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Richard Dawkins Weathers Twitter Backlash After Criticising Ahmed Mohammed

Richard Dawkins is a passionate, fiercely intelligent man. In real life. On Twitter he is a gibbering moron most of the time. Tales of his foolish antics on Twitter seem to surface with each passing week, but this one might take the idiot-biscuit. As you doubtlessly recall, last week Texan teenager Ahmed Mohammed was arrested after bringing a home-made clock into school to show one of his teachers, the arrest came after it was mistaken for a makeshift bomb.

The most pertinent part of that story has been that Ahmed's Asian descent could have played into the way he was treated by the school staff and police, and since the incident everyone from Obama to Mark Zuckerberg has praised his inquisitive nature and hopefully will undo some of the emotional damage caused by this incident. There are, as ever, naysayers. Weirdly enough though, the source of the dispute seems to be less about whether or not Ahmed's arrest was warranted, and more about whether he actually built the clock at all.

Over the weekend, a YouTube video surfaced in which user Thomas Talbot openly accused Ahmed of taking apart a bedside clock and then passing it off as something he'd built from scratch. Now, even if that were the case, it is not any of this man's business and it doesn't devalue the praise that he has been receiving since this happened. Even if he did just disassemble and rebuild a clock to show his teacher, he's 14, kids do things like that, and testimonials from his friends and family roundly assert that this was not his first foray into invention and general tinkering.

The irrelevance and spiteful tone of the video were apparently lost on Dawkins, as he shared the video on Twitter, along with his own musings about Ahmed's 'motivation'. I'm not entirely certain what he was getting at, but it's not a particularly wise choice of words, especially considering that this story has had some pretty pronounced racial overtones, and Dawkins has been routinely accused of Islamophobia.

As the inevitable backlash got into full swing, what Dawkins meant became more clear. He seemed to have been suggesting that Ahmed might have planned to be arrested, as a means of garnering all the widespread attention that's resulted from the mishap. That's a bit of a stretch, Richard. Gradually, the extent of the backlash increased and Dawkins became increasingly defensive, citing the 'search for truth' as his motivation for continuing to talk about this, but the naysayers were having none of it and virtually nobody made any attempt to defend him. As a result, he apologised and retreated.

Personally, I'm not sure that Dawkins was being guided by any kind of malicious intent, he was merely musing on a pertinent subject and refused to back down when met with disagreement. Should he have persisted with it? Probably not, since by the end it effectively just looked like he was needlessly attacking a 14 year old, but as is the case with almost every Dawkins gaff to date, it was more the tone of his wording that was the issue, rather than the basis. It's a shame, Dawkins has written a great deal of vital material and is well worth following, he just needs to learn when it's better to keep his hat out of the ring.

Callum Davies

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Richard Dawkins Weathers Twitter Backlash After Criticising Ahmed Mohammed Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, September 21, 2015 Rating: 5

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