LETTER
TB Davie Memorial Lecture: David Benatar writes to Mahmood Mamdani
07 Aug 2017
BY DAVID BENATAR

From: David Benatar
Subject: TB Davie Memorial Lecture
Date: 02 April 2017 at 12:49:25 AM SAST
To: Mahmood Mamdani

Dear Professor Mamdani

I understand that you are scheduled to give the TB Davie Memorial Lecture this year. This named lecture, as you know, is devoted to the theme of academic freedom and freedom more generally. What you might not know is that the 2016 lecture was going to be given by Mr. Flemming Rose, cultural editor of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper and notable defender of freedom of expression. However, the University Executive, over the protestations of the then-members of the Academic Freedom Committee disinvited Mr Rose because they perceived him as a controversial speaker. I responded to this ironic and outrageous breach of academic freedom here: http://www.politicsweb.co.za/opinion/uct-a-blow-against-academic-freedom

The Academic Freedom Committee’s term of office came to an end at around this time and the new committee has invited you to be the speaker in 2017. While it is possible that you might use the opportunity of the TB Davie lecture to criticise the University for having disinvited Mr Rose, it would be far more effective if you and other potential speakers in future years refused to give the lecture. Until Mr Rose’s disinvitation is reversed, the TB Davie lecture will be a farce. Thus I urge you to indicate to the Academic Freedom Committee that you will not deliver a TB Davie lecture until Mr Rose has been allowed to deliver the lecture he was invited to give.

Yours sincerely,
David Benatar

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David Benatar

David Benatar is a professor of philosophy and head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cape Town in Cape Town, South Africa. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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