A tutor at Eton College lost an appeal to get reinstated after getting fired over a controversial YouTube lecture on the perils of radical feminism. Despite immense support from former students and the clear violation of spirit of free speech, the governing body of the half-millennium-old college upheld the decision to fire Will Knowland.
Will Knowland, a teacher of English, prepared an online lecture dubbed “Patriarchy Paradox” on the topic of radical feminism and toxic masculinity. In a nutshell, the lecture was critical of radical feminism and glorified the achievements of men throughout history. The lecture was supposed to be part of the Perspective Classes for older students. However, the school denied him permission to show it to students due to concerns over its content. Instead, Knowland posted the lecture on his personal YouTube channel.
The school’s chiefs fired him after he refused several requests to remove the video. On Monday, the school’s governing body unfortunately upheld the decision to fire Knowland.
The firing sparked a heated debate on political correctness and “woke” values that have been observed under the leadership of the current headmaster, Simon Henderson. Many current and former students appear to be supporting the teacher. Some have sent letters to the school’s administration, arguing the firing of Knowland showed that the school was intolerant of opposing views.
A petition calling for the reinstatement of Knowland already has more than 2,700 signatures.
“I regard political correctness and wokeness as an evil which is making a mockery of free speech and attempting to turn the history of this great country upside down.
“No respectable educational establishment should have any truck with it, and should resist firmly,” a former student wrote on the online petition.
The Free Speech Union said the firing of Knowland is a betrayal of the school’s colorful history and promised to fight the case through parliament.
“The Free Speech Union is disappointed to learn that Eton’s governing body has decided to uphold the decision to sack our member Will Knowland.
“No teacher should lose his or her job for challenging ideological orthodoxy, least of all a teacher at Eton.
“This is a betrayal of the school’s 580-year history of encouraging its pupils to think critically and independently about difficult questions.
“The Free Speech Union will be referring Eton’s trustees to the Charity Commission and the Attorney General for failing to discharge their duty to protect Eton’s reputation and to ensure it is pursuing its charitable object, which is to advance education for the benefit of its students.
“In addition, the Free Speech Union will be working with its supporters in the House of Commons to amend the Equality Act 2010,” the Free Speech Union said in a statement.
In a letter to parents and staff, Headmaster Henderson said defended the decision by saying:
“It has been suggested by some that intellectual freedom is somehow being compromised within Eton. It is not.
“This is such a rewarding place to work precisely because there is such plurality of thought among boys and staff.
“However, as in any school, there are limits to the freedoms that teachers have, and there are professional obligations that must be respected.”