Skip to comments.Richard Dawkins Event in Berkeley Canceled Due To His “Abusive,” “Hurtful” Words
Posted on 07/21/2017 7:30:37 PM PDT by TigerClaws
While that website doesnt offer any reason for the cancellation, Jerry Coyne notes that people who had bought tickets received a more detailed email with this explanation:
We regret to inform you that KPFA has canceled our event with Richard Dawkins. We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didnt know he had offended and hurt in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.
KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins views much earlier. We also apologize to all those inconvenienced by this cancellation. Your ticket purchases will automatically be refunded by Brown Paper Tickets.
The worlds most famous atheist criticized Islam and upset people so he cant give a talk about science? Its a ridiculous reason that gets even more absurd when you consider the source.
Dawkins has no doubt put his foot in his mouth on Twitter many times before. Theres a whole generation of people who know him less for his science writing and more for his misguided tweets. Weve criticized him many times on this site over those tweets, and hes been de-platformed by atheists, too. This isnt anything new.
I would also say theres a difference between attempting to make a logical argument, off the cuff, on Twitter (where nuance dies) and doing it completely ineffectively and targeting individuals a la trolls who go out of their way to be controversial.
Dawkins isnt someone who goes around targeting people with hateful or abusive speech. Dumb speech? Absolutely. Offensive speech? Yes, though thats impossible to avoid when your topic of choice is religion. But hate is in the eye of the beholder, and most of his critics take single tweets more literally than he ever intended.
Thats not to excuse his words. Hes still responsible for what he says. But his entire career has been about persuading people to see things his way, whether or not hes always succeeded, and hes well aware that bigotry wouldnt advance that goal. Hes a strong supporter of progressive Muslims who are trying to modernize the faith from the inside. (Its also worth mentioning that all the controversial tweets were talking about were made years ago and hes really mellowed out on Twitter ever since having a minor stroke in early 2016.)
Which tweets about Islam were the people at KPFA so offended by? We never find out. They dont say. But remember that people at Berkeley (the school) once rescinded an invitation from Bill Maher to deliver a commencement address for the same reason before eventually reversing course. Ayaan Hirsi Ali was going to get an honorary degree from Brandeis University until she, too, was accused of anti-Muslim bigotry. (Yep, a victim of female genital mutilation and an advocate for the reformation of Islam was considered an anti-Muslim bigot. Makes you wonder which version of Islam is acceptable to these critics.)
So much for free speech in Berkeley. If Dawkins is too bigoted for their tastes, the list of people who are allowed to discuss controversial topics must be incredibly thin.
And remember: All this is over a book talk about the beauty of science. That means speakers are being invited and canceled over issues theyre not even talking about.
It wouldve been far better for KPFA to let Dawkins speak and hear what he has to say before condemning him in advance for vague reasons and not allowing ticket buyers the opportunity to make up their own minds about it.
Since Dawkins travel schedule has likely already been planned out, Ive reached out to his team to find out if hell plan another event in Berkeley on that same date.
On a side note, a couple of days after the Dawkins event was supposed to take place, KPFA is sponsoring a speaker who will talk about how to access the mind through the body, and the body through the mind for creativity, resilience and self-healing. Pseudoscience is acceptable to them. But criticism of irrational religious ideas is apparently too mean.
Theyre also sponsoring a talk by the legendary black comedian Dick Gregory, who is known for challenging accepted beliefs, pushing boundaries, and making people uncomfortable. I hope someone asks him for his thoughts on de-platforming controversial speakers.
***Update***: The Center for Inquiry has issued a statement calling the de-platforming baseless and unconscionable:
Richard Dawkins is one of the greatest intellects of our time, with a wealth of wisdom and insight that he looked forward to sharing with his Berkeley audience, said Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. For KPFA to suddenly break its commitment to Richard and the hundreds of people who were so looking forward to seeing and hearing him is unconscionable, and the baseless accusation that Richard has engaged in abusive speech is a betrayal of the values KPFA has, until now, been known for.
