Peter Singer Talk in New Zealand Cancelled by Venue (Updated)


SkyCity, a hotel and entertainment complex in Auckland, New Zealand, that was scheduled to host a talk this June by Peter Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton, has cancelled the event owing to controversy over the philosopher’s writings.

Sunaura Taylor, “Arctic Wheelchair”

Though appearances of his have occasioned protests in the past, this is the first time in a five-decade career of giving talks, mostly at universities, that a venue has actually cancelled a speaking engagement of his, according to Singer (as reported by the New Zealand Herald). SkyCity is a hotel and casino, not a university. [UPDATE: A reader points to a report that Singer was disinvited from a philosophy festival in Germany in 2015, and mentions other cancellations. Also, in a comment on this post, Professor Singer denies telling the New Zealand Herald this is the first time a talk of his has been cancelled. At this time the Herald article remains uncorrected (screen shot here).]

Singer is embarking on a speaking tour to raise money for charity, but it is his earlier writings on the permissibility of parents choosing to euthanize severely disabled babies that prompted opposition to his talk in New Zealand.

According to The Guardian, the venue released a statement saying, “Whilst SkyCity supports the right of free speech, some of the themes promoted by this speaker do not reflect our values of diversity and inclusivity.”

Singer is quoted as saying, “it’s extraordinary that Skycity should cancel my speaking engagement on the basis of a newspaper article without contacting either me or the organiser of my speaking tour to check the facts on which it appears to be basing the cancellation.”

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