This week, Twitter hell broke loose when Richard Dawkins tweeted about aborting a Down fetus:
@InYourFaceNYer Abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) August 20, 2014
Anyway, professor Dawkins is polite enough to clarify his thoughts, even though these people are acting on bad faith. Here’s what a sane, honest person, interested in actually exchanging ideas, would have understand from his tweet:
Obviously the choice would be yours. For what it’s worth, my own choice would be to abort the Down fetus and, assuming you want a baby at all, try again. Given a free choice of having an early abortion or deliberately bringing a Down child into the world, I think the moral and sensible choice would be to abort. And, indeed, that is what the great majority of women, in America and especially in Europe, actually do. I personally would go further and say that, if your morality is based, as mine is, on a desire to increase the sum of happiness and reduce suffering, the decision to deliberately give birth to a Down baby, when you have the choice to abort it early in the pregnancy, might actually be immoral from the point of view of the child’s own welfare. I agree that that personal opinion is contentious and needs to be argued further, possibly to be withdrawn. In any case, you would probably be condemning yourself as a mother (or yourselves as a couple) to a lifetime of caring for an adult with the needs of a child. Your child would probably have a short life expectancy but, if she did outlive you, you would have the worry of who would care for her after you are gone. No wonder most people choose abortion when offered the choice. Having said that, the choice would be entirely yours and I would never dream of trying to impose my views on you or anyone else.
In his post of this bashing Dawkins frenzy episode, Terry Firma wrote:
Dawkins seems to suffer from an extreme form of tone-deafness. It’s almost as if Star Trek‘s Mr. Spock is modeled after him: cool, rational, detached, and faintly amused by the emotional human fools with whom he is forced to interact.
Well, when people act like emotional fools, instead of engaging in debate following the simplest of the rules (reading as charitably as possible what the other is saying), no one would act in such a way; but I find myself sharing this feeling, am right there, with Dawkins: how come half the atheist blogosphere comes down to jumping to conclusions and being angry at someone else just for having an opinion (which they don’t even care to get right in the first place)?
The funny part is Firma saying this hurts Dawkins’ reputation, hence all atheists’ image — well, there’s an easy fix to that: stop promoting the distortion and misrepresentation of everything he says, and portraying him as a liability to the secular cause, because he’s not. It really is that simple.