Boycott Peter Singer's Speaking Event at St. Olaf

Boycott Peter Singer's Speaking Event at St. Olaf

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Petition to
St. Olaf College Admin and

Why this petition matters

Started by Caroline J

On Wednesday, February 16th, St. Olaf College will be virtually hosting philosopher Peter Singer as a guest speaker. His presentation, "The Point of View of the Universe", will be an academic discussion of his philosophies, some of which are exceedingly ableist and hateful. Here are a few of his proclamations, as well as articles that outline his attitude toward disabled people (trigger warning):

  • Summary of beliefs (taken from Not Dead Yet!'s article in ILI's digital library, the first link below):
    • Not all humans are "persons" [...] some people with life-long cognitive disabilities never become "persons"
    • Killing a "non-person", even if it is human, does not carry the same moral weight as killing a "person" [and] the reasons to kill non-disabled infants do not apply to disabled infants
    • Infants with known disabilities, especially cognitive disabilities, do not bring the same amount of happiness into the lives of their parents [...] and will have an unhappier life than other people
    • It should be legal for parents to decide to have their disabled infants killed up to 28 days after birth [...] and receive non-disabled replacements
    • Unless the benefit to the people who love these "non-persons" outweighs the emotional and financial burden to individuals and society of keeping them alive, they can be safely and deliberately killed
  • Direct quote describing disabled people as less valuable than animals:
    • "[t]here will surely be some nonhuman animals whose lives, by any standard, are more valuable than the lives of some humans. A chimpanzee, dog, or pig, for instance, will have a higher degree of self-awareness and a greater capacity for meaningful relations with others than a severely retarded infant or someone in a state of advanced senility."
  • Articles about his philosophies:

Yes, this is who has been invited to speak as an academic at St. Olaf. 

According to the page about his appearance at St. Olaf, he is part of the "Spring 2022 series: Contemporary Controversies", but we implore admin to recognize it for what it is: hate speech. His philosophies aren't controversial, they're dangerous. They threaten to dehumanize the already marginalized community of those with disabilities, to make them prove that they are people, and prove that they are worth being treated with basic human respect.

Peter Singer's problematic views towards disabilities have no place at St. Olaf college and are harmful to the environment of welcome, inclusivity, and safety for disabled people in the community. We do not accept his blatant hate speech at our school. We do not welcome him or give him a platform to speak on. We reject his ablism and agree to boycott his event this Wednesday.

Some other things St. Olaf may consider acting on regarding this situation:

  • An apology sent to the community and commitment to never invite hate speech to our school again
  • Professors will not give any points or extra credit for attending and giving him a larger platform for hate
  • Addressing pre-existing barriers to disabled students that have thus far gone ignored 
1,011 have signed. Let’s get to 1,500!