Friday, February 17, 2012

My Dawkins encounter in full!

So finally time for me to give the full account of the Rally for Free Expression at which Richard Dawkins spoke and then directly afterwards I spoke (eek!) and then I spoke to him and all that stuff. So firstly here's my speech. It's cut off a little at the beginning. What you miss is "Hello, great to be here. Those few of you who already know me probably know me from a viral internet video called Atheist Bitchslap. After that video went round I received hundreds of threats of violence, mostly rape, which goes to show that..."

And if you want to see what Dawkins himself said then that's here:

There were tons of other great speakers - you'll see the links to them at the end of either of those clips.

Afterwards I spoke briefly to Professor Dawkins. Proof! Proof!

To be honest I was just hoping to get a photo with him but he asked me about the story I told at the end of my speech and asked if he could quote it on his website. Of course I said yes. You'll see it here. Interestingly (but not surprisingly, Chinese whispers effect) as the story has been retold the woman in question has gotten younger and younger and both Dawkins and other commenters refer to her as a "girl". In fact she is considerably older than that and though she talked about my parents being angry if I didn't go to church I imagine that what keeps her trapped in the strictures of religious practice is a wider pressure from her whole family, her community, even her own children.

Several people have commented to the effect "no, free expression must apply in ALL cases, including for pornography". That's a rather silly point of view. No-one is shouting "what about free expression for child pornographers?". The thing is YES I fully support your right to engage in whatever weird and wonderful fully consensual sexual practices you and your adult friends so desire. And if you want to invite the neighbours round to watch too - fine by me. HOWEVER free expression does not include the freedom to make a profit from whatever activity you choose. As soon as you start making money from this - whether through direct subscription or ticket sales or through internet advertising and data collection - I think it starts to cloud the consent issue. Where big bucks are concerned it's also clear that it creates a need for manufacturers of pornography to seek out more extreme, more addictive images all the time. The impact on the consumers is nothing to do with freedom to hear a range of human views and opinions - it's all about manipulating a younger and younger consumer into parting with more and more money. This is not freedom of anything! These people are not talking about free expression but about free markets and unbridled capitalism. And there I take the view that we should regulate, that we need full and effective checks in place to ensure exploitation does not happen of participants and of consumers. And if you'd spent as much time as I have working with survivors of the multi-billion pound global sex industry, you'd understand why I feel so strongly that the current more or less non-existent regulation isn't doing the job and big change is needed.

Mostly though I am just bragging that I met Richard Dawkins and then he wrote about me and about what I said! Yippee!


Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a truly magnificent and inspiring speech. The bit about the Iranian girl not being able to fully experience true freedom was quite sad. I really wish I could've been there as it would've been an honour for me to be able to meet you, Richard Dawkins and the other speakers. Unfortunately, I was away for the weekend. Another thing that really pleased me was the fact that you made it very clear that the concept of free expression is not to be hijacked by individuals who intend to propagate negative concepts like pornography, racism, sexism, homophobia etc. The reprehensible behavior by certain individuals who hijack free expression, a highly cherished right, for the aforementioned reasons has deeply disturbed me for quite a while and is one of the main causes of societal dysfunction. I'm very glad you brought it up. I'd also like to say that the things you do for our fellow humans around the world are truly admirable. Well done and all the best, Kate!


BB said...

I have lost all respect for Dawkins the moment I found out he was just another white sexist privileged man. A man who only talks of women's oppression only when it is religion that oppresses them, not patriarchy, not other men and not him or other privileged atheists. I have encountered a lot of sexism from atheists that I honestly do not see much difference between them and the religious fanatics, they both are arrogant, misogynists, privileged assholes

Anonymous said...

I just love Jesus. Thank you for listening to my free expression.

Anonymous said...

Of course I, like numerous others, also heard of you from the "Athiest Bitchslap" video. Superb by the way. A momentous feeling stirred within me at the end of your speech because you stated it in such a way that it was not merely an opinion that all those relgious are idiots but FACT.

I have a question for you: to what extent should free expression go to? To the extent where one is not imposing their beliefs upon others? I find if it stays behind this barrier, it would be a very difficult thing to carry out as even a mere statement such as "I like brussel sprouts" could draw shock and outrage from another person who hates them. Perhaps the solution in the end is that religion should not be regarded as the core of our beings (athiests - as am I - seem to live well without it). However, I guess I may have answered my earlier question myself which brought me to another question to ask you: how significant should or is religion in our lives and society?

Best wishes,