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College Restricts PPS Event

Apr 26 2008 00:29
Ashley Brown
Senior College figures stepped in to ban external guests from last night's PPS event, and banned all recordings.
Extract from the Code of Practice under which restrictions were introduced

College authorities clamped down on last night's Political Philosophy Society event with the former Prime Minister of Malaysia at the last minute, leading to students from around the country having to cancel travel and accomodation plans, losing them money in the process.

PPS had advertised the event at other universities, and arranged both security and a video link to a neighbouring lecture theatre to cope with the numbers expected. However, following complaints received by the ICU President, the College Secretary Rodney Eastwood and Pro-Rector (Education) Prof Julia Buckingham stepped in to block the attendance of external guests, including students from other universities and George Galloway. In addition to this, College banned the use of recording devices so those who wished to attend will not be able to view a recording either. This move was supposedly in order to ensure it remained available to an "internal audience" only, by which Live! assumes College meant "to ensure no controversial footage makes it onto the Internet". A previous PPS event caused an international diplomatic incident.

Although Live! does not know the content of the complaints received by the ICU President, we believe they centered on the concerns raised in a Live! discussion thread - the chairman of the event was asked to ensure that the speakers remained "on topic" and avoid breaching race-relations legislation. Restrictions were put in place following consultation with the ICU President and the College's legal advisors, ironically under the College's Code of Practice for Free Speech - this guarantees free speech (within the law) to students, staff and visiting speakers, but also allows restrictions to apply to events (for example, the audience) to maintain "the safety and security" of speakers and guests.

The event appears to have been a great success despite the restrictions, and Live! wonders if anyone managed to secretly film it. Please get in touch.

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Discussion about “College Restricts PPS Event”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
1. Matt   
Apr 26 2008 09:20
 

"Racial hatred" -- why do we need a law restricting freedom of expression? It just pushes it underground. Do the government think people can't decide someone's a racist nutter for themselves?

Apr 27 2008 03:11
 

Chairing the Q&A on Friday with Dr Mahathir was one of the most fun things I have ever done at IC. 'twas great banter... what a legend!

But I think there are some serious issues that need to be sorted out now with regards to how IC treats its societies and how they function...

Apr 27 2008 03:13
 

PS. George wasn't happy! I told him all face to face!

Apr 27 2008 04:04
 

Ammar,

Congrats for the successful event. Wish I was there to see and hear the 'legend'. Now, can somebody (if theres anybody who managed to record the proceeding secretly) upload it on the YouTube for the rest of us to see...thanks a million.

Apr 28 2008 02:22
 

Yet another Islamic bigot allowed to speak at college. The scandal is NOT that they banned external people but that he was allowed at all. Its laughable that people who would seek to ban films- (eg Fitna), who repress women, destroy civilisations and whose history is filled with violence piracy and murder seek to "defend free speech"? Please.... what free speech do you have in any of the 56 Islamic dicatorships? What achievements has Islam made in the past 1000 years- save war?

Am I allowed to question its prophet without a death threat-ask Salman Rushdie- whose book was FICTION!!!

Imperial is a centre for science and learning not backward cults and superstitions. Only by having a tolerant modern enviroment will progress flourish

, inviting fascists to college like the Malaysian dictator- or apologists for tyrants- I refer to Saddams buddy- is not going to do anything to further understanding. I wonder if this rag will accept my free speech and publish this?

Apr 28 2008 09:26
 

so....

you just spoke ignorant, prejudiced bulls**t.

and you want your right to free speech respected.

but people who you think are ignorant and prejudiced and speak bulls**t shouldn't enjoy the same right that you claim.

in short george you're a c**t. imperial IS a tolerant modern environment, your comments are directly in contradiction to such an environment.

Apr 28 2008 10:19
 

The comment above oproves my point exactly. The type of illiterate thugs who can only swear and curse are the defenderrs of Islamic dictators like the malaysian despot. He says that I am ignorant- Oh Really? How exactly? Can you disprove ANYTHING I have said? what achievements can you point to? Is the Taleban a sign of progress? Is Cave Dwelling an ideal to be upheld? we can see how tolerant an environment Imperial is becoming when one is threatened and abused when one dares quaestion these modern day fascists.

8. Huh?   
Apr 28 2008 12:13
 

So George, let's get this straight - are you saying the PPS (or indeed Imperial College in general) shouldn't be allowed to invite Muslim speakers? And this is both tolerant and modern?

