A progressive radio station in Berkeley, California has cancelled a scheduled appearance by Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist and atheist, because he has previously criticized fundamentalist Islam as oppressive to women and generally violent.
The appearance by Dawkins had been scheduled for Aug. 9 at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley.
— Richard Dawkins FDN (@rdfrs) July 12, 2017
The radio station, KPFA, had invited Dawkins to the United Church of Christ-affiliated church to discuss his new latest book, “Science in the Soul: Collected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist.”
KPFA had described the 76-year-old British scientist’s new book as “excellent,” according to Berkeleyside, a local news website.
However, on Thursday, the listener-funded progressive radio station — 94.1 on your FM dial — rescinded its speaking invitation to Dawkins because of some tweets and statements the atheist scientist has issued which have been critical of Muslims he describes as militant and radical.
“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,” KPFA told ticket buyers in the email.
“KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech,” the email also said. “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.”
University of Chicago evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne published the email and said KPFA sent it without ever informing Dawkins that was no longer invited to speak.
Coyne called the cancellation “a terrible blow for free speech.”
“I’m sure that some of the Perpetually Offended, with perhaps Muslims among them, complained to the radio station, and KPFA caved,” Coyne charged.
When Dawkins found out his speech had been canceled, the militant atheist fired back with a statement of his own.
“The idea that I have engaged in abusive speech against Islam is preposterous, which even the most rudimentary fact-checking by KPFA would have made clear,” Dawkins said in a statement released on Friday by the Center for Inquiry.
“I have indeed strongly condemned the misogyny, homophobia, and violence of Islamism, of which Muslims — particularly Muslim women — are the prime victims. I make no apologies for denouncing those oppressive cruelties, and I will continue to do so,” Dawkins also said.
The Center for Inquiry is an organization that promotes secular education organization. Dawkins is on its board of directors.
Richard Dawkins’s letter to KPFA: “Why didn’t you check your facts…before summarily cancelling my event?”: https://t.co/kwafcO1QKj
— Center for Inquiry (@center4inquiry) July 21, 2017
In an open letter to KPFA published on Friday, Dawkins vented further about the cancellation of his talk.
“I used to love your station when I lived in Berkeley for two years, shortly after that beloved place had become the iconic home of free speech,” Dawkins begins his “Dear KPFA” missive.
I have called IslamISM ‘vile’ but surely you, of all people, understand that Islamism is not the same as Islam. I have criticised the ridiculous pseudoscientific claims made by Islamic apologists (‘the sun sets in a marsh’ etc), and the opposition of Islamic ‘scholars’ to evolution and other scientific truths. I have criticised the appalling misogyny and homophobia of Islam, I have criticised the murdering of apostates for no crime other than their disbelief. Far from attacking Muslims, I understand — as perhaps you do not — that Muslims themselves are the prime victims of the oppressive cruelties of Islamism, especially Muslim women.
Dawkins has criticized other religions in addition to fundamentalist Islam. Basically, he thinks all religions including Christianity are dumb.
In a 2006 book entitled “The God Delusion,” Dawkins “demonstrates the supreme improbability of a supreme being” and “shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children.”
Dawkins spoke about “The God Delusion” in Berkeley, notes Berkeleyside.
A 2016 book co-authored by Dawkins is entitled “God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.”
In a November 2015 appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Dawkins charged that Islam frequently receives a “free pass” on the political left because liberals are afraid they will be called politically incorrect or racist if they criticize the religion.
“It’s the one exception — liberal about everything but this one exception. It’s their culture,” Dawkins told Maher, according to The Express, a British tabloid.
“Well, to hell with their culture.”
The website of the First Congregational Church of Berkeley current features an announcement for “Lesbian Comics in Church” — “an evening of comedy by lesbian performers.”