Philosopher AC Grayling criticises Union boycott

Famous philosopher AC Grayling criticises campaign to boycott the Union

World famous philosopher AC Grayling has today criticised a campaign fronted by OUSU Women’s Officer Sarah Pine against the Oxford Union.

Pine, who is campaigning in a personal capacity, had contacted Grayling and asked him to withdraw from his upcoming appearance at the Union in protest at the recent arrest of Union president Ben Sullivan for alleged rape and attempted rape.

Her actions were part of a campaign by Pine and St Hilda’s undergrad Helena Dollimore to persuade thirty upcoming Union speakers to pull out of their appearances as well as calling on Sullivan to resign.

The campaign has been backed by public figures including journalist Laurie Penny and Caroline Criado-Perez and senior Oxford students including OUSU president-elect LJ Trup.

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Philosopher AC Grayling

In a letter to Pine, Grayling today criticised the campaign. He said he feels “in a difficult position” as he feels “sympathy with the motivations behind [Pine's] call”.

He said: “While wishing to support to the full the underlying concerns you have in view, there is the consideration that we have to take seriously that fundamental principle of the rule of law and the rights of individuals, namely, that all those accused of crimes are innocent until proved guilty”.

He added: “I simply cannot, in all conscience, allow myself to act only on the basis of allegations and suspicions, or of conviction by the kangaroo court of opinion, or trial by press – the means too often employed even in our own society to condemn before the evidence and the arguments have been properly examined”.

“Indeed I very much wish that OUSU would be serious about this principle too – asking people to convict and punish someone before due process of law has taken its course is a bad direction to go in, and with great respect I urge you to reflect on that”.

Grayling’s comments come after concern has been raised about the risk of contempt of court and affecting the right to fair trial within the case.

Grayling’s appearance at the Union is due to take place this evening.

8 Comments

  1. Bad logic 22nd May 2014 at 8:17 pm

    “all those accused of crimes are innocent until proved guilty”

    This principle is designed to safeguard against the horrific possibility of an innocent being treated as guilty, which ruins lives.

    But everything changes when the crime is rape. A rape victim is at risk of psychological damage and stigmatisation as serious, and often more serious, than that of a wrongly-convicted innocent. Moreover, the incarceration of the perpetrator has a huge positive impact on the victim’s mental and social wellbeing.

    Consequently, in cases of rape, it is no longer the case that a guilty man being cleared is preferable to an innocent man being convicted. By extension, treating somebody as innocent until proven guilty is no better than treating somebody as guilty until proven innocent. The boycott sensibly recognises that Sullivan is *possibly* a rapist, which is grounds for exclusion from public fora.

    • CJSW 22nd May 2014 at 8:25 pm

      Are you suggesting that we should accept a lower burden of proof for rape cases as opposed to any other crime?

      • OP 22nd May 2014 at 8:37 pm

        Yep.

        • Prof. Brian Cox 22nd May 2014 at 10:57 pm

          Then you’re an idiot

        • Broke Graduate Student. 23rd May 2014 at 11:41 am

          Hey I have shady, circumstantial hearsay that the OP, aka “Bad Logic” might have raped some unknown girl. This is sufficient evidence to publish it on the newspapers.

          Thames Valley Police, please track the OP’s IP, arrest him/her and splash his/her name on all the national media. Thank you.

    • J 23rd May 2014 at 12:21 am

      This is insane. You’re essentially saying that one potential wrong balances out another potential wrong.

      We need better ways of proving rape, and not to potentially ruin even more lives than before. It’s going from lots of rape victims suffering a miscarriage of justice to lots of rape victims suffering a miscarriage of justice PLUS some innocent people having their lives ruined as well.

    • fuckoff 25th May 2014 at 11:58 am

      Obvious troll is obvious.

  2. cuntry living 26th May 2014 at 3:35 pm

    all men are inherently rapists!!!! the system!! the system! we live in a patriarchal society! innocent until proven guilty is an inherently misogynistic concept! AC grayling is perpetuating the white male hegemony!!!

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