A couple of weeks ago I introduced you to my rutabaga, Mo.
I expressed my angst at traveling with Mo to England because lunatic student union "officials" at universities there apparently have a grave problem with offensive fruits and vegetables, as demonstrated by the experience of the University of Reading Atheist, Humanist & Secularist Society, which got in trouble for naming a pineapple Mohammed.
Most people — sensible people – recognized that the Reading University Student Union "officials" acted like jackasses. There was hope — a hope born from faith, not experience — that over time cooler heads would prevail.
Via Ophelia Benson, I see that the Reading University Student Union has sent the Reading Atheist, Humanist & Secularist Society a letter telling them that they shall be subjected to a "disciplinary panel" for wounding the fee-fees of those offended by a pineapple named Mohammed. The letter, copied from the AHS's Facebook page in case it disappears, with hyperlinks added by me, read as follows:
"22nd October 2012
Outcome of investigation
Further to the recent investigations into the events of Wednesday 3rd October 2012, I am contacting you with our decision.
Our investigation involved meeting with Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society, relevant RUSU members and staff members. I have attached a copy of the transcript of our meeting.
After investigation, we have come to the conclusion that the Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society acted in breach of the behavioural policy. It states; "Behaviour should be appropriate, RUSU member’s behaviour should be lawful and not cause offence to the local community or other RUSU members nor bring the reputation of the Union or University into disrepute”. I have attached the Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society’s signed copy of the behavioural policy.
Whether it was the Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society’s intention to cause offence has not been a consideration in the investigation. However, during our investigation, it became apparent that the Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society committee members became aware of offence being caused at some point during the afternoon of the 3rd October, yet took the decision to continue to display the item in question.
Our decision is that the Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society should be referred to a disciplinary panel.
You will be contacted by Richard Silcock (Chief Executive) or Ceri Jones (Vice President Democracy & Campaigns) with further details about the process and who will be invited to attend. Their email addresses are email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. Please find attached a copy of the disciplinary procedures.
This is the end of the involvement for myself and Kath Davey, Advice and Representation Manager.
Thank you for your co-operation during the investigation.
Here's the pusillanimous and unprincipled attitude of the RUSU and its sad ilk, offered in their own words: modern university students should not do anything to give offense, and if anyone claims offense, they should stop whatever they are doing immediately.
Kara Swift, Kath Davey, Richard Silcock, and Ceri Jones are heir to great ideas forged in mighty minds. They are heirs to Shaw: "all great truths begin as blasphemies." They are heirs to Burke: "The true danger is when liberty is nibbled away, for expedience, and by parts." They are heirs to Orwell: "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don’t want to hear.” But they reject that inheritance, choosing instead a life of petty bureaucratism and insipid, infantilizing "civility." Offered an opportunity to treat both speakers and listeners as adults, they treat them as children instead — children whose words must be curtailed until they do not offend even the most intolerant and overly sensitive child in the class.
A nation run by the Swifts, Daveys, Silcocks,and Joneses of the world will be weak and dull-witted and crabbed and pointless. Such people exist in every place; it's up to us whether we will put up with them or call them out. I prefer calling them out. So write about things like this. Help shine a light on the Swifts and Daveys and Silcocks and Joneses and their censorious twatwafflery. Write them and express yourself — in a civil and non-harassing manner, please.
Don't let idiocy like this go without comment, until it becomes the norm. Don't let your home become a place where the petty and the wicked use "blasphemy" and "offense" as an excuse to silence dissent. Fight back.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017