Should Dominique Strauss-Khan be speaking at The Union? ANNA MATHEW and former Union pres LAUREN DAVIDSON get busy.

The petition to scrap Dominique Strauss-Kahn from the Union’s Lent lineup has caused quite a stir – a current student and a former Union president battle it out:

ANNA MATHEW would rather see him gone.

The first resort of Strauss-Kahn defenders is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Parroting this proves nothing except that you probably watch too much Law & Order.

Here, recourse to the presumption of innocence obscures the fact that Strauss-Kahn hasn’t actually been acquitted by a court of law; the charges against him were dropped.

Since Strauss-Kahn isn’t about to be proven guilty or innocent of rape, it is worth taking a closer look. In case it needs spelling out, respect for fundamental aspects of the law is not incompatible with critical appraisal of how they work in practice.

Neither case reached court. Questions can be and have been raised about both, but in the case of French journalist Tristane Banon, charges were dropped because the evidence of sexual assault was insufficient for a charge of attempted rape, and a charge of sexual assault was time-barred.

Strauss-Kahn admitted “sexual aggression” against Banon. Given this, the Union President’s defence that Strauss-Kahn “hasn’t been found guilty of anything and it’s not up to us to judge him” is wilfully blind. Strauss-Kahn has committed at least one known sexual assault for which he cannot be prosecuted.

The inescapable conclusion is that, despite the fact that better economists could have been invited to speak, the Union is happier to cosy up to the one who isn’t most famous for being an economist. In fact, go look at the latest breaking news regarding Strauss-Kahn (hint: it’s not about economics).

I am, moreover, curious about how it “challenge[s] the presumptions and prejudices of a wide range of ideas” (from https://www.cus.org/about) to allow a powerful, rich, white man to rehabilitate his reputation following attacks from that traditional bastion of privilege, immigrant workers in the service industries.

The response to the announcement gives the lie to the idea that Strauss-Kahn was invited purely for his economic credentials. Exploiting rape survivors to garner controversy is wrong. The Union has its publicity, but at what cost?

If you’re in any doubt as to the actual effect of Strauss-Kahn’s continuing notoriety, look at the reporting in the Telegraph and even The Tab. The idea that rape is a sex act, not a crime, is played up to by both.

We should expect more from institutions purporting to represent us: more respect for the vulnerable in the Union’s commitment to “the basic principles of free speech and open debate”; more care from our newspapers. Most of all, we should expect more from each other and of ourselves.

When we are told that our words and actions, however innocent, marginalise people who have already been victimised once, we must pay attention. With that in mind, I hope the Union will listen when we tell them that it has erred in welcoming and legitimising this self-styled ‘Great Seducer’.

____

Former Union President LAUREN DAVIDSON wants him in.

Ex-head of the IMF, former long-standing French government minister, once favourite to win this year’s presidential election in France, alleged sexual assaulter.

I know what sounds the most interesting to me, although the Women’s Campaign would have you think differently.

I needn’t spell out that the Union exists to provide a platform for free speech and debate where the most important and interesting issues of the day can be tackled in an open and intellectual environment.

The global economic meltdown, particularly in the Eurozone, and the upcoming French election are two of the hottest and most relevant topics on 2012’s tongue – and DSK is a prime candidate to address both issues and allow the Union’s membership to engage with a leading authority.

Yet the letter from the Women’s Campaign goes so far to say that the Union invited DSK because of his alleged criminal notoriety, not just in spite of it.

But the crucial question to ask is: would he be a topical, interesting and significant speaker if eyebrows had never been raised in his direction? The answer is a resounding yes.

An obvious case in point is Julian Assange, who addressed the Cambridge Union Society less than a year ago. Members queued around the block for hours to hear and engage with Assange – not because he was facing allegations of sexual assault, but because of his involvement with Wikileaks.

The same principle must apply to DSK.

The Women’s Campaign, of course, raises a valid point as to the questionable nature of DSK’s private life – and it would be incongruous of the Union not to welcome and encourage the right of others to express their opinion.

