The College Historical Society (the Hist) has tonight rescinded its invitation to Richard Dawkins to address the society next year.
Auditor of the Hist Bríd O’Donnell announced the cancellation in a statement on her Instagram page, saying that she had been “unaware of Richard Dawkins’ opinions on Islam and sexual assault until this evening”, adding that the society “will not be moving ahead with his address as we value our members comfort above all else”.
“I want to thank everyone who pointed out this valuable information to me”, O’Donnell added. “I truthfully hope we didn’t cause too much discomfort and if so, I apologise and will rectify it.”
The longtime University of Oxford “professor for public understanding of science,” who once said that pigs are more “human” than human fetuses, has become loathsome to the progressive left in recent years for his critical comments on Islam.
As a staunch atheist, Dawkins is also known for his controversial criticisms of religion. He has come under fire in the past for his comments on Muslim faith schools, saying they had a “pernicious influence”. This came after the Muslim Council of Britain said it was unreasonable to expect schools not to teach fundamental theories of faith.
Dawkins has also said that when teaching evolution his “colleagues lecturing in universities lament having undergraduate students walk out of their classes”, adding that these students are “almost entirely Muslims”.
The Hist, one of Trinity’s two debating societies, is the oldest student society in the world, having been founded in 1770.
The society hosts high-profile speakers every year, and holds debates every Wednesday. Figures such as Winston Churchill and Archbishop Desmond Tutu have addressed the society. A stream of the biggest names in Irish history have passed through the Hist, including Edmund Burke, Theobald Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Oliver Goldsmith, Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett.
The Times noted that in 2018 the society apologized for inviting an even more controversial speaker, Nigel Farage, whose leadership of the U.K. Independence Party helped usher in Brexit in 2016. Its auditor at the time, Paul Molloy, initially defended inviting Farage and awarding him the society’s medal for public discourse, saying it often invites figures who “hold controversial and unorthodox views.”
It seems that while he is calling Christians ‘stupid’, unpleasant as I might feel about that, his views in an academic context are rightly considered an opinion worthy of debate and discussion. Islam of course must not be examined, discussed or in any way criticised.