It seems that the young Richard Dawkins was groped by a teacher; he doesn’t think it did him any “lasting harm”. Obviously the teacher was not a Catholic priest or Dawkins would be denouncing him as a leering old villain in a frock.
He also doesn’t seem to object to having been caned. If I were of a psychological bent (I’m not), I might be tempted to consider the applicability to Richard Dawkins of Theodore Dalrymple’s question :
Is flagellation for the purposes of sexual pleasure as English as cricket and buttered crumpets?
Or, if I were given to unkindness (other than to bishops, I’m not), I might suggest that Dawkins’ calling a religious upbringing child abuse and his encounter with phalangeal meandering “harmless”, is a twisting of values that brings disrepute to respectable atheists everywhere.
Interestingly, in the last paragraph below, Dawkins tells us that ethical standards should be determined by the values of the day: very fitting for someone who calls himself a cultural Anglican.
In an interview in The Times magazine on Saturday (Sept. 7), Dawkins, 72, he said he was unable to condemn what he called “the mild pedophilia” he experienced at an English school when he was a child in the 1950s.
Referring to his early days at a boarding school in Salisbury, he recalled how one of the (unnamed) masters “pulled me on his knee and put his hand inside my shorts.”
He said other children in his school peer group had been molested by the same teacher but concluded: “I don’t think he did any of us lasting harm.”
“I am very conscious that you can’t condemn people of an earlier era by the standards of ours. Just as we don’t look back at the 18th and 19th centuries and condemn people for racism in the same way as we would condemn a modern person for racism, I look back a few decades to my childhood and see things like caning, like mild pedophilia, and can’t find it in me to condemn it by the same standards as I or anyone would today,” he said.