Warwick students rescind ban on Maryam Namazie

by Matthew Cobb

The statement by the Warwick University Students’ Union – it was they that had refused her permission to speak, not the University – includes the promise that:

“Warwick SU will issue an unequivocal apology to Maryam Namazie for this egregious and highly regrettable error.”

And concludes:

We want to assure everyone of Warwick Students’ Union’s continued commitment to free speech. We also want to take this opportunity to apologise to everyone who has expressed concern, or disappointment, or who has been hurt by this significant error and, as we said above, we will be issuing a full and unequivocal apology to Maryam Namazie.

It isn’t clear who exactly refused Maryam permission to speak at the Students’ Union. The statement says:
Speaker invitations that may involve such issues are routinely considered by the SU President, who will also take advice from senior SU staff. This did not happen on this occasion. Neither the SU President, nor senior SU staff, were consulted as they should have been. This is a significant error for which there can be no excuse.
Whatever the case, the ban has been rescinded and the meeting will go ahead. Excellent news.
.

58 Comments

  1. Scott Draper
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    “Neither the SU President, nor senior SU staff, were consulted as they should have been.”

    Uh, huh.

    No way a student union would ever reject speaker because it didn’t like what she had to say.

    • nightglare
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      I take that to imply that *someone* at the SU rejected the request, but didn’t act properly, as they should have consulted the president/senior staff. So someone overstepped their authority.

      • Scott Draper
        Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        I was being sarcastic.

        I understood what they’re implying, but I’m inclined to think it’s a lie.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

          Me too. However, I’m pleased that the issue has been resolved properly.

          These are young people, and unless young people have changed, they’re pretty good at making decisions without thinking things through. They’re probably pretty embarrassed at how stupid they’re been, and the lie is to cover that up. I can live with that. These particular people aren’t likely to make the same mistake again because of what happened here.

          • Scott Draper
            Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

            “These particular people aren’t likely to make the same mistake again because of what happened here.”

            When someone puts his foot in his mouth in a Tweet, isn’t it only a short time before he does it again?

            A wise man would realize that he shouldn’t be broadcasting knee-jerk reactions to the entire world and would cancel his Twitter account, but that’s a much more difficult realization to make than “I shouldn’t have Tweeted that.”

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

              I think tw**ts are a different situation. Imo, people stuff up there because they just can’t get their heads around the 140 character thing. However, there are some who would be advised to get someone else to read their tweets before they click that button.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

                Agreed, tweets are different. (Not that I’ve ever used Tw*tter). Email is equally bad in that one can bang off a reply, but at least one isn’t restricted to trying to fit into 140 characters.

                Still very advisable to re-read before hitting ‘send’ (or in the case of this bl— website, ‘Post Comment’, though often in this case finger trouble or WP’s erratic bloody-mindedness makes the decision for one 😉

                cr

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted September 27, 2015 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

                Yeah – every time I don’t bother to check something before I post it, I’ve made some kind of mistake. Either spelling, grammar, screwed up the meaning of what I meant to say, or something else.

                And I bet if Jerry did a post about people doing stupid or embarrassing things because they sent e-mails without checking, he’d get a deluge!

          • Posted September 28, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

            Yeah, right. As we say in NZ

    • Scote
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      “Mistakes were made, but not by me.”

      • Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

        If we take them at their word and it really was the premature action of somebody who failed to follow protocol, then it’s not at all unreasonable to keep that person’s name out of the public. This probably isn’t a firing offense, and nothing would be served by subjecting the guilty party to public humiliation.

        And the administration has taken full responsibility by stating that they were the ones who should have made the decision and who have, in fact, now made it — with their decision being the right one.

        b&

        • Scott Draper
          Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

          “And the administration has taken full responsibility by stating that they were the ones who should have made the decision and ”

          People will often admit to a lesser offense to avoid having to confess a greater one.

