by UnHerd
Thursday, 21
January 2021
Video
10:54

Sacked Eton teacher: I stand by my patriarchy lecture

In his first interview, Will Knowland tells Freddie Sayers about his departure from the school
by UnHerd


When teacher Will Knowland was sacked by Eton for refusing to take down a lecture from his YouTube account “Knowland Knows”, his departure sparked furious debate. The provocative lecture, ‘The Patriarchy Paradox’, argued that the idea of a repressive patriarchy throughout history is a myth, that men have had it harder than women, and that traditional gender roles are not social constructions but the inevitable result of innate biological differences.

To its critics, the video was deemed offensive and sexist for espousing such a retrograde view of masculinity. But to Knowland and his supporters, whether the content was offensive or not was secondary to the video’s broader purpose: that these ideas, however provocative they may be, are fair game for discussion and debate.

That this incident occurred at the world’s most prestigious school — educator of over 20 British Prime Ministers (including the current one) and princes William and Harry — only served to give the controversy more attention.

It’s an intriguing case study of the interplay between elite institutions, competing visions of masculine virtue and the limits of acceptable ideas. Knowland argues that he was upholding Eton’s traditions, which he sees as being under threat:

I felt that my duty to uphold Eton’s very long rich tradition of encouraging independent critical thoughts and having broad based debate was being called into question. Why should we stop boys from watching this even in their own time? People should be allowed to make up their own minds about it.
- Will Knowland, LockdownTV

He positions his lecture in the spirit of a liberal education, in which a full range of ideas should be discussed:

I think, watching the way in which debate had been narrowed over the last five years or so, particularly on this topic at an all boys school struck me as slightly strange. And if you’re an all boys school, and you can’t have a rigorous open discussion of masculinity, as informed by anthropology, and psychology, I think something is going wrong. And if the reason for that is that it might upset a member of staff, then you’re heading in the safespace direction. And I think that if Eton can’t resist that, which is a threat, that is, I think it’s fair to say permeating the wider culture, if Eton, can’t resist that then I think very few places have got a chance of doing so.
- Will Knowland, LockdownTV

But was sacrificing a job that he held for nine years, to defend such a deliberately provocative and one-sided treatise, worth it?

Well, I knew I was taking a risk making a stand on a point of principle. But as far as I see it, it’s a point of principle that is essential to the identity of the college, and also essential to what a liberal education is all about. So there’s a sense in which, if I’d allowed that, my job already wouldn’t have been as valuable to me. I mean, there are people who might say, you stay in it just for the money, but any teacher who’s in teaching for the money is very easily bought. And I think that there are more important things than that. And there’s a sense in which I’d lost my job even before I was sacked.
- Will Knowland, LockdownTV

As ever, we’ll leave you to decide whether is a point of principle you would defend. Many thanks to Will for his time.

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Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
1 year ago

A bit disappointed Freddie’s obvious distaste for some of the points being raised. I am totally on this teacher’s side. Critical thinking is all about playing devil’s advocate and evaluating competing and complex opinions and aspects. Just because you don’t like the idea that women may, biologically, be pre-disposed to prefer a ‘strong’ man this does not mean it is WRONG, it may be just a slightly uncomfortable scientific fact. it also does not mean that this in itself should not be put into context too – for example just because this may have some truth it does not mean it is conscious, universal or to be used as an excuse not to treat women with disrespect. Women are not slaves to biology any more than men are. It is just one aspect of ourselves. We need more teachers like this man – he is a hero as far as I am concerned.

Paul Booth
Paul Booth
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I agree with you, Cheryl. Too much of his own opinions obtruded.

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I suspect there’s a bit of Freddie playing devil’s advocate himself in this instance. He’s just too intelligent to really believe that presenting provocative notions – for a course specifically designed to provoke debate – is exactly the same as supporting all of those notions. Had he been less challenging, there would doubtless have been accusations of two elitist white men cheering on the patriarchy whilst wanting to hit women.

As it was, I enjoyed Mr Knowland’s defence of his position. An intelligent and principled man.

