The controversy caused by our decision to close the forums on RichardDawkins.net has greatly upset me. It has been raging for several days now and I have spent that time – frustratingly hampered by long haul flights, jet lag and the need to consult people in several different time zones – talking to colleagues and trustees, and reading a multitude of emails as well as open letters, blogs, internet comments and even newspaper articles, and I am now finally in a position to respond publicly. Please forgive me for replying collectively rather than individually. I am engaged in a strenuous book promotion tour of Australia and it would take too long to write separately to everybody who has written to me.
I would like to start by apologising for our handling of this situation. We have not communicated well with our forum volunteers and users (for example in my insensitive ‘Outrage’ post, which was written in the heat of the moment). In the process we have caused unintended hurt and offence, and I am very sorry about that. In a classic case of a vicious circle, some of the responses to our announcement also caused considerable hurt and distress to us, and in the atmosphere of heightened emotion that followed, some of our subsequent actions went too far. I hope you will understand the human impulses that led to this, and accept my apology for them. I take full personal responsibility.
Someone in the comments to this post in Dawkins’ forum pointed out that Dawkins Deniers have been making hay with the Dawkins Debacle; and I confess to having experienced a satisfying sense of schadenfreude. The rest of the comments are devoted to expressing a strange sycophantic gratitude – reminiscent of the Stockholm syndrome – to the One who has revealed to his disciples that life is entirely pointless.
There are but few dissenters. Here is one:
What a hypocrite. At first he called the whole thing a ‘storm in a teapot’, now he’s changed his tune? And everyone here wants to drink the kool-aid that he did this for noble reasons?
Of course he didn’t. It’s because he stood to lose money, pure and simple, because the most offended where his hardcore fans that contribute to his living. He didn’t want to damage his marketable brand name.
He’s the equivalent of politician who gets caught with his pants down. Like Harold Ford, all of a sudden changing his tune about gay marriage, for the sake of winning votes in a place where the gay vote matters.
It’s all a pathetic show.
Yes, I’m well aware that this comment is going to be deleted, but I have no shame in speaking the truth.
It couldn’t really be all about the cash, could it?