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Free Speech Means Allowing All Ideas A Place In Our Society

"It is only then that we can have thoughtful, rational conversation and debate to determine a universal truth that we can all live by."

07/28/2017 11:53 EDT | Updated 07/28/2017 11:54 EDT

The regressive left's war on free speech has continued. Last week, internationally acclaimed evolutionary biologist and writer Richard Dawkins was de-platformed at an event in Berkeley, Calif. by radio station KPFA.

Dawkins was due to appear at a public event held by the radio station to discuss his work and his new book "Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist" when the event was unexpectedly cancelled by the radio station. This happened in the same week that Dawkins' 1976 book "The Selfish Gene" topped the Royal Society's poll as "the most inspiring science book of all time," topping a list which included Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" and Darwin's "The Origin of Species".

The reason KPFA disinvited Dawkins and cancelled the event? Dawkins' "abusive speech" against Islam. In an email to ticket buyers of the event, they issued the following statement: "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".

Greg Blatchford/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
Professor Richard Dawkins talks to Professor Peter Atkins at Oxford University's Sheldonian Theatre on October 22, 2015 in Oxford, England.

This is just another in a string of similar de-platformings that have occurred in the U.S. The far left have continued in a similar vein to seek to destroy our right to free speech and to not hear thoughts and rationality that differ from theirs. It is a highly dangerous phenomenon which is perpetuated by a misled ideology, which in the end, will lead to a society in which those who truly need to be heard are shut down and denied the right to speak. I wanted to take some time to examine this particular recent Dawkins case, and seek to explain just how nonsensical KPFA's rationale was here.

Richard Dawkins has been a vocal critic of religions for decades. His most celebrated work in this area being his bestselling 2006 book "The God Delusion" in which he states "Faith can be very very dangerous, and deliberately to implant it into the vulnerable mind of an innocent child is a grievous wrong."

He has always been critical of all religious indoctrination, whether it come from a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or other background. He has been an undeniable brave champion of free and rational thinking in a society which has always been afraid to challenge ancient ideas and mythologies.

Free speech is the only way in which we can decipher universal truth and wisdom in this chaotic and uncertain world.

Similarly, he has for at least a decade, been a vocal critic of Islam. Stating in a video from six years ago, he says "I'm pessimistic about the Islamic world. I regard Islam as one of the great evils of the world... There is a belief that every word of the Quran is literally true, and there's a kind of close mindedness there which I think is less present than in the former Christendom."

Clearly then, it is no secret that Dawkins has been openly critical of Islam. This is nothing new. Did KPFA not know this? One of many reasons I have always admired Richard Dawkins is that he has been very consistent in his opinions, his writings and his arguments. It is therefore baffling as to why KPFA only last minute decided that perhaps his views were too strong for them.

And why do they think this? As Sam Harris has said, "we have to be able to criticize bad ideas."
​​​​​Islam is an idea. It is not a race. It is not a specific type of person. It is an idea. You can choose to believe it's doctrine, or you can choose not to. How can you be "abusive" towards an idea? This makes absolutely no rational sense! Dawkins has never been critical of individuals who are Muslim. He has, however been critical of Islam.

It is entirely regressive to start branding people as being abusive towards ideas. Will it get to the point where we shouldn't criticize socialism, conservatism, or, I don't know, people who don't believe that McDonald's is bad for you?

It is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this story. All ideas should be susceptible to scrutiny regardless of their place in society. It is only then that we can have thoughtful, rational conversation and debate to determine a universal truth that we can all live by.

In an open letter to the station from Dawkins, he makes another vital point: "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 criticize Christianity but not Islam?" Indeed, this goes back to my ongoing belief that the far left are no longer concerned with equality, but categorization and identitarianism. They don't believe that all people, or all religions are equal, because of their ideological desire to appear to be seen to be doing the right thing and standing up for the victim. It is a perverse and misguided belief which I have problems totally understanding. It is not rational.

I sincerely hope that this event is not a sign of more to come. We have to be open to listening to ideas of all, particularly those whose life-long body of work speaks for itself. Those on the far left need to seriously examine whether their intentions match their actions. Free speech is the only way in which we can decipher universal truth and wisdom in this chaotic and uncertain world. So, KPFA... stop it.

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