But the Campaign undoes itself by harping on at the Union yet again, accusing the Society of limiting itself to “inviting rich, white, powerful men to define [its] termcard” – despite the advances made to redress this balance. In the past year, three of four presidents have been women, the Union now has a designated women’s officer and the number of female speakers this term is twice that of Michaelmas.

The Women’s Campaign accuses the Union of sexualising and trivialising topics relating to women’s issues – despite debate topics in the last year including the face veil, the effects of pornography, LGBT issues, marriage, positive discrimination and the perils of the fashion industry.

It’s clear that Strauss-Kahn is a key speaker this term for his impressive professional resume (although I can see why some would take issue with the other credentials attached to his name) and that the Union has in no way invited him for any other reason than his political and economic prowess.

If some fail to see past the allegations made against DSK, then that is up to them. But others will be fascinated to meet Strauss-Kahn and hear what he has to say, and they shouldn’t be stripped of the privilege.

  • First of many

    Anna – the Union invited him several years ago, before any of this news came to light. Also, Julian Assange was received with no problems whatsoever by the Womens Union last year. Why?

    • Curious Man

      If the Union invited him several years ago, I think it's sensible ask why he's suddenly eager to speak now. And the answer seems to be because the only project he now has is to try and save his own skin and his own reputation. And that's because – unlike Assange – he's not a powerful figure in finance or politics any more; he's simply the world's most famous rape suspect.

      Let's remember, Strauss-Kahn's not the president of the IMF any more – he resigned as a result of what happened in New York, a case which is still going to a civil hearing on March 15 in Manhattan. His career in French politics is dead in the water too. In fact, the only thing that might stop him being available for the Union talk is if he's remanded in custody over the allegations of pimping.

      I don't doubt that Strauss-Kahn could talk about what the IMF was like a year ago with some insight – he was, obviously, there. But that's not what this public appearance is about – it's about rehabilitating him as a public figure. I'm sure that if he speaks, it'll be a replay of his China speech in December – some thoughts about the economy, and no questions answered about any of the allegations against him that have destroyed his power over that economy.

      Strauss-Kahn seems to think that since he appeared on TF1 last September and admitting that in New York he was guilty of "une faute morale dont je ne suis pas fier", what might have happened in the past is no longer important and should be forgotten. By agreeing to let him appear – and as a speaker rather than in a debate – it seems that those in charge of the Union have endorsed his position. With it, they've cheapened such events, and the experiences of hundreds of current Cambridge students who've undergone similar experiences.

      Either way, the Union's being used by Strauss-Kahn.
      (inb4 tl; dr)

      • Iron Knee

        Amusing that you lengthened your comment by adding the 'tl;dr' bit. Also your comment is silly.

  • Again

    I'd rather see Anna Matthew gone. As per usual the first sign of controversy and the normal bunch of indignant femi-socialists are paraded out to rant and rave about how badly everyone is oppressed by rich white males and how unfair it all is. The campaign is about whether Cambridge students should be allowed to hear what this man wants to say, and I would say that a great many do, so if you don't like the man, don't go. CUSU only believes in freedom of speech for those who agree with their ultra-left political views as shown nicely by the David Willets affair. Its time that these irrelevant bunch of eco-fantacists go and form their own union in a tent where they can invite exclusively poor asian woman to speak and sit around drinking ethically sourced herbal tea whilst basking in the glow of their own righteousness.

    • 2 corrections

      1) The Willetts occupation was done by a group of students and academics called Cambridge Defend Education (CDE). CUSU endorsed a protest outside of that talk, but it was CDE that interrupted the speech and occupied the lecture theatre. CDE members tend to think CUSU is hardly left-wing.

      2) The policies of CUSU are voted on by all affiliated JCR/MCR Presidents and Externals. Any student can propose action or policy for CUSU to get behind and enact. Its the only university-wide students' union we have, so if it's not representing your views, then try to influence it to do so! Otherwise you are being short-changed. The CUSU Women's Campaign published that letter because ordinary Cambridge students who are in the Women's Campaign wanted to. If addressing gender inequality was on your agenda as a self-identifying female student then you easily could have joined the CUSU Women's Campaign and argued against this letter.

