You’d think that famed atheist Richard Dawkins speaking about his new book at a benefit hosted by a left-wing radio station in ultra-liberal Berkeley, California, would be a match made in, er, heaven.
After all, Dawkins has long been a darling of the left because he’s hammered religion relentlessly — and particularly when Christianity is his target.
Well, it seems the evolutionary biologist’s criticism of another religion has rubbed the folks at KPFA-FM the wrong way.
Station officials emailed ticket buyers telling them they canceled Dawkins’ Aug. 9 talk because “we didn’t know he had offended and hurt — in his tweets and other comments on Islam, so many people. KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech.
“While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech,” the email continued. “We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins’ views much earlier.”
Dawkins called Islam “the most evil religion in the world” in a speech last month.
Upon hearing the news that his talk was canceled, Dawkins fired back an open letter to KPFA. One of his questions gets right to the point: “I am known as a frequent critic of Christianity and have never been de-platformed for that. Why do you give Islam a free pass? Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”
He also asked the station why no one there checked the facts or even showed “common courtesy” by contacting him before canceling his event.
“I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims,” Dawkins said in a separate statement. “I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so.”
Others were similarly outraged at KPFA, which indicates its mission is “to promote cultural diversity and pluralistic community expression” and “to promote freedom of the press and serve as a forum for various viewpoints.”
“So you’re against someone trying to support those who fight bigotry?” Caleb Powell asked on Facebook. “You are against #FreeSpeech? You protect the rights of religious chauvinists, and you want to keep the world ignorant of alternative viewpoints, viewpoints that question religious supremacy, inequality of women, and suppression of homosexuals. As a result, KPFA Radio, you have become the oppressor of religious minorities, women, and homosexuals.”
“Yet you’re perfectly okay with anti-Semitism,” he continued. “You are either ignorant, cowardly, or complicit regarding the bigotry you support, and we suspect it’s a combination of all three.”
Kevin Jackson added: “Used to live in the area. Loved your station. Terribly disappointed in it now. You are the laughingstock of any critical thinking person for your actions. Terribly disappointed in you.”
“How about the criminalizing of the critics of Islam? How about the criminalizing of critics in general?” James Lauerman asked. “Free speech means just that, speech that is free. Free to be spoken. Free to be interpreted. Free for people to walk away from if they don’t want to hear it. Free speech is NOT for any one person, institution, organization or state to control or dictate.” He added, “You owe Mr. Dawkins an apology.”
Here’s Dawkins commenting on KPFA’s actions:
(H/T: Heat Street)