Apr 28 2008 12:49
 

george you are the modern day fascist

Apr 28 2008 12:59
 

Hm, I posted this on another thread but it's probably more relevant here.

I think really when hosting such a controversial event, it's really the PPS' fault for not discussing this with college. When you expect large numbers of non students with speakers that could well incite heated debate, at worst anger or violence, someone up the chain of command is bound to read the riot act. I don't know they're expressing so much regret- it's their own fault. Maybe a ticketing arrangement would have been better?

I love free speech, but quite frankly, as a medic I have to use SAF and live around the college. I'd prefer it safe and secure with or without free speech.

As for the whole "racist" issue, I agree that one comment shouldn't preclude someone from speaking again. But this will bring problems if this courtesy isn't extended continuously and without fear or favour...and judging by previous last minute swap arounds of lineups to get the biggest crowds, I can't see this happening

Apr 29 2008 12:29
 

To "huh?" do you study at Imperial? If so then there really is a problem with admissions criteria. Are you incapable of reading what George said or are you purposely playing naive. He never said- as far as I can see- that no muslims can be invited - so where do you get of saying that he did. looking at poster 9- again worries me if that girl is an imperial student, I mean is she SOOO incapable of adressing anyof the points george makes that she has to reuce herself to childish slants- perhps you would like George to reply" I'm not you are"- what are we still in nursery school?

As a woman, born to Islamic parents but who accepts modernity and loves freedom and the liberal democracy of the West I agree totally with George. Terrorists or their mouth pieces like Azzam Tamimi or fascist dictators like the Malaysian ex-PM have no place at Imperial or anywhere else. I dont belive that freedom of speech extends to those who advocate violence,nysogeny, racism, anti-semitism and whose main victims are actually muslims themselves who have to live under such evil dictators.

As to George Galloway, well the man is a joke and I dont believe it is right to give him a platform but if some nutters want to hears his propaganda speeches let them do so as long as he deosnt advocate violence.

Apr 29 2008 14:59
 

" I dont belive that freedom of speech extends to those who advocate violence,nysogeny, racism, anti-semitism and whose main victims are actually muslims themselves who have to live under such evil dictators."

so if they don't have freedom of speech what does that mean? they aren't ever allowed to speak or they aren't allowed to publish or they aren't allowed to speak if they have a microphone in their hand?

advocate violence? does that mean terrorism or is some forms of violence ok and others not? john prescott punched a guy in the face, should he not be given freedom of speech.

mysogeny? rap songs should be banned i guess, and also most recent horror films

racism, what kind of racism? violent racism, casual racism? should chris rock not be allowed to make jokes?

anti-semitism? and who shall be the arbiter to distinguish between anti-semitism or anti-zionism or anti-israeli comments?

main victims are muslims? so you mean the british army and u.s. army and IDF?

freedom of speech is for everyone regardless of their views. if you don't want to listen go away, if you disagree with them, voice your opinion.

if you want to talk c**p on Live! again its ur right, luckily for you, and ironically considering your desire for restrictions, freedom of speech allows people devoid of rational thought to speak as well

Apr 29 2008 15:24
 

People should have freedom of speech, yes. But people who spew vile hatred should not have a platform in the UK, or at a learning establishment such as Imperial College.

To compare what John Prescott did to endorsing terrorism is laughable. A spur of the moment loss of temper is nothing compared to calling for the death of innocent people.

Mysogeny? The last time I checked rappers were not in charge of any countries. The same for Chris Rock.

My personal thoughts are that the PPS are either looking for controversy, or are extremely naive. This is the second time that they have invited extremists to speak at Imperial College. To describe Mahathir as a "legend" just shows their presidents immaturity.

Apr 29 2008 19:33
 

he is a legend. simply because as PM he made the most awesome choices for his country, steering it clear from the financial crisis of the east that a lot of other countries fell into. but also for his excellent leadership throughout his PM-ship.

moreover, he speaks out against the powers that be. again (repeating myself) i dont agree with every little thing he has said but the fact that he openly criticises countries like america, even when he was in power, is legendary.

PPS will invite whoever it wants to. part of the reason is to get festering stereotypes that people hold out into the open. part of the reason is to bring attention to social, ideological, cultural, political and philosophical issues. but the main reason is to do what it has done - get people thinking and talking.

Apr 29 2008 20:23
 

How about inviting a Muslim who doesn't think that the US is the great Satan?

And as for the Asian financial crisis, Malaysia suffered badly as well.

