Monday, May 20, 2024
HomeCulture WarCancel-culture opponents told: Sorry, you’re cancelled

Cancel-culture opponents told: Sorry, you’re cancelled


A CONFERENCE aiming to highlight opposition to ‘cancel culture’ was itself cancelled after venue staff in Glasgow refused to work at the event. 

Speakers concerned that ‘woke ideology’ is taking over schools and universities were due to take part in ‘Education Not Indoctrination’ at Civic House in Glasgow on Saturday. The staff of the ineptly named Civic House went out of their way to prove them right.

Agile City, a ‘community interest company’ which operates the Civic House venue, emailed the organisers saying: ‘The content of the event has just been highlighted to us via your online marketing, and through further research [found] to be in opposition to the values held by our team and staff members who comprise part of the LGBTQ+ community. 

‘As such the staff who were booked to manage the event are not willing to work. Without staffing in place we cannot host your event.’ 

Later Agile City claimed: ‘There was no attempt to stop the event happening or shut down the discussion; it’s just not something we can host in our venue.’

However the event went on, hosted by the Tron Church, an evangelical congregation which left the Church of Scotland following the decision to ordain practising homosexuals.

Dr Penny Lewis, a lecturer at Dundee University, organised the conference. She had previously opposed moving lectures on-line during the pandemic and exposed the shoddy work behind a recent report criticising Scottish cricket for racial bias. Dr Lewis said in defence of Education Not Indoctrination that ‘Government and teachers should not be indoctrinating our kids with the latest political fads, schools should strive for some sense of objectivity and provide our children with a range of differing views’.

The event featured a number of groups both Christian and secular. These included the Christian Institute, which opposes abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia, Stand By Me Scotland, which opposed the wearing of facemasks in schools during the pandemic, Academics for Academic Freedom, and For Women Scotland, which opposes Scottish government plans for people to be able to self-identify their legal gender.

The conference discussed whether sex education was an appropriate subject to be taught in primary schools and explored the claim that parents’ requests to see materials and lessons used in sex education have been routinely denied. They contended that schools are being used as a platform with new teachers made to see their role as changing the attitudes of pupils, rather than encouraging critical thought. It was argued that there was no proper consultation on the new revamped Curriculum for Excellence, the SNP’s blueprint for Scottish education. A focus on topics including sex, anti-racism and gender ideology was said to distract from the attainment of the core skills of ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’.

In the name of inclusivity, the new LGBTQ+ vocabulary (cisgender, transgender, bisexual, non-binary and gender fluidity) is being taught in primary schools, and content is being provided by third-party groups of dubious provenance. Discussion of intimate issues around transgenderism and even anal sex can occur in the classroom where young children are exposed to overtly sexualised material.

Meanwhile Scottish education, once admired throughout the world, has seen a steady decline in quality in every sector: primary, secondary and even higher education. This is especially so in primary education where attainment gaps are widening. Figures divulged by the Scottish Government last year show that a quarter of primary school pupils did not achieve the expected level of reading or numeracy, while three in ten were not at the required writing standard.

In Sturgeon’s ‘open and inclusive Scotland’ such cancel culture actions are becoming prevalent. This is the second time that an event in Glasgow has had to be cancelled or moved from its intended venue. The Scottish Events Campus (SEC), run by Glasgow Council, recently cancelled a Franklin Graham event following pressure from Glasgow City Council, the majority shareholder in SEC. The SNP-run Council did not agree with Graham’s biblical beliefs concerning homosexuality and Islam. Following a case in Glasgow Sheriff Court, at which it was found that Graham had been discriminated against on religious or philosophical grounds, the SEC had to stump up nearly £100,000 in damages.

It would appear that progressive politicians and educators in Scotland have learned well from Herbert Marcuse and his theory of ‘repressive tolerance’. This member of the Frankfurt School taught that the original liberal concept of tolerance was actually repressive as it allowed the free circulation of ideas, some of which were seen as repressive. What was needed in order to counter this was ‘liberating tolerance’ which involves ‘the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements’ on the right, and the aggressive promotion of speech, groups and progressive movements on the left.

In this way, according to Marcuse, those who censor and cancel anyone on the Right are being truly tolerant whilst those on the Right who champion the free exchange of ideas are being repressive. Thus the organisers of Education Not Indoctrination by asking for open discussion of the failure of Scottish education were being intolerant whilst those who tried to close down the event were being tolerant. Such is the Lewis Carroll world of the progressive. Those dominating Scottish education and society have drunk deeply from the wells of postmodern chaos and as long as Scots accept their control things will only get worse.

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Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Dr Campbell Campbell-Jack
Campbell is a retired Presbyterian minister who lives in Stirlingshire. He blogs at A Grain of Sand.

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