The Oxford Union invited a comedy writer to give a talk on ‘cancel culture’ – then cancelled his appearance.
Graham Linehan, creator of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, has been embroiled in a string of online rows concerning his comments about trans- gender people.
He was given a police warning in 2018 after allegedly harassing trans activist Stephanie Hayden online.
James Edward Price of the Oxford Union told Mr Linehan earlier this month that it would be an ‘honour’ to welcome him for a talk on cancel culture.
Graham Linehan, creator of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, had been invited by the Oxford Union to give a talk on ‘cancel culture’ but the offer was rescinded eight days later
Described by Mr Price as the ‘boycott of the 21st century’, the phenomenon typically refers to public figures whose comments on contentious subjects lead to them being publicly shamed and professionally shunned.
Mr Linehan was invited to give the talk on December 8, only for the offer to be rescinded eight days later.
The union blamed ‘logistical difficulties’ and said it hoped to ‘accommodate him in the future’.
Writing on his own private internet forum, Mr Linehan – who was banned from Twitter this summer for violating the site’s rules against hateful conduct – said of the invitation: ‘Wow, what an opportunity to really get to grips with cancel culture and what it means to our society.
‘I’d better start thinking about the line I’m going to take, and give a few examples of… oh wait no it’s been cancelled.’
Mr Linehan has been an ardent supporter of JK Rowling, who has also been accused of transphobia.
He was among 58 actors, writers and presenters who signed a letter supporting the Harry Potter author against an ‘insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend’.
He has also drawn criticism for his comments on the Holocaust. He was condemned in February by Lord Pickles, UK special envoy on post-Holocaust issues, for ‘trivialising’ the tragedy after he compared transgender children to concentration camp prisoners subjected to Nazi experiments.
The writer’s invitation to Oxford had been opposed by the student union’s LGBTQ campaign, which said the Oxford Union was committed to ‘causing controversy rather than encouraging debate’.
The union blamed ‘logistical difficulties’ and said it hoped to ‘accommodate him in the future’. (Stock image)
A spokesman said the union had ‘acted with poor judgment both in inviting Mr Linehan and in choosing to revoke that invitation, thereby opening themselves to the same accusations of ‘cancel culture’ they had originally sought to discuss’.
An Oxford Union spokesman said: ‘It is union policy to not discuss preparations for future events until the release of the next term card.
‘Debates go through multiple line-ups based on a variety of factors, especially during this year, and this term is no different.’
Previous guest speakers to spark protests at Oxford include ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin and Donald Trump’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon.