LSE student Society intimidated at Freshers’ Fair over “offensive” t-shirts

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A row over free expression has broken out at the London School of Economics after members of the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society were told they would be physically removed from the annual Freshers' Fair unless they covered up t-shirts deemed "offensive".

Student Union officials removed materials from the LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society stand and demanded that the group removed t-shirts they were wearing featuring satirical Jesus and Mo cartoons. When asked for an explanation, LSESU officials stated that several students had complained about the t-shirts.

After a period of consultation a member of the LSE Legal and Compliance Team and Head of Security told the members of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society that the wearing of the t-shirts could be considered "harassment", as it could "offend others" by creating an "offensive environment".

Written By: National Secular Society
continue to source article at secularism.org.uk

44 COMMENTS

  1. Unfuckingbelievable!

    I’d like to see or hear what exactly the LSE’s Legal and Compliance Team and Head of Security based their legal opinion on: what Student Union rule or regulation, as well as which section and sub-section, did they rely on; what law, if any, of England and Wales did they base their opinion on?

    If I was one of these student atheist, I would have demanded all the above; then I would have refused to remove my “offending” t-shirt and let things ran their course, even if it meant being thrown out of the event; then I would sue the LSE till they squeaked.

    I mean, seriously: atheists are as likely to be offended by the sign of the cross (a daily reminder of how we, as non-believers, are sure to burn in eternal hell for not believing in a dead, pre-medieval Jew) or of the Quran (an equally offensive document, offensive to my intelligence, among other things.)

    Why dont the atheists make a counter-claim: that displaying any religious paraphernalia is offensive to them? If the religious can claim the offense-card, so can we! It would be absurd, of course, but that would be the point.

  2. The union officials are either muslims themselves or they cowed into submission by threats of violence, threats of riots, threats of having the union set on fire, threats of bombing, treats of stoning, threats of harassment ……i.e. all the usual things muslims do to get their own selfish, intolerant, hateful, distasteful way. How to be a muslim….just say…..”do as I want or I kill you”. That’s what islam is all about.

    Islam wheedles its way into an institution or country with unctuous smiling grovelling platitudes…. then the complaints begin…. before you know it with their ranks swelled and key positions secured……. the hysterical screaming claims of discrimination kick off……soon to be followed by demands that everyone submits to islamic rules……more shrieking and coordinated widely broadcast propaganda….then intimidation and threats… then the orgasmic release that every muslim desires — violence mayhem killing. Just look around you. It’s happening all over the world and its coordinated controlled and deliberate.

  3. This is typical of the ‘I find that offensive’ brigade, desperately trying to clamber to the top of their own ideological dung hill and claim some moral high ground. The argument has exactly the same epistemological status as “Oh dear some fekwit might get agitated and create a bit of a stink”. Religious propitiations, symbols and dress codes are offensive particularly when accompanied by the demand that others show respect to them. There is absolutely fuck all in their holy books that warrant such arrogance and presumption and if they are offended then too bad, I care not so much as a fart.

    • In reply to #9 by A3Kr0n:

      I wonder if any christian groups were there wearing offensive t-shirts?

      You made me come up with an idea. A nearby Catholic church has a large sign “Pray to end abortion.” The front is filled with a ton of crucifixes representing abortions. I should add a sign “Use Contraception.”

      • In reply to #18 by QuestioningKat:

        You made me come up with an idea. A nearby Catholic church has a large sign “Pray to end abortion.” The front is filled with a ton of crucifixes representing abortions. I should add a sign “Use Contra…

        Sneak up (in the dead of night) and put a condom on every little crucifix, along with the sign.

  4. When asked for an explanation, LSESU officials stated that several students had complained about the t-shirts.

    Who cares? Complaints should be properly investigated to see if they have any substance.

    After a period of consultation a member of the LSE Legal and Compliance Team and Head of Security told the members of the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society that the wearing of the t-shirts could be considered “harassment”, as it could “offend others” by creating an “offensive environment”.