I do appreciate UnHerd for these interviews. In a similar vein to this particular one, I might disagree quite vehemently with some of the points of view being aired, but I enjoy mulling over the arguments and coming to my own conclusions.

(PS Unherd doesn’t like links, but the 2014 UCLA study I presume he was referring to is interesting in that it said that women are attracted by more masculine males during ovulation (they got them to rate attractivess through sniffing T-shirts, I seem to remember!) but that for the rest of the menstrual cycle this wasn’t the case. Again, nuance is what we are losing.)

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

In the bird kingdom this can be observed: a female will mate with a hunk but cohabit with a more feminine male who will stick around to help raise the family.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago

It is not really like that in the bird world, birds display a vast range of sexual dimorphism in body and behavior, they do not pick and chose which they will fallow.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Freddy is terrified of experiencing Darren’s fate after talking to Dr Starkey..

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I think however there is a something a bit dislikeable about this chap, or rather his sources and arguments – I’m not sure he has worked through it all to reach a more nuanced understanding – he’s clearly angry about matriarchal misandry, and launches a muscular defence, maybe not appreciating that it’s a very small group of people who support such mad views. It felt to me that he is a bit too absorbed in the fray, and not seeing the bigger picture -he picked a fight in a rather unwise sort of way. I can see why Freddie found some of this a bit disturbing, and I think it’s what he’s trying to bring to light, but he does seem to counter with a little too much sensitivity to ‘modern’ values.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Everyone is a slave to biology, you say women and men are not, but that has to be the stupidest statement, yet is current doctrine. I find your post a very correct post of ‘yea, but no, but yea, but no’…. written instinctively to not get yourself canceled because wokeism is now THE belief. It has penetrated almost everyone, you and your post included..

Cats torture and kill mice, even for sport because their gut, claws, teeth, eyes, are all centered on that kind of diet. Rabbits do not kill mice, nor desire to, as they have not the claws, teeth, gut, and so on to live as a mouse eating carnivore. Behavior FALLOWS biology! Men and women are utterly different biologically and behaviorally because of their sexual dimorphism.

The male prairie grouse instinctively knows to dance and strut on the lek during breeding, the females know to watch and breed with the best strutter, the female knows to sit the eggs and raise the chicks, the male knows to go off and never see the hen and chicks again – it is BIOLOGY, and they are slaves to it!

Kiran Grimm
Kiran Grimm
1 year ago

I would be very interested to read / view in depth, challenging, interrogation style interviews with some of those keen advocates of the woke cancel culture. There can surely be no shortage of candidates.

How do they justify their censorious methods? Why do they believe they have the right to control the public discourse? Can their righteous politics withstand a serious challenge?

We have seen plenty of interviews and articles in print and online where victims of cancel culture and/or woke extremism tell us about their bad experiences. The perpetrators carry on cancelling while those who believe in free speech declare themselves appalled.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Kiran Grimm

Quite so. I am in the process of watching the interview just now, having reached the point at which Mr Sayers expresses almost Edwardian distaste for the notion that violence might excite admiration – even amorous admiration – in women. Has he never read “Great Expectations”, in which Estella lets Pip kiss her, once he has beaten up Herbert Pocket? Or “A Room with a View”, in which milksop Cecil is rejected in favour of assertive George? As Lucy Honeychurch says, “I can’t run at you, you know.” Exactly. Or are all these views now “verboten”, below the salt, “wrong think”? Are Forster and Dickens to be subjected to “trigger warnings”? Or George Eliot censured for allowing that Dorothea prefers the young and manly Ladislaw to the fossilised, asexual Casaubon? Views such as these are dictated by nature and experience; they were commonplace until yesterday and remain universal everywhere but among the insane, Marx-maddened western hierarchy. Either we will throw that hierarchy over ourselves, or some invading power will do the trick within the next century.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

