A pair of journalists critical of modern feminism have been banned from a university event that, ironically, focuses on whether feminism is stifling modern free speech.
The University of Manchester Free Speech & Secular Society is scheduled to hold a public debate Oct. 15 titled “From Liberation to Censorship: Does Modern Feminism Have a Problem with Free Speech?” Initially, two journalists, Milo Yiannopoulos of Breitbart and Julie Bindel of the Guardian, were invited to speak at the debate. Both have since been barred from attending because their opinions are considered too offensive.
Bindel was the first to be banned, with the University of Manchester Students’ Union announcing Monday that her invitation had been blocked due to her attitude toward transgender people. While Bindel is herself a feminist and lesbian activist, she is also sharply critical of the transgendered and of gender reassignment surgery, attitudes the student union said violate their official safe space policy by undermining the “principles of liberation.”
“The Students’ Union has decided to deny this request based on Bindel’s views and comments towards trans people, which we believe could incite hatred towards and exclusion of our trans students,” the group said in a statement.
Yiannopoulos’ rejection followed Wednesday because his statements about feminism were considered too inflammatory. Yiannopoulos has appalled feminist activists by, among other things, denying the existence of “rape culture” and defending the GamerGate movement, an online movement over the past year that has bashed the influence of feminist activists on video games.
“We have been made aware of various comments lambasting rape survivors and trans* people, and as such we are concerned for the safety of our students on the topic of this event,” the Students’ Union said in a new statement Wednesday. “[Yiannopoulos] is a rape apologist and has repeatedly used derogatory and debasing ableist language when describing members of the trans* community.”
The student union’s women’s officer, Jess Lishak, made a post on Facebook (since deleted) that justified the bans in further detail, describing Bindel as a “famous transphobe” and Yiannopoulos as a “professional misogynist.”
One student at Manchester has launched a petition to allow the two to speak, which has more than 800 signatures. Meanwhile, Yiannopoulos suggested on Twitter that he is considering legal action, saying his description as a “rape apologist” was “highly actionable” (libel actions are substantially easier to bring in the U.K. than in the U.S.):
To those asking: yes, I’m considering my options regarding the defamatory “rape apologist” claim made by @ManchesterSU. Highly actionable.
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) October 7, 2015
Update, 5:44 PM: Yiannopoulos has deleted his tweet, and contacted The Daily Caller News Foundation to indicate that he was not seriously considering legal action.
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