Richard got a lovely piece of news this week:
And then this came in (apparently you can critiicise religion all you want – except one religion!)
Subject: Notification for Richard Dawkins: Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist
KPFA Radio 94.1 FM
Statement from the Center for Inquiry: Cancellation of Richard Dawkins Berkeley Event Baseless and Unconscionable
The Center for Inquiry was stunned and deeply dismayed by the cancellation of an event with Prof. Richard Dawkins by the radio station KPFA in Berkeley, California. The station alleged without evidence that the world renowned evolutionary biologist had engaged in “abusive speech,” against Islam, a justification that CFI considers absurd. Prof. Dawkins is a renowned, responsible, and thoughtful critic of all religions, who KPFA had previously hosted in 2015, apparently undisturbed by Prof. Dawkins’ criticism of some of the tenets and ideas of Islam, Christianity, and other faiths.
“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.”
Prof. Dawkins—whose landmark book The Selfish Gene was just voted the most influential science book of all time in a poll by the Royal Society—was scheduled to speak on August 9 about his newest book, Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist, which KPFA itself called “excellent.” In a message to ticket holders, KPFA claimed the event had been booked when “we didn’t know [Dawkins] had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people.” They added, “While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech.”
“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 Trump’s 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.”
Letter from Jerry Coyne
Your cancellation of Dawkins’s talk was unconscionable. His speech has not been abusive towards Islam, but has involved criticism of religious dogma–and of all faiths. That is free speech, not “abusive” speech. All meaningful speech hurts some people’s feelings, but in this case there was no “abuse.” Can you point to any?
Your craven behavior towards this talk, and caving in to those who want to prevent others from hearing it, is unconscionable. How dare a radio station commit such a blatant violation of the First Amendment?
Shame on you.
Shame on these Know-nothing Pathetic Fraidy-cat, um, folks!
Richard Dawkins Event CANCELED https://t.co/STT0qJQnD6
Letter from Steven Pinker
As a longtime listener to KPFA, and a frequent guest on its programs, I was shocked to learn that your organization canceled a public event with Richard Dawkins because of alleged “abusive speech.” The decision is intolerant, ill-reasoned, and ignorant. Dawkins is one of the great thinkers of the 20<sup>th</sup> and 21<sup>st</sup> century. He has criticized doctrines of Islam, together with doctrines of other religions, but criticism is not “abuse.” As the activist Sarah Haider has pointed out, “Religions are just ideas and don’t have rights.” To criticize tenets of Islam is no more abusive than to criticize tenets of neoliberalism or the Republican Party platform.
People may get offended and hurt by honest criticism, but that cannot possibly be a justification for censoring the critic, or KPFA would be shut down because of all the people it has hurt and offended over the decades.
In making this decision you have handed a precious gift to the political right, who can say that left-leaning media outlets enforce mindless conformity to narrow dogma, and are no longer capable of thinking through basic intellectual distinctions.
I hope you will reconsider this decision and acknowledge the value of viewpoint diversity, free speech, and careful analysis of morally and politically fraught issues.
Johnstone Family Professor
Dept. of Psychology
Prof. Ramachandran denounces the cancellation of KPFA event.
“I strongly denounce the cancellation of this event. Dawkins is the most intellectually honest and courageous person i know. Whether or not you agree with all his views, you cannot question his integrity. He is, perhaps, the supreme rationalist of our age – reminds me of my boyhood heroes, PeterMedawar and Bertrand Russell .” –VS Ramachandran UCSD
Friendly Atheist responds to KPFA: “The reasons are worse than you think”
A few days ago, “progressive” radio station KPFA in Berkeley (California) canceled a previously scheduled event with Richard Dawkins because of his supposed “hurtful” and “abusive” speech toward Islam. Dawkins was going to talk about his new book called Science in the Soul, but once the radio station heard about his history, they pulled the plug on the reading.
The station was vague at the time about what exactly they were referring to, but now we know which comments by Dawkins led them to cancel the event.
According to the station’s own reporting of the controversy, which I can’t embed here, Dawkins (whom one critic says is an “Islamophobe”) once said on Twitter that “Islam is the greatest force for evil in the world today.”
Richard Dawkins’ Berkeley event cancelled for ‘Islamophobia’-BBC
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has denied Islamophobia after a US radio station cancelled his forthcoming speech.
The best-selling author had been due to address an event hosted by KPFA Radio in Berkeley, California, in August.
Organisers accused him of “abusive speech against Islam” when scrapping his appearance, but he argues his criticism was not directed at Islam.
He called on the station to review his past remarks and apologise.
Richard Dawkins Event Canceled Over Past Comments About Islam- New York Times
A public radio station in Berkeley, Calif., said it canceled a live discussion and book signing with the evolutionary biologist and noted atheist Richard Dawkins because of his past comments criticizing Islam.
Mr. Dawkins was to promote his new book, “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist,” before an audience of hundreds of paying ticket holders on Aug. 9. The event was also to be a fund-raiser for its host, the radio station KPFA.
The station sent an email to ticket holders on Thursday that praised the book but apologized for not having “broader knowledge” of his views much earlier. It added that Mr. Dawkins had hurt people with “his tweets and other comments on Islam.”
A Week of Reckoning- NY Magazine
Open Letter from Richard Dawkins
I used to love your station when I lived in Berkeley for two years, shortly after that beloved place had become the iconic home of free speech. I listened to KPFA almost every day during those years, and I regularly contributed to your fundraising drives, grateful for your objective reporting and humane commentary while I participated in the People’s Park and Vietnam war demonstrations. It was therefore a matter of personal sorrow to me to receive this morning your truly astonishing “justification” for de-platforming me.
My memory of KPFA is that you were unusually scrupulous about fact-checking. I especially admired your habit of always quoting sources. You conspicuously did not quote a source when accusing me of “abusive speech”. Why didn’t you check your facts – or at least have the common courtesy to alert me – before summarily cancelling my event? If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM “vile” but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (“the sun sets in a marsh” etc), and the opposition of Islamic “ scholars” to evolution and other scientific truths. I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand – as perhaps you do not – that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.
I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?
You say I use “abusive speech” about Islam. I would seriously – I mean it – like to hear what examples of my “abusive speech” you had in mind. When you fail to discover any, I presume you will issue a public apology, which I will of course accept in a spirit of gratitude for what KPFA once was. And could become again.