All depends on the environment.
If you are a woman in a Mafia environment keeping your mouth shut and staying close, even admiring the guy who can reliably beat the s**t out of another guy is a very good survival / procreation strategy.
If you are a woman with a career of your own, having a partner who is so out of control that they beat up other men even when they aren’t drunk would be a definite survival / procreative disadvantage.
Horses for courses.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Which is the more usual condition, in the long course of history? And how stable are the conditions of democracy, modernity and “rights”? Not very – especially now. The city states of Ancient Greece were snuffed out by empires; the free cities of Italy and Germany fell to larger, military powers. Small steps towards civil order are usually reversed by a giant stride back to the natural square one – and that is what counts. And like a subterranean river, the instincts and priorities shaped by nature flow through all behaviour in any case. The world you reference, of career women and flaccid “partners”, is a giant hypocrisy, about to be slapped brutally in the face by geopolitical realities. I give it another thirty – increasingly miserable and difficult – years.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I would have to disagree with you regarding the next 30 years because more women are being educated all over the planet.
What is flaccid about the word “partner” ? To my mind it means two people dividing up the work that needs to be done in an equable way. Who does what is up to the individuals involved and may or may not fall in with current cultural norms.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

I take the point re: the education of women; but confronted with the brute force of the religion of peace, what will their education bring? There is no guarantee, moreover, that education means liberalisation. The centre and the left identify themselves exclusively with “intellect” for the simple reason that they cannot see beyond the life of the mind; whereas Conservatives are aware of the dark reality which the mind is supposed to register. One of those dark realities is that a powerful self-confident tradition will co-opt a multitude of clever people to justify, propagate and expand its rule. Tsarist bureaucrats were every bit as intelligent as their opponents in the so-called “intelligentsia”; and a well educated woman from Saudi may well deploy her gifts in the cause of her own submission. Finally, your “current cultural norms” are the reverse of “normal”, whether in geographical or temporal terms. They are a blip upon a detour, a sudden lurch from impartiality into active self-hatred – a process which in itself heralds our decadence. Impartiality is sustainable; self-hatred is not. In the same way, the tolerant version of tradition which characterised the west from 1945 until – roughly – 2010; in which gender roles were expected but not insisted upon was sustainable; but the attempt to create a de-naturalised, asexual, social constructivist Utopia is decidedly not. And yes, any man snared in this miserable, soft-Maoist nightmare either is or will become “flaccid”.

Susie E
Susie E
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

I think it’s just assumed these days that women/girls never do anything mean or unfair. They certainly never look to increase their standing in the world through others. We just think about flowers and rainbows and lovely pronouns all day. We are not capable of anything evil – we are super virtuous beings, so it’s always the mans fault, especially if a woman admires him for beating someone else up. Just writing this makes me feel oppressed and powerless, the ultimate victim of men – ha!

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
1 year ago
Reply to  Kiran Grimm

In my experience they seldom accept invitations to debates or discussions where their views might be robustly challenged. They run a sort of evangelical church where only the faithful are welcome and the noise of constant proselyting and ‘amens’ drowns out the possibility of any dissent.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago

In my experience, they can’t think or speak logically in an argument. An intellectual argument to them is all traducing, catching out, and shouting down. I have read Americans complaining of the same thing there. As for reading the canon of philosophy and political economy which might help them to organize their thoughts, that is a lost dead white cause.

Kiran Grimm
Kiran Grimm
1 year ago

You say “In my experience”. Have you made such invitations and been snubbed / swerved / dodged?

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

How Socrates would have wept had he heard this! Have we learnt nothing from the past 2,400 years?

Mr Sayers, I hate to be the bringer of sad tidings, but this was not your finest hour. On at least two occasions I thought you were going to burst into tears.
Did you not receive any moral fibre training at St Paul’s or were you asleep? Or perhaps you have to face “she who must be obeyed”, and capitulated accordingly, rather like our revered leader with Princess Nut Nut?
No matter, this is purely a matter of freedom of speech or lack of, and Mr Knowland should be applauded not castigated for making his noble, Socratic stand.

Incidentally from what I can glean from a photograph of Mr Knowland and his family he has one perhaps two sons (and a magnificent brindle Staffordshire Bull Terrier). In the normal course of events he would have been able to educate both his boys at Eton,gratis.

