Richard Dawkins is currently being sued for $58 million in one of the weirdest lawsuits you will ever see.
The lawsuit was filed by Karl L. Dahlstrom, a self-proclaimed “modern Renaissance man” who wrote an anti-evolution book called The Organized Universe in 2013. That book offered “scientific proof” that Darwinism was a hoax. To no one’s surprise, the experts were not convinced.
Dawkins, of course, has made a career out of explaining evolution to the masses — and getting frustrated by those trotting out the same faulty arguments against evolution time and time again.
And that’s the source of conflict.
In 1989, Dawkins wrote in a New York Times book review that “It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).”
Dahlstrom is convinced that the “somebody” Dawkins referred to in that statement is him.
In early June, he wrote in the lawsuit (brace yourself):
… Plaintiff Karl L. Dahlstrom not only does not believe in Evolution, but he is the only individual on earth in the history of man that has scientifically disproven Evolution. This makes Karl L. Dahlstrom the number one candidate for Richard Dawkins attack, even though Karl L. Dahlstrom, i.e., the “somebody”, could not be ignorant, stupid, or insane or wicked as scientifically proven by the book, The Organized Universe by Karl L. Dahlstrom with C. Phillip Clegg. Thus, the allegations or accusations/statement that Karl L. Dahlstrom, i.e. “somebody”, who does not believe in Evolution is ignorant, stupid, or insane or wicked is totally incorrect and false with results being a tort or worse against the Plaintiff Karl L. Dahlstrom. Richard Dawkins has caused millions of persons to be prejudiced and biased against Karl L. Dahlstrom and injured his reputation and subjected him to hatred, contempt, ridicule and financial injury from persons not exposed to the truth about Darwinian Evolution and the position Plaintiff Karl L. Dahlstrom has taken on this issue.
It’s worth mentioning that Dawkins made his statement in 1989, about 24 years before Dahlstrom even published his book.
Anyway, you see how ridiculous this lawsuit is. Dahlstrom thinks that criticism of those who don’t accept evolution is a personal attack of the highest order. And now he’s getting his revenge.
Dahlstrom is demanding that Dawkins pay him $8 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages — numbers he’s pulling out of his ass, as far as I can tell. $58 million for what’s basically an opinionated tweet directed at nobody in particular.
Furthermore, he wants Dawkins to publicly apologize and destroy “by fire or shredding” every publication that includes the statement. So every copy of a New York Times from 1989. He wants every online mention of that statement gone as well. Somehow. This statement right here.
Way to prove the world wrong about being ignorant, stupid, and insane…
Someone should tell Dahlstrom about the Streisand effect.
This is a legitimate lawsuit, by the way. As much as you’d think a judge could look at this and just rip it up, Dawkins had to respond.
The statement here, that someone who does not believe in evolution is ignorant, stupid, insane, or wicked, is the equivalent of a financial advisor writing that anyone who buys a car instead of leasing is an idiot. It is hyperbole meant to make a point. It does not rise to a level beyond what is decent and tolerable in a civilized society.
That’s just an excerpt. There’s plenty more about how Dawkins wasn’t stating a “fact,” how he wasn’t referring to Dahlstrom, how it wasn’t defamatory, and how there was no malice intended. They also point out that Dahlstrom didn’t support any of the allegations he made (which you’d think is obvious but still has to be clarified in detail).
You know, even Creationists attempt to disprove evolution by pointing at gaps, using their own ignorance as proof that evolution can’t be true, or talking about bananas. They don’t sue their opponents for not taking them seriously.
If Dahlstrom thinks he can disprove evolution, he should let his books speak for themselves. Filing a lawsuit is the coward’s way out, a way of saying he can’t make his case on the merits so he’s going to try to silence his opponents through money.
Hopefully, a judge will dismiss the lawsuit now and force Dahlstrom to pay Dawkins (and his foundation) for this colossal waste of time.