The idea that I have engaged in abusive speech against Islam is preposterous, which even the most rudimentary fact-checking by KPFA would have made clear, said Prof. Dawkins. I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims particularly Muslim women are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.
Last year, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science merged with the Center for Inquiry, and Prof. Dawkins joined the CFI board of directors.
In its forty-one-year history, the Center for Inquiry has fought proudly for human and civil rights, and Richard Dawkins is an invaluable ally for our cause. said Blumner. We (including Richard Dawkins himself) strongly opposed President Trumps misguided and discriminatory Muslim ban. We have been at the forefront of the major civil justice causes of our time, and we have devoted ourselves to countering the outmoded, dogmatic prejudices and misinformation aimed at marginalized groups. It is one of the many reasons why we were proud to be the sole secularist organization invited to join the Know Your Neighbor interfaith coalition, launched in 2015 at the White House.
We understand the difference between a people and the beliefs they may hold, said Blumner, All of us must be free to debate and criticize Ideas, and harmful ideas must be exposed. It is incredibly disappointing that KPFA does not understand this.
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It’s time to stop pretending this is about “offensive speech” and “hateful words.” This is about censorship, pure and simple. The Left can’t defend their insane positions, so their only recourse is to silence their opposition. They can only succeed if we let them.
Modern snowflake lefties dont give a damn about accuracy or truth (thats the point they should be debating); they just want to make sure nobodys feelings are hurt among the lefts favored, superior groups. And if that takes trying to shut down free speech and thought, then they have no problem with that. Its a very disturbing trend.
Exactly. You can bash Christianity all day long, and they will make that your sacred right, but banish you from the Land of the Extremely Sensitive Folk for saying anything critical of the religion that would, and will, throw the homosexuals, abortionists, and feminists off the roof of a 10-story building. Along with the atheists.
Dawkins’ schtick is similar to Al Gore’s - become a circus clown with a cause and call it science.
KPFA: hate radio that has been spewing vileness for decades. I suspect it got its start as a satellite of Radio Moscow.
The left is becoming more open about rejecting science. I guess that the left has distanced itself so far from reality that it cannot tolerate any exposure to a discipline that exists to observe and document reality.
People don't want to hear that guy from Hogan's Heroes?
What? That's Richard Dawson?
In Ben Stein’s documentary on evolution he got Dawkins to admit that the advances on planet earth my have been due to aliens.
If you’re willing to say it might have been aliens, but no way was it God it reveals it’s not about logic or reason.
Give everyone soma. No worries
Just thought I’d share:
Not far from a certain college town, I saw a couple of young college-age females sitting outside a business on a bench. One was Middle-Eastern looking, dressed in full Muslim garb, (hijab plus long dress), the other an Asian dressed in jeans and a light short-sleeved top. The Muslim appeared to be trying to engage the Asian in a conversation of understanding. Didn’t stop to overhear much, but it struck me as sort of odd. The Asian girl was saying “Yeah, it depresses me...” I wonder if they were discussing yesterday’s event. I got the impression the Muslim girl was trying to garner sympathy. Just an impression.
....I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims particularly Muslim women are the prime victims...
As Jack Nicholson famously said, “You can’t handle the truth.”
How can liberals remain so oblivious to the world around them.
Islam is the victim of racism you know. Duh! /s
Good old Pacifica. I was driving one night, scanning channels on the car radio, when I found myself listening to KPFA playing a long speech by Malcolm X. I had read a few Malcolm X quotes, but had not been exposed to the full, substantial force of his anti-white racism. I stopped in a supermarket parking log and listened to the sickening end. Clearly, Malcolm X wanted me dead.
Hate radio on steroids.
All must submit to Islam.
None may criticize Islam.
Dawkins is a tool.
He and Sam Harris finally came around to reject Islam in their complete rejection of ALL Religions thanks to Christopher Hitchens.
This, in my mind, is a small victory since it may allow others the freedom to actually “Compare” religions.
Then, much later, Bill Maher.