      • Yes but

        "CDE members tend to think CUSU is hardly left-wing."
        During the occupation CDE were handing out pamphlets on "How to be a Marxist".

        • taja

          and that's supposed to make CUSU look bad how? and…an openly marxist candidate stood for CUSU president last year and got a pretty sizeable portion of the votes. being a marxist is hardly like being…i dunno…a famous abuser of women?

    • Anna M

      Hi there,
      I'm not planning to participate in the comments generally, but there's one thing I'd like to point out to you. Your rant mentions people like me inviting 'exclusively poor asian [sic] woman [sic] to speak'.

      Now, if you just read my name as white, and chose to make a sneering reference to Asian women, you might like to know that that's racist.

      Alternatively, if you actually know who I am (viz., an Indian immigrant), you're being racist in a much more straightforward way.

      If it's the latter option, I really do resent the implication that I'm a racist who only wants to form unions in tents with women of my own "race" (NB: Asia is generally thought to be a pretty big continent containing people of multiple races). If it's the former, I suggest you stop working on the default assumption that people are white.

      (Good point about the tea, though. In future, I shall be sure to source it only from plantations with proven records of abuse towards their workers. Deal?)

      • a feminist

        He used the word asian…. Oh My God… he must be a holocaust-denying rape-apologising rapist

      • Not Racist

        To call that comment racist is utterly pathetic, and you should be ashamed of yourself for doing so.

        How is it racist at all? It's making the (reasonable) point that being a rich white man shouldn't be a reason not to invite someone to speak.

        It might be misguided, it might come from someone who doesn't fully understand the problem of the imbalances of power in our society, but it isn't even slightly racist.

        I already disagreed with your side of the debate, but after that comment you've lost all my respect. Throwing around accusations of racism at the drop of a hat totally trivialises an incredibly serious issue. Shame on you.

        • seriously?

          I'm sure the loss of your respect will come as a crushing blow to her.

          p.s. The idea that people who want to listen to poor Asian women are doing so to feel self-righteous, and not because they might have interesting viewpoints, is kinda racist. As is the mocking of anyone who complains about racism (you know, those annoying femi-socialists who "rant and rave about how badly everyone is oppressed by rich white males and how unfair it all is"), and the trivialising of their concerns. Although you might have missed the racism in that particular statement, in anongst all the snobbishness and misogyny.

          • seriously

            "exclusively" poor asian women… it isn't suggesting that none of them have anything interesting to say, it isn't racist, stop trying to twist it that way.

            • Umm

              To make such comment about exclusively poor Asian women to an Asian woman sounds pretty racist to me

              • Ummm

                a) there's no reason to think that the writer knew that Anna is asian

                b) it's still not racist even if they did somehow know it. It's obviously making the point that we shouldn't go over the top in ignoring rich white men – we need balance. That's far from racist.

                • but

                  It's racist (and sexist) to dismiss the concerns of those who are concerned about 'opress[ion] by rich white males' as 'ranting and raving', and to paint those who would wish to redress the balance as discriminatory AGAINST rich white men, though. A mocking dismissal of those who fight for racial justice, as if they are making problems where there are none, is undeniably racist.
                  And the idea that we live in a world which is in any danger of going 'over the top in ignoring rich white men' (which is, I know, not an idea you've said you subscribe to, but it is the point that 'Again' is making) is just laughably ignorant.
                  It's also stupid to accuse people who try to point out racist language as 'trivialising an incredibly serious issue'. Relatively minor instances of racism are still racist and still worth addressing, and that's roughly akin to saying "how dare you say you're ill, did you know that REALLY ILL people have cancer, what a trivialising of illness!".

              • Again

                I've responded above but I shall reiterate what I said here as well, what I said was a response to CUSU's apparent problem with the number of rich white men at the Union and I suggested that it they feel that way then they could form their own union where they could invite exclusively those off different characteristics. I did not make any value judgement or suggest any inferiority on the part of poor Asian Woman and so my comment is not racist.

      • wtf?

        You're the one that tried to make race a factor with your irrelevant comment about a "rich, white man". That's what 'Again' is replying to.

      • Again

        Nice to see I've provoked my own debate here. The comment 'poor asian women' was designed to be the opposite of the 'rich white male' comment originally brought up by both Anna and CUSU, it was not targeted at anyone so lets not all get our pants in a twist about it. One might state that it is racist and sexist to say there are too many white men at the union?

        The point I was making was the vast gulf between the majority and the authors of this campaign. Its part of a bigger flock of student 'politicians' that includes CDE and most of CUSU as well as a number of people in the JCR who occupy their own particular sphere of ultra-left wing views and articulates that anyone who does not share them fails to do so because they are Hitler sympathising, greedy, sexist, rape apologists who want to make life as difficult as possible for everyone who isn't a member of their local golf club purely for the fun off it. Unless you start to engage with the majority in a reasonable manner you'll continue to ridicule yourself and get nowhere in advancing your causes, which actually broadly the general public agree with.

        As it is I am confident that there is almost no chance you will succeed in this campaign because you've marginalised yourself by your tone and willingness to characterise everyone else as racist whilst casually throwing around slurs yourself.

  • Two Wrongs..

    "Respect for fundamental aspects of the law is not incompatible with critical appraisal of how they work in practice.." – True, the courts have a big problem in dealing with rape given it's so often one person's word against another's – but that doesn't in turn mean it's right to substitute the view of a court for your own "there's no smoke without fire" approach

    Secondly, if the Union automatically dropped every speaker who is facing civil / criminal liability who then accepts their invite, we wouldn't have had Julian Assange, Tony Hayward, General Musharraf or Colonel Gadaffi to speak (to name a few). I think it would be far worse if the Union committee got together to decide whether or not someone seemed "too guilty" to speak here rather than allowing members the chance to grill them.

    Finally, however much of a little shit DSK is and however much rape victims do not get the platform for free speech that they need / deserve, denying DSK a right to speak doesn't help give them a platform, it just removes another one. Two wrongs don't make a right.

  • Colonel Gaddafi

    WOMEN ARE PROTECTED FROM WESTERN LECHERY IN THE GLORIOUS JAMAHIRIYA

  • Ben

    It's very misleading to frame the argument for DSK at the Union in the terms of "free speech". Being invited to speak at the union is not neccessary for free speech – and thus, not being invited to speak cannot deny his right to free speech. This line of argument is evasive and distracting.

  • It’s simple

    Quite frankly it comes down to one simple thing; does the union membership want to see him speak? The answer is a resounding yes as shown by talking to members and the tab poll (yes, it’s not a sample of the union membership but it’s best data we have)

    I also find the comparison with Assange interesting. That’s a man that refuses to stand a fair trial on rape allegations but there was no objection at all from the women’s campaign. I don’t see any other reason for that other than approval for his work and a better image than dsk.

  • Nate

    I agree with Ben – this has nothing to do with free speech. You'll notice none of you are complaining because you haven't been invited to speak at the Union – because it's a privilege, not a right.

    The Union's attitude that his speaking doesn't implicitly give him approval undercuts its own reputation – it can't call itself the country's/the world's premier debating institution one moment and deny that it legitimises its speakers. DSK will not answer questions about the case, and he's almost certainly been briefed up to his eyeballs – AND he won't be asked questions he hasn't been asked a hundred times before – nothing positive will be achieved by his appearance. BUT the self-styled foremost student society in the UK will have allowed him to recover his public image without a second thought.

    This shouldn't be allowed to happen – we don't need people like him demeaning the reputation of the University, and that's not even taking into account the massive triggering effect that will be felt by hundreds of student rape victims who know an admitted sex attacker will be wandering around the centre of town.

    • Rebecca Black

      What on earth does all this 'triggering' stuff even mean?

