Berkeley is at it again - and it seems they’re no longer just targeting conservative speakers. KPFA, a radio station based in the California city, has recently canceled an event with evolutionary biologist and leading rationalist thinker Richard Dawkins.
In a letter to ticket holders, KPFA accused Dawkins of posting “abusive” speech online about Islam, and told its listeners it simply cannot endorse hurtful speech or those who spew it. [Emphasis mine].
Dear Richard Dawkins event ticket buyers,
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 didn’t 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.
KPFA Radio 94.1 FM
KPFA is acting as if it didn’t know who they were getting when they created the event, claiming it invited Dawkins on solely to discuss his new book, “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.” However, anyone who knows Dawkins, knows he is a harsh critic of all religions. Hell, he’s one of the Four Horsemen of New Atheism; one of his most popular books is “The God Delusion.”
And while Dawkins tweets may be highly critical of Islam, they hardly can be called “abusive” or cross the line into hate speech.
Many of these piteous women went VOLUNTARILY! Spectacularly naive, but that’s what religious faith does to you https://t.co/MKHnxVOzFv— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) July 17, 2017
In an open letter to the Berkeley radio station, Dawkins rightfully denies posting any “abusive” material to his social media accounts, and calls out KPFA for failing to “check their facts” before canceling the 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,” Dawkins writes. “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…”
Dawkins goes on to call out the radio station for its blatant hypocrisy when it comes to criticizing religion.
“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?” he asks. “Why is it fine to criticise Christianity but not Islam?”
Great question. Of course, KPFA failed to give an answer.
Many others were quick to lambaste the radio station for being intolerant of other viewpoints and too afraid to host a controversial figure.
In fact, one of Dawkins fellow Horsemen was more than happy to call KPFA “a Know-nothing Pathetic Fraidy-cat.”
Shame on these Know-nothing Pathetic Fraidy-cat, um, folks!— Daniel Dennett (@danieldennett) July 21, 2017
Richard Dawkins Event CANCELED https://t.co/STT0qJQnD6
The Center for Inquiry, which merged with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science in 2016, also slammed the radio station.
Cancellation of Richard Dawkins Berkeley Event Baseless and Unconscionable, Says Center for Inquiry https://t.co/r7UZ4IpYsI— Center for Inquiry (@center4inquiry) July 21, 2017
KPFA was quick to tweet out a response, once again saying it cannot endorse anyone who uses "hateful language."
KPFA exercises its free speech right not to participate with anyone who uses hateful language against a community already under attack. https://t.co/nTC1LYQKiG— KPFA Radio (@kpfa) July 21, 2017
Sadly, this increased intolerance of differing opinions and the overuse of the brand “hate speech” seems to be a growing trend in the Northern California city.
Everyone remembers when UC Berkeley students rioted in the streets and trashed their own campus after it was announced that now former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopolous would be coming to the university. Yiannopolous was forced to cancel the event, citing safety concerns.
A few months later, conservative writer and lecturer David Horowitz’s speech was also axed after the university refused to give him an on-campus venue and imposed a series of ridiculous restrictions on his visit.
The same month, conservatives at Berkeley made an attempt to bring Ann Coulter to campus. However, her event, like Milo’s, was canceled due to security concerns after students became violent while protesting her upcoming presence.
Berkeley's assault on free speech continued last week when the university tried blocking the Berkeley College Republicans’ latest plan to bring conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to campus, claiming they did not have a venue to host the event. Thankfully, after much public outrage, the university (surprisingly) reversed its decision and announced it will be welcoming Shapiro to Berkeley in September, even it that means it has to foot the bill.
You’d think those in Berkeley would learn by now that censoring speakers, whether on the Right or the Left, is simply not a good look. And that free speech absolutists will be more than happy to call them out for it.