More censorship at British universities

The trouble at University College London, where a huge kerfuffle arose because a student secular society published the Jesus and Mo cartoon shown below (and the president of that society was forced to resign), has now spread to the London School of Economics (LSE).

The cause of all the trouble!

According to The New Humanist, the Atheist, Secularist, and Humanist Society (ASHS) of the LSE put the same cartoon on their Facebook page, and was ordered by the LSE Student Union to remove it or be disenfranchised.  The Union issued this statement:

“On Monday 16th January it was brought to our attention via an official complaint by two students that the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society posted cartoons, published by the UCLU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, depicting the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus “sitting in a pub having a pint” on their society Facebook page. Upon hearing this, the sabbaticals officers of the LSESU ensured all evidence was collected and an emergency meeting with a member of the Students’ Union staff was called to discuss how to deal with the issue. During this time, we received over 40 separate official complaints from the student body, in addition to further information regarding more posts on the society Facebook page.

It was decided that the President and other committee members of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society would be called for an informal meeting to explain the situation, the complaints that had been made, and how the action of posting these cartoons was in breach of Students’ Union policy on inclusion and the society’s constitution. This meeting took place on Friday 20th January at 10.30am. The society agreed to certain actions coming out of the meeting and these were discussed amongst the sabbatical team. In this discussion it was felt that though these actions were positive they would not fully address the concerns of those who had submitted complaints. Therefore the SU will now be telling the society that they cannot continue these activities under the brand of the SU.

The LSE Students’ Union would like to reiterate that we strongly condemn and stand against any form of racism and discrimination on campus. The offensive nature of the content on the Facebook page is not in accordance with our values of tolerance, diversity, and respect for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religious affiliation. There is a special need in a Students’ Union to balance freedom of speech and to ensure access to all aspects of the LSESU for all the ethnic and religious minority communities that make up the student body at the LSE.”

This is a masterpiece of dissimulation: the cartoon is not racist (Muslims are not a race!), and it doesn’t mandate discrimination.  It is a criticism of religion.  Saying that that is “discrimination” is equivalent to saying that a poster criticizing the Conservative Party is discrimination.  Why is it offensive to criticize religion but not political belief?  It is amazing that universities, which should be the very locus for dissent and discussion, would prohibit free criticism of religion in this way.  (You should, by the way, always be wary when you hear calls to balance free speech.)

According to the New Humanist, the ASHS will not comply; part of the statement they issued says the following:

“There are no reasonable grounds for the LSESU’s instruction because we are in no way violating their policies or byelaws. The cartoons on our Facebook page criticise religion in a satirical way and we totally reject any claim that their publications could constitute any sort of harassment or intimidation of Muslims or Christians. . . “.

A document prepared by the LSE Student Union for this Thursday’s discussion about criticism of Islam is disgraceful (and misspelled!):

Union believes
1. In the right to criticise religion,
2. In freedom of speech and thought,
3. It has a responsibility to protect its members from hate crime and hate speech,
4. Debate on religious matters should not be limited by what may be offensive to any
particular religion, but the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group about any
issue with the intent or effect of being Islamophobic (‘Islamophobia’ as defined below) will not
be tolerated.
5. That Islamophobia is a form of anti-Islamic racism.

Numbers 1 and 2 are completely at odds with #4.  If one is free to criticize religion, then why is it prohibited to criticize one religion more than others?  Presumably because, according to the document, “Islamophobia” is not a religion but a form of racism.  That’s bogus: Islam is not a race but a religion, and Muslims come from many different ethnic groups, including those in Africa, Asia, and Middle East.  It’s time to stop giving Islam special treatment under freedom of speech laws, especially if that’s just a response to Muslim threats of violence.

134 Comments

  1. TJR
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    Ye gods. This sort of pseudo-lefty crap was very common when I was a student in the 80s, but I thought we’d grown out of it now.

    Apparently not.

    Incredibly depressing.

  2. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Perhaps someone could ask them how a “Jesus and Mo” cartoon — which seems to me to refer to two religions — can be construed as “the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group”.

    • Brian
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      Well clearly the cartoon is just targeting Muslims! If they instead had a cartoon with satire of Christianity as well, say something involving Jesus… :-D

      • Christian
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

        +1

        Heck, Moses appears in a few strips. Does this mean it is antisemitic?
        How could they have missed that?

        • Matt G
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

          No, it’s anti-Semitic for putting Jews only in supporting roles!

          • microraptor
            Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

            But isn’t it discriminating against atheists because we never see any atheist characters?

            • Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

              Not at all, the top guys in any religion are always atheists.

            • Ichthyic
              Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:06 am | Permalink

              I think the bartender is the atheist.

              he’s in every panel, you just can’t see him since it’s drawn from his perspective.

              get it?

