Feminist backlash shuts down 'free speech' gig | Promoter asks: How can comedians demand censorship? © Steve Best

Feminist backlash shuts down 'free speech' gig

Promoter asks: How can comedians demand censorship?

A planned gig about whether feminism was stifling free speech has been cancelled – after a backlash from feminists.

Alfie Noakes, promoter of the We Are Funny Project, had invited comedians to play the gig after writing a provocative article for Chortle questioning if radical feminism had gone too far.

But after a flurry of furious messages were posted in response online, the planned venue, Farr’s School of Dancing in East London, asked him to pull the gig.

In a new article for Chortle, Noakes said: ‘I’m very sorry to report that the posting, and dog-whistle call to attack all involved in the show, specifically the venue, was so concerning to our hosts that they asked me to pull the show.'

He specifically blamed comedian Kate Smurthwaite  for the decision, after she called on the venue to ‘stop hosting this kind of bigotry’

Noakes said: ‘How fragile is her political position to be so threatened by such an event? Perhaps, most importantly, did we just see an alleged professional act call for the censorship of a comedy show?’

He further called her a hypocrite as she has often spoken about free speech, and had first-hand experience of censorship.

Smurthwaite told Chortle that the show 'looked like sexist shit' – and that it was her right to free speech to say so. 

And she added: 'Venues that chose not to put on racist, sexist, homophobic events are enhancing free speech by ensuring that people from those groups are not bullied into silence, as I have been many times.'

Smurthwaite also questioned how much power her tweets had by adding: 'I was unaware that I could cosmically order things by talking about them on social media. Watch out for my upcoming tweets about Donald Trump being impeached and nationalising the rail network'

She also hailed her victory over the ‘horribly sexist’ show on Facebook, posting: ‘A couple of weeks ago I wrote a whole Facebook post criticising a "comedy" show that sounded horribly horribly sexist. My main criticism was that they were asking me to perform an unpaid five minute spot and that's fucking rude.’

Smurthwaite

Smurthwaite, above, hit the headlines in 2015 when she complained of being silenced when the feminist society at Goldsmiths College in London cancelled her gig there. She claimed it was over her controversial views, but the society said it was axed because of low ticket sales and the expense of guaranteeing her safety amid expected protests.

Although Farrs has pulled the plug on the feminism show, it will continue to host We Are Funny comedy nights, including a forthcoming season of Edinburgh previews. Noakes is now looking for a new venue for his feminism show.

Kate Smurthwaite's response to our request to comment in full:

I think you're being sucked in to promoting a shitty open mic event that no-one was going to go to anyway by being dragged into a fictional argument. But OK. 

I said (on Facebook) that I thought the gig looked like a pile of sexist shit. That was, and remains, my sincerely-held opinion. To suggest that I shouldn't be allowed to express such an opinion is sexism and censorship and waaaaah... Blessed be the fruit. Women are allowed opinions (welcome to 2018). FREEZE PEACH GUYS.

The Goldsmiths thing I was angry about because my show was no platformed based on lies and misinformation about me. Venues that chose not to put on racist, sexist, homophobic events are enhancing free speech by ensuring that people from those groups are not bullied into silence, as I have been many times. I applaud them. My shows are none of those things, they're clever and inclusive and nuanced and literally everyone should go to them.

I was unaware that I could cosmically order things by talking about them on social media. Watch out for my upcoming tweets (@Cruella1) about Donald Trump being impeached and nationalising the rail network. Be very afraid all ye minions for I shall rule benevolently on Instagram and Bebo. LOL.

Sincerely your new overlord OR IS THAT OVERLADY??!

Her satanic majesty

Kate Smurthwaite

Published: 23 Feb 2018

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