Admitting that he had “probably” put his view “a bit too strongly” previously, Dawkins said: “Given that the amount of suffering in the world probably does not go down – probably does go up – compared to having another child who doesn’t have Down’s Syndrome, then that’s what I meant.”
Challenged on the view, he admitted that he had “no direct evidence” for the assertion, but said: “It seems to me to be plausible that you probably would increase the amount of happiness in the world more by having another child instead [of one with a disability].”
He went on to admit that he did not know anyone with Down’s Syndrome “intimately," to which O’Connor responded: "Everyone has their own experience of it, and possibly my experience would be that you’re not necessarily right, and I think a lot of people would say you’re not necessarily right.”
"How do you think it's immoral to bring a child with Down Syndrome into the world?"
@RadioBrendanRTE spoke with Pro… https://t.co/e9G5lDvNWL
In a impassioned statement on the Change.org page, she wrote: “Emeritus status is a great accolade and it exists to recognise and honour academics who have had a distinguished career. We would like you to consider whether you feel that a person in this position should be using his status to engender hate towards women, who have had a baby with Down’s Syndrome, and towards people with Down’s Syndrome.”
She continued: “There is no place for hate like this in the United Kingdom and a man who seeks to perpetuate dangerous views does not deserve the accolade The University of Oxford bestowed upon him.
“Dawkins must be held to account for the hate he is peddling. His views are not only prejudiced and offensive, but untrue and create a dangerous precedent for hate towards our community.”
It has now been signed more than 1,000 people. You can join them here.
Dawkins (second from right) poses during an Honourary Doctorate ceremony at Antwerp University in 2009Getty Images
Following the online backlash that ensued, the AHA said Mr Dawkins had “over the past several years accumulated a history of making statements that use the guise of scientific discourse to demean marginalized groups, an approach antithetical to humanist values.”
It added: “His latest statement implies that the identities of transgender individuals are fraudulent, while also simultaneously attacking Black identity as one that can be assumed when convenient.
“His subsequent attempts at clarification are inadequate and convey neither sensitivity nor sincerity.”
Clearly, it wasn’t the last time he would convey an opinion with a total lack of sensitivity.