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Jan 16 2012

They will take more consideration

The UCL Union has a statement on its attempt to meddle with the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society’s Facebook page.

UCLU (the representative body of UCL students) has a duty to foster and encourage freedom of expression among our members, ensure diversity of our membership is recognised[,] and pursue equal opportunities for our members.

Following a number of complaints from UCL students, UCLU requested that the UCLU Atheist, Secularist & Humanist Society (UCLU ASH) take down a cartoon from a Facebook event page advertising one of the society’s regular social events.

The society was asked to remove the image because UCLU aims to foster good relations between different groups of students and create a safe environment where all students can benefit from societies regardless of their religious or other beliefs. UCLU has a duty to ensure students are not harassed because of a characteristic which may make them appear different to others, including but not limited to race, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.

Society Presidents take responsibility for their own publicity, and it is not vetted by UCLU prior to distribution. They are provided with equality training prior to running a society, to help them understand the balance between freedom of expression and cultural sensitivity.

The event in question has now passed and the society has agreed that they will take more consideration when drawing up publicity for future events.

That’s a horrible document. Nobody was being harassed because of the existence of that cartoon on that page. If harassment is defined that broadly then nobody can say anything.

The sentence about “equality training” that helps society presidents “understand the balance between freedom of expression and cultural sensitivity” makes me want to lose my lunch.

The smug satisfaction of “they will take more consideration” makes me want to shout at least three rude words.

 

 

21 comments

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  1. 1
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    UCLU has a duty to ensure students are not harassed because of a characteristic which may make them appear different to others, including but not limited to race, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.

    It is outrageous for them to suggest that using this comic constituted harassment of anyone. I want them to try to justify that insinuation with a reasoned argument.

    The event in question has now passed and the society has agreed that they will take more consideration when drawing up publicity for future events.

    I hope they mean by that that every event will be advertised with words or graphics equally or more critical and mocking of religious beliefs.

  2. 2
    Irène Delse, on dry land among seabirds

    “UCLU aims to foster good relations between different groups of students and create a safe environment where all students can benefit from societies regardless of their religious or other beliefs.”

    Translation: UCLU refuses to even consider all students groups may not have the same definition of what constitutes a “safe environment”. For religious zealots, it means “never having to confront a dissenting opinion”. Trying to “foster good relations” between this kind of group and the others is an exercise in denialism. The UCLU might as well try to request members of a workers union to stop being rude to capitalists.

  3. 3
    'Tis Himself

    “Good relations” means the goddists can whine whenever the atheists stick their heads out of the closet.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    Two great comments! Our work is done here.

  5. 5
    piero

    What a shameful, bland piece of blather. Surely some of these union members will undoubtedly become politicians, and they’ll keep honing their skill at spouting flaccid statements.

    Way to go, UCL. Those are the students you will be guilty of inflicting upon the population when they get their ill-deserved degreees.

  6. 6
    evilDoug

    If I were to “take more consideration” I might just doctor a J&M a bit – erase Mo’s mustache and convert his unibrow to two separate eyebrows. But then, I’m evil.

    “… race, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.”
    Well, the Muslim group might manage a score of 2 out of 5 – they don’t seem to have any broad probems with race or nationality.

  7. 7
    Greg Tingey

    The thing that should really worry anyone with any knowledge of history, is that this is happening at UCL.
    “The godless college”
    My father was proud of his UCL degree (1934) and of the college’s title.
    That they should have sunk to this pathetic grovelling to a loudmouthed special-interest group is not just a gross injustice, it’s also very sad.

    What would Bentham have said?

  8. 8
    dirigible

    How does religion make people look different?

    Is there some trick I’ve been missing?

    And what a slimy failure to justify the harassment, discrimination against and censorship of atheists that document is.

  9. 9
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    So, will this be applied to the religious groups as well?
    The students sympathetic with the UCLU ASH should start monitoring everything the theists say closely and complain loudly.
    Lets see how serious they take their own guidelines when the situation is reversed.

  10. 10
    maureen.brian

    That is shameful. This is vicarage tea-party morality – they would prefer not to mention any personal imperfections or societal moral dilemmas, just in case one among their number (many thousands in this case) proves unequal to the task of actually thinking. And at a university!

    I had already written a rather kinder thought on UCL’s troubles on the other thread before I saw this. I repeat it here in order to withdraw it.

    ———————-
    Just a little background, which I know from living 3 miles down the road for years and trying to stay alert rather than from direct involvement.

    UCL, with its prestige and its central London location, may be the perfect target for campaigning Islamists or it may just be pure chance that the place has seen a variant of this scenario repeated at intervals over perhaps 20 years. I will not attempt to guess the cause but see Prof Steve Jones on the subject passim.

    The details vary but certain things stay constant – the initial complaint is made to someone who has given no previous thought to deciding whether bully or bullied, genuine and sincere offence or gamesmanship. Then it goes wider, all sorts of people go off in all known directions and after a great expenditure of energy someone with 3% more sense goes back to the questions of what actually happened, how bad was it really and does it mean UCL should completely change the way it operates.

    The answer to that last one is usually NO! but what the place does not yet seem to have mastered is a means of passing on its corporate learning to the still very young officials of student societies, of training them not to react at all until they have thought it through / taken advice.