The guilty men in this saga are quite clearly the Headmaster Henderson, but primarily the Provost, Waldegrave. Both should be dismissed immediately.

One other unsavoury aspect of this business is that whilst attention was being focused on this ‘woke nonsense’, another Eton master was in Reading Crown Court facing serious charges of, to lapse into the vernacular, ‘botty banditry’ for which he was duly convicted and incarcerated. I for one find the coincidence remarkable.

In conclusion it is unimaginable that this fiasco would have occurred under the stewardship of the former Provost, the late Sir Eric Anderson.

Hilary Davan Wetton
Hilary Davan Wetton
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

Eric Anderson was one of the last of the real Giants in the Public School World. (there used to be a least half a dozen at any one time). All the Current HMs I know are ultimately driven by the need for Political Correctness. I don’t find Mr Knowland particularly engaging, but i am absolutely clear that his dismissal was unfair and wrong. We need to be very determined to defend the right to state unfashionable opinions, or it will vanish as we stand by wringing our hands.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago

I couldn’t agree more, and as you well know things are far worse at Oxford and at the other place.

Hilary Davan Wetton
Hilary Davan Wetton
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

I am afraid they are. We have sold the right to Free Speech to avoid appearing anti-Feminist. Fear of offending people is a very bad reason to stifle debate…

D Ward
D Ward
1 year ago

Wombat!!!

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago

The term “patriarchy” is descriptive, not explanatory. It merely describes the fact that in almost all cultures historically, men have a dominant role in government and economics. Although there are examples of matrilinear societies, in which household goods are handed down the female line, and egalitarian societies, where females have voting power, there are no matriarchal societies, where women dominate men. The Amazon’s were myth, not history.

Because the term “patriarchy” is merely descriptive, it cannot be used as an explanation for the phenomena which it describes. Because it is transhistorical and transcultural, it cannot be a social construct, even though various societies have practices in place which regulate both male and female roles, a social process which strengthens biological differences.

It must be explained biologically, and the most likely explanation is evolutionary, in particular, female mate choice. For 250,000 years or more, females have been choosing mates who were able to protect and provide for women and children. Male dominance arises from female sexual selection pressure. Those who didn’t were less likely to leave descendants of either gender.

Of course this is not normative: just because something arises naturally doesn’t mean it’s right. Modern societies have made great progress in creating the conditions for sexual equality; the pill, in particular, has made modern feminism feasible.

The problem arises when our desire for equality morphs into a mistaken belief that men and women are therefore the same emotionally. Trying to force people to adopt gender-neutral behaviours will inevitably lead to dissatisfaction for both sexes.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

Spartan women came close as Plutarch tells us:
“Why are you Spartan women the only ones who can rule men?”
“Because we are also the only ones who give birth to men.”
Leonidas King of Sparta to his wife Gorgo, as reported by Plutarch: (Moralia 225A-240A).

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

Re “the Amazons myth not history”
Yes, but the point of myth in it’s original form is to instruct, warn and offer wise insight.
I’ve always thought that the Amazons were a warning, not only did they mutilate themselves in order to compete with men, they also deliberately broke the limbs of their male babies to make sure they would not be able to overcome their mothers and sisters as they grew up.

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Sounds eerily similar to what’s being done to boys today in the public schools, drugged to their eyeballs if they have an unacceptable amount of energy and berated about their “toxic masculinity”.

