King’s College London deplatforms its own lecturer—scheduled to talk on free speech!

Far right nativist Tommy Robinson is scheduled to speak at Speakers’ Corner in London today; his topic being free speech and the history of that famous “Corner”. The police removed him from that place about a week ago, and it’s not clear whether they’ll remove him again for talking about the very history of the area.

In the meantime, another Brit has been deplatformed for trying to talk about free speech. As the Torygraph and The Sunday Times report, lecturer Adam Perkins, a neuroscientist at King’s College London (KCL), has been de-platformed by his own university. The ostensible reason is not that his topic is anathema, or even “hate speech,” but because the College couldn’t guarantee anyone’s safety. As the Torygraph notes:

King’s College London (KCL) has been accused of “no platforming” its own lecturer, after his talk on free speech was deemed “high risk”.

Dr Adam Perkins, an academic who specialises in the neurobiology of personality, was due to speak to students on Friday afternoon about the scientific importance of free speech.

But the event, hosted by KCL’s Libertarian Society, was forcibly postponed by the university following a risk assessment.

The society said they see this as “no platforming”, adding: “When your university censors its own lecturer, you know things have got out of hand.

“The talk was meant to be about the scientific importance of free speech. It seems for King’s, there is no such concept of free speech.”

The Times add this information:

The university said that 400 students had signed a petition alleging that Dr Perkins had “stigmatised” minority groups and that the event had been postponed. “

We do not have enough resources to make sure that this event can be managed safely,” a spokesman said. Dr Perkins, who previously caused controversy by arguing that welfare dependency could be “bred out”, said: “Free speech in science is crucial because it means different opinions can be debated.” The society said that “violent intolerance” was being allowed to stifle debate.

Here are the Words that Cannot be Said, words that were called “bigoted” in the petition and “racist” by the KCL Intersectional Feminist Society:

In a book titled The Welfare Trait, Dr Perkins argues that children whose families are dependent on benefits tend to be even more unmotivated and resistant to employment than their parents. He recommends that policies should be altered so that the welfare state does not encourage families in disadvantaged households to have more children.

Nope, we can’t have college students hearing that kind of stuff! I don’t know anything about the UK’s policies, but this seems a criticism of poor people, not minorities, even if minorities are more likely to be poor. I suspect that Perkins is using the same “welfare queen” trope that made so much hay for Ronald Reagan, but he was at least allowed to speak his mind.

The Libertarian Society is right. Both reasons for deplatforming Perkins are bogus. If the event can’t be managed safely, they should give it extra resources. (And seriously, if it can’t be managed safely, it’s the fault of the protestors and not the speaker.) And as for the bully veto of a petition, Perkins had already been invited and scheduled to speak, and a petition should make no difference.

This event, and my post from earlier today, along with other recent incidents, shows that free speech is under serious threat in the UK.

h/t: Jiten

33 Comments

  1. glen1davidson
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Appeasement of the bullies will buy us peace in our time.

    What could go wrong?

    Glen Davidson

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Free speech in England seems to be missing. I guess they should remove those boxes people stand on at speaker’s corner. As I remember it was a pretty good tourist attraction but now just a historical attraction with silence.

  3. Christopher
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    This is the way democracy ends
    This is the way democracy ends
    This is the way democracy ends
    Not with a bang but a whimper.*

    *appologies to T. S. Eliot, who probably would have been deplatformed as well.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Eliot was dogged by allegations of anti-Semitism — though not as well-founded as those against his pal Ezra Pound.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink

        But they were not ill-founded. Just read the poetry. And some essays and books — ‘After Strange Gods’, for example. Here’s (most of) a paragraph from the Forward website, in which two books on TSE’s anti-Semitism are reviewed:

        ‘“Gerontion” recasts the stereotype of Jew as slumlord: “My house is a decayed house, / And the jew squats on the window sill, the owner.” “Burbank With a Baedeker: Bleistein With a Cigar” is an evocation of Venice that seems to refer to Shakespeare’s Shylock: “On the Rialto once. / The rats are underneath the piles. / The jew is underneath the lot.” And in “Sweeney Among the Nightingales”: “Rachel née Rabinovitch / Tears at the grapes with murderous paws.” According to Ricks and Julius, underlying these images was Eliot’s admiration for the French fascist and anti-Semitic author Charles Maurras. During a 1933 lecture in Virginia, published in 1934 as “After Strange Gods,” (which he later refused to reprint) Eliot, following Maurras, stressed the importance of social “unity of religious background…. Reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable,” Eliot declared.’