          “Taking full responsibility” is sort of meaningless while at the same time blaming someone else. Yes, it may be true, and if so, I admire them for not throwing the junior guy under the bus. People shouldn’t be fired for making honest mistakes, no matter how politically expedient.

      • Norton Motorcycle
        Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

        That’s how we got into those Iraq wars, right? “Mistakes were made.”

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted September 28, 2015 at 4:44 am | Permalink

        Mistakes were made, but not by me. Excellent book, highly recommended.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      Yeah sounds like “poo runs downhill” and the last one at the bottom is going to have to deal with the mound of manure.

  2. Linda Grilli Calhoun
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    The fact that she will be allowed to speak is excellent news.

    It is also excellent news that those students are willing to reexamine their position, admit error, and rectify that error. Kudos to them. L

    • Norton Motorcycle
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      But they really are not taking responsibility. While it is admirable they apologize (after international pressure blew up in their faces), they got evasive, like Watergate rats and centipedes fleeing when the light is shown on them. Better than digging in their heels, but only that and barely that.

      • eric
        Posted September 28, 2015 at 6:50 am | Permalink

        IMO its often best to be gracious in victory and not require a full chest-pointing mea culpa from the party who did wrong.

        The more socially difficult and punitive society is about correcting mistakes, the less likely people are to correct them. Kinda like taking prisoners and treating them well in war: you want your enemy to surrender. You don’t want them to fight to the bitter end. You accomplish this by making it as painless as possible to surrender. We want to make it as painless as possible for student Unions or what have you to revise policies in support of free speech.

  3. Posted September 27, 2015 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Well, knock me over with a feather!

    The full apology is superlative and a model of how these things should be done. The error was admitted and clearly described; full responsibility was accepted; a suitable remedy has been put into place; similarly, a plan is being implemented to prevent similar errors in the future; and remorse has been expressed and apologies offered to the injured.

    I’d like to offer an hearty thanks and commendation to the Warwick Student Union for their handling of the matter. It is of course regrettable that such an apology was necessary in the first place, but no matter; they have since demonstrated a sincere commitment to honor and integrity.

    The students learned their lesson, and passed the test with flying colors. If they learn nothing else from their time at Warwick, this alone justifies their tenure there.

    Cheers,

    b&

    • Norton Motorcycle
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

      “The error was admitted and clearly described; full responsibility was accepted” We are reading this quite differently. They pushed responsibility on someone unknown. How is that taking resopnsibility?

      • Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

        Are we reading the same statement?

        “This is a significant error for which there can be no excuse. […] this egregious and highly regrettable error […] it has failed, and failed badly in this case […]”

        There’s no need to name names. The SU President has stepped in and approved the lecture and given assurances that this sort of thing won’t happen again.

        That’s what responsibility looks like.

        Including shielding those responsible from public scrutiny.

        Imagine some low-level State Department official caused some sort of embarrassing protocol gaffe. You’d expect the President to apologize in pretty much exactly the same way that the Warwick Student Union has done, including not naming the official’s name.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • Norton Motorcycle
          Posted September 27, 2015 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

          There is no substance to the reversal. It is like a differnt group entirely has stepped in to take charge, unlike who we were presented with here on this bl*g in the first instance. So yes we are reading the same statement, but I am still being critical and skeptical and confused by the bilge (frankly) in the mea culpa. It does NOT fit with any of the initial politically correct snowflake stuff. So how to reconcile it? I do NOT let them off the hook this easily. I do NOT accept that they didn’t know about it, and that some “intern” like all US presidential candidates have for scapegoats made an error in judgment. There is simply NO explanation for this that makes sense and I condemn them in toto until they make sense. Again, YES I read their effusive bilge several times and it answers nothing about the fundamental problems that caused this whole mess.

          Viz: What happened? Some janitor wandered through and diapproved the request? What the eff happened, and what about other press statements from the poor idiotic overparted students running the pretentious 3rd rate university SU?

          • Posted September 28, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

            Again, YES I read their effusive bilge several times and it answers nothing about the fundamental problems that caused this whole mess.