              • Posted January 26, 2012 at 1:27 am | Permalink

                Ichthyic: See discussion following #15!

                /@

              • Ichthyic
                Posted January 26, 2012 at 1:31 am | Permalink

                *looks*

                ah.

                have I mentioned before how much I hate nested comments?

                I’m sure I have.
                ;)

              • microraptor
                Posted January 26, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

                Perhaps I should should have added more emphasis to “see,” then the joke wouldn’t have been as obscure.

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

      Bingo! The perfect defence…

      (Except, as Sigmund notes below, if Jesus is seen as a prophet of Islam…)

      /@

  3. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    So, let me see if I understand this. A picture depicting a Muslim and a Jew-turned-Christian having a drink together in a social setting is seen as a message of discrimination? Exactly how many different religions would be required to be represented before it’s not discrimination?

    Of course, I see they’re strumming the strings on the nonsense that Islam is a species of which Muslim is a ‘race’. Or however they imagine that hierarchy.

  4. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    In the right to criticise religion,

    Maybe the problem is that the criticism is in the form of a visual art, instead of words?

    Maybe we need a Church of Scientism where the lack of criticism and critical thinking and thought is seen as just as insulting? ;)

  5. Neale
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    It just makes you want to pull your hair out doesn’t it. I am picturing the clueless leftie (I’m a leftie) trying his or her hardest not to cause offence to either party in the composition of the declaration of the union’s position. In doing so he/she has offended reason. Well done the blind Left.

  6. Claimthehighground
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    And of course the UCLU will now ban all xian or muzzlin or other religious symbols/pix such as a cross or a bible or qu’ran from all kiosks, bulletin boards, & web sites as it also violates their “student’s union policy on inclusion.” Clearly such symbols are inherently non-inclusive. But then, a foolish consistency is the….

  7. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    Great post.

    I have been following this story, the UCL/Jesus & Mo debacle of late last week, blogger Rhys Morgan being threatend with expulsion from his sixth form college over the same cartoon and the cancelling of the talk on sharia law at Queen Mary College after threats of violence.

    These seem to be dangerous precidents. Giving special treatment to any set of ideas, granting them immunity from criticism, is only going to prevent progress, isn’t it? I would have expected better from a university.

    • Mary
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

      Universities are corporations…”higher learning” is no longer their mandate

    • Ichthyic
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:09 am | Permalink

      Giving special treatment to any set of ideas, granting them immunity from criticism, is only going to prevent progress, isn’t it?

      assuming that wasn’t rhetorical:

      Yes.

  8. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    Someone asked me why I was using the Jesus & Mo cartoon for my facebook avatar. “Don’t you think it will offend some Muslims?” I was asked. Of course I do. Why else would I do it?

    • longsmith
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      How do i do that, too? I want to offend me some muslims and christians.

    • steve oberski
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

      And as a added bonus you get to offend accommodationist and politically correct idiots at the same time.

  9. Egbert
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    It’s time reason was injected into politics. I think a kind of mental revolution (or evolution) is required, because bureaucracy, corruption and privileged is destroying our basic freedoms.

  10. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I am misjudging, but it sure seems as if UCL has destroyed any reason for its continued existence.

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

      This wasn’t UCL, it was LSE – a different University. In fact the heavy handed response of LSE (“censor the racists!”) makes UCLs approach seem positively enlightened!

  11. Sigmund
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    The LSE Student Union attempts to define Islamophobia as:
    “a form of racism expressed through the hatred or fear of Islam, Muslims, or Islamic culture, and the stereotyping, demonisation or harassment of Muslims, including but not limited to portraying Muslims as barbarians or terrorists, or attacking the Qur’an as a manual of hatred”,”

    In doing so they reduce muslims – who are a very diverse group, consisting of numerous sects with highly divergent beliefs (including differing restrictions on the pictorial portrayal of Mohammed) to a single entity.
    I don’t have any problem with the religious beliefs of the ex-Fairport Convention guitarist, Richard Thompson, a convert to Sufi Islam, as he keeps his faith private and doesn’t try to impose it on non muslims.
    On the other hand I DO have problems with the sort of Islam proclaimed by the Taliban and their fellow fundamentalists. In fact I both hate and fear that form of Islam and suspect many muslims (particularly educated female muslims) would feel the same.
    Yet according to the LSE definition I would be described as racist!
    The student union have clearly dug themselves into a hole with this issue and have not thought things through. They are trying for an emotional appeal to win through “you are either with us or you are racist!”

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      If this is what Islamophobic racist means then I consider it my humanitarian duty to be one.

