A US radio station invited Richard Dawkins to speak about his latest book, and then cancelled the ticketed event over his tweets about Islam.
The evolutionary biologist was due to discuss Science in the Soul: Collected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist at a benefit event for KPFA, a listener-funded station in Berkeley, California. Tickets were snapped up ahead of the anti-theist’s planned talk on 9 August – but KPFA cancelled the event on Thursday, claiming it had recently discovered that his comments about Islam had upset people.
“We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book…when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt – in his tweets and other comments on Islam – so many people,” KPFA told ticket buyers in an email.
“While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologise for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins’s views much earlier.”
Mr Dawkins, an avowed atheist who has criticised religion publicly for decades, has previously appeared at KPFA benefit events as recently as October 2015.
The Kenyan-born ethologist said he was “astonished” to be no-platformed by a station broadcasting in the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement, a student protest that took place at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) in 1965.
He published an open letter in response to the cancellation, which stated: “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.
“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.”
(Wilford, “Radio station cancels Richard Dawkins appearance over Islam tweets,” [The UK] Independent, 7/22/17).
[In the July 24 edition of The Guardian (UK) paper, Dawkins wrote the following: “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?” In Dawkins’ opposition to all religions, he seems to have recognized some of their apparent evils. Nevertheless, his atheistic belief system has blinded him to the only hope for mankind: faith in Jesus Christ.]