The Oxford Union has disinvited William Donohue, President of the Catholic League, an American civil rights group, to speak at an upcoming debate.
The debate, titled “This House Believes the Catholic Church Can Never Pay for Its Sins,” is due to be held this term, the Telegraph reported, but will be going ahead without the participation of Dr. Donohue.
Donahue, who holds a doctorate in social science, said he is “appalled” at the way he has been treated by the nearly 200-year-old debating society.
“I have been lied to by the Oxford Union,” Donahue said. “Either no one will debate me or someone got to Wilkinson and nixed the invitation. Either way, it shows what a fraud these people are.”
“They speak endlessly about the virtue of free speech and their commitment to honest debates, yet their public pronouncements are belied by their actions,” he added.
The Oxford Union, a debating society going back to 1823, describes itself as “the last bastion of free speech in the Western World” on its website and Twitter account, quoting the words of former Prime Minister Harold Macmillan.
Dr. Donahue said he has reached out to the president of the Oxford Union, Daniel Wilkinson, but has not received the courtesy of a reply.
“That Wilkinson chose not to reply to my letter—I gave him two days—makes him doubly delinquent. It does not speak well for the Oxford Union that they have people like him in senior positions,” he said.
Wilkinson invited Donohue last month to participate in its debate on the Catholic Church, slated for February 28th, but later informed him that the Union had offered Donohue’s spot to someone else. The Catholic League has posted all the back-and-forth correspondence with the Oxford Union online.
Donahue later posted a video on Youtube in which he suggested that his treatment by the Oxford Union is emblematic of the hostility conservatives face, even by purported defenders of free speech.
“Either no one will debate — this has happened to me many times before, so I’m no rookie to this — or someone got to Wilkinson and said: ‘You don’t want to give this guy Donnie a platform.’”
“This is not a matter of misunderstanding, it’s not a matter of a glitch or a mistake. This is deliberate and calculated and it is all political,” he said.
“The macro issue here is free speech for everybody,” he said, adding that he considers Wilkinson a “coward.”
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