        I have often thought that Eliot’s theory of the ‘dissociation of sensibility’ that supposedly came to afflict British poetry particularly in consequence of the English Civil War is a politer and more feline or craven version of Pound’s assertion that English poetry went to the dogs after Cromwell let the Jews back into England, or more colourfully in his radio broadcasts in Rome: “For two centuries, ever since the brute Cromwell brought ’em back into England, the kikes have sucked out your vitals.”

        I note also, that the Penn Law professor, Amy Wax, whose pitiful op-ed a number of people were defending on this website not so long ago in the name of free speech has been relieved of some of her teaching duties after asserting that black students were inferior; a claim that prompted the following from the Dean:

        ‘It is imperative for me as dean to state that these claims are false: black students have graduated in the top of the class at Penn Law, and the Law Review does not have a diversity mandate. Rather, its editors are selected based on a competitive process. And contrary to any suggestion otherwise, black students at Penn Law are extremely successful, both inside and outside the classroom, in the job market, and in their careers.’

  4. Posted March 18, 2018 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind. Sad.

  5. Thanny
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Tommy Robinson is neither nativist nor white supremacist. You might want to look into where you’re getting your information on these topics.

    • FA
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      Indeed. Tommy Robinson is very working class and a bit of an idiot, but he is not a racist, and is a patriot.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted March 20, 2018 at 12:54 am | Permalink

        ‘the last refuge of the scoundrel…’

    • Posted March 18, 2018 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      Exactly.

    • Simon
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:21 am | Permalink

      He’s a bit of a bad boy by his own admission, although not in the way the establishment likes to accuse him of being. He has served time for mortgage fraud, although of a nature that few people are punished for, and it may have been his brother who committed the crime. The state is out to get him and the are always looking for ways to engineer charges and further build the their narrative about him.

      I sometimes wonder if there is something related to the Barcelona Declaration which compels Yerpean governments to make nice with Mo’s henchmen.

    • Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Having done a bit of sleuthing on Robinson, I can’t find overt racism in his comments, so I’ve labeled him a “far right nativist” instead of “racist”. I trust that will satisfy you. He’s still an odious git.

      • Simon
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:19 am | Permalink

        He’s a working class lad with a few rough edges who feels passionately about his hometown and his country. IMO he is definitely not a nativist, unless you include culturally compatible immigrants amongst the natives.

        • Simon
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

          And to add, although he was one of the founders of the English Defence Leauge, he left when the racist element became too prominent.I find him quite likeable.

          • Posted March 20, 2018 at 2:24 am | Permalink

            Agreed. The smears reach far and wide and are difficult to push back against. It’s mostly hearsay, misrepresentation, and even mere innuendo plays a part, as his name is often mentioned in the same article as actual far right activists.

            The problem right now is the issue of free speech, and guilt by association.

            Many more eloquent and better educated people, such as Pinker, can speak up for free speech and be labelled as fascists, or excusers of fascists, by the likes of Myers. And when that happens others around the centre will come to their defence.

            Not so much Robinson. The natural inclination seems to be to believe the smears. Currently he has taken up the issue of free speech, specifically because of the way the UK authorities and press have been shutting it down by using smears.

            Unfortunately he has recently associated himself with Sellner, a self-declared ‘Identitarian’.

            The issue with the Identitarian movement is of course the overt racism of Richard Spencer’s white separatism.

            Yet, while the idea of separatism is ‘odious’, there is no similar smear campaign about the way in which immigrant communities in the UK maintain their own separatism – and with Islam this is often expressed explicitly as some Muslims refuse to befriend ‘Kafir’.

            And it’s this double standard that gives the Identitarian movement a greater popular weight in Europe, not the racism of Richard Spencer.

            I’ve tried to get a clear response on this from Sellner, but to no avail. Is he a Richard Spencer racist separatist, or is he merely complaining about the double standards that allow other cultures their identity, but not ‘white European’?

            While there are some complaints about the treatment of Islam in China and Japan, I don’t see much noise about their ‘Identitarian’ valuing their own culture.

            This is not the simplistic matter of Richard Spencer racism on the one side, and the forces of good on another. There are more complex issues around the demonisation of the less well educated working class that many intellectuals would rather sweep under the carpet.

      • Thanny
        Posted March 22, 2018 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        He’s not on the right at all, and still not a nativist.

        So you’re still saying something that is demonstrably untrue. And that’s what dissatisfies me.

  6. Posted March 18, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  7. Kiwi Dave
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    Without reading Dr Perkins’ book, I can’t even be sure that he’s criticisng poor people rather than pointing out a statistically measurable consequence of intergenerational poverty (perhaps also benefit dependence) and suggesting a possible negation of that consequence.

