Due to his past “abusive” remarks about Islam, a radio station in Berkeley, California, has canceled an event with renowned atheist Richard Dawkins.
Radio station KPFA was scheduled to host a discussion and book signing on August 9 featuring Dawkins, author of “Science in the Soul: Selected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.” According to The New York Times, the station sent an email to ticket holders informing them that they were canceling the event and issuing refunds due to Dawkins’ past criticisms of Islam.
“We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt — in his tweets and other comments on Islam — so many people,” read the email, which Dawkins later published on his website.
“KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech. While KPFA emphatically supports serious free speech, we do not support abusive speech. We apologize for not having had broader knowledge of Dawkins’ views much earlier.”
Dawkins responded to KPFA, calling its decision “truly astonishing” and hypocritical.
“You conspicuously did not quote a source when accusing me of ‘abusive speech,’” Dawkins wrote. “If you had consulted me, or if you had done even rudimentary fact-checking, you would have concluded that I have never used abusive speech against Islam. I have called IslamISM ‘vile’ but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam.
“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?” Dawkins asked. “Why is it fine to criticize Christianity but not Islam?”
In defending the radio station’s decision to cancel the Dawkins event, Quincy McCoy, KPFA’s general manager, said during a Friday broadcast, “We believe that it is our free speech right not to participate with anyone who uses hateful or hurtful language against a community that is already under attack.”
The station cited a tweet by Mr. Dawkins calling Islam “the greatest force for evil in the world today,” among other past statements.
UC Berkeley has been the site of recent political protests against President Donald Trump. The California university has also been in the news for not allowing conservative speakers to appear on campus.
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