Susie E
Susie E
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

I’ve never heard about the mutilation and bone breaking before. Conveniently left out of the narrative, because it again paints women as capable of evil.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  Susie E

They removed one of their breasts by cauterizing in order to throw a spear more effectively in battle.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

You mention the ‘Pill’ freeing Western women from this sexual selection of having masculine mates – this is true, but also has exactly the effect biology pulls out, it means Western Women are breeding less than replacement numbers, and if were a ‘R’ Factor would mean Western White people are going to disappear, to be replaced by women selecting men and having babies in the way biology designed them. What an irony that Feminists think the 2 millions of years designing humans was not important and just a ‘construct’.

egaddington
egaddington
1 year ago

Freddie seems very naive, bless him! Definitely doesn’t understand women!
The education system has been crushing masculine instincts for the past 35 years. Too many female teachers, starting particularly in primary schools, who have no understanding how to channel boys energies and focus. I have 3 sons 36 yrs – 30yrs old. I was told to take one of them to a child psychologist when he was 5 years old because he wouldn’t sit in front of a blank piece of paper and write a story, but got off his chair and “swam” around the floor. He is now a surgeon.
I am happily married to the perfect man (well-trained) with whom I can share many hilarious moments as we rejoice in our biological mental & physical differences. We work well at bringing out our different strengths, an understanding about which we have both needed to “research” as this mad PC world has lost sight of “the science”.
Will Knowland’s video is crude and I would suggest he’s very angry but he’s not alone. Men are angry, violence against women is increasing, boys are not doing as well at school as girls and the statistics on male suicide is horrific.
In 2000, Psychiatrist Anthony Clare wrote a book “On Men, Masculinity in Crisis”. Worth reading.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  egaddington

My son is of a similar age group and was also very fidgetty at that age, luckily his teacher had a sense of humour, she stapled his trousers to the chair !

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

I know from experience that having a sense of humour is a must for anyone who teaches young children, and especially young male children. But I think unfortunately there are many younger female teachers now who have been programmed to interpret any normal misbehaviour in boys as a manifestation of “toxic masculinity” that must be nipped in the bud. To them, finding their goofy antics the least bit funny is being “part of the problem”.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago

Children raised in single sex (single parent, and we know that usually means by a woman) households means the boys are never going to be the same as raised by a man and woman. That this is thought to be as viable as the traditional family, and is becoming the norm in many classes, is producing a pathology of misunderstood maleness and confused children. I think it must also cause problems in females as well.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
1 year ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

That is an excuse. Think WW1 and WW2 and how many children were brought up by mothers and grandmothers. How many of the men that these boys became had similar problems? If a parent puts in boundaries and provides love and support, a decent adult usually prevails. It is about the quality of parenting as well as schooling that brings about who the adult becomes.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  MJ Reid

Men and women bring different things to parenting though. Particularly in the case of young men, male role models are critically important which is why you often see organizations dedicated to adult men mentoring young males. 100 Black men would be an example of this, it’s dedicated to providing specifically male role models to young black men because the lack of it in their lives is so destructive. This is not to say that women cannot raise boys but they are missing a male role model unless someone else in the family steps up and models that.

Hilary Davan Wetton
Hilary Davan Wetton
1 year ago

We learn as much about Freddie Sayers as we do about Will Knowland from this interview. I do not find either protagonist wholly convincing, but Mr Sayers’ manifestly lacks objectivity. I share his distaste for chauvinism, but it has to be challenged from a position of balance; neither he nor any educated person should accept as the proposition that ‘No-Platforming’ is the proper or sensible response to ideas we do not like. You let down your audience with the partiality of your interrogation, Freddie. Knowland is not engaging, but he is courageous. You really should not feel satisfied with this interview; you have just given another boost to the dangerous intolerance of our times.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago

This is the only Freddy interview I gave up on and went to comments to find how it turned out. I think Sayers would do better keeping with more tangible topics where he performs amazingly well.

I am more of the old school male I suppose. I have extensive background in nature, both university and living in nature for decades in all kinds of places, much remote, and all manner of societies, often old, or modern, or weird ones, so really believe man has rules of behavior innate as much as do all creatures. Biology is fundamental mentally and physically.

Modern society is all about giving the boys dolls and the girls toy trucks carried to every level and every category of behavior. That which is has to be reversed and undermined. Liberal society takes pathology and makes it normal, and takes the normal and makes it a pathology. We are going to make ourselves such a mess we are on track for total destruction, and this teacher’s treatment is as sure a sign of the end of the West as was the invention of cannon to ending the age of the castle.

