In Defence of Peter Singer.
I doubt that Professor Peter Singer wants my defence. I doubt he even knows I exist. But it is time to speak up in his defence.
Professor Singer has been arguing his atheistic utilitarian case with clarity, thoughtfulness and consistency for decades. His prominence in the academic world as well as a public intellectual, has been duly rewarded in professional advancement and community awards. However, recently he has been censored and ‘de-platformed’ for his views. And I want to protest against de-platforming and defend his right to speak.
He was due to speak at SkyCity Auckland in June this year. But, in response to protests, the event has been cancelled by the venue’s management claiming: “While SkyCity supports the right to free speech, some of the themes promoted by the speaker do not reflect our values of diversity and inclusivity”.
Ponder that sentence and you will see the absurdity of double speak to which our society has sunk.
‘SkyCity supports the right to free speech’
- ‘Free’ means ‘without restriction’, but Peter Singer is more than restricted he is outright banned.
- If somebody can be banned from speaking there is no ‘right of free speech’.
- SkyCity’s support for the ‘right to free speech’, is simply virtue signalling hypocrisy?
‘our values of diversity and inclusivity’
- Any private venue may act on their own values. But where does a public business derive its values from? Where does a publicly available, Government licensed, commercial hotel and convention centre derive its values from?
- The double speak is finely honed into complete nonsense on the topic of the values of which they speak (‘diversity and inclusivity’).
- ‘diversity’ speaks of variety; of involving different and varied people or views. To ban a speaker because others are saying the same thing could be a matter of diversity, but to ban somebody because his views are different is the opposite of diversity.
- ‘inclusivity’ speaks of welcoming all people, especially minorities. Apparently, as a result of public pressure, SkyCity has decided to exclude the minority views of Peter Singer. To ‘exclude’ somebody is the antithesis of inclusivity
- Inclusivity exclusion is more moronic than oxymoronic.
Censorship is a difficult issue.
- Sadly, the fights of the 1960’s, to remove censorship, did not lead to freedom of political speech and intellectual conversation as hoped.
- Peter Singer’s censorship is just such a case in point. SkyCity – a casino, no less! – is now our moral guardian. A casino has banned an ethics Professor! And that on the grounds of diversity and inclusivity!
- There has been debate about whether there is an absolute right to free speech. But in the case of Peter Singer, I am not aware of any evidence that he is a malicious, rabble rouser, aiming to hurt people by vilification or violence.
Censorship is counterproductive.
- Censorship is counterproductive because it makes martyrs and victims of the censored, giving them free advertising and promotion. I didn’t even know Peter Singer was coming to NZ and Australia, till his Auckland venue was cancelled.
- More importantly, how can we evaluate our own values, if we will not let anybody speak who challenges them? I don’t agree with Peter Singer but I want him to argue his case, in order to evaluate whether I am wrong. When alternative views are silenced, we are left holding our own views in ignorance.
- The way to oppose alternative viewpoints is not by coercing the speaker into silence, but by answering his argument and demonstrating his error.
- As somebody deeply opposed to Peter Singer’s atheistic ethics, I want them widely broadcast so that people can see the genuine outworking of atheism, especially in contrast to Christianity. Many people gladly accepted the supposed freedom from God that the New Atheists promise without noticing the ethical abyss that they lead into.
- Peter Singer’s willingness to
articulate the end points of atheism in terms of
- denying the human’s right to life and speciesism;
- advocating abortion and euthanasia; and even
- accepting infanticide, bestiality, and torture where necessary –
needs to be published widely, not kept hidden from the public.
- The hope of developing an atheistic ethic as an alternative to religious ethics needs to be exposed for its delusionary failure. Peter Singer’s famous textbook: Practical Ethics has a final chapter on “Why Act Morally?”. If it were the first chapter nobody would bother reading the second and the book would have been ignored years ago.
The people who have objected to Peter Singer speaking in Auckland represent people with disabilities. They find his views on killing babies with disabilities, deeply offensive and hurtful. I cannot but wholeheartedly agree with them. As if it is not bad enough to suffer some disability, to have some famous world-wide public intellectual and Professor of Bio-ethics declare that your life is not worth living is appalling. The killing of infants is intolerable.
Most, if not all people in the Christianised culture of Western civilisation would side with the disability advocates. But this is not a universal human value. Other cultures in the ancient world such as Greeks Romans, Egyptians, Pagans, Aztecs, Incas etc, did not protect those with disabilities. Professor Singer, and others, want to regress Western civilisation back to the pre-Christian world.
I am truly sorry for the pain these atheists are giving to people – speaking of killing babies because of their disability is sickening. However, it is important that Peter Singer speaks out against Christian values. That way we can all see how the rational basis for our loving compassion and respect for all humans, irrespective of our abilities or disabilities, is derived from Christianity not atheism.