    Next these damned secularists will be debating silly religious supernatural beliefs which could easily create an “offensive environment” for faith-heads, spiritualists, homoeopaths, rapture believers, witch-doctors and astrologers! They even eat pork, and bacon butties while drinking alcohol and refusing to pray!

    After all! This is a university where students openly debate world issues in a critical educated manner.

    Oh hang on a minute!!!

    • In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:

      “Jesus saves, but Moses invests.” I know – it’s a cliche – but it’s a good T shirt logo I think.

      You missed the last bit!

      Jesus Saves, Moses Invests, Allah Forbids!

      • In reply to #13 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:”Jesus saves, but Moses invests.” I know – it’s a cliche – but it’s a good T shirt logo I think.You missed the last bit!Jesus Saves, Moses Invests, Allah Forbids!

        Allah also demands submission don’t forget.

      • In reply to #13 by Alan4discussion:

        In reply to #12 by Stafford Gordon:

        “Jesus saves, but Moses invests.” I know – it’s a cliche – but it’s a good T shirt logo I think.

        You missed the last bit!

        Jesus Saves, Moses Invests, Allah Forbids!

        Let’s go for scriptural fidelity and change the last bit to “Allah beheads”

        Koran 8:12: “Instill terror in the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads and cut off fingers and toes.”

  5. Religion is afforded protected status before the law, while most non-religious beliefs (and certainly irreligious ones) are not considered protected classes. It is a despicable, but true, feature of today’s legal framework in many countries.

    This is why, for example, religious garb is protected from many secular dress codes (everyone has to wear the same uniform, except for religious folks who already have their own uniform), etc., etc.

  6. The only thing I can think of that would work is a counter-offense stance taken by the students who wore “offensive” t-shirts. They should start calling the school and complain about how turbans, or hajibs or scarfs or even the color red is offensive to them and they want the perpetrators not to be able to wear those articles of clothing. Otherwise, where does this end? In a free society, I should be able to wear whatever I want. You don’t have to look at it if it offends you.

  7. I’ll just state the obvious. I seriously doubt that many, if any, Christians on that campus really give a hoot about those T-shirts. THIS episode of South Park did not get taken out of circulation because of it’s satirical portrayal of Jesus.

  8. The reason that shirt is offensive is it shows Mohammed drinking beer. Alcohol in any form is strictly forbidden.

    The dilemma is if you forbid the shirt is an unreasonable restriction on freedom of speech, perhaps not for Riyadh, but certainly for London. On the other hand, wearing such as shirt is likely to provoke violence. It is a deliberate provocation to violence.

    • In reply to #27 by Roedy:

      On the other hand, wearing such as shirt is likely to provoke violence. It is a deliberate provocation to violence.

      Violence is an entirely unreasonable and (need I mention?) illegal response to anyone’s t-shirt choice. So, what you’re saying is that you shouldn’t be allowed to wear something that would make a criminal target you… sort of like forbidding short skirts, since it will “provoke” a rapist.

      The LSE SU logic in a nutshell: blame the victim.

    • In reply to #27 by Roedy:

      The reason that shirt is offensive is it shows Mohammed drinking beer. Alcohol in any form is strictly forbidden.

      Tell that to my Muslim friends whose only deference to abstinence is to not drink on Eid. If that was the case, the LSESU should have said so. They threw their critical thinking out of the window along with the spirit of the law and their (metaphorical) testicles.

      The dilemma is if you forbid the shirt is an unreasonable restriction on freedom of speech, perhaps not for Riyadh, but certainly for London.

      Agreed, but only because in Riyadh it is against the law.

      On the other hand, wearing such as shirt is likely to provoke violence. It is a deliberate provocation to violence.

      Hang on, what? That some may be provoked to violence does not make their potentially violent behaviour warranted or just in any way. Are you sure you want to run with that sentence?

  9. Stevehill:

    On this form, not a university I would be happy to send my kids to.

    I knew a chap who called the LSE the London School of Comics. On this form, they live up to his description !

