Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis of the atheist society at the LSE freshers fair were asked to remove/cover their T-Shirts which had the cartoon pictures from Jesus and Mo comic strip. When they refused they were marched off the premises by ten security guards. The following day they returned with the same t-shirt with tape censoring parts of the cartoon. When again asked to remove/cover they inquired which parts were deemed offensive so they could tape them too. Again they were asked to leave and escorted off the premises.
The images the guys chose were the best of satire in making a serious point:
[You can read Abhishek Phadnis post here]
The farce at the London School of Economics Student Union Freshers Fair would be worthy of a George Bernard Shaw play. When Shaw sat down with the Webbs and Wallace at breakfast time to discuss establishing the LSE the idea that satirical imagery – especially of religion – would be banned may well have had him chocking on his vegetarian breakfast.
“the youthful atheism with which every able modern mind begins, an atheism that clears the soul of superstitions and terrors and servilities and base compliances and hypocrisies, and lets in the light of heaven.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
Statement on events at LSE SU Fresher’s Fair
Joint statement from LSE and LSE SU
At the LSE Students’ Union Fresher’s Fair on Thursday 3 October two students from the LSE SU Atheist Secularist and Humanist Society (ASH) wore t-shirts that were clearly designed to depict Mohammed and Jesus in a provocative manner.
The Students’ Union, which runs the event, received a number of complaints from other students.
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.
One member of the society declined to do this. The student was attended by a cameraman and it was feared that his behaviour would disrupt the event.
The SU referred the matter to the School. Representatives of the School in attendance agreed that the matter was a cause for concern and that the presence of the t-shirts was in danger of eroding good campus relations and disrupting efforts to run a Fresher’s Fair designed to welcome all new students.
LSE is committed to promoting freedom of expression and is known for its public events and wide range of speakers. In this instance, it was judged that the actions of the students were undermining what should have been a welcoming and inclusive event.
LSE SU General Secretary
Students at the fair wearing a t-shirt depicting Jesus and Mohamed “would disrupt the event.” No taking into account no one had caused a disruption, or that there was no imminent disruption about to be caused by an altercation.
Inclusivity should include satire, and the provocation to be feared is those that will use violence or even offence to suppress freedom of expression for others. Heaven forbid that Jesus and Mohammed are depicted as an image or attention is drawn to how art and satire are suppressed!
I decided to use twitter to find the LSE Student Union, and sure enough they are on there with this tweet:
I linked to this tweet here and encouraged followers to tweet a response to the actions of the Student union. The National Secular Society and Richard Dawkins among others passed the link on.
The National Secular Society has promised legal advice and support to the atheist society and other humanist organisations are condemning the Student Union action as well.
You can see the superb Jesus and Mo cartoons here – this is his latest on the LSE Student Union:
Please support Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis and the atheist societies on all campuses which have a right to freedom of expression even at the risk of ruffled feathers.
Petition to sign here.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog