forcella – birricforcella@gmail.com

    • I don’t know how much clearer I can make it. I was talking about context.

      And I don’t know how much clearer I can make it: no, you’re not. You think you are, but you don’t know what context means and keep throwing around the word in inappropriate ways.

      Context is using outside information to inform what you are looking at. Context is not “what the mob thinks”, and it is not imposing your interpretations of what other people have said on somebody who hasn’t said it.

      Thus far, this is how this conversation has gone:

      You: Why do you keep saying Dawkins was raped?
      Me: I didn’t say he was raped. I said that he has no right to say whether other people suffered because of being sexually touched by a schoolmaster. Being touched sexually is not necessarily sex, so it wasn’t rape.
      You: I don’t care about whether you consider that rape. I want to know why you consider it rape.

      If you think somebody else in the “mob” you seem so intent on discussing is doing so, bring it up with them. I didn’t say Dawkins was raped as a child and I am not the Majordomo of Sociological Terminology, though it is a cool title. I don’t answer for the rest of the mob, you’ll have to ask for a meeting with the consigliare.

      By all definitions Dawkins was sexually assaulted, or don’t you think so?

      Ok, here’s the problem, right here. Yes, Dawkins was sexually assaulted. Not all sexual assault is rape. Not all sexual assault is sex. Just last night I was hearing about a man who was groped against his will at a party. He was sexually assaulted. He was not raped. He did not have sex, consensually or not, with the person who groped him, yet he was still sexually assaulted. Does that clear it up at all?

      And no, the “mob” doesn’t think that what happened to this guy was rape either. They’re too busy worrying about what Fredo is doing in Vegas and whether he’s gotten too close to Mo Green.

      By all means, think that I don’t have any references debunking that study that Ms. Mag bruited about. You’re right, I don’t have any at the moment, and I wont bother to find any. But don’t assume they don’t exist.

      Actually, I’m going to treat them like god, which is generally the subject of that particular line of argument, and do exactly that. Burden of proof is on the person making the claim. I’m not going to do your homework for you.

      For all it’s worth, I’d like the takeaway of all this to be this paragraph from above. It sums up pretty much all of what I tried to argue for

      And if anyone was saying that Dawkins could not feel the way he feels, then you would have a point, but nobody has said that. When I asked you for proof, you pointed me to people who said the opposite of that, then tried to tell me that I had to consider what happened to Dawkins rape because that’s what you think other people have said. In your imaginary world where people said that Dawkins needed to be damaged by this experience as opposed to saying that he has no right to claim that others weren’t, I agree with you. But that world is fictional because nobody is making that claim, so here in reality you standing by your point is you standing by a stuffed animal with “Ferocious Tiger” written on it.

      I enjoyed this as well, and what you said did make me clarify points that I was obviously not clear on.

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