The LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society issued a statement yesterday.
It starts with thanks for support from various groups (including One Law for All) and a chronology of the exciting events of the last couple of weeks, the first being an invitation from the SU to come in for a chat.
In the meeting, the LSESU advanced that we were not providing a safe space for Muslim students to interact, as the pictures on our Facebook page were offending Muslims.
But again – why is an Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society expected to provide a safe space for Muslim students to interact? Why is that an issue? Are all student societies expected to provide a safe space for their own opposites to interact? Wouldn’t such an expectation render all student societies utterly meaningless and void? Or is it only the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society that is expected to do that? But in that case…why the fuck?
On the 25th the SU clarified this point somewhat:
When activity comes under the banner of the Student’s Union it should be open to all members…….. The images which are posted there present a clear barrier to entry for a large number of students at LSE……. the cartoons has caused not only reflects negatively on the LSE SU brand but more importantly has caused significance offence to our members.
So there we have the fundamental confusion: the confusion of being open with having no “barriers” when barriers are understood as “anything some students might dislike.” The activity is open to all members, but that doesn’t require it to be attractive to all members. At that rate there could be no musical society, because some people dislike music; there could be no socialist society, because socialism would “present a clear barrier” to free-market libertarians; there could be no feminist society, for reasons which there’s no need to spell out.
ASH made the same point crisply in response to the SU:
Disagreeing and even being offended by some of the contents of a social space do not represent a barrier to entry.
It must be dispiriting to be at university with people who have to be told that.
We asked the SU to “cite the relevant literature that shows conclusively that “Muslim students cannot look at pictures of the prophet Muhammad”.” No answers received.
The LSESU Socialist Workers Society posted the posters on campus that included the following statement:
“The Atheist Society’s efforts to publish inflammatory “satirical” cartoons in a deliberate attempt to offend Muslims serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism.”
Budding George Galloways, all of them.
…we have now changed the name of the Facebook group back to “LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society”.
During the two weeks of the on-going investigation, the LSESU has not been able to justify their request to remove the ‘Jesus and Mo’ cartoons from our website and their request to change the name of our Facebook group with reference to the LSESU constitution or bye-laws.
The SU answered our letter, but was still unable to state explicitly the effective and binding bye-laws on which their request has been based. Therefore, we are back to our old name, and will stay with our name until the SU can prove to us that we are in violation of any of their regulations or bye-laws.
We await further developments.