Statement issued by

Hampshire is LYING about why they called police on StopPatriarchy activists and the stakes for women everywhere are HUGE!

May 19, 2013 | Revolution Newspaper |


On April 13, 8 members of (SP) were forced to pack up their officially registered table at Hampshire's annual conference on Reproductive Freedom and escorted off Hampshire College under threat of arrest by campus police. Their "crime"? Peacefully arguing that pornography and the sex industry—along with the assault on the right to abortion and birth control—are part of the global enslavement and degradation of women.

For weeks since, was ignored, canceled on, and hung up on by Hampshire Administration. Eventually, in response to press inquiries, Hampshire released a statement filled with LIES.

In order to "set the record straight" and because women's lives around the world are dependent on OPENING UP—rather than closing down and criminalizing—discussion and activism towards REAL WOMEN'S LIBERATION and overall HUMAN EMANCIPATION, we are printing their 5-sentence statement (below) and responding to their lies.

"Members of the Stop Patriarchy group were asked to leave the Civil Liberties and Public Policy [CLPP] conference not because of their views, but because of their repeatedly disruptive behavior. This is an annual conference with more than 1,000 in attendance. In addition to planning the program, its staff and student organizers ask that all participants follow community norms for discussion so that everyone can participate in productive dialogues and workshops. When conference organizers raised concerns with Stop Patriarchy members about their repeatedly disruptive behavior, their response was to dismiss the negative effects of their actions on others attending the conference and to continue the behavior. They were asked to leave, and when they refused to leave peacefully campus safety officers were asked to escort them off campus.

Elaine Thomas, Dir. of Communications,
Hampshire College, Amherst,MA

LIE #1: SP was asked to leave "not because of their views, but because of their repeatedly disruptive behavior."

Truth: At no point did CLPP organizers, either before or while evicting SP, accuse SP of being "disruptive." The only reason CLPP organizers gave for evicting SP was that one group of conference participants had complained that SP's arguments against the sex industry made them "uncomfortable" and made the conference no longer a "safe space." SP argues that the sex industry reduces women to sex objects and is the "mirror opposite" of the anti-abortion movement which reduces women to breeders. These views are completely appropriate in a conference on "Reproductive Freedom" and "Social Justice." Outrageously, at a time when the sex industry is brutalizing, raping, and torturing millions of women and girls every year, it is precisely these views that are increasingly marginalized and outright suppressed—as they were by CLPP and Hampshire college—in academia and much of the so-called "women's movement."

Question: Should the real-world harms to women caused by the sex industry be suppressed in the discourse over women's liberation? Is this the "search for the truth" and open contestation of ideas that a university should stand for?

LIE #2: SP violated legitimate "community norms."

Truth: SP acted in a principled fashion in all its interactions, and abided by CLPP's written standards for the conference. CLPP's standards regarding "safety" states: "ask for consent to continue conversations that were begun earlier, allow the space for people to leave a situation that is triggering..." The pro-porn group (whose complaints were cited by CLPP as the reason SP was forced to leave) had approached SP's table, specifically to argue over pornography. At every point they were free to "leave [the] situation." SP did carry out substantive and sharp, yet principled, struggle with them over the devastating effects of the sex industry. What seemed to offend them was SP's argument that their individual "positive experience" with porn and "sex work" should NOT be elevated over the global social harm of the industry on millions and millions of women and girls.

Question: Is "safe space" to mean that participants should be protected from encountering ideas that differ from their own? Should the subjective experience of individuals be allowed to silence the experiences of millions who are harmed by the sex industry?

LIE #3: "Safety officers" were only called after SP refused to leave peacefully and they aren't really "the police."

Truth: "Safety Officers" are actual POLICE and they were present from the first time CLPP organizers approached SP and told them to leave "or be arrested." There was no request that SP ignored before police were called nor did SP ever act unpeacefully. Repeatedly, CLPP organizers—and now Hampshire administration—have referred to campus POLICE as mere "safety officers." Elsewhere CLPP wrote that, "We told campus safety that we did not want them [SP] arrested, and the local Amherst police were not involved." In reality, these "safety officers"—actual police, agents of the highly repressive/oppressive state—repeatedly threatened arrest, specified criminal charges that carry jail time, put their hands on SP activists and stated that they would detain the SP activists at the Amherst Police Precinct.

Question: Will you remain silent as the force of the police and threat of arrest is used to suppress political debate and academic discourse, especially on a question whose stakes are the liberation or enslavement of half of humanity? Or will you seek out the argument that is being kept from you, fight to open up this debate, and join in the struggle for the full liberation of women?

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