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Again — how can Islamophobia be a form of racism? That definition is just bogus.

      /@

      • Nick Evans
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        There is a bit of context that explains the link. British Muslims are overwhelmingly from South Asia: Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Indians. In recent years, the racist far-right groups in the UK, having noticed that attacking people on the basis of their racial group, have taken to attacking exactly the same people in exactly the same terms on the basis of their religion. So they’re saying “Muslim” when they mean “Asian” (or, in their terms, “Paki”). When used that way Islamophobia is simply another form of xenophobia/racism.

        The problem is, of course, that touchy Muslims, of which there seem to be a disproportionate number, cry Islamophobia/racism every time there is criticism of Islam, regardless of whether it has racist intent or not. In much the same way as people cry anti-Semitism when Israel’s policies towards the West Bank and Gaza are criticised, regardless of the intent of the criticism.

        So para 4 of the LSE Union’s motion, while well-intentioned, is likely to be misused completely by touchy Islamists.

        • Nick Evans
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          And, of course, even accepting that definition of racism which includes Islamophobia, it’s absurd to argue that this cartoon is an incitement to hatred, demonisation or stereotyping of Muslims as a group; it’s clearly aimed at the ideas.

          • Margaret
            Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

            The cartoon isn’t an incitement to hatred, it’s an incitement to laughter. Among the many things/people that the religious hate, laughter may top the list.

            • Persto
              Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

              There is no more appropriate method for lampooning religion than to quote Twain. These two quotes seem pertinent considering the current perplexity.

              We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us.

              Man is a Religious Animal. He is the only Religious Animal. He is the only animal that has the True Religion–several of them. He is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn’t straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother’s path to happiness and heaven….The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste.

            • Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

              William: Aristotle devoted his second book of poetics to comedy as an instrument of truth.

              Jorge: You have read this work?

              William: No, of course not. It’s been lost for centuries.

              Jorge: No, it has not! It was never written! Because Providence doesn’t want futile things glorified!

              Yes, religion despises laughter.

              /@

        • Nick Evans
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

          Sorry, should read “attacking people on the basis of their racial group *isn’t winning them any friends or votes*”.

        • Dermot C
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          @Nick Evans’ original post

          It is valuable to have a bit of context indicating the confusion in white British minds between Islam and the racism directed at UK south Asians. His first sentence is true.

          However, I disagree that para 4 is ‘well-intentioned’. It represents the voluntary and inverterbrate surrender to the most backward and medieval ideas, all too common in the collapse of self-confidence in liberalism and the soft left.

          It reminds me of the reaction of the British press and the craven and ambivalent intelligentsia to the fatwa decreed on Salman Rushdie; at the time, I couldn’t believe their willingness to blame the author himself for the bounty put on his head. These future movers and shakers from the LSE share that supine masochism.

    • Marella
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      A phobia is an irrational fear, fear of Islam is entirely rational especially if you are female. Islam terrifies me because I do not wish to live under sharia law, which it is the oft stated aim of Islam to subject the entire world to. Under their definition anyone who is not Islamophobic is delusional.

  12. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Freedom of speech must by definition ensure the right to say things that may potentially be offensive to others. I’m not talking about hate speech, which is completely unacceptable; if you’re deliberately inciting to violence, for example, that’s totally wrong. But by no stretch of the imagination could this Jesus and Mo cartoon POSSIBLY be construed as hate speech. The unwillingness of the student union to stand up to bullying is just downright cowardice — and that’s a shame. We’ll only have a truly secular society when we cease to accord religion the kind of immunity from criticism it apparently still enjoys.

    • jay
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      That’s the problem. Any rules strong enough to suppress the speech you abhor can be used to suppress speech you support. Aside from the general principle of free speech, there is the deeply pragmatic one: it’s a tool for your enemies.

      The new tool will be the ‘anti bullying’ speech codes… if it makes someone feel bad you can’t say it.

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

        So what are you going to do about the kind of bullying that drives young gay people to suicide? (This is a serious question and I don’t have a glib answer, within my belief in freedom of speech.)

        • Marella
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          There is a big difference between telling someone that their beliefs are in error and they would do well to change them, and telling someone that who they are is evil and that they will burn in hell for eternity. A bloody big difference.

  13. Posted January 25, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Yeah; makes your blood just boil when Freedom of Speecha nd Rationality are suppressed, eh Jerry? http://www.lauralee.com/milton2.htm

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

      Having read the “suppressed” article I can assure you that Milton should be thanking Dawkins for the public humiliation Milton avoided when Dawkins quite rightly suggested the article wasn’t suitable for that publication. It is a mish-mash of creationist nonsense that has only been made sillier by the subsequent findings of science.