    • what?

      "admitted sex attacker"

      Well, that's a lie..

      • femi-socialist 2

        DSK admitted to evidence of the charge of "sexual assault", which could not be prosecuted because it was time-barred after 3 years.

  • mcguiness

    Women need to pipe down.

  • a feminist

    how did Anna Matthew get into Cambridge?

    • Awkward

      Says the person apparently incapable of copying down someone's name correctly…..

      • not awkward

        because her name is spely Anna Matthew as an author, then Anna Mathew in the introduction to the article. STFU idiot x

        • a bit awkward

          as you spelt "spelt" wrong…

          • Not so much

            As you will notice y and t are next to one another on the keyboard…

    • Admissions Tutor

      As I understand it, you have to an application by UCAS before the deadline in October. After that you're asked to submit a secondary questionnaire. Most candidates are then invited to interview and people get in if, all things taken into account, they are deemed to be one of the strongest candidates.

  • Dereck

    Yeah, you know what I'm gonna do. BURN YOU. PHYSICALLY.

  • tony

    "Here, recourse to the presumption of innocence obscures the fact that Strauss-Kahn hasn’t actually been acquitted by a court of law; the charges against him were dropped"

    Do you know why they were dropped? I wonder if you actually bothered to find out.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/01/nyregion/straus

  • Another correction

    Can anyone provide any evidence for the repeated claim that DSK 'admitted “sexual aggression” against Banon'? It sounds pretty unlikely that he would be stupid enough to admit this even if he were guilty of it, and the only sources I can find say he *denied* sexual aggression:

    '"Mr Strauss-Kahn admitted trying to kiss Miss Banon," a judicial official told reporters. "He does not admit sexual assault, but that's his opinion. The magistrate for his part said it could be regarded as a sexual assault."…Henri Leclerc, one of Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, confirmed the details of the ruling, but insisted: "He admitted no violence of any kind. Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to kiss her. He was refused, and did not insist, allowing her to leave."' — AFP release by Jacques Clement, 13 October 2011

    Of course, this is not the biggest problem with Mathew's argument; try the following sophistry: 'Here, recourse to the presumption of innocence obscures the fact that Strauss-Kahn hasn’t actually been acquitted by a court of law; the charges against him were dropped.'

    This misunderstands the point to a spectacular extent. People are not proven innocent by acquittal; they are assumed innocent until proven otherwise. Likewise, the fact that the French prosecutor feels there is sufficient evidence of sexual assault misses the point: only a trial, hopefully shielded from the baying mob's semi-informed assumptions of guilt, can determine someone guilty.

    • google says
      • Another correction

        Thanks for the reply.

        'The prosecutors said the attempted kiss was sexual assault but that the rape accusation was a case of "one person's word against another".' – the Independent article.

        As in the quotes I provided, it seems the debate is over whether attempting to kiss someone constitutes sexual assault: DSK says no, the prosecutor says yes. He has admitted to an act that others have labelled 'sexual aggression', but he has clearly not admitted sexual assault or aggression, as the quotation marks in these articles imply.

        Perhaps French law does indeed equate this with sexual assault, in which case this label is technically correct – but firstly, this is a far cry from the image 'sexual aggression' and 'assault' conjures, never mind the rape CUSU would have us believe he has essentially admitted to; and secondly, if attempting to kiss is sexual assault, I envisage countless prosecutions against misjudging awkward teenagers on their first date.

    • Ah ces Anglais…

      The fact that Banon's own mother asked to keep the story quiet during the Parti Socialiste's campaign is certainly fishy…

  • Matty McBroide

    Normally I'm not one to get involved in this sorta shite, but I'm pretty sure CUSU elections are soon. Is it cause Ruth Graham has done nob-all in her time and wanting to be seen as better than a quickly-poured pint of guinness?

  • Dick dodgy

    Lauren puts her argument across very well

  • Every cloud…

    Apparently not…
    http://fuckyoufaithtaylor.tumblr.com/post/1818626

    Boooo :-(

    "My second thought was how can I best destroy TCS and would a ceremonial burning of it be enough?"

