Ross Stitt at Quillette writes:
You might expect a row between a moral philosopher and a casino company to involve the former lecturing the latter on the ethics of profiting from gambling. But it is Peter Singer, sometimes called “the world’s most influential living philosopher,” who finds himself rebuked by SkyCity, New Zealand’s biggest promoter of poker machines. Singer had been booked to speak at a SkyCity venue as part of a ThinkInc tour to raise money for his charity The Life You Can Save, which seeks to reduce global poverty. But then an article appeared on New Zealand webzine Newshub reminding readers of Singer’s longstanding views on infanticide. “New Zealand’s disabled community is outraged a controversial Australian philosopher who justifies infanticide is being allowed to speak here,” Newshub reported. “Peter Singer, who’s been described as the most dangerous man in the world, has argued it’s ethical to give parents the option to euthanise babies with disabilities.”
The report went on to compare Singer to ethnonationalists. This “wouldn’t be the first time a controversial speaker had been barred,” the site reported. “After public outcry alt-right activists Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern had their event cancelled in 2018 over ‘security and health and safety concerns.’” SkyCity responded by cancelling the venue hire agreement. According to the New Zealand Herald, the company feared “reputational damage.” A statement further explained that, “Whilst SkyCity supports the right of free speech, some of the themes promoted by this speaker do not reflect our values of diversity and inclusivity.”
Whatever one thinks of Peter Singer’s philosophy, the idea that he is in any way comparable to Molyneux or Southern is a calumny. Singer is currently professor of bioethics at Princeton University, where he works in the Center for Human Values, and a laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. In 2005, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2012, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for “eminent service to philosophy and bioethics as a leader of public debate and communicator of ideas in the areas of global poverty, animal welfare, and the human condition.” Singer has written dozens of books on philosophy, some of which have been highly influential. His 1975 bestseller Animal Liberation has had a profound impact on the animal rights movement. His 2009 book The Life You Can Save and 2015’s The Most Good You Can Do have been important in advancing the cause of the growing effective altruism movement. The former, which explored our moral responsibility to alleviate poverty with charitable giving, was endorsed by Bill and Melinda Gates
This shows how bonkers the Sky City decision was. Singer is a world class intellectual. Sure his views on infanticide are controversial, but he was even here to talk on that. He was here to talk on how we have a moral responsibility to donate more to charity to help people in poverty.
If Sky City will cancel a talk by Peter Singer on helping people in poverty because of one negative media story, this shows cancel culture is very much in NZ.