  10. Hmmm..

    Not allowing muslim women to wear the Islamic veil in public institutions:

    Blatant islamaphobia and a blow to freedom of expression

    Not allowing secular people to wear T-shirts which express their religious views in a comical way:

    A judicious move to prevent “offending muslims”

    Once again we see guilt-fueled multiculturalism at work to help promote double standards and just plainly shoot ourselves in the foot. The sheer stupidity of self-inflicted discrimination wins again. It’s like playing a game of arm-wrestling in which you pull on your opponent’s wrist instead of pushing against it.

  11. There was a comment by David Colquhoun on Twitter who said, “If the muslims think it is wrong to draw pictures of their god then they shouldn’t do it, it doesn’t apply to anyone else”,

  12. who’s offended?

    christians? try forgiving
    muslims? how do you know it’s mohammed? you got a picture of him then?

    or is it offensive becuase it depicts the founding icons of two religions being friends?

  13. As a pacifist, one might find the cross to be a very offensive tool of torture. It is a sign of suffering and cruelty and unsuitable for a public setting such as a university. The cross is also symbolic of Christianity, which is a faith based cult. The promotion of faith over reason is offensive to people who accept evidence as the best source of knowledge about the natural world. When Christianity or any other faith based cult suggests that their evidence lacking, personal faith is a more valuable and accurate depiction of truth, especially over science based observation, they insult the very foundations of all that is reasonable.

    Their argument also presents the opportunity for a person to find insult in the advancement of personal feelings (I feel all hurt inside) above shared rights (freedom of speech)

  14. In reply to #41 by mmurray:

    Some coverage in The Independent. Interesting they weren’t game enough to show a cartoon of Mo. Just one of Jesus.

    I see some tell it like it is!

    @ The Independent link – Richard Dawkins waded into the row on Friday, describing the SU reps as “sanctimonious little prigs”.

    He tweeted: “I’m “offended” by backwards baseball caps, chewing gum, niqabs, “basically” and “awesome”. Quick, LSE Student Union, ban them all.”

    Jay Stoll LSESU’s general secretary hit back, insisting that the t-shirts had been “provocative”, and confirming that they’d received “a number of complaints”.

    Good grief! Now universities are admitting people with different and “provocative”, points of view! Whatever next?

    “The SU asked the students to cover the t-shirts in the interests of good campus relations. The society remained free to share their literature and views.

    Gazzzoing!! – Unless the little prigs and the security staff decide to meddle and obstruct this!

    “LSE is committed to promoting freedom of expression and is known for its public events and wide range of speakers.

    Ha! ha! ha! Don’t those “fumble-brain politically-correct” blinkers, work wonders for producing ironic biased perceptions!
    In this instance, it was judged that the actions of the students were undermining what should have been a welcoming and inclusive event.”

    Partisan meddling from a SU which is supposed to support them of course, is very “welcoming to secular students”!!!!!! NOT!!

    I wonder if this lot were told to remove their literature?

    http://www.uccf.org.uk/find-your-cu/london/london-school-of-economics.htm

  15. In response to comment 40: The ubiquitous crucifixion image is, in fact, most offensive to me, and hard to avoid, but it is rarely commented upon I think. I wonder what the response would be if this was cited as a cause of offence at the LSE, or elsewhere. (I already posted a comment about this in a thread about 9 months ago)

    I remember as a child being stunned when, on seeing the image I asked, and was told, what crucifying someone meant. I was definitely upset by the thought and sight of it, but being an ‘atheist’ child (!) it did not have major significance.

    In relation to this I once mentioned in the staff room that we wouldn’t tolerate sculptures/pictures in public places, such as many schools, of a kitten being tortured. It would be considered horrific. There were shocked, glazed looks all around me and no replies; I’m still not sure what that response actually meant!

  16. “the wearing of the t-shirts could be considered “harassment”, as it could “offend others” by creating an “offensive environment”.”

    Sounds a bit thin to me. Especially since there were no verifiable reports of complaints, and the members of the ASH Society reported only positive responses, even from Muslims, at the Freshers Fair.

    However, something that could definitely “be considered “harassment”, as it could “offend others” by creating an “offensive environment” is
    BANNING the t-shirts.

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