    Clearly that is UCL’s task for 2012.

    ————————————–

    You do not deserve even that level of understanding, UCL. I take it that you’ll be hiding Jeremy Bentham in a cellar somewhere, now that you have abandoned his notion of a university equally open to all regardless of race, creed and political – nowhere did he say “as long as the people with more moderate ideas agree to shut up for the whole time they are here.”

    Again, shame.

  11. 11
    Eric MacDonald

    I had often wondered why Ayan Hirsi Ali is now working for a conservative think tank. I think I know the reason. Liberalism is now defunct. It’s been replaced by stupidity. A complaint by a religious nut is now considered a good reason to suppress freedom of speech and expression. Anything that offends someone’s sensibilities is harrassment. Islam has us just where it wants us, on our knees, suppliant and afraid. We need to begin developing a new liberal tradition — fast. Otherwise the freedoms we have known are just a dream of yesterday.

  12. 12
    ParticleMan

    I’ve not kept up with this story, so reading all the flap generated I searched for the original offending image. I bravely took a deep breath, and prepared myself for the horror I was about to endure. Then I clicked the link, and saw the picture. Really? That’s what this is all about. A cartoon picture of two men having a drink, who might appear vaguely like two generic historical figures from the ancient near east, of whom we have no actual pictures or drawings?

  13. 13
    ewanmacdonald

    Given England’s broad libel laws, I wonder if the claim that the cartoon uploader “harassed” anyone is actionable.

  14. 14
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    I had often wondered why Ayan Hirsi Ali is now working for a conservative think tank. I think I know the reason. Liberalism is now defunct. It’s been replaced by stupidity.

    Oh, of course. This union represents the entire liberal tradition. None of the people condemning this are liberals or left of liberalism.

  15. 15
    Ophelia Benson

    Excellent; I’m glad I’m not the only one who found that document appalling.

    Thanks to Mike Paynter for sending it to me.

  16. 16
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Excellent; I’m glad I’m not the only one who found that document appalling.

    I get angrier each time I read it.

    I hesitate to ask… Has the Harvard accommodationist crowd weighed in?

  17. 17
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    The society was asked to remove the image because UCLU aims to foster good relations between different groups of students and create a safe environment where all students can benefit from societies regardless of their religious or other beliefs. UCLU has a duty to ensure students are not harassed because of a characteristic which may make them appear different to others, including but not limited to race, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.

    You know, I was arguing yesterday that the complaints themselves shouldn’t automatically be characterized as harassment or bullying. But the Union’s pressure on this group in response to the complaint certainly does seem like harassment. Atheists are not in a safe environment if they can be bullied in this way for being openly irreligious.

  18. 18
    ewanmacdonald

    Harassment, like open-mindedness, seems to just be a phrase that means precisely what the goddists want it to mean.

  19. 19
    Ophelia Benson

    SC – quite – which is why I went back and forth with you a bit. You’re right that things shouldn’t be automatically characterized as anything – but by now we have a lot of experience of this particular type, so the characterization may be speedy (run down the list, check check check) without being automatic.

    Meanwhile – Rhys Morgan had the J and M image as his Facebook profile for a week, and then took it down. He’s been getting bullied at his 6th form college over it, and today the school said it would expel him unless he removed it altogether.

    It’s unfuckingbelievable.

  20. 20
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    You’re right that things shouldn’t be automatically characterized as anything – but by now we have a lot of experience of this particular type, so the characterization may be speedy (run down the list, check check check) without being automatic.

    Well, that discussion was about the complaints, about which we know pretty much nothing. I don’t think even illegitimate complaints in this context should automatically be viewed as harassment or bullying (like I said, I’d rather err on the side of having to deal with numerous illegitimate complaints than on the side of discouraging people in marginalized groups, who really do experience harassment and bullying, from making complaints).

    Now I’m talking about the actions of the Union, which is a separate thing. Their response should have been, “No, of course this comic doesn’t constitute harassment or bullying, and we fully support the group’s expressing their irreligious views.” Instead, they chose to try to bully and shame the group into self-censorship.

  21. 21
    Draken

    UCLU has a duty to ensure students are not harassed because of a characteristic which may make them appear different to others, including but not limited to race, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation.

    Arguably, many muslims are pretty good at appearing different even despite UCLU’s attempts to prevent this. Raising a ruckus for each minor conceived insult to their prophet is one such thing. Another is the muslim women going around with both a headscarf and fancy dress and make-up at the same time. You can hardly say they’re observing the sura on ‘not showing their adornments’; much rather, they’re shouting out “I’m a muslima and wish to be recognised as such”.

  1. 22
    “If I hear that anything is said against the holy Prophet Muhammad” | Butterflies and Wheels

    [...] and/or attending the meeting, so it was totes their fault.  Again, this is not about lacking cultural sensitivity or discrimination as the pathetic UCL Union thinks. It is not about racism and ‘Islamophobia’. [...]

  2. 23
    Worrying developments for freedom of expression in the UK « Skeptical Science

    [...] can read all about that on Butterflies and Wheels, here and here, which covers the latest developments at the time of [...]

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