“We would not condone that at all”

The LSE Student Union Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society is not impressed by the way the SU has reacted to the gender segregation controversy. It explains on the SU website.

We are disappointed by the LSESU General Secretary Jay Stoll’s statement that the threat of forced gender segregation is “practically non-existent” (despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary) and his accusation that anti-segregation campaigners are ‘Islamophobic’. We also have good reason to distrust LSESU Community and Welfare Officer Anneessa Mahmood’s defence that only “voluntarily segregated” meetings are taking place on the LSE campus, and that there have been “no meetings at LSE where segregation has been enforced upon people“, even if she states that “as an organisation we would not condone that at all, we would break up the meeting.” [Read more…]

Designs by a wonderfully acid British cartoonist

Nick Cohen has a piece in the Observer on censorship at UK universities. He starts, as he should, with Chris and Abhishek.

On the morning of 3 October, Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis put on joke T-shirts, of the kind students wear the world over, and went to man the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society stall at the London School of Economics freshers’ fair. The bullying the university authorities visited upon them for the next 36 hours should provoke the most important free speech court case to hit British universities in years. It certainly deserves to. [Read more…]

Tragic failure of education

Via the LSESU ASH Facebook page and later via Alex Gabriel, a poster advertising an event put on by the LSE Socialist Worker Student Society. It reads:

Religious discrimination is irrefutably on the rise at LSE. Both the Atheist Society’s efforts to publish inflammatory “satirical” cartoons in a deliberate attempt to offend Muslims, and the ‘Nazi themed’ drinking games serve to highlight a festering undercurrent of racism. [Read more…]

“Open to all” does not mean “pleasing to all”

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.

Friday 20th

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.

January 30th

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.


A protection racket

The LSE student paper reports on the cartoons and free speech and “Islamophobia” and shut-uppery affair. It has details.

On 20th January, members of ASH Society met with Stanley Ellerby-English, Students’ Union Activities and Development Officer, who explained “the situation, the complaints that had been made and how the action of posting these cartoons was in breach of the Students’ Union policy on inclusion and the society’s constitution.” The society agreed to certain outcomes, though these have not been disclosed yet; however, the Students’ Union will “now be telling the society that they cannot continue these actions under the brand of the SU.” [Read more…]

One stop shopping

I’ve done a lot of posts about all this shut-uppery at UCL and Queen Mary U and LSE. I thought it might be useful to collect them all in one place.





















Emergency! Everybody to get from street

Great news! The LSE Students’ Union has another statement out. It’s another pip. It’s about an urgent EGM on Thursday – which I take to be an Emergency General Meeting (but perhaps it’s Electric, or Elegant, or Educational, or Elevated*). Emergency, emergency! Why I bet we can guess what that is…

In light of recent events there will be two anti-discrimination motions being discussed and debated at an EGM this week, these are: No to racism – no to Islamophobia! and Stop Anti-Semitism Now.

Guessed right. [Read more…]

It has come to our attention that you are wicked

The LSE Students’ Union has put out a statement on its quarrel with the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society. It’s a horrible little document.

On Monday 16th January it was brought to our attention via an official complaint by two students that the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society posted cartoons, published by the UCLU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, depicting the Prophet Mohammed and Jesus “sitting in a pub having a pint” on their society Facebook page. Upon hearing this, the sabbaticals officers of the LSESU ensured all evidence was collected and an emergency meeting with a member of the Students’ Union staff was called to discuss how to deal with the issue. During this time, we received over 40 separate official complaints from the student body, in addition to further information regarding more posts on the society Facebook page. [Read more…]