Cherwell

St Antony’s ‘eugenics’ debate cancelled amid backlash

St Antony’s Debate Society cancelled their first debate under heavy criticism from Facebook users over their proposed debate topic: “this house believes eugenics is the way forward.”

Society members cancelled the event, which was scheduled for Thursday night, six hours after posting about it on the Graduates’ Common Room Facebook page. They apologised for any offence that the suggested topic had caused, saying that it was “obviously poorly thought through and worded” and that any potential offence was “not at all the intention of the debate.”

The original event post was subsequently deleted.

An angry comment on the society’s post read: “As a long-term debater, I can say that a topic like this is not normal and is being utilized to mask obviously problematic realities in pseudo-intellectualism.

“I’m a carrier of genetic diseases that I would love to get rid of, and have a host of disabilities. Eugenics is defined as ‘the science of improving a population by controlled breeding to increase the occurrence of desirable heritable characteristics.’

“Fuck off with your controlled breeding.”

Another comment read: “If you really want to host an open and honest dialogue about this subject, at the very least, I would think you would introduce it as a topic later in term, rather than at the first meeting of the society.

“As it is, it just seems like some kind of promotional stunt designed to draw publicity through controversy, rather than an earnest attempt to discuss this topic.”

The society originally defended their choice of topic, responding to early complaints with comments such as: “We, at the Debate Society, believe in a certain type of freedom of speech which would allow you to take on this question seriously or not!”

“It’s a very uncomfortable topic, but that’s what clubs do – it’s standard practice to have to take on a position that you don’t necessarily agree (at all) with and argue it. It’s not like Antony’s is stating an official position based on the outcome or anything, it’s just a tool for people to sharpen their debate skills on.”

In response, other comments read: “The first meeting should really be on freedoms of speech since y’all clearly don’t have a grasp on the history of its oppressive and violent use, as well as nuance.

“An Oxford crowd that doesn’t know the difference between genetic engineering (literal, genes) and eugenics (really just genocide and ethnic cleansing apologism) is on a slippery slope for people using science as justification for their barbarism.

“But carry on for what looks, at best, like a dick measuring contest for entitled ‘intellectuals’.”