The woman’s right to a platform

Nasty. Nasty, nasty, nasty. People are having themselves a high old time putting that mouthy Kate Smurthwaite in her place. Rupert Myers at the Telegraph is in there with a shiv – pretending her show was canceled because no one wanted to go, which is not the case.

When political activist Kate Smurthwaite had her comedy gig cancelled at Goldsmith’s College yesterday she was quick out of the blocks to tweet and blog about the removal of her show.

As an apparent martyr to free speech her plight quickly attracted reports by the BBC, the Huffington Post and others.

At least the New Statesman’s write-up asked the question “Is this newsworthy? On its own, no, not really”, before going on to outline the internet’s fomenting outrage at the decision to kill the event.

Numbers of students in Universities around the country have become intolerant of free speech, but this incident looks more like a claim for publicity than a good example of that problem.

Despite having tickets on sale for weeks, Smurthwaite’s show had sold eight.

There’s the shiv. The show was for the comedy and feminist societies, whose members got in free. He left that part out. Nasty.

Smurthwaite successfully pivoted this cancellation into a media and internet event which I am now helping to further publicise. Kate’s show will be at the Leicester Comedy Festival. I’m taking a punt here but I expect there are still some tickets left.

What was she supposed to do? Say nothing? Take it like a lamb? Nod and smile and thank the president for deciding to cancel her show? Why shouldn’t she tweet and blog about it? Her gig was canceled at the last minute for the flimsiest (and least coherent) of reasons – why would she do anything other than object?

The publicity we can all cheer – it’s impressively enterprising. My concern is that by portraying what happened as a genuine example of the imperilling of free speech, the media and the internet once again confuse a significant issue.

No picketers have been found. No vote was taken to oppose the woman’s right to a platform.

Says the man, from a very great height.



  1. sonofrojblake says

    No picketers have been found. No vote was taken to oppose the woman’s right to a platform.

    Well, yes – AND THAT’S THE STORY. The cancellation was apparently by fiat, post-rationalised as a concern for “safety”/”safe space”.

    It’s a bit bizarre trying to claim “there’s no story here”, then ending with the precise reason why there IS.

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