“Freedom FROM Religion” is what we should be asking for

This has been sitting in my tabs for a few days now, and since missing Maryam Namazie speaking in my back garden yesterday, I thought I’d finally get around to it. Once I’d finished talking about Bowie, that is.

So I did, and boy is it horrible. You remember how a few days ago I wrote about the Day to Defend Free Expression (February 11th)? Well, here’s some more of the cause of that. This is why we need a day for free expression, specifically of skeptical thoughts and secular ideas: because they’re so fucking easy to ignore!

What part of what I’m about to say sounds reasonable?

I'm Streisand effecting this fucker!

  1. Atheists, Secularists and Humanists Society (ASH) of LSESU puts this picture on their facebook page.
  2. LSESU get complaints that the picture is offensive, and bring in ASH “for an informal meeting to explain … how the action of posting these cartoons was in breach of Students’ Union policy on inclusion”, and
  3. “The society agreed to certain actions coming out of the meeting”
  4. Once that had been done and the meeting was over, the sabbatical officers decided that this wasn’t enough, and that ASH “cannot continue these activities under the brand of the SU.”
  5. They then put out a statement laying all this out, and finish by saying “The offensive nature of the content on the Facebook page is not in accordance with our values of tolerance, diversity, and respect for all students regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or religious affiliation.

Closing message: “We may giveout mixed messages and misunderstand what free expression is, but at least we’re not intolerant like those guys. Who are dicks.”

This is just totally unacceptable. Not only have they bowed to vocal minority whose main complaint is for us to “stop drawing cartoons”, but they’ve spectacularly fucked up what it means to have discourse with one of their societies; Maryam puts it better and more graphically than I.

“The ASH members called in to be told that a harmless cartoon is in breach of Students’ Union policy on inclusion. The members bullied into agreeing “to certain actions.” The bullies, sexually aroused by all this power to tell people off, deciding it’s Not Good Enough and they’ll just jolly well demand more; so, now they will actually get to tell the society that they cannot. Ooh ooh ooh ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. That’s those members told. How was it for you?”

Furthermore, I’ve just spent some time trying to find the policy they cite, but have found nothing of the sort that would prevent an image that mildly poked fun at Islam.*

What I did find was the LSESU Memorandum and Articles of Association, and their previous policy on an article about the swedish ban on minarets. The latter resolved to “promote religious freedom and condemn intolerance”, whilst the former states:

The Union will seek at all times to:
(i)  ensure that the diversity of its Membership is recognised and that equal access is available to all Members of whatever origin or orientation;
(ii)  pursue its aims and objectives independent of any political party or religious group; and
(iii)  pursue equal opportunities by taking positive action within the law to facilitate participation of groups discriminated against by society

Fuck, I’d say that they’ve pretty badly cocked that up. Especially when “independent of any religious group” means “secular”.


Alex Gabriel has some very interesting things to say about this, and reminds me to remind you that, if there are any twitterers reading this, I hate you.

And you should twitter something in #rally11feb and tell everyone how awesome the ability to criticise religion is. Because seriously, isn’t religion just weird?


This is not the first Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society to be attacked, either – an identically named group in UCL did it first. And got screwed over first. Also have I mentioned Rhys Morgan?

Lets hope that, come next saturday, we rise from the ASHes 😛

* Because no-one cares where Jesus is – that fucker pops up on grilled cheese sandwiches!


Posted on February 3, 2012, in Atheism & Skepticism and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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