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Oct 03 2013

LSE: What happened to freedom of thought

Update: Here are some other LSE related posts:
Charges of Offence and Islamophobia are secular fatwas
LSE Student Union supports criticism of religion – just not Islam
The Right to offend is fundamental to free expression

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Chris Moos and Abishek Phandis of the London School of Economics Atheist Society are being threatened with being kicked out of the LSE Freshers’ Fair for – get this – wearing Jesus and Mo T-shirts. Around ten guards had surrounded them – it’s down to two now. They have been told to remove their T-shirts; if they refuse they will be physically removed from the university.

LSE: what ever happened to freedom of thought?

Yes, we know people have a “right” and “choice” to wear the burka (which is a mobile prison for women) but two LSE students don’t have a right to wear a T-Shirt poking fun at religion?

Listen up LSE: I am coming to your university for a debate on 15 October on the burka, and guess what I’m wearing? A Jesus and Mo T-Shirt. Now where can I get one of those quick?

By the way, below is the offending T-Shirt and also the latest Jesus and Mo comic. I’d suggest you look away or call the guards now if you are one of those pathetic people who is so afflicted with cultural relativism and multiculturalism that you can no longer tolerate anything that is deemed offensive to Islamists. I say Islamists because “Muslims” are people just like you and I (shock, horror). Some will be offended by Jesus and Mo; others will find it funny. Most will not threaten or kill for it. It’s the Islamists that do that and who silence criticism and dissent day in and day out and evidently also today with the help of LSE guards. Shameful don’t you think?

T-shirt 1T-shirt 2

2013-10-02 (1)

41 comments

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  1. 1
    leftwingfox

    Now where can I get one of those quick?

    If the website doesn’t sell them, you could probably do it cheaply at a copy shop like Kinko’s.

    1. 1.1
      Maryam Namazie

      I’ll have to do a burka related one so it fits with my debate topic.

      1. Nougueirets

        The “stock” T-shirt shows two Burka-clad individuals with the caption “Thank You for not provoking my uncontrollable lust”

      2. hendrik

        Why don’t you have it printed on your burka – and wear your burka with Jesus and Mo on the front …. and please have it filmed how the LSE deals with you.

  2. 2
    brucegee1962

    I’m thinking about this post and the stuff Ophelia has been doing about the Islamist thuggery at the University of Reading, in the context of the fight that was going on over at Pharyngula over PZ’s squabble with Pat Condell. Condell is pretty obviously a racist, but it also seems to me from stories like this as if the liberals in England are a lot more likely to try to quash criticism of Islam than their counterparts in the US. That makes the emergence of a strong (albeit crazy) counterweight like Condell seem more understandable. Obviously I don’t want to defend his tactics, but perhaps if there weren’t people like the ones described here suppressing free speech, the loonies like the EDF wouldn’t be able to get so much traction.

    1. 2.1
      Ophelia Benson

      But who needs Pat Condell when there are people like Maryam instead? We don’t need to accept a whiff of racism (or xenophobia or whatever one decides to call it) when there really are anti-racist secularists who oppose Islamism.

      1. Sarah AB

        Well – indeed …….

    2. 2.2
      Jan Suchanek

      “Condell is pretty obviously a racist”

      Which specific race does he discriminate against?

      1. Al Dente

        Anyone brown. Condell uses the Muslim dogwhistle but he’s like his buddies in the English Defence League, anti-anyone who isn’t white.

        1. Trofim

          Cor blimey! That’s a very handy fallacy for the intellectually dishonest! But, hang on . . . I’ve discovered that when people express their disapproval of the EDL, what they are doing is dogwhistling – they are in actual fact expressing their hatred of white people! Yippee for the dogwhistling card!

        2. cattters

          Anyone who points out the hypocrisy in the left wing nut jobs ideology is a racist/xenophobic/islamophobic/homophobic. Even though anyone who’s studied behavioral science and the semantic discipline knows how useless and meaningless those terms are, without those terms these groups would not be able to say anything, they would have no argument.

  3. 3
    Gilbert

    What a load of nonsense. That’s deliberately provocative, offensive and attention seeking. I’m all for freedom of expression but not when it’s intentionally seeking to hurt or offend, we may as well allow racism under ‘freedom of expressions’. I can’t tolerate such idiotic bigotry.

    As an agnostic observing from afar, it seems to be atheists seem to be the most rabid, fanatic of the lot, especially those who follow that academic charlatan Dawkins.