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Exactly. It’s scientifically illiterate.

        “one would expect to find that simple organisms have simple DNA and complex organisms have complex DNA” — teh stoopidity, it burnz!

        Here we see writ large the perils of open access without peer review…

        /@

  14. SteveC
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    I use that image my g+ avatar now.

  15. Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    #4 is self-contradictory!

    “Debate on religious matters should not be limited by what may be offensive to any
    particular religion…” — therefore there should be no exceptions.

    /@

    PS. This is also very poorly worded: “…the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group about any issue with the intent or effect of being Islamophobic” — so, I can’t target Christianity with the intent of being Islamophobic either! ;-)

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

      Wait a second. Jesus (‘Issa’) is also a prophet of Islam. Therefore ‘Jesus and Mo’ MUST be targeting Islam and Islam alone.
      Perhaps they are just jealous that the atheist barmaid is never portrayed (she gets the proper Mohammed non-pictorial treatment! – it’s just not fair!)

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Perhaps the barmaid is Mohammed! (And the guy with JC is just one of many Moslem guys called Mohammed.)

        /@

        • Sigmund
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

          That’s it!
          The barmaid is the real Mohammed – who has recovered from his religious delusions and has, naturally, become an atheist!

          • truthspeaker
            Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

            And a girl.

            • Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

              Well, free from religious delusion, Mohammed was happy to express her true gender identity!

              /@

      • Ichthyic
        Posted January 26, 2012 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        wait… how is it we know the bartender is a woman?

    • Occam
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:29 am | Permalink

      The LSE has an explicit Code of Practice On Free Speech:
      http://www2.lse.ac.uk/intranet/staff/schoolRegulations/codeOfPracticeOnFreeSpeech.aspx

      1.(b):
      Every member, officer and employee of the School, and every student and other individual associated with the School, shall be entitled to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, to hold opinions without interference, disability or disadvantage, and to freedom of expression within the law, including the right to seek, receive and impart information and ideas.

      5.1 All students and employees of the School [...] must:
      5.1.2 take steps consistent with their personal safety to ensure that the principle of freedom of speech within the law is upheld in the School;

      Restrictions as proposed by the LSE Students Union would arguably violate the School’s code.

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Excellent!

        /@

      • Dave Ricks
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Permalink

        Agreed, and by my reading of the LSESU’s points 1 through 5 (in Jerry’s post above), their point 5 (defining “Islamophobia”) only ties into their other points (1 through 4) as a caveat to their point 4. And since Jesus & Mo cartoons do not meet the criterion of their point 5, they are therefore allowed by all their points 1 through 5.

        Yo dawg, I herd you like recursion, so the LSESU is calling an emergency meeting to discuss their call to an emergency meeting as a violation of their principles 1 through 5 calling for an emergency meeting.

  16. Mettyx
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    “Why is it offensive to criticize religion but not political belief? It is amazing that universities, which should be the very locus for dissent and discussion, would prohibit free criticism of religion in this way.”

    Yes, it is truly amazing what multiculturalism managed to accomplish and it is a one way mainstream value now regarding anything to do with islamic death cult.

    Have any sociologists done papers on this? I have a suspicion that sociologists are main culprits in this worrying development.

  17. Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    are there any videos, anywhere, showing muslims laughing, ever? this shit is bananas.

  18. Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I saw a Muslim laugh once – at least I think I did – or maybe he wasn’t a Muslim.

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      You can get away with saying that because you are a man Bernard :-)

  19. MichaelD
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Wait the subtitle is transubstantiated!!!!

    Obviously they are persistently targeting the catholic belief in transubstantiation WITH THE INTENT of being ISLAMOPHOBIC! It all makes perfect sense now the student union has opened my eyes Hallelujah!

    cough snark >.>

  20. Brian
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    I think if this is REALLY the approach people want to take, well then…

    I am am member of the Atheist race. Criticisms of atheism is a form of racism. So are national Pledges and Mottos praising how the US is a natural under God. Total racism! So is shutting down an atheist/secular student group on the lame excuse of concerns about a mere cartoon. Racist I tell you, racist!

    Please stop racism against Atheists. Thanks.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:13 am | Permalink

      Like! :)

  21. Schenck
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Wait, this is over an image posted on Facebook? I had thought it was something they posted on the campus grounds.

    Also, I read that one of the big complaining groups in this matter was a muslim student association, but that it was specifically an Ahmadi-muslim student association.
    The Ahmadi’s are a quasi-islamic sect that beleive after the Prophet Mohammed there was another great, divinely inspired prophet in what today is Pakistan; Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

    The very /existence/ of Ahmadi muslims is considered extremely offensive to many mainlin muslims, infact many mainline muslims consider Ahmadis to be out and out innovators (innovation in religion is practically a sin in Islam) and downright apostates.

