Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society was forced to remove a “blasphemous pineapple” named Mohammed as a form of hateful or discriminatory speech. The pineapple was intended to spark debate over whether
The Reading University Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society (RAHS) took part in the fair on Wednesday, in order to to “encourage discussion about blasphemy, religion, and liberty.”
The society named the pineapple Mohammed “to celebrate the fact that we live in a country in which free speech is protected, and where it is lawful to call a pineapple by whatever name one chooses.” It appears that that is not true when it comes to fruit bearing the prophet’s name. The group was told by the Reading University Student Union that, due to complaints, the pineapple would have to go . . . or at least go by a different name. The society refused but it did re-name the pineapple . . . as Jesus.
The society was then set upon by a group which took the pineapple’s name tag and the society was then forced to leave the event.
Nick Cook, vice-president of student activities at Reading University, insisted that the act of censorship was justified in order to guarantee “all students feel welcome and included in all of our activities.”
It was the classic confrontation between free speech and discrimination laws. The interesting thing is that religious organizations are increasingly being accused of violating discriminatory views, as discussed in this column. Would Muslim or Christian groups be barred for discussing view of homosexuality as a sin or, in some groups, professing the divine basis for limiting rights of women? This was clearly designed to be a provocative display and quickly led to a confrontation with what was described as five Muslim students. One approach is to say that the society could have raised the issue of blasphemy without the insulting display. Yet, the society wanted to show that what is blasphemous to some is a joke to others. What do you think?
Source: Huffington Post