    1. 3.1
      Trofim

      Offensive? The sound of the word Islam is offensive to me – do I demand that it is not pronounced. Freedom is for the robust.
      Anyone who is offended can easily go to the feelings hospital, and have their delicate little brows stroked, and soothing words pronounced. If they can’t cope with the rough and tumble of life, they shouldn’t be living in a free country, albeit one, such as the UK, which is just hanging on to freedom.

    2. 3.2
      neils soloosk

      if you’re offended by a cartoon on a T-shirt you probably shouldn’t go out

    3. 3.3
      Sarah AB

      It is provocative and attention seeking – and, to some, offensive. But does that mean it should be banned from campus?

      1. Grant Thomas

        To be offended is your privilege, and nothing to do with others.

        As for the OP, to say that you’re ‘all for freedom of expression’ becomes contradicted by your first ‘but’ and ultimately doesn’t mean a thing (other that to you, obviously, but to be torn is, again, an individual’s problem, not ours – I hope you manage to untangle your competing philosophies before going mad.)

    4. 3.4
      J Cheval

      “I’m all for freedom of expression”

      Clearly that is a lie.

      1. Mike the Infidel

        In my experience, whenever someone says they’re “all for” something, it’s inevitably followed by a “but” and a statement about how they’re not for it at all.

    5. 3.5
      Jan Suchanek

      “As an agnostic observing from afar, it seems to be atheists seem to be the most rabid, fanatic of the lot”

      Yes, obviously wearing a T-shirt is far more fanatical than say, flying a plane into a building.

      1. Ant (@antallan)

        Or, say, cutting someone’s head off in a London street in broad daylight.

        /@

        1. Staff to three cats...

          Less than eight miles away from LSE as well, however as he was only an enlisted man and not an officer (and from an unfashionable line regiment) I dare say it would almost fall below the scope of interest of LSE/LSESU.

    6. 3.6
      Zain

      “As an agnostic observing from afar, it seems to be atheists seem to be the most rabid, fanatic of the lot, especially those who follow that academic charlatan Dawkins.”

      Uh, what? You say that as if Dawkins actually has his own group of parishioners. Why do you think that the t-shirt is provocative and offensive?

    7. 3.7
      sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

      I’m all for freedom of expression but not when it’s intentionally seeking to hurt or offend

      The koran says people who don’t accept its absolute truth are going to be sent to hell and horribly tortured for ever and that people whose sexual tastes differ from its author’s should be tortured to death. Rather more hurtful and offensive than laughing at its author, surely. Presumably you think it should be banned.

      that academic charlatan Dawkins.
      Is it the whole of academic biology, just evolutionary biology or Dawkins’s view of evolutionary biology that you think is “charlatanism”?

  4. 4
    Trofim

    Pat Condell a “racist”? Don’t talk tosh. He doesn’t like Islam, as don’t 90% of the population. “a strong albeit crazy counterweight”? You’re either off your head, a lefty or very young or all three. There is no-one but no-one who is more commonsense and genuine than Pat Condell. Having anything good to say about Islam – now that IS crazy.

    1. 4.1
      Stu

      I must second your comments. I’ve never heard him propose bigoted, racist or misogynistic views. But he talks down that group of evil doers in the UK who most certainly embody all those things.

  5. 5
    A Hermit

    I’d be less inclined to believe Condell is a racist if he ever expressed the same kind of contempt for the fascistic EDL as he does for the fascistic Islamists. He seems to be less concerned by that kind of thing when it comes from people who look like him…

    1. 5.1
      Trofim

      What if he was an ageist, or a weightist, a sexist, or a regionalist, or a heightist or any other of the infinite number of -ists,- would he still not be so bad as a racist?

    2. 5.2
      Stu

      It’s an error of judgement to attack the EDL like this. They may have some unsavory members but they are the only group of people doing anything to take a practical stand against the disgusting practices of Islam in the UK. If other groups and political parties did so the EDL would evaporate.

      1. A Hermit

        The EDL are fascist thugs. Much as I despise the Islamists I’m not about to turn around and embrace another pack of racist extremists in response to them. The enemy of my enemy is not my friend if he’s also an extremist lunatic.

        I’m happy to support Maryam Namazie and the Ex-Muslims and the Atheist Society and all the other non-fascist people who are standing up to the Islamists.