            What on Earth makes you think you’re privy to their private affairs? It’s none of your damned business who did what.

            Maryam will speak and they’ve given reasonable assurances that they’ve implemented policies to prevent this from happening again. That’s all you need to know, and you have no right to demand satisfaction of your prurient curiosity.

            Were you the one responsible for this mess, you’d certainly appreciate not having your name dragged through the mud and having everybody point and stare and laugh at you. The least you can do is afford the same common decency to the person(s?) actually in that position.

            b&

        • HaggisForBrains
          Posted September 28, 2015 at 4:50 am | Permalink

          I agree with Ben. It’s the best apology I’ve read in years. What do you want, Norton, someone to disembowel themselves? It’s a cock-up, not a conspiracy.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

          I agree with Ben, too. I was fully expecting the, “we are sorry if anyone was offended” notpology.

    • Walt Jones
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Bravo, Mr. Goren, civility thrives on accepting good intentions, and your comment outlines how the Student Union is trying to make amends. We can question their motives, but the result is what matters.

      • Norton Motorcycle
        Posted September 27, 2015 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

        On, so let’s sign on with Pope Fluffy, he’s so nice. Urges everyone to believe in miracles, but he’s such a nice bald bloated little man, who can not like him? So nice.

        • Pali
          Posted September 28, 2015 at 2:56 am | Permalink

          False comparison. The pope, at best, is trying to make the church less judgmental and more helpful… but his failure is that he’s not at all turning around church teachings on any subjects, just saying “let’s focus more on teaching about caring for the poor than teaching that abortion is wrong – but abortion’s still wrong if they ask”. The student union leadership, so far as I know, may not be taking absolute responsibility in getting refusing Namazie wrong (and we don’t have any real evidence that they’re being less than honest), but they ARE saying “That shouldn’t have been done, we’re sorry it was done, and it’s not being done anymore”. They are going that extra step, the step that matters, that the pope is refusing to.

          • Pali
            Posted September 28, 2015 at 3:00 am | Permalink

            P.S. Reading Jacob van Beverningk’s post below does provide some evidence of dishonesty, but as infiniteimprobabilit mentions, it is not conclusive. Either way, I’ll accept a bit of covering one’s ass in the process of changing to the correct course. It’s less respectable than a fully honest acknowledgment, but it’s still better than the pope.

        • Posted September 28, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          The Warwick Student Union has welcomed Maryam to their campus, instituted reforms to ensure that this sort of cockup won’t happen again, and oh-by-the-way apologized for it all.

          When the Pope stops shielding child rapists from prosecution and orders all church officials to tell local police everything, when he orders the Church to distribute massive amounts of condoms in Africa and elsewhere, when he promotes all nuns to the priesthood…then I’ll offer him some of the same praise as I’m offering the Warwick Student Union, whether or not he apologizes.

          b&

    • rom
      Posted September 28, 2015 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      Yep
      And I got a nice short reply to my email explaining the problem and a link.

      Probably not bad from a publicity point of view.

  4. Tim Fraser
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Excellent news indeed.
    Although I suspect it may become more difficult for me to get a place in the audience now . . .

  5. ashdeville
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Ok – so the junior SU geezer did some googling and concluded that they should dismiss an application from WASH for a speaker to visit the campus, but didn’t bother to check with the party superiors before rejecting the application. When I suspect it’s a conspiracy it invariably turns out to be utter incompetence!!!!

    Nice grovelling self flagellating apology tho’!!!! Good outcome!!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

      “When I suspect it’s a conspiracy it invariably turns out to be utter incompetence”

      That’s _my_ mantra! 🙂

      cr

      • Posted September 28, 2015 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Yes, I also favour the ‘fuck up’ theory, however although I must applaud Ben’s forgiving attitude, I think that some more detailed explanation of how this occurred, without mentioning names, should be forthcoming, because frankly I’m sceptical about what I’ve read so far.