    Huzzah! :-)

  • Fanny Strummer

    +1 if you think the women of CUSU should just bugger off and strum their fannys elsewhere?

    • -1 from me

      that's pretty rude and not really engaging with the debate.

    • Ugh

      More than rude, that is exactly the kind of misogynistic attitude we need to address. Rape is not only an issue for the women of CUSU. Maybe this is about more than 'strumming their fannys' and there is a reason why such a fuss is being kicked up.

  • Shame

    "Lauren puts her argument across very well"

    Shame it's so flawed really. Anyone who thinks the the Union is about freedom of speech needs a reality check. True, they allow some people to speak (those who have been invited – as far as I know there's no application process) – but who are they speaking to? The Union is a private members club – charging a fairly pricey membership fee – that filters out those who are willing to pay it, from the particularly diverse population of Cambridge Students.

    HILARIOUSLY, Lauren points out that "the number of female speakers this term is twice that of Michaelmas" – I can count 3 on the termcard (http://www.cus.org/termcard). That hardly "undoes" the Women's Campaign…

  • Jeff

    For Lauren, DSK's experience in a high-powered position as head of the IMF is more important than the multiple accusations of sexual aggression and his implication in prostitution rings.

    The fact that he has something interesting to say about the economy does not mean you can disregard the allegations. I do believe in 'innocent until proven guilty', but it's a far more complex matter in rape cases (only 6% of rapes in the UK lead to court convictions, does that mean that the other 94% of attackers were not rapists?)

    The issue here is larger than just DSK. It is about the culture of the University, where it's OK for a tab commenter to respond to the petition with: 'Hopefully they will get off their periods in a week so this lame petition will die down'.

    Rather than inviting DSK to give a talk, perhaps the Union should consider inviting him to debate whether 'The Only Limit to Female Success is Female Ambition'. Or perhaps they could invite Nafissatou Diallo, the maid in the New York hotel who accused him of rape. That would constitute a much more genuine attempt at 'free speech'.

    • Fej

      Nonsense. Did the union show approval of gadaffi when he was a speaker? They're getting people to speak that people want to hear from. Inviting Nafissatou Diallo would be very nice, but not interesting. She isn't an expert in anything, and (if I remember correctly) has lied about rape in the past.

    • Another correction

      And just 13% of terror arrests — not reported crimes, as with the rape statistic, but actual arrests – lead to conviction. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8047477.stm)

      Does it follow that we may treat innocent until proven guilty as 'far more complex' in their case too, and simply assume they are probably guilty?

      What this repeated argument fails to understand about 'innocent until proven guilty' is that it does not mean *everyone acquitted has been proven innocent*; it means that crowds are often stupid and assume, based on scarce reported facts, their own half-baked generalisations, and assumptions about 'rich, white men', that they know the truth in the case. Only a fair trial can (hopefully) overcome this, without which no person should be condemned.

      In any case, this is all irrelevant: someone still needs to explain why, if perceived moral standing is now a criterion for Union invitation, these petitioners did not protest Gadaffi, McChrystal, Paisley, Galloway…

      If George W Bush came to the Union, can you imagine the reaction to petitioning for his dis-invitation and replacement by one of the victims of the wars you, the Court of Popular Opinion, deem illegal? To claiming that as a rich, white, allegedly war criminal President, it is unfair to invite him? I think the mocking for this kind of self-congratulatory idiocy would make that 'periods' comment look like child's play. Ask yourself why.

      • Nate

        How do you know we didn't protest? How do you know we don't feel just as strongly about inviting dictators and other alleged criminals (i.e. Assange)? It must be very grand indeed to know the minds of your opponents, for not only does it give you the ability to second-guess our thoughts without bothering to do any research, or heaven forfend engage yourself in the debate by asking us, attending meetings, doing something more constructive than commenting on a tab article, BUT ALSO allows you to totally dodge the debate at hand by redirecting our attention to past and hypothetical speakers, things we have no control over.

