A Letter from Michael Shermer to KPFA

To: Quincy McCoy, KPFA General Manager, and Laura Prives, KPFA Program Director

Dear Quincy and Laura,

I am writing to protest the cancellation of the Richard Dawkins event. According to your notification statement “KPFA does not endorse hurtful speech” or “abusive speech” that Dawkins allegedly expressed in his twitter account and other sources. I have known Richard for a quarter century and follow his twitter feed and other public commentary sources, and I have never once seen him express hurtful or abusive speech against any person or any group of people. Richard is critical of wrong, bad, and dangerous ideas, not people, and although he has been critical of religion, as a great many scientists are (myself included), it is the religion’s ideas, not followers, of which we are skeptical.

As well, you appear to be hypocritical in this recent denunciation of Dawkins inasmuch as you have hosted him many times in the past, as a quick search of your website shows. In 2012, for example, Richard talked about “the virus of faith”, particularly Christianity. In 2013 in spoke about his book The Greatest Show on Earth, which was highly critical of creationism.

This is consistent with my own appearances on KPFA when I’m in Berkeley on my book tours. Your hosts—and by extension your station—never once objected to my critical comments on creationism in particular or Christianity in general, which I expressed many times.

So it would seem that KPFA has bought into the hypocritical stance held by many on the left that it is acceptable to criticize Christianity and Judaism but not Islam, even if it is just the ideas of these religions one is critiquing. Why?

Sincerely,

Michael Shermer
Skeptic Magazine
Scientific American
P.O. Box 338
Altadena, CA 91001

9 COMMENTS

  1. Project Censored, a regularly scheduled KPFA program, claims to have been “celebrating independent journalism while fighting media censorship and supporting a truly free press”. I suggest the producers consider doing a segment on themselves.

  2. I posted a comment yesterday on their website telling them how I feel about this. I am shocked at what they did. I so glad to see so many of Richard’s friends speaking out about this! Keep on keepin’ on, Richard!

  3. It has gotten ridiculous. If you feel hurt simply because I disagree with you, you are behaving like a petulant toddler. I have no obligation to indulge you. Some religions train adherents to feel insulted if others do not agree. That pain they brought completely on themselves.

  4. Spot on Roedy.

    Offence is a reductive tactic that will race to the bottom. We see it already in the realm of “micro aggressions” and “triggering”. We are in danger of losing our skins.

    We must, simply must teach and laud not taking offence over not giving it, if we are to have societies that are open, fault tolerant and increasingly wise.

  5. Roedy #4
    Jul 29, 2017 at 4:28 am

    It has gotten ridiculous. If you feel hurt simply because I disagree with you, you are behaving like a petulant toddler.

    It has indeed, when information services withhold public rational debate to pander to petulant toddlers throwing temper tantrums, or psychopaths making threats.

    This is of course an inherent problem in those whose mental development has been retarded by indoctrination, so that they never reach the formal operations stage of mental development and the {mental} age of reason!

    Also – it’s good to see you back posting here. It’s been a while!

  6. If I were an evil-minded person, I would think that Saudi Arabia’s petrodollars are behind the whole affair in order to change KPFA’s editorial line, something similar is doing in Qatar, using harder measures, with Al-Jazeera, but as I am not evil-minded, the only thing I can do is read good literature and quote one of Shakespeare’s many phrases: “something smells rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark”,… … … or wasn’t he referring to Denmark? The whole affair stinks to high heavens. Sorry, chaps for being so cynical; it’s not my nature, life made me like this.

  7. To KPFA management:

    Just so you know, you hurt the feelings of millions of atheists around the world when you canceled/censored the Richard Dawkins segment.

    Fortunately you do not have to worry that Atheists will bomb your station or issue a fatwa for your assassinations in retaliation. These would be examples of those Islamic ideas (and behaviors) that Richard Dawkins so hatefully and carelessly denounces. So much for free speech when it doesn’t dutifully align with the Orwellian script.

    Bravo!
    The Lone Star Atheist

  8. @OP- So it would seem that KPFA has bought into the hypocritical stance held by many on the left that it is acceptable to criticize Christianity and Judaism but not Islam, even if it is just the ideas of these religions one is critiquing.

    Next people will be criticising the “moral stance” Islam takes against western dress and dancing! 🙂

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-40880420

    Iranian officials have arrested six people accused of teaching Zumba dancing and trying to “change lifestyles”, media reports say.

    The group of four men and two women were charged over their dancing and not adhering to the hijab dress code.

    Instructors allegedly “attracted boys and girls, taught them Western dances”, and posted videos to social media.

    The Latin American fitness routine has proved controversial in Iran, which has laws restricting dance.

    “The members of a network teaching and filming Western dances have been identified and arrested,” Hamid Damghani, a commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was quoted as saying by local media outlets.

    “They were arrested by the Guards’ intelligence forces while teaching and creating video clips… as they sought to change lifestyles and promote a lack of hijab,” he said.

    Hijab rules govern the wearing of headscarves and clothing in public places by women, and dancing with the opposite sex is banned, except in front of immediate family members.

    The case has some parallels to the 2014 arrest of six Iranians for dancing along to Pharrell William’s song Happy – which saw them sentenced to 91 lashes and a prison term.

    Now why would any rational person upset those upright Islamic “moral authorities” with public “hurtful criticism” of such actions on social media, and trouble the politically correct Quincy McCoy, and Laura Prives, at KPFA, with having to watch those poor little Islamic prosecutors suffer trauma like this from such cruel WORDS? 🙂

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