One of the world’s most prominent atheists has sparked international outrage after his flippant comments on what he calls, “mild pedophilia.”
Richard Dawkins, a well-known English author and outspoken atheist, revealed in an interview with The Times magazine on Saturday that he was molested as a child while attending boarding school.
According to the story from Dawkins, a master at the school “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”
Dawkins said that he was not the only one that was molested while at the school, but makes clear that he doesn’t think it caused any “lasting harm.”
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“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours,” he said. “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.”
While it’s clear that Dawkins does not see the seriousness behind what happened to him and others at the boarding school, many are outraged at both the situation that occurred and at his attitude towards it.
Peter Watt, director at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, says that the views held by Dawkins are doing a disservice to victims of sexual abuse everywhere.
“Mr. Dawkins seems to think that because a crime was committed a long time ago we should judge it in a different way,” said Watt. “But we know that the victims of sexual abuse suffer the same effects whether it was 50 years ago or yesterday.”
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Still, Dawkins asserts that what happened to him was “just mild touching up” and that it doesn’t need to be taken as seriously as it’s been made to be.