16. Huh?   
Apr 30 2008 11:23
 

"To "huh?" do you study at Imperial? If so then there really is a problem with admissions criteria."

Yes, I do. Admissions criteria are based on exam results, not politics. I prefer it that way personally.

"Are you incapable of reading what George said or are you purposely playing naive. He never said- as far as I can see- that no muslims can be invited - so where do you get of saying that he did."

"Yet another Islamic bigot allowed to speak at college. The scandal is NOT that they banned external people but that he was allowed at all. Its laughable that people who would seek to ban films- (eg Fitna), who repress women, destroy civilisations and whose history is filled with violence piracy and murder seek to "defend free speech"? Please.... what free speech do you have in any of the 56 Islamic dicatorships? What achievements has Islam made in the past 1000 years- save war?

Am I allowed to question its prophet without a death threat-ask Salman Rushdie- whose book was FICTION!!!

Imperial is a centre for science and learning not backward cults and superstitions."

OK, he didn't explicitly say "Ban Muslims from speaking at Imperial" but read it again and tell me, what else could you possibly infer from that?

Apr 30 2008 12:19
 

He implies that Isalmic fundamentalists and dicators like mahatir mohhamed are reprehensible and should not be invited, NOT all, some or even most mulsims so clear to me!

Secondly what he says is historically and factually true and perhaps muslims themselves should acknowledge this if they want a better future. When people question Islam- like the Dutch film director or Salman Rushdie then it is the role of Islamic scholars to either put up or shut up intellectually- but when writers and scholars and film directors are murdered or lives are threatened one can only be more persuaded to agree with these people in the first place. It seems that the Islamic fundamentalists know that they have nothing to disprove and so resort to violence.

The actions of the Islamic states is also treprehensible and it is true that the people who suffer most- but obviously not exclusively are their own people. If these dicatators spent money on education, industry and even food rather than, armies, terrorism and repression of their own people the lot of the Middle Eastern people would be a 1000 times better.

As an Imperial student you would be well advised to use your intellectual abilities to study both sides, to learn the truth and to not view everything from a tribal prism of "them and us" and understand that the success of the west is based upon its values, its respect for women, its toleration, its religious and political freedoms and that we all could benefit from it. If the arab world for example were to make peace with Israel, if Iran was to spend billions on education and feeding its masses and not builiding nuclear bombs ( a country with the second largest oil reserves does not need oil) and if people like Mahatir were shunned by muslims and non-muslims alike imagine what a better world it would be.

If women were given the freedom and equality they deserve- all of society would gain, just as if the muslim world turned away from terrorism and religious hatred and bigotry all, muslim, jew, christain atheist etc would benefit.

Think about it.

Apr 30 2008 14:03
 

PPS will invite whoever it wants, at the expense of everyone else's safety, security and not wanting their lecture halls invaded without proper support from college (or worse having College heavies making our lives difficult).

Thanks PPS! That'll help me with my degree!

19. Huh?   
Apr 30 2008 22:38
 

Yasmina, I do not come from an Islamic background, perhaps I should have made that clear from the outset. Therefore the remarks about "them" and "us" are irrelevant.

Assuming that George did indeed mean only Islamic fundamentalists and dictators should not be invited to speak at Imperial College (though I still think the 'backward cult' or 'superstition' was actually Islam itself), I still disagree with the notion that we should censor speech (unless it is illegal).

Here are a few reasons that come to mind quickly:

1. For security reasons, it's best to have the radical voices out in the open so they can be monitored. I'm sure most people will admit that there are extremists/radicals within the Muslim community. How are these views to be challenged by moderates such as yourself if they are not aired?

2. Having leaders/dictators from Muslim countries come to speak at western venues is often the only time they can be called to account. If you believe Mahathir is a fascist and disagree with his politics, you (and any member of the audience) had the chance to bring that up with him when he came to speak at Imperial College - an opportunity I'm sure dissenting Malaysians did/possibly still do not have. A good example would be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University.

3. Last but not least, freedom of speech is one of the defining features of western civilisation. Without it, true democracy cannot function. If we throw this away because of our fear of Islam/Muslims, we also inevitably throw away the right to criticise them for lack of free speech in their countries.

May 01 2008 09:31
 

Yes, Malaysia did suffer in the financial crisis. But not as badly as Thailand, Korea, Indonesia and those others affected. And we got out of the crisis much earlier than they did. Thanks to Mahathir's govnt courageous actions spurning the IMF's prescriptions, which looked suspiciously like an attempt to buy the country's assets at firesale prices.

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