Richard Dawkins:
A university is not a “safe space”. If you need a safe space, leave, go home, hug your teddy & suck your thumb until ready for university.
1:49 PM – 24 Oct 2015

So Dawkins stands opposed to this?

Carleton University Safe-Space Program (CUSSP) is an important University-wide initiative to reduce the impact of homophobia and heterosexism on campus. […] By creating a resource network and identifying GLBTQ positive people and spaces we can work proactively to better the lives of all members of the university.

That, incidentally, was triggered by things like this.

“The [Graduate Student’s Association] recognizes that these shirts are not an isolated incident,” said GSA president Christina Muehlberger. “The choice to reject safe space stems from a campus culture that does not prioritize the well-being of minority students. Our campaigns are actively working to challenge this culture and create safe(r) spaces on our campus, and this event is contributing to this work.”

The Ottawa community was outraged when several student frosh leaders from Carleton were photographed wearing T-shirts that said “Fuck Safe Space”on Sept. 7. This came after a Carleton student was charged with three counts of sexual assault and banned from all Ottawa post-secondary institutions on Sept 5.

Is Dawkins defending people accused of sexual assault, or promoting homophobia and heterosexism? That’s the tricky thing: his exact wording implies he was talking about making universities “safe spaces,” yet no one, not even Carleton, is proposing that. People are proposing “safe spaces” within universities, little islands where students are much less likely to experience bigotry. Others are trying to make campuses safer for students, by combating sexual assault in a variety of ways. So we have two options:

  1. Dawkins is arguing against something few or no people advocate, because most people already realize it’s a bad idea, or
  2. Dawkins is arguing against something which benefits persecuted minorities and promotes the fundamental human rights of liberty and due process.

In either interpretation, we’re dealing with an emotionally charged issue (the former threatens the right to freedom of expression), and the ambiguity allows Dawkins to flip between whichever interpretation is convenient for him.

Dawkins, in short, is acting the troll.

a troll is not a grumpy monster that lives beneath a bridge accosting passers-by, but rather a provocative posting intended to produce a large volume of frivolous responses. …

The content of a troll posting generally falls into one of several categories. It may consist of an apparently foolish contradiction of common knowledge, a deliberately offensive insult to the readers of a newsgroup or mailing list, or a broad request for trivial follow-up postings. The result of such postings is frequently a flood of angry responses. … Troll threads also frustrate people who are trying to carry on substantive discussions.

People post such messages to get attention, to disrupt discussion, and to make trouble.

It certainly makes sense of things like this.

Richard Dawkins:
Is trans woman a woman? Purely semantic. If you define by chromosomes, no. If by self-identification, yes. I call her “she” out of courtesy.

no (partimetroll):
@RichardDawkins delete your account

Richard Dawkins:
@partimetroll Why? What could anyone possibly object to in my tweet? Please tell. I’m sincerely curious.

A number of people jumped to the conclusion Dawkins was arguing chromosomes defined sex, but he never explicitly says as such. Many more have called out “courtesy,”

Kyle Jasmin:
@RichardDawkins ‘courtesy’ implies the claim to female pronoun is not substantive. That’s why your comment has caused upset.

but notice even here there’s room for Dawkins to appeal to interpretation and vague language. This is classic troll behavior, and it’s causing quite a bit of emotional harm as well as protecting bigots.

How sad is it that Dawkins has been reduced to conspiracy mongering and emotional manipulation to get attention nowadays.