Last night the BHA hosted and armchair conversation between Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers. After roughly half the audience had entered the room, a handful of protesters pushed their way in and onto the stage. Initially mistaken for religious loons, they eventually made it clear they were protesting Dawkins’ involvement in the New College of the Humanities and the existence of the college itself. While the death of free education in this country is a worthwhile thing to protest, the protestors definitely chose the wrong forum for the protest last night.
The audience were there for a free-thought debate / conversation, so were never going to take kindly to being shouted down at. They completely alienated themselves with their attitude – no matter what arguments they had, nobody was prepared to listen.
They were eventually turfed out by the police & campus security. The talk then began, but with police at all exits standing by to repel invaders.
As the talk moved from exobiology towards atheism, two other protestors got up from their seats, stood before the stage and tried to read out some questions or a speech. I may be wrong, but I gt the impression they were there to protest the anti-religion element of the talk (both RD and PZ being rabid atheists). The two protestors were quickly escorted outside after RD announced several times he would take their questions at the end.
When both speakers were asked what they would like the future to look like, there was a mutual agreement that they would like the word ‘Atheist’ to be meaningless. Both look forward for a time where you don’t have to state your disbelief in something, for the word to be as pointless as a ‘Leprechaunist’.
The night ended with the BHA Chair wrapping things up, suggesting we all join the BHA and thunderous applause from the audience for the speakers.