      • Michael Michaels
        Posted September 28, 2015 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.”
        Hanlon’s razor

        “The razor is most often invoked in the context of trying to refute a conspiracy theory: where a conspiracy is perceived, with no other evidence available, it is more likely to be ineptitude or apathy than malice that results in the problem.”

        http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Hanlon's_razor

  6. Dermot C
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    You have to give them credit for their unequivocal mea culpa.

    But, they make no mention of revising their external speaker policy, specifically, that they ‘must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge’. Which of course is the wedge that religionists use to shut down debate.

    Still, a victory! x

  7. Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Nice to see a good ending.

  8. Jonathan Dore
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Not only an apology, but an apology of impressively un-mealymouthed wording!

  9. Stephen Barnard
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I hereby rescind my refusal to accept lecturing invitations at Warwick University. 🙂

  10. Jacob van Beverningk
    Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    “Neither the SU President, nor senior SU staff, were consulted as they should have been.”

    Yet … The SU president mentioned this to the press days ago:

    “Isaac Leigh, president of Warwick Student Union, says as much in the Independent: “The initial decision was made for the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their university campus… rather than in the interest of suppressing free speech.”

    Does he now claim to not have been consulted? Then what was he doing talking to the press about it, days ago, defending the decision?

    Something smells …

    • Norton Motorcycle
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for some thought and factual reporting in this. That was my impression, too. Hard to understand commentators here generally praising this student group. At a minimum, taking everything as they put it, and ignoring much else, and giving them every benefit of the doubt, this is a shameful excuse for a student government administration. I’ve been there, in college and law school, and I can’t imagine something this incompetent. I’m talking procedure not substance here. Shameful, still, despite the “good” outcome from our perspective.

    • Scote
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Yes, in that context this mea culpa, while welcome, seems entirely reactionary to the unexpected and overwhelmingly negative response to the student unions actions, and not something that would have happened of its own accord absent external pressure. But, good on them for not just doubling down, as so many do when caught out doing something absurd.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted September 27, 2015 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

      It is entirely possible that the student president was brought into it AFTER the decision had been promulgated. At that point, does he reverse it (with no more facts than what he’s been hurriedly told) or defend it along the lines of the reasons he’s been given? Usually, one defends one subordinates unless they’re plainly and obviously wrong – which may not have been apparent to him at the time.

      cr

  11. rasmo carenna
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 2:37 am | Permalink

    Well, I for one am ready to give some charitable interpretation to this apology, which really sounds more authentic than what usually happens in those cases. There is no need IMHO to be mean spirited or too particular. They are young, they screwed up big time, they apologized and reversed their decision. There is no need to ask for a public humiliation and self-flagellation. Again, what we have now is more than the usual amount of weasel words and non-apology apologies. Unless new information turns up, I am good with that. Not that my opinion matters, anyway.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted September 28, 2015 at 8:40 am | Permalink

      Nor mine. The charitable part of me wonders if this might not be the first time some of the snowflakes have encountered the reality that, as they enter the adult world, not everyone will be bearing a participation trophy for them.

  12. Posted September 28, 2015 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    Excellent news that this egregious blunder has been corrected.

  13. Chris
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 4:35 am | Permalink

    Aaah, British Student Union bureaucracy and excessive “political correctness” (I hate that term but can’t think of anything else to call it). Glad to see that things haven’t changed in the 20 years since I graduated!

  14. jay
    Posted September 28, 2015 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    There is an interesting side point to this because you can see that her attackers were pretty much all on the left.

    The objections were all about her Islam position. Nowhere did I read of the right wanting to censor her avowed communism.

    • Free Speech for All
      Posted September 30, 2015 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

      Not that I want Namazie or anyone to be silenced unless they intend to incite violence.

      How can someone be genuinely committed to free speech and expression, and at the same time in favour of a totalitarian system like communism which must necessarily silence
      dissenters?

  15. Posted September 28, 2015 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Good. It is nice to see that some concerted activism does some good in a case like this.


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