    Again, mainline Muslims could claim the very existence of an Ahmadi group to be extraordinarily offensive to Islam, to be Islamophobic.

    Teh irony, it burnns!11!

    • Sigmund
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      The Ahmadiyya association were involved in the complaints at UCL but I think it is another sect that have been kicking up the dust at LSE.
      By the way the LSE Jesus and Mo picture was on a Facebook page that you had to ask to join!

  22. Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    FWIW, I think I understand where this use of the term “discrimination” comes from (the same complaint was made by a Muslim student when Ann Coulter [*spit*] came to speak at U Ottawa). If I refuse to hire you, or admit you to our university, on the basis of your ethnicity, religion or whatever, then that’s obvious discrimination. But if I hire or admit you, but permit a hostile climate to exist against your group (and therefore, you), such that it might drive you to quit, then that can also be construed as a form of discrimination. It’s an extension of the concept, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the relevant regulations are phrased that way (but IANAL). Whether it’s a reasonable extension of the term is perhaps arguable, but I hope we agree that the principle is right: don’t allow bigots to make life miserable for others at your institution.

    So the question is whether the use of a J&M cartoon can be reasonably be taken as promoting a hostile climate. I’m going to say No, and that people should be more careful to distinguish between Islam-as-a-set-of-claims and Muslims-as-people.

    • jay
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      This is the problem. The whole ‘hostile climate’ thing is a danger to free speech, and personal freedom in general. Giving the person offended the legal power to silence their offender fatally poisons free speech.

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Well, it may be getting used that way in cases like this, but it also applies to things like eg. men pervasively making sexist and sexual comments around female colleagues. Open racism on a university campus would also fall under this heading. But the situations at UCL and LSE seems like a case of wild over-application of the principle, by a bunch of idealistic but clueless student government types.

        • jay
          Posted January 26, 2012 at 7:38 am | Permalink

          You either have free speech or you don’t. Picking out what kinds of offense are acceptable and which are not will always result in the most socially connected ‘victims’ having veto power.

          Sure it may involve sexist or racist comments (threats are different). Of course it’s kind of sexist to assume that women are just to emotionally fragile to hear such things.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      The climate is hostile now. It didn’t have to be that way, in fact in most such cases it never is. Something about an eye, a grain and a pole comes to mind.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:21 am | Permalink

      but permit a hostile climate to exist against your group (and therefore, you), such that it might drive you to quit, then that can also be construed as a form of discrimination.

      then all universities where professors teach in english are obviously discriminatory to foreign transfer students and should be abolished immediately!

      yeah… this argument really is a lame duck.

  23. Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    Are student Christian societies are allowed to discriminate against gays? If the CU has a facebook page, it might be interesting to go and ask such embarrasing questions

  24. Veroxitatis
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    I fail to see what’s “Islamophobic” about the cartoon. Reference was made to Jesus and Mohammed having a “pint” together. Perhaps that was it? Clearly, Jesus was not averse to a drop of wine, but that would not have been Mo’s position. However, all we see is a dark coloured liquid in the glasses. It may have been coca-cola or the 2nd. or 7th. century equivalent.

  25. Lambert
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Nothing misspelled there. The brits spell criticize as “criticise”, as is the case with most of the “ize” words.

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      Follow the link; they’re having an ‘emergancy’ meeting.

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      Most? Maybe. But not all! We have to remember which are -ise and which -ize. Noah had the right idea here, I think.

      /@

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        It is most — and they can be spelled either way in British English. From the Oxford Dictionaries website:

        But there are a small set of verbs that must always be spelled with -ise at the end and never with -ize. Here are the most common ones:

        advertise

        televise

        But, tsk tsk. “there are a small set”? Shameful!

        /@

        • Chris Booth
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

          Nice.

          • Christian
            Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

            Or did you mean to say ‘nize’?
            ;)

    • neil
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      How I think a word is spelled is one of my beliefs, and I demand that you respect those beliefs in the interest of the values of tolerance and diversity!

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:18 am | Permalink

      And speaking of spelling…does the New Humanist’s “byelaws” reflect how you spell it over there?

      • Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

        Yep. More commonly, bye-law. But bylaw is still the more common.

        /@

  26. Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Check this out: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/11-february-2012-free-expression-day-of-action-your-chance-to-take-a-stand/. We’re doing the Reason Rally, and London is doing Free Expression Day! I learned of it just now, in a blurb on the newest Jesus and Mo cartoon. Can’t recall how or when I learned of and started following J&M, but I look forward to each new cartoon, that’s for sure.

