Oops, we changed our minds

A student newspaper published by the School of Humanities of the Catholic St. Edward’s University proudly reports that St. Edward’s joined the list of right-on silencers who invite Julie Bindel to talk and then later call her back and say no we changed our minds. Who knew that Catholic universities were that “intersectional”?

Universities across the country have been facing backlash over their decisions to host or cancel speakers. Last week, St. Edward’s University joined the national conversation by cancelling a talk by British feminist and political activist, Julie Bindel, based on views she had expressed about the transgender community.

Jesus – it sounds as if they’re excited about being invited to join the cool kids’ table. “Hey everybody’s talking about all this no-platforming and now we’re one of the no-platformers!”

Bindel was scheduled by the Social Justice LLC to speak about her book, “The Pimping of Prostitution: Abolishing the Sex Worker Myth” on Nov. 8. Bindel, a self-described radical feminist, is co-founder of the law reform group, Justice for Women. The group opposes violence against women and helps women who have been prosecuted for killing violent male partners.

So you can see why the Vatican wouldn’t like her…but it wasn’t the Vatican who called her up to say we don’t want you after all. It was people who fancy themselves lefty and social justicey and right on.

Early on the scheduled day of her talk, Bindel said she received a call rescinding the invitation. Kris Sloan, associate professor of education and director of the Social Justice LLC, confirmed that it was ultimately his decision to cancel Bindel’s appearance. She spoke at the University of Texas-Austin on Nov. 9.

On the day of her talk. That is so fucking rude and mean. And it’s nothing to do with social justice.

“This was my decision, I made this call,” Sloan said. “Was it right? I hope so. At the heart of my decision was the link to the living and learning, not just to the 96 students in that room, but the larger community and wanting to be good allies to the trans community and the gender non-conforming community on this campus.”

Oh shut the fuck up. Julie was there to talk about pimping, and she was invited, and she was no threat to “the trans community and the gender non-conforming community.” There was no shadow of a need to tell her hours before her talk “we don’t want you after all so nyah.” It’s display and nothing else, and what it displays is stupid and narrow and of no use to anyone.

It’s disgusting.

Concern from transgender student Marcus Kearns sparked the conversation about whether to host Bindel. Kearns Googled Bindel after Professor Laurie Heffron, who teaches the class Kearns is taking in the LLC,  announced the upcoming  lecture. He discovered articles Bindel had published that he considered to be transphobic, including a 2004 article in The Guardian entitled, “Gender benders, beware.”

Thirteen years ago. She’s apologized for the way she worded that article. She doesn’t word things that way now. She does outstanding important work. This whole thing is revolting and outrageous.

Bindel told Hilltop Views that the decision to cancel her talk was made by “cowards”  whom she called “morally bankrupt.”

“Everybody knows that I am no threat to trans people,” Bindel said. “There is absolutely no way that this group of people, the bullies, have read anything that I’ve written or said that has warranted this response. This is merely a tactic to shut down the voice of feminists that protest against male violence.”

Kearns was glad that the event was cancelled.

“Am I happy it did get cancelled?” Kearns said of the talk. “Yes, but it wasn’t my intention going in.”

“That can have really bad effects on people when you trust a school to bring in voices that are going to help you grow but they instead bring someone who tears you down,” he added. “If you’re going to have controversy, it has to be grounded in mutual respect.”

But she was going there to talk about her book, which is about pimping.

After considering feedback from the class, Pride, linked faculty, and a number of transgender individuals, Sloan made the final decision to cancel the event early Wednesday morning.

Citing Bindel’s confrontational tendencies and the risk to the community as major reasons, Sloan said that there was “no real value” to come of hosting her and that it wouldn’t “be a productive use of our time.”

But she had already been invited. They told her they’d changed her minds the day of her talk. It’s way too late to decide oh well there’s no real value to this and it wouldn’t be a productive use of our time so we’re going to call her up hours before her talk when she’s thousands of miles from home to tell her we’ve changed our tiny flea-bitten little minds.

10 Responses to “Oops, we changed our minds”