        This debate is about DSK. Assange has been and gone. I wasn't even here when Gadaffi and Paisley spoke – I'm an undergraduate just like the rest, not some equal-rights monolith, as abstract as he is eternal. We have a problem with DSK. We've laid out our points about DSK clearly. Respond to them.

        • Another correction

          The points against this 'disinvitation' really are very simple.

          1) the court of public opinion feels DSK is guilty of rape. This is insufficient to disinvite him. The language of this petition in a way echoes the Dreyfus affair: his individual guilt of each of these charges is irrelevant because he 'symbolises' guilt, in the guilt of all generic rich white men exploiting generic poor female victims. If you are happy with this semi-informed mob rule by a vocal minority, so be it.

          2) Even if he were proven guilty, it is unclear that his invitation would cause tangible harm, or be seen as endorsing rape, or legitimise DSK. This is why the record of past invitees is important: none of them, some of whom are guilty of causing deaths (which is, it may surprise some, a more serious moral failing than rape), caused harm by speaking, had their endorsed crimes endorsed, or were legitimised. Take Assange: he was (and is) *still facing* charges for rape; he had recently fucked up wikileaks by leaking uncensored documents, supposedly leading to deaths; and the Tab explicitly pointed out that the rape charge and his house arrest were an important part of what made this controversial (http://cambridgetab.co.uk/news/exclusive-union-bags-wikileaks-founder). Despite that, no harm emerged, the Union was not seen as endorsing rape, and Assange was not 'legitimised' or otherwise. No one even suggested anything so stupid.

          So to point to the record of invitees is not merely to underline the obvious hypocrisy of the petitioners — rather a banal point. More importantly, it is to show that the underpinning of the petitioners' argument is mistaken: invitation does not cause harm, endorse crime, or legitimise the speaker.

          (As an aside, Paisley was scheduled to speak last year, McChrystal did speak last year, and Galloway debated last term. But I do appreciate your lecturing on 'bothering to do any research'.)

  • Lucifer

    This house would invite the Devil himself.

    • God

      I really like this. Does the union take requests? I can see this being a great debate, I'd definitely go to it. I also support the motion entirely. Once you start being morally selective in speakers, who decides where it ends? How much immorality do we allow? Whose idea of immorality do we base decisions on?

      It isn't the place of the union to be a moral judge. We are students of the University of Cambridge, we can make that sort of decision for ourselves, after hearing people speak.

  • worried

    Wow, had I known that cambridge students felt this way about " left wing feminists" , I probably would have gone elsewhere. I am starting to feel ashamed in belonging to a community that has a problem with some of the most important social emancipatory debates and political movements of the past century. The women who write pro-DSK seem to forget that had it not been for feminism, they would not have the right to vote, own property etc. Had those women not questioned what was then considered the " law" , we would not have basic rights. Still what worries me to no end is that people are choosing to invite DSK despite a large number of women and men at Cambridge being opposed to him coming. Is there no sense of community and caring for what someone in your community has to say? Do all of you really believe that we have achieved gender equality in the UK and that law is actually equivalent to justice? Why is it so important for all of you that DKS come, if many men and women on this campus have expressed on very profound HUMANE ( beyond the the rationale) reasons for him to not come.

    • Pissed off

      Speaking of 'the right to vote', you do realise that one of the most fundamental aspects of democracy is conceding defeat when it becomes clear that your views are not those of the majority? According to this poll, most of us would rather see DSK speak at the union. I consider myself to be left-wing and I strongly support feminist ideals, but I don't see why that means we can't tolerate those that represent a different point of view. If you feel strongly about DSK's sex allegations, don't attend the bloody talk rather than denying others a chance to hear what he has to say about other, equally important issues such as his role in the IMF. I come from a country where the IMF is robbing the national government of all fiscal sovereignty. DSK was heavily involved. I want to hear him speak and so do the majority of people here.