André Angelantoni
André Angelantoni
1 year ago

A similar thing happened with Lindsay Shepherd at Wilfred Laurier University:
The Lindsay Shepherd Affair: Update
https://youtu.be/PkNv4LFpGf4

She recorded the meeting in which she was taken to task. It’s astonishing to listen to the justification given to her.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Just over two thirds of the way through and a disagreement about “liberal” – again, I’m with Knowland. Proper Liberalism is not and cannot be about suppressing ideas because a self-selecting elite deems them dated or “offensive”; if it means anything it means a maximum degree of free expression with a view to discussion. A debating society, for example, might profitably and entertainingly deal with the notion: This house would reinstate slavery. Only ten years ago, everyone would have recognised that the aim would NOT be to start a process of actually reinstating slavery, but to exercise the muscles of the mind and to explore the conditions and issues behind the question. That is indeed integral to a Liberal education; and the “liberalism” referenced by Mr Sayers is merely a soft name given to an increasingly coercive, prescriptive and authoritarian moralism – ultimately, to slavery!

PS: to say “rainbow colours” are inherently associated with same-sex attraction is itself a questionable generalisation, Mr S. In another context, the soi-disant “liberals”, whose doctrine you appear to support, would be calling you all the names under the sun for making such an implication! So you see where censorship gets you? To a point where thought itself becomes impossible.

PPS: And on “slavery” again – only today, in the wake of so much hysteria, would the word be held to refer mainly to the Atlantic slave trade and so be particularly “offensive” to one group.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Saudi Arabia outlawed slavery in 1962, but it took a long time after for the last slaves to disappear, and are replaced by a form of indenture.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

Provocative and one-sided? Like most memorable utterances, you mean? Or like most contributions to debate? It is surely for the other side to balance the account – certainly within the adversarial traditions of the Anglosphere. And provocation in the context of schooling is a virtue – it triggers thought, articulacy, consciousness, whilst the only alternative to the adversarial approach is the inquisitorial, with all its inherent faults of suspicion, bias, heresy hunting and authoritarianism. Poor Mr Knowland – his pupils know his worth; a better testament by far than any of the unmeaning bromides which might issue from the smooth lips and poison tongues of our current masters.

Joe Donovan
Joe Donovan
1 year ago

I am a huge admirer of Freddie’s interviewing style; I think he is among the very best. And I understand that it is fundamental to the mission of Unherd that he challenge his interlocutors. But I find myself very disappointed by his handling of this one. I have not watched the video in question but based on the description in the interview I don’t see why he should consider it to have been beyond the pale at a place like Eton. As Will says, they teach “Mein Kampf” there, and Will was not endorsing every position highlighted in the video. Freddie’s perspective on the “Goodfellas” scene seems to me to suggest that he would be in favor of suppressing the scene! Surely that can’t be the case.

colinwright106
colinwright106
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Donovan

While not familiar with the “Goodfellas” scene, based on the description my immediate thought was that it might be the principled defence of someone being bullied rather than the violence of that defence that the defender’s wife found appealing. Most people are repulsed by brutality but may respect or admire someone who achieves a positive end by violent means. It’s about ‘doing the right thing,’ more than it is about promoting violence as the preferred course of action.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  colinwright106

The scene in question I would say is uncompromisingly violent as are all similar scenes in this great movie.
However, because of the way it is constructed and edited with a bit of telling dialogue from the abused wife at the end, it gives the audience time to actually think … amazingly … about the role of women in Mafia society at that time in that place, how the women must have been brought up, the sort of day to day violence they must have been familiar with (she doesn’t flinch), how toxic the idea of male honor truly is and so on and on.

If you want to watch the clip it is at about 24:13 into this terrific video (link in article)

Kathy Prendergast
Kathy Prendergast
1 year ago

I remember, as a teenager, watching the scene at the end of The Godfather in which Michael’s sister confronts him about him having killed her husband, who was a violent brute who beat her up when she was pregnant (not the reason Michael killed him). I thought, “Good riddance to the b*****d; why the hell is she so upset?” I didn’t understand, of course, that all this violence was her normal. Husbands beat wives, men had their brothers-in-law killed if they went against the family interests; either way she would weep and wail about it for awhile and then carry on.

