Friday, October 12, 2007

For anyone who argued that inviting Ahmadinejad was about academic freedom and freedom of speech. Well, here is where the "Freedom of Speech" bangwagon seems to be heading to:

The Oxford Union debating society came under fire last night after its president said he had approached Holocaust denier David Irving, British National party chairman Nick Griffin and the Belarussian dictator, Alexander Lukoshenko, to speak at forthcoming events.

Luke Tryl said he had asked Mr Irving and Mr Griffin to speak at the union's Free Speech Forum, due to take place at the end of November, adding that Mr Lukoshenko, the Belarussian president, accused of a string of human rights abuses, had been approached to address students later in the term."The Oxford Union is famous for is commitment to free speech and although I do think these people have awful and abhorrent views I do think Oxford students are intelligent enough to challenge and ridicule them," he told the Guardian, adding that no formal decision on who would be invited had been made.

However, the move drew widespread criticism from student groups and anti-fascist campaigners.Since when does a commitment to free speech mean that we should provide a platform for horrible individuals with terrible records to speak? Why invite a brutal dictator just to ridicule him? Why not give a platform instead to someone in the opposition to Lukshenko and let that speaker enlighten the audience about the situation in Belarussia instead of invite the dictator to come lie to them. Of course, he can't come to the Oxford Union because the British won't let him in the country.But David Irving might come. Here's what Irving said recently about the Holocaust.

Mr Irving, who told the Guardian last month that he was launching a comeback speaking tour of the UK, denied that he had received any formal approach from the Oxford Union but added that he would like to speak to the students there.

"I have had many invitations to speak there in the past but they normally get withdrawn after threats of violence and intimidation. It is a pity because I think there are a lot of students who would like to hear what I have to say."

Last month the discredited historian told the Guardian that he believed the Jews were responsible for what happened to them during the second world war and that the "Jewish problem" was at the root of most of the wars of the last 100 years.Sadly, there probably are some students who would like to hear what Irving has to say. The question is why the Oxford Union has to bring them together. I guess Ahmadinejad was busy for that day.

(H/T: Bestey's Page)

More later.

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