        1. Ron Murphy

          First you link Condell to EDL without any reason other than you don’t think he criticises them to the same extent as he does the Islamists. Irrespective of Condell’s views on the EDL you cannot deduce his views about the EDL fro the fact that he criticises Islamists. Is it not possible to focus on one target that you think most cause for concern?

          Then your next comment morphs the sentiment of the first into something that looks like, in the light of the first, that you are implying Condell does ‘turn round and embrace another pack of extremists’. Though you phrase it in terms of what you would not do, the implication seems to be that you think Condell does support the EDL, on the basis you not seeing him attack the EDL in the way he attacks Islamists.

          I criticise Islam, and Christianity, because I don’t like many aspects of religion. The EDL are not a religion so they don’t come onto my radar so much. But without me being explicit about what I think of the EDL you are unable to deduce what I think.

          But perhaps you have evidence of Condell either giving the EDL an easy pass where he has mentioned them, or perhaps actively supporting the EDL. If you have then those examples could be debated with some context.

  6. 6
    Josh Lord

    Why is it that religious people (and especially Muslims because of their vociferousness) get to play the hurt feelings card and thus censure any criticism or ridicule without much (or any) contestation? It’s not as though somebody wearing a T-shirt with depictions mocking conservative or liberal ideology would have been running any serious risk of expulsion. This taboo against criticising or ridiculing religion must be broken if we to work towards creating a more rational and ethical society. Nothing should be immune from criticism in the market place of ideas, LEAST of all ideologies that are massively consequential and shared by literally billions of people world-wide. LSE should be embarrassed that this has taken place on their campus and ought to be taking steps to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Also, when will these students be receiving a formal apology?

  7. 7
    Stuart Willard

    Really? Theists are expressing their attitudes, bigotries, graphic symbols and racism every day before our eyes and yet when an atheist expresses a view graphic or otherwise that dares to show his/her inherent belief that we do not need religion to express our inner truths we are told we are offending others. This is the essence of bigotry that allows all manner of oppressive cultures to develop, ignorantly supporting the freedom of some while using any warped excuse to decline the rights of others based purely on the logic that those emblems and prejudices inherent in religion (in this case) are in some way just normal expressions while opposing expressions are therefore anti this established norm and therefore offensive. Some of us find imposing religion on children itself offensive to humanity, its sad that agnostics turn a blind eye to that while trying to claim the moral high ground .

  8. 8
    Si

    http://www.jesusandmo.net/tag/burka/

  9. 9
    Stu

    This appears to be a fairly clear breach of Article 10 of the HRA 1998, Freedom of Expression. It should be challenged as such.

  10. 10
  11. 11
    timberwoof

    It is time for an experiment. Eight friends obtain six T-shirts: two with freethought messages; two with Christian messages; two with Islamist messages; and two from ThinkGeek (the control group). Try to make them about equally anti-something in a way that would irritate someone. Take a group photo, then visit the LSE at some appropriate lecture … don’t hang too obviously together. See who gets arrested or escorted away first.

    Then send photos and the resulting story to newspapers and here.

  12. 12
    Acleron

    The LSESU offends me, can I ask for it to be disbanded or does this offendedness thing only work one way?

  13. 13
    IncredulousMark

    Yet another reason to hold the religious in disdain.

  14. 14
    Richard L Rouledge

    I’m afraid that certain religious groups need to realise that absolutely nobody has the right to never be offended by anything.

  15. 15
    VivienneC

    As a feminist, I am upset by the sight of women shrouding themselves in black tents and curtailing their freedom because they believe that otherwise, they will deserve to be disrespected or even raped. But I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone else what they should wear. It’s my issue if I’m upset, not theirs. Similarly, if people want to wear T-shirts with slogans satirising religion, the pious need to deal with their own response, not impose it on everyone else

    But what really concerns me about the ‘Jesus & Mo’ T-shirt ban by the LSE, & similar repression by UCL, is that the universities which should be in the forefront of safeguarding intellectual freedom are kowtowing to this crude Islamist bullying. UCL was specifically founded as a haven for freethinkers. We cannot afford to let this pass unchallenged. The future freedom of our society, so hard won, so recently achieved, depends on our committed resistance.

  16. 16
    Martin Garthwaite

    I’m a graduate of the LSE and I am appalled that this situation was allowed to occur, how dare the school and particularly the student union who represent all students take such a harmless t-shirt so seriously, I would have told the guards “touch and that is assault” boom.

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