Sunday, July 21Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

Postman Isaac: Where do you stand?

An acknowledgement: The Orbital would like to acknowledge that Isaac Masih strenuously denies creating the Islamophobic and homophobic tweets in question and, upon believing his Twitter account was hacked, has since disabled it.

IN DEFENCE by Antonia King

Before I begin, let it be made clear that no one is in defence of the prejudiced views which were allegedly expressed by Postman Isaac, myself included. They are clearly in no way representative of the student body. However, the campaign for him to be banned from the SU or otherwise reprimanded I do not agree with.

As many have said on the matter, his supposed views have not been expressed to students at Royal Holloway in person. No students, to my knowledge, have felt personally victimized by Isaac. If this was the case, then of course it would be an urgent matter requiring direct action. It is true that students and students’ unions should fight prejudice on campus and should work hard to do so, but whether this prejudice was brought onto campus is very debatable. Furthermore, I do not believe students or staff should be punished for views unless they are actively victimizing others on a personal level.

Freedom of speech and thought does not only extend to those you agree with. It is clear that there is widespread disagreement with the views allegedly expressed online. However, this should not naturally infer that Isaac should be banned from the Students’ Union if he were to hold these views, especially considering that he has not caused offence in person. In no way am I saying prejudiced views are acceptable, but equally they do not justify the SU or any other organisation preventing from doing their job or entering their place of work. To prevent someone from doing their work based on their beliefs is inherently wrong.

Furthermore, if we start banning people from the Students Union and smearing them based on disagreeing with their views, I believe this sets a worrying precedent and is not conducive to the freedom of speech the SU is supposed to believe in.
In conclusion, I do not believe the views allegedly expressed on Isaac’s Twitter account mean he is unable to do his job or should be banned from the Students’ Union building.

IN OPPOSITION by Jack Kilker

Following the recent online petition against Postman Isaac, there has been a considerable polarisation of student views. The online petition, started by Joe Rayment, sought to prevent Isaac from entering the SU building based on anti-Islamic views displayed on his personal twitter account.

Rayment has said that “Student unions have always been at the forefront of fighting fascism and prejudice on campuses and should remain fighting against this.” Though it may seem unfair, the Student’s Union could not be seen to do nothing against this issue when it was first brought to their attention. Part of the role of the Union is to protect the students from potentially offensive ideology or behaviour, and just because Postman Isaac has not done anything based on his alleged views at this point in time, it does not mean that his views are in anyway diminished.

This case is similar to that of Paolo Di Canio, Sunderland football team’s manager, who has been associated with Fascist groups and been photographed performing the Fascist salute. Upon his appointment, questions were raised about the suitability of such an individual to fulfil such a public position.

Questions like those which are being raised about Isaac’s suitability are in no way uncommon in such a situation: some individuals or groups of individuals may feel victimised by, or nervous around, such an individual as Isaac because of the views which he is now associated with: should they be left to feel this way at the expense of the individual who has created the situation?

In no way is this article an attack on Postman Isaac as an individual, I am merely considering the pressure upon the SU to be seen to be working to protect the student body from offensive viewpoints. This article merely uses Postman Isaac’s situation as an example of a wider debate. Where do you stand on this issue?

Photography: flickr – urban75