When asked during her confirmation hearing of January 17th as to whether she still believes in conversion therapy, Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary, side-stepped the allegation inherent in the question by claiming all students “no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe”.
It was Australian actor, author, and comedian extraordinaire, Barry Humphries (whose gifts to the world include the larger-than-life Dame Edna Everage, among others), who made the following pithy observation:
It is this shared sentiment – one of despair at the misapprehension of satire, its importance in calling out demagoguery and ills in general, and the ever-present possibility of its erosion in the face of popular obtuseness – that got me in a bit of a rage this week, on discovering the palliative efforts of an American academic in combatting public credulity. Relevant, particularly, in the wake of the muck-fest of misinformation that was the 2016 US presidential race. Continue reading →
On the sorry state of freedom of speech across UK university populations, and the worrying tendency (I’m not yet sure ‘trend’ would be appropriate) of censoring – whence the neologism ‘no-platforming’ – those with whose views students disagree.
In the words of Noam Chomsky, ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all’.
Well, the no-platforming policy of British students continues apace. This time it involves rescinding a speaking invitation to the Donald Trump of England—London mayor Boris Johnson (they’re both clowns, but Johnson’s hair is marginally better). Johnson was set to take part in debates at King’s College London about whether Britain should dissociate itself from the EU. Writing in The Sun about how leaving the EU would solidify Britain’s ties to the U.S., he had said this about President Obama:
Something mysterious happened when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009.
Something vanished from that room, and no one could quite explain why.
It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years.
But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the…
It’s good (…) that we’re representing what happened when Jesus was alive.
~ Joseph Salvage, actor and church-goer
The quotation above comes from Joseph Salvage, the lead participant in a Brighton, UK, crucifixion re-enactment on the occasion of Easter Good Friday celebrations, in a story carried by the local press.