The Festival of Dangerous Ideas in Sydney has canceled a talk by an Islamist from Hizb ut-Tahrir titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’.
Cue outrage; what about free speech?!
Is that a legitimate worry? Is it bad for free speech to not host a talk titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’?
Sydney-based Muslim speaker Uthman Badar, from Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir, was to give the speech, titled ‘Honour Killings Are Morally Justified’ at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas in August.
However, the event sparked an angry response on social media and talkback radio, and drew strong condemnation from two New South Wales Government ministers.
The state’s Minister for Women, Pru Goward, and the Minister for Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, were both fiercely critical.
I take phrases like “dangerous ideas” to be somewhat non-literal. I don’t think of them as being about how to murder people, how to fly planes into tall buildings, how to poison a city’s water supply, that kind of thing.
Last night, festival co-curator Simon Longstaff said the event had been withdrawn due to the level of public anger.
“The justification for removing it was simply the level of public outrage,” he said.
“We took the view that it was so strong and overwhelming that the ability of the speaker to even open up the question for some discussion and reflection would be impossible.
“It would be unfair for the speaker to put them in a situation where they wouldn’t get a word out without finding all of condemnation.”
Well, really, what would you expect? He’s saying Murder is Morally Justified. What’s to discuss and reflect on? Why is there a need for discussion and reflection on the claim that honor killing is morally justified? Is assault morally justified? Is rape morally justified? Is flogging morally justified? Some questions should be closed, apart from philosophy seminars.
In a Facebook post, Mr Badar defended himself, saying the suggestion he would advocate for honour killings is ludicrous.
He said he wanted to explore the issue and described the public outcry as Islamophobia.
Wrong title then? A mix-up at the printer?
Maybe so; Badar says he didn’t choose the title, although he accepted it.
The people who run the Festival Ideas aren’t going to be subject to honor killing; they shouldn’t play games with it.