    Whether that particular means of negation is defendable or not, is another matter.

  8. Ken Kukec
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    The police removed him from that place about a week ago.

    Too bad; two of my favorite Brit traditions are Speakers’ Corner and Parliament’s “Question Time.”

    • BJ
      Posted March 18, 2018 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

      Question Time is such a brilliant idea. I wish the US would adopt something like it, but that would never happen. Imagine US politicians deciding that they should be asked difficult questions of governance and policy by their colleagues, in Congress and on a regular basis in front of the entire nation. How absurd!

      • Posted March 19, 2018 at 8:36 am | Permalink

        You don’t want it, it’s pure theatre. It’s all about scoring points not actually getting answers to questions. You shouldn’t want it in much the same way that Jerry Coyne shouldn’t want to engage William Lane Craig in a formal debate.

        • Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

          If it works anything like its child, “Question Period” in the Canadian Parliament, there is some of that, but it is an opportunity for backbenchers to raise questions about minor topics – and a good way for the opposition to at least complain. (Which is good sometimes.) I agree it often allows the skirting of actual *answers* to matters, but at least one can see what some folks are worried about – at the best of times.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted March 19, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          I’d at least like to take it for a test ride on Capitol Hill.

  9. Posted March 18, 2018 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    Can you provide citations/evidence that Robinson is a white supremacist? I’ve heard many people make this accusation but I’ve become skeptical because of how often it is used as a slur against people whose attitudes about race may not be unambiguously in line with the accusation.

    • jay
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:27 am | Permalink

      I don’t know much about him either, but three people, strong critics of Islam, (American, Austrian, Canadian) have been arrested upon entering UK simply for planning to talk to him. The charge under ‘anti terrorism’ is that they are promoting violence, but it seems that the actual threat of violence is from the opponents, not the speakers. (I wonder if they would have been arrested if they spoke similarly against the C of E, somehow I doubt it.)

      I think the British government is running scared. They are terrified to allow anything that might rile up the relatively large (by our standards) Islamic population. Meanwhile it has just come out that ANOTHER child sex trafficing ring, run predominantly by ‘Asian’ (Afghan and Pakistani)individuals has been exposed with possibly over 1000 victims. Once again, the police had looked the other way so as not to be considered ‘racissst’

      • Richard
        Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:52 am | Permalink

        And yet the police had no problem carrying out an investigation – little more than a witch-hunt! – into the late Sir Edward Heath on groundless allegations that he had sexually abused and even murdered young boys aboard his yacht Morning Cloud.

        Of course, it’s perfectly acceptable for the police to besmirch the name of a dead man and tarnish his reputation becase he was white and a former Conservative Prime Minister…

      • Posted March 23, 2018 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

        “…British government is running scared. They are terrified to allow anything that might rile up the relatively large (by our standards) Islamic population…”

        I think you hit the nail on the head.

  10. Robert Seidel
    Posted March 18, 2018 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    > Nativist and white supremacist Tommy Robinson is scheduled to speak at Speakers’ Corner in London today

    So that’s what it was! I came past there and wondered what was going on. As there was a crowd gathered around something I guess they let him speak after all. Though there seemed to be more police than audience!

  11. Diane G.
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    sub

  12. jay
    Posted March 19, 2018 at 5:18 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile London police say that a the determination of hate speech is with the ‘victim’ or bystanders. Anyone can report a ‘hate incident’ (not necessarily involving an actual crime) with possible prosecution.

    “If someone does something that isn’t a criminal offence but the victim, or anyone else, believes it was motivated by prejudice or hate, we would class this as a ‘hate incident’. Though what the perpetrator has done may not be against the law, their reasons for doing it are. This means it may be possible to charge them with an offence.

    If you’ve witnessed or been the victim of a crime or incident…”

    https://www.met.police.uk/advice-and-information/hate-crime/what-is-hate-crime/

    The message is watch what you say, the police informants and SJWs are watching you

    • Simon
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      If this interpretation were applied evenhandedly then the bulk of the British population would have half of the Labour Party, the police and all manner of Islamic groups behind bars.

    • Richard
      Posted March 19, 2018 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      We no longer have anything resembling free speech in the UK. No-one is allowed to say, or even think, anything which is not politically correct.

      The culture of “correctness”, which seems to have originated in American academia and has spread across the world like a cloud of radio-active fallout, has taken root in the UK like some poisonous, invasive ground-cover, creating a police state in which people can be arrested and even jailed simply for speaking their minds. George Orwell would be so proud!


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