Eddie Mair 4pm - 7pm
Journalist's Passionate Defence Of Free Speech: 'There Is Nothing Wrong With Offending People'
25 July 2017, 10:12 | Updated: 25 July 2017, 10:44
Times Columnist Oliver Kamm passionately defended author Richard Dawkin's right to criticise Islam.
Author Richard Dawkins had his appearance at a ticketed event cancelled by the organisers, a US radio station, after some attendees said the evolutionary biologist's comments about Islam were offensive.
In 2013 he had tweeted a series of tweets, including one which read: "Haven't read Koran so couldn't quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today."
The author of Science in the Soul: Collected Writings of a Passionate Rationalist has criticised many religions, but was told his Tweets about Islam had upset some people.
@ToddKincannon Haven't read Koran so couldn't quote chapter & verse like I can for Bible. But often say Islam greatest force for evil today— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) March 1, 2013
One person who has criticised the organisers of the event for their decision to cancel Mr Dawkins, is Times Columnist Oliver Kamm - who thinks it is a violation of freedom of speech.
Nick Ferrari chatted to him on his LBC Breakfast show about the issue.
He said: "Of course it's censorship...Richard Dawkins was invited to talk about his new book on a radio station that then rescinded the invitation..on the itself offensive grounds that some listeners are offended by what Richard said on a totally extraneous subject.
"It's a clear case of censorship, I'm glad it's been picked up, and I'm glad you're covering it."
Nick asked: "It's not necessarily helpful, is it, to describe Islam, not Islamism I make the point, as the "greatest form of evil today"?"
Oliver replied: "What is wrong with criticising a system of ideas? I don't necessarily agree with Richard Dawkins on everything he said, I know him a little...but he's entitled to his views about religion."
Nick interjected: "Even if we know they're offending people, Oliver?"
The columnist replied: "Of course! Of course. Free speech, if it's substantive, will naturally offend people , and there is nothing wrong with that.
"There is nothing wrong with criticising and attacking peoples' deeply held beliefs."