      • Curious Man

        A poll isn't the same as representative democracy, though, is it? There's a reason we have politicians arguing, representing different constituencies, and coming to compromises. They do things like legalise homosexuality, or ban capital punishment, in the face of overwhelming public opposition. If you want the tyranny of the majority back, that's your call, but I like living in a country that aims keeps the interests and needs of all its population in mind, not just pander to the single largest mass.

        • Yeah

          but, this isn't exactly an issue which will affect somebody's right to live or right to equality. If you don't agree with the talk just don't attend. In the case of a politician legalising homosexuality the line between right and wrong is (I would argue) pretty clear.

          Also, you're using two examples which have no effect on how the majority live their lives. By abolishing the death penalty, you're not infringing on the average citizen's rights. The same applies to the legalisation of homosexuality. In this case, however, a minority is demanding something which impacts on the rights of the majority (i.e. our right to attend this talk).

          • Not really.

            You don't have a "right" to attend the talk.

  • Tactics

    An issue the feminists could persue is the security risk of allowing a possiblly wonton sexual predator in the Union Building, and presumably dinner and bar, mingling with vulnerable 18 year old girls.

    • Satire or Hysteria?

      I just can't tell.

      • Tactics

        satire, but could be used

  • King Charles Dimange

    i believe in freedom of anus. the ability to move ones anus at one's desire. goodnight and goodday !

  • Emi Dunn

    Guys, lets chill out. Obviously he hasn't raped or even assaulted anyone, there's absolutely no conclusive evidence and it's ridiculous you'd start this witch hunt against a kind and doting father and husband whose only crime was that he loved the IMF a bit too much. It's clear Sarkozy orchestrated the whole thing to taint his reputation. Peace out, lets stop the hatin'

  • Eoin

    After Lauren posted a link to this piece on Twitter, and I complained to the Channel5 prog the Wrightstuff that the Union and University were separate, so it wasn't as they were saying, the University 'after publicity' for the talk.

    Also, if everyone ever accused of anything was barred from doing anything, how boring the place would be. He has not been found guilty of anything yet. Just because the prosecution say they have evidence. Evidence has been disproved (granted not that often AFAIK in such cases as DSK is accused of) before, no?

    Anyway, I'm now according to some cat loving blogger a spokesman for the Union (because I'm a member that he/she took umbridge with because I raised the innocent until proven guilty, and seemingly no other person was seen commenting on it.

    Apparently I don't want to see DSK for his previous achievements, (this was never raised in the discussion between us, but hey..) and I now find our entire conversation posted in a blog he/she has constructed on the whole 'DSK is EVIL' thing.

    Another reminder not to react to trolls/feminists.

    • Feminist

      Please reconsider your 'reminder'. I'm a feminist and I definitely think that DSK should remain invited, free speech is important, and it isn't the place of the union to be the moral judge of its speakers. 'Legitimising' is not what will happen if an illegitimate figure is heard by a discerning audience.

      Feminism is important, it's come a long way but there's so much further to go before we're truly equal. Please don't take misguided feminist concerns as a reason to write off the movement as a whole. Some of us are on your side.

  • Pfffft

    LOL Cambridge anti-intellectualism. As if you don't have an A* in GCSE French too.

  • taja

    copying and paste this occupy+feminism gag into every thread about politics huh?

  • Great effort…

    But you failed to notice that no marginalised group was mocked. Do you want the union to exclusively take poor, asian, female speakers? No? Thought not.

    Responses like this (and Anna's) really undermine legitimate liberal concerns, they just seem far too eager to jump on something potentially offensive and twist it into sexism/racism/homophobia etc. Stop it.

  • Curious Man

    Nah, the original post was sub-Richard Littlejohn bullshit. It needed calling out.

  • taja

    'your expression of a feminist or anti-racist viewpoint really undermines legitimate expressions of feminism or anti-racism'.

    can never figure out whether this is a threat (I will stop being feminist or anti-racist cos I don’t like what you say) or just a patronising suggestion to wait until some never-specified 'serious' case of sexism or racism arises. until this unspecified serious case happens people should just sit around on their arses, obviously