Another firing

Last week I wrote about Angelos Sofocleous’s resignation as President-Elect of the Durham University Humanists. Now he’s been fired as assistant editor of Critique, the journal of the Durham University Philosophy Society. He sent me the email they wrote to him explaining their reasons.

“Durham University Philosophy Society has considered your actions and reached a democratic decision”…to throw you unceremoniously out.

“You have argued,” the email goes on to say, “that risking offence should be tolerated and that feelings should not guide the nature of debates. Durham University Philosophy Society welcomes all views and endorses philosophical discussions that are fair and responsible.” You can hear the “but” coming a mile away. “However, the nature of the statement, ‘RT if women don’t have penises…’ (especially [if?] it is published on the social media platform, Twitter) escapes such responsibility and leaves no room for or [sic] to promote any fair discussions.”

Wait. Durham University Philosophy Society welcomes all views and endorses philosophical discussions that are fair and responsible, fine, great, awesome, but surely Durham University Philosophy Society doesn’t take itself to have veto power over everything all its members say in any and every medium or venue…does it? Does it monitor the twitter accounts of all its members to check for Correct Thought?

If it does it shouldn’t. Twitter is not a meeting of the Durham University Philosophy Society, nor is it a journal, nor is it even a newspaper op ed page. It’s Twitter. That doesn’t mean “bullying and dogpiling are ok on Twitter because it’s just Twitter,” but it does mean that Twitter is a far more relaxed medium than a Philosophy Society meeting or journal. And then, saying women don’t have penises is just a statement of obvious fact. So, the Durham University Philosophy Society’s decision to fire Angelos from his assistant editor job because of a tweet stating an obvious fact is…how shall I put this…not entirely reasonable or fair.

Furthermore, the public nature of your actions affects the reputation of our society and journal, because it conflicts [with] the value that this society upholds.

And that, the writer sums up, is why they made the democratic decision to give Angelos the boot.

It’s not enough to agree that people should be free to present any way they want to* without fear of harassment let alone violence; no, we’re now required, on pain of summary firing, to agree that men who like to wear dresses are women and that women themselves have “cis privilege” over men who like to wear dresses.

You couldn’t make it up.

*Although questions about Nazi uniforms or KKK regalia arise

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