    • Mary
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the link…will pass it on

  27. Paul Braterman
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    If I were a Muslim student, either at UCL or at LSE, I would be furious, NOT with J&M, nor with the Humanist society, but with the intolerant morons making these protests in my name.

    • Paul Braterman
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

      See also today’s Jesus and Mo, for the charge of racism.

  28. Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    If anything is sacred to me, it is the Bill of Rights. And the cornerstone of the Bill of Rights is the First Amendment and the protections it is designed to guarantee to freedom of expression.

    I can think of nothing I consider more offensive than an attempt in any form to hinder an individual’s attempts to exercise those rights. Indeed, if there is anything over which I would shed blood — mine or another’s — it is this.

    And I would further suggest that all American soldiers would agree with me. After all, they’ve sworn an oath to do exactly that. And they and their forebears have upheld that oath, with force, for over two centuries.

    You Muslims, who think you’re so badass that you’re ready to blow up some poor defenseless women and children to keep us from saying things that make you uncomfortable?

    Our bombs are bigger.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      And, this is important, don’t forget: our bombs don’t need to be walked in on foot.

      • Chris Booth
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

        Whoa, guys, while ours do go up to eleven, lets not sabre-rattle in response to scimitar-rattling–its the same thing.

        They have appropriated the vocabulary of the Civil Rights Movement as a tool to oppression, and that will fool many and confuse the issue–on our side–and has, as we see now; and that deception will strengthen appeasement and win allies from among the gulled.

        Their main weapons are lies and shrill pettiness, their only strength is in others falling for it–as we see now. They have a foothold; next they will want another; the dupes who fell for their newspeak are scouring out the footholds themselves. That is where the light of day needs to be shown.

        (Having said all that, the fact that they need burqas, clitoridectomies, and the infliction of pain, ignorance, and fear to be Big Men at Home[^TM] shows how much faith they have in the comparative power of their “bombs”, and explains the masks they hide behind when they threaten outside those homes.)

    • Veroxitatis
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      This is an international forum and the immediate subject matter relates to an English University so it’s not clear why you are laying such widesweeping emphasis on the Bill of Rights.

      • Occam
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

        The Bill of Rights of 1689 is an Act of the Parliament of England, still constitutive of the conveniently unwritten British Constitution, and thus entirely pertinent.

        Unless Ben is referring to certain seditious provisions patterned after the above and adopted by renegade British colonies on the forlorn shores of the Atlantic.

        • veroxitatis
          Posted January 26, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

          Yes, I was well aware of that. However it’s clear that the reference was to the first ten amendments to the US Constitution: the so called “Bill of Rights”. “forlorn” indeed!

  29. Posted January 25, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    this is how “moderates” give tacit support to extremist bullies by backing down and avoiding confrontation with extreme ideas…in this case not offending religious ideologies…and violating basic principals of civil society like free speech…

    thus, it will always be…

    • Chris Booth
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      One of the problems is that extremist bullies always appropriate the nomenclature of ethicallity. This is why Orwell’s doublethink and newspeak are so powerful. What right-thinking person is going to stand against racism? (“War is peace”, how can I be against peace?) The answer to a false claim of racism is simply “no, it isn’t”. That is why we appease, enable, back down; a decent person will, at the thought of “am I being [some-bad-thing]ist?” It is a red herring, but fallacies work. Until they are recognized to be fallacies.

      “Shut up, you are violating my freedom of speech!” “Ulp. OK. I don’t wanna do that.” And it distracts from the real issues: what the bullies want and how they really behave.

  30. Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    I’ve done at least 20 posts on all this over the past two weeks, the latest being yesterday’s on the LSE call for a meeting to make New Rules. They’re collected here -

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/01/one-stop-shopping-2/

    • Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Ophelia has coined the useful expression, “this kind of shutuppery” for this kind of shutuppery.

      (Emphatic form, STFUppery.)

      • Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        Except that I’ve taken to writing it shut-uppery because otherwise it looks too much like shtuppery, which would only confuse the issue…

        • Occam
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

          Not at all: if you shut up, you are shtupped…

        • Hempenstein
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

          IIRC, the other one would be spelled schtuppery

          • Chris Booth
            Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

            Oh, Roger the Shrubbery.

          • Occam
            Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

            Robert B. Parker spelled it “shtup”.
            What was good enough for Spenser and approved by Susan Silverman is good enough for me.

  31. Austin McGrath
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    No need for censorship when we are so willing to self-censor. Let’s hear it one more time………….people can believe what they choose – the bible,the torah,the koran,Mein Kampf,the adventures of Sean the Leprechaun, party political broadcasts… they have NO right to be protected from ridicule,irony,satire,humour. They have no right to be protected from feeling offended.I’m deeply ‘offended’ at the ease with which threats are dished out every time muslims are upset..but that’s life

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I *swear* I first read that as “the blah,the koran,…”. Close enough, ironically.

