Established followers of this website may recall that in 2015 Amnesty International denied our political party Justice for Men & Boys the opportunity of using its London conference facilities to host the 2016 International Conference on Men’s Issues, on the grounds that J4MB is an anti-feminist political party, while Amnesty is a feminist organization. Our main blog piece on the story is here. Paul Elam’s video on the matter is here (5:31).
We’re currently seeking a venue in the UK to host an ICMI in August 2022, and we thought that a good host city might be Cambridge, given the warm reception Elizabeth Hobson and I received there last year, details here. It is extremely time-consuming to find suitable venues for conferences, so we sent our venue requirements to a venue finding company which charges us nothing, but charges a commission to venues which it recommends to clients, and which are subsequently booked by them.
One of the potential venues for an ICMI in August 2022, identified by our venue finder, was Robinson College, Cambridge. Its key conferences page is here, and states:
Opened as a purpose-built conference centre in support of our academic vocation, Robinson College has been excelling as a conference venue for over 30 years by exceeding expectations.
It appeared a suitable venue, in part because it offers nearby reasonably-priced student accommodation, not used by students during the summer holidays. I requested a site visit, and was emailed a form to complete before a site visit could be agreed by the college, External request to hold an event form.
A quick scan of the document revealed questions which I could imagine being used by the college to deny us use of its facilities, in a box on the front page, headed:
Prevent – To comply with the College policies and legal requirements could you indicate the nature and content of the Event / Occasion?
The final two questions in the box:
In your view, will the subject matter include views which people (whether they attend the event or not) may find controversial, offensive or distasteful? Yes / No
In your view, have any of the speakers/attendees at the event previously expressed views which may be interpreted as causing contrioversy, or promoting extreme intolerance of the views of others? Yes / No
Is there a more weaselly word than “controversial” in the English language? No word is employed more to stifle free speech. It hardly needs me to point out to followers of this website that our views are considered “controversial” to feminists in particular, so rather than filling in the whole form, I decided to address this issue in an email sent to the college via the venue finder:
[Name redacted], I’ve looked through the document you sent, “External request to hold an event form”, and it strikes me that one issue in particular needs to be addressed at the outset, that of controversy. It seems fairly pointless to complete the form until and unless this issue is addressed (besides which much of the requested information will require a site visit and face-to-face discussions to flesh out). I’d be happy to discuss the issue of controversy face-to-face with the venue staff, but I’ll attempt to address the issue here, with hyperlinks.
Justice for Men & Boys is a political party, founded in 2013, and it remains to this day the only political party in the English-speaking world campaigning for the human rights of men and boys on many fronts. In our 80-page-long 2015 manifesto we explored 20 areas where the human rights of men and boys are assaulted by the actions and/or inactions of the state, almost always to privilege women and girls. There is not one area in modern-day Britain in which the human rights of women and girls specifically are assaulted by the actions and/or inactions of the state. Not one. The state, in line with society, is blind to the suffering of men and boys, and obsessed with the suffering of women and girls.
Last year an important book by the blogger William Collins was published, the 700-page long The Empathy Gap: Male Disadvantages and the Mechanisms of Their Neglect. Happy to send a complimentary copy (RRP £25.00) to the College.
We’re also the only anti-feminist political party in the English-speaking world. Feminists seek not gender equality, but ever more female privilege. They have enormous power in the UK and globally, and are ruthless in trying to deny freedom of speech to those who challenge their narratives. We have had our own experience of that. Last year, along with Elizabeth Hobson, our Director of Communications, I was due to give a talk (“Equal Rights for Men and Women”) at the Alison Richard building, the home of the Politics and Sociology departments, at Cambridge University. Elizabeth was to give a talk, “The History of Feminism”. Feminists wrote an open letter to the Vice Chancellor, demanding the talks be cancelled. The letter contained absurd claims and misrepresentations, none of which they ever substantiated (because they couldn’t, they were all lies).
Eventually the talks were moved to a lecture block in the centre of the city, and went ahead despite 50+ students trying to stop people entering the building. They made a lot of nose in an effort to stop the talks going ahead, but failed. A man who attended our talks was later assaulted by the protestors, and his 16-year-old son threatened. Along with colleagues I had milkshake thrown over me at a pub a few hours before we gave our talks. We’ve put together 40 blog pieces relating to our visit to Cambridge here, Cambridge University talks – related blog pieces, videos etc.