  32. Greg Esres
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Is it just me, or does it look like Mo is giving Jesus a hand-job? And the candle looks pretty phallic.

    • Tulse
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Candle? Surely that’s the handle of a pub’s beer tap.

      • Greg Esres
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

        “Surely that’s the handle of a pub’s beer tap.”

        Ok, that makes more sense, but the observation remains…..

        • Chris Booth
          Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

          Indeed. If your handle were being drawn and released by the hand of an invisible barmaid, you’d look pretty phallic, too.

          Er….

  33. Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    “the deliberate and persistent targeting of one religious group about any issue with the intent or effect of being Islamophobic”

    Yet if the issue (subjugation of women, death for apostacy, or stoning, say) won’t go away, then what should humane people do but deliberately and persistently target the one religious group that practises it, whatever the effect may be?

    What makes Muslims think the character called “Mo” is in fact their prophet Mohammed? There’s a character called Moe in the Simpsons. (The one called Jesus is wearing a crown of thorns, so I guess it’s not pronounced Heh-soos.)

  34. Asura
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    “race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religious affiliation”

    Now let us see, which one of these is not a physiological factor but an ideology?

    The last one?

    Nah, couldn’t be.

    • jay
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      I am a bit bothered by the way some so glibly assume that the black and white defining characteristic of ‘acceptable’ criticism is physiology. Especially considering all the discussion of free will on this website.

      A person can find equal offense to criticism of something so deeply ingrained in their self identity (religion) as to something else deeply involved in their identity (sexuality).

      What about culture? Is that fair game under your schema? What about sexual orientation? It appears to be significantly (but not entirely genetic)? What if more environmental or other causes are identified? Does that change its status?

      True, good sense would cause us not to be abusive to things over which a person has little or no control (how much control does a pedophile have?), but it is not (or should not) be the determining factor in free speech.

  35. Chris Booth
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Falsely “playing the race card” is itself racist.

    And this cynical appropriation of the gains made through generations of struggle against racism is an insult to to the millions through history, from the beginning to our very time, who have been humiliated, suffered, labored, and died under the weight of racist oppression.

    It is a further insult, because the statement by the LSE SU is an exercise in newspeak and doublethink to turn the gains made by those who struggled against racism back upon those very people, and oppress them yet again.

    It is a knife in the back to Gandhi and Martin Luther King and the countless others who have struggled to raise us all up to stand side-by-side and equal in the light where speech is free, and no group stands above it or may cast a shadow across another.

    • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Hear, hear!

  36. Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Is this what the bottom of a slippery slope looks like? That this image has sparked a controversy would almost read as satire until you realized that it was really happening.

  37. Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions.” Thomas Jefferson in letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp, 30 July, 1816

  38. Steven Carr
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t the LSE Students Union learned anything by the way people looked silly by banning ‘The Life of Brian’ because Christians were offended by it?

    • Chris Booth
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Likewise, I remember passing through a placard-carrying, protesting crowd to see The Last Temptation of Christ. They were all upset because, they claimed, it showed Jesus abrogating the cross, and all that that implies, and skipping off to a nice life with a harem of luxiferous cuties on a quiet farm far away from the turmoil and agony. Except that at the end, he rejects a simple happy life as a simple contented man (a much more subtle and convincing temptation than ruling the world or an ice-cream parlor in the desert), and —-zoom-thunk!—- he’s back on the cross, suffering to their heart’s content. Their protest showed that they had not even seen the movie. In the end, it was a better affirmation of their story than they could manage. Claiming light they cringe and wail in darkness.

  39. Hempenstein
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m reminded of the tag line of a Doonesbury cartoon of a some yrs back: “What is the matter with you people?” But I could only find one place with more than the just the first panel. Ignore all the blather that comes with it, along with the first toon, and scroll to the bottom.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:25 am | Permalink

      Doonesbury is so great.

  40. John
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

    What I think is most telling and ironic here is the obvious actual islamophobia betrayed by the LSE.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a large part of the motivation for this was the fear of reprisals, accusations and threats by islamists

    • Mary
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more

  41. John
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    @Hempenstein – you do realise that the Islamic calendar is different right? You also realise that we set our watches by Christianity right?
    You also realise that everything Muslims do isn’t just Islam. If we go down the road that cartoon takes (in attitude) it’s a slippery slope to racism. The cartoon stereotypes Iraqis as lazy and grudge holding…. last I checked, this could apply to large proportions of any ethnic or religious group.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      I was applying the tag line to both the natterers and accommodationists at UCL.

      That said, you seriously think that Trudeau was using the Islamic calendar there? Seriously?? It’s quite obvious he was referring to the first of the Shia Five Martyrs. Have a look.

      Now, ask yourself how recent history might have changed if the Shias and Sunnis hadn’t held each other in lethal contempt. Sure, you can say that the people living there might have found some other way to subdivide themselves, but this is the tribalism they’ve been content to maintain, and they’re actively blowing each other up based on those differences now. The same inability to uncouple from the distant past, whether in myth or historical event, is what keeps the creationaries railing against evolution and demonizing Darwin.

      Now, going back to the Shia/Sunni, I might not care so much if their differences hadn’t dragged civilization backward. How much do you suppose Iraq cost the world annually? What do you suppose those involved over there might have accomplished in its absence? I’m not just referring sons of friends of mine, and the friend of one of them who was killed over there, I’m also referring to the Iraqi people too. Now, you can say Bush was wrong, but the Shia/Sunni enmity would still have been there, as it still apparently is. It won’t disappear until a significant number of both sides start to say that the basis of the differences is fucked up.

      Bravo to Trudeau for calling it out.

      • John
        Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:54 am | Permalink

        You’re right, I think he is referring that grudge… That said, I think coupling that with the lazy remark went too far.
        The cost to the world for what has gone on in Iraq recently is small compared to the cost Iraqi’s have paid but I’m not sure it can all be put down to the problems between the Shia and Sunni.

  42. Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    An emergency meeting? Really? This is a campus and there were no matters more pressing than a controversial cartoon. Some student union.

    • Diane G.
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

      I remember attending an Oregon State University open faculty meeting in the late 60′s, at which the faculty were debating about adopting an anti-(Viet Nam)war resolution. The proposed resolution contained a statement beginnning, “Whereas there should be…”

      I walked out at about the 20th minute of a discussion about whether or not there should be a “should be” in a “Whereas…”

      But I digress…

  43. Posted January 25, 2012 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

    Wait, I have to add something.

    Am I wrong in thinking this cartoon could be a parody of a variety of things, for example people’s hysteria over religious divisions?

    Secondly it should be noted that Muslims consider depictions of Mohammed to be a sacrelidge.

    But they could have just asked them to take down the cartoon instead of turning it into a three-alarm fire.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 1:07 am | Permalink

      Secondly it should be noted that Muslims consider depictions of Mohammed to be a sacrelidge.

      some sects do, some don’t.

      just like some of the 40 thousand xian sects have peculiar fetishes, and some don’t.

      some think that if you won’t allow yourself to be bitten by a poisonous snake, that insults their beliefs.

      why is it that so few are looking at the OTHER HALF of this picture, and not decrying it as “racist” towards “xians”?

      because that would be silly, right?

    • Ichthyic
      Posted January 26, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

      But they could have just asked them to take down the cartoon

      they did (“ordered..to remove it”). Second paragraph in Jerry’s commentary.

      the ASH society rightly refused to do so.

      did you have some rational reason why the Student union had any right to even ask them to take it down in the first place?

  44. Dave Ricks
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    Weighty questions –
    – Could the god of Abraham make a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it?
    – Could the LSE Students’ Union have a Free Speech Society?

    Meanwhile, in reality, a friend Kathryn taught me, “We teach people how to treat us.”

    The LSE Students’ Union staff et. al. are teaching people, “This is how we roll — roll over, that is.”

    And they’re teaching one interest group how they roll over for that one interest group.

  45. IW
    Posted January 26, 2012 at 5:26 am | Permalink

    Once again we have theists openly admitting that their omnipotent god is impotent in preventing this and so they have to take things into their own hands. The Bible is rife with such stories, so it’s hardly out of character for them….

  46. Posted January 28, 2012 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    The recording of the meeting about the motion is available here:

    http://echoweb1.lse.ac.uk/echocontent/1204/4/64709d38-b188-4a97-8e47-e542220b13dd/audio-vga.m4v

    Here are the twitter feeds of a couple of members of the executive (who I guess wrote the motion):

    General Secretary – Alex Peters-Day
    https://twitter.com/#!/alexpday

    Anti-Racism officer – Sherelle Davids
    https://twitter.com/#!/sherelledavids

    I just had to follow up on one of Sherelle’s tweets, I’m not expecting a response…

    http://miketobin.posterous.com/racism-complaint-to-the-lsesu


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] and English universities betray centuries of hard-won free speech rights without a second [...]

  2. [...] expresses his concern in two posts over at Why Evolution is True, A bad week for free speech and More Censorship at British universities. Ophelia Benson, at Butterflies and Wheels, has a whole series of posts on the problem of [...]

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