The largest gatherings in the Men’s Rights Movement are the International Conferences on Men’s Issues. Starting in Detroit in 2014, later ones have been held in London (we organized two of them, the 2016 and 2018 conferences, at London ExCeL, the largest conferences and events venue in the capital), Gold Coast (Australia) and Chicago. Let me know if you’d like a link to the playlists of all the presentations, to give you a feel for the content. There have never been any protesters outside any of these conferences.
So, to return to the issue of controversy. By definition, feminists will consider our events controversial, and try to stop them taking place, but only because they want to deny freedom of speech. I must leave it to the good people at Robinson College to decide whether they support freedom of speech, or are happy to see it denied – along with the evidence of male disadvantages and suffering – by feminist ideologues.
I think it’s fairly obvious that to engage properly with the email, someone at Robinson College would have had to spend some reasonable time checking out the hyperlinks etc. I don’t know how long it took our venue finder to forward my email to the college, but 31 minutes after I’d sent it to her, she replied with this:
Unfortunately Robinson College have said that due to their prevent policy, they are unable to proceed with the event.
The Prevent Strategy – to which the college is alluding – has long been the main element in the government’s strategy to combat terrorism. In 2011 the government published a 116-page document on the strategy – here. The following Foreword was written by Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary (and Minister for Women and Equalities) at the time:
Intelligence indicates that a terrorist attack in our country is ‘highly likely’. Experience tells us that the threat comes not just from foreign nationals but also from terrorists born and bred in Britain. It is therefore vital that our counter-terrorism strategy contains a plan to prevent radicalisation and stop would-be terrorists from committing mass murder. Osama bin Laden may be dead, but the threat from Al Qa’ida inspired terrorism is not.
The Prevent programme we inherited from the last Government was flawed. It confused the delivery of Government policy to promote integration with Government policy to prevent terrorism. It failed to confront the extremist ideology at the heart of the threat we face; and in trying to reach those at risk of radicalisation, funding sometimes even reached the very extremist organisations that Prevent should have been confronting.
That is why we have reviewed the Prevent programme, and these are the results.
First, we will respond to the ideological challenge of terrorism and the threat from those who promote it. In doing so, we must be clear: the ideology of extremism and terrorism is the problem; legitimate religious belief emphatically is not. But we will not work with extremist organisations that oppose our values of universal human rights, equality before the law, democracy and full participation in our society. If organisations do not accept these fundamental values, we will not work with them and we will not fund them.
Second, we will prevent people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure that they are given appropriate advice and support. We will build on the successful multi-agency ‘Channel’ programme, which identifies and provides support for people at risk of radicalisation.
Third, we will work with sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation. Here, progress has been made in recent years, but it is patchy and must be better. So we will work with education and healthcare providers, faith groups, charities and the wider criminal justice system. We will also work to tackle the challenge of radicalisation on the internet.
There will be other changes too. For example, the monitoring and evaluation of Prevent projects has not been robust enough to justify the sums of public money spent on them. We will make sure that they are improved, and unless there is evidence that they are effective and of value for money, projects will lose their funding.
Finally, we will do more than any other Government before us to promote integration, but we will do so separately and differently from Prevent. As the Prime Minister declared in his Munich speech, the combined effect of this work and of the new Prevent strategy will be an unyielding fight against extremism. And as the Deputy Prime Minister said in his Luton speech, we will use smart engagement to take on extremist ideas alongside a ruthless determination to find and punish those who promote or take to violence.
I would like to pay tribute to Lord Carlile of Berriew, who has provided independent oversight for the review. He agrees that this is a sound strategy for preventing the threat of home-grown terrorism. I believe it is a strategy that will serve us well for many years to come.
If anyone can enlighten me as to anything in the Prevent strategy document which might have any bearing on the college denying J4MB the opportunity to host an ICMI in 2022, I should be grateful. The college’s position is clearly a cynical excuse to deny free speech to those who shine a strong light on men’s issues and feminism.