Paul Booth
Paul Booth
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Donovan

I agree, Joe.

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
1 year ago
Reply to  Joe Donovan

You need to watch the lecture. Freddy is absolutely right.

Lindsay Jenkins
Lindsay Jenkins
1 year ago

Sad that Freddie, usually so good at balance and enquiry, should come over as prejudiced and not able to debate ideas which have had currency at different times. Why not Freddie? Dare I ask if something here has stung some deep seated chord which Freddie has yet to take out and review?

I should like to hear how other issues are now debated at Eton particularly Mein Kempt to which reference was made here.

Rohan Loveland
Rohan Loveland
1 year ago

The fact that Eton censored Knowland’s video, while allowing Mein Kampf without any qualms, should tell us something. Knowland’s video, which I’d now like to watch, must have come too close to the truth for them to allow it to be seen.
As for Sayers, what a craven display! He implies, or states outright, that: a teacher should never do anything that might displease a headmaster, that a teacher’s role is to educate things “out of” students, and that Knowland has sacrificed his career for nothing (wrapping up with something like “now you don’t have a job and the boys will miss you”). Fortunately, Knowland didn’t buy it.
Knowland took a stand and spoke truth to power, even though he knew it could cost him. He posed a counterpoint to the current Woke view that masculinity is fundamentally toxic, and defended the liberal principle of challenging the current groupthink.
So what did he accomplish? Sayers take note – he did what you and I should be doing, and in the process bravely contributed to staving off a grim future for the boys at Eton, himself and his family, and everyone else.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Alan Girling
Alan Girling
1 year ago
Reply to  Rohan Loveland

Excellent!

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
1 year ago
Reply to  Rohan Loveland

you need to look at the lecture.

I often use that quote. it is one I try to live by, even though I am a woman.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago
Reply to  Rohan Loveland

That master of Human behavior, PG Wodehouse, would have Jeeves quoting some great Public school master: ‘Education is a drawing out, not a putting in’.

This is 100% against Liberal philosophy, and even Freddy should think on this.

neilccox2
neilccox2
1 year ago

Freddie, your distaste for this teacher and what he had to say was palpable. Not one of your better interviews.

Malcolm Beaton
Malcolm Beaton
1 year ago

About time we heard something for the boys!
Perhaps the start of a move towards restoring some balance to the constant debate on the battle of the sexes which has become very one sided
Girls (and boys) are personally paying a heavy price for the current shenanigans
I think Brexit induced austerity and COVID damage will induce a return of common sense and less stridency
I live in hope and have forwarded the video link to my teenage grandchildren-boys and girls
Not often they would get a chance to hear from a Eton teacher
xxd09

Elizabeth W
Elizabeth W
1 year ago
Reply to  Malcolm Beaton

I like his comment that He is attempting to help the boys how to think rather than what to think through lots of discussion and debate.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
1 year ago
Reply to  Elizabeth W

Precisely. I always thought that’s what schooling was all about but then again at 64 I am an old fogey I suppose. For instance I still hold a door for a lady (or a man) and shall until my dying day. I respect people as individuals irrespective of gender.

Denis Stone
Denis Stone
1 year ago

One of the nice things about having moved from Bournemouth to Oxford is that in Oxford, if you hold the door of W H Smith open for someone – of any age or race or either gender – they will generally say Thank You. Not so in Bournemouth! It is, I suggest, a case of having manners and valuing them.

brad.mountz
brad.mountz
1 year ago

I think it could be said that Freddie did not walk a balanced line on this one, though I think he had to pull out of this interview the depth someone would go to fight against the “woke” cancel culture that permeate our society and specifically Eton (I live the USA just for disclosure). My son goes to an all boys school here in California. They have a similar course called Rhetoric. I’m often arguing the points of Will Knowland’s balance to critical thinking. The other side must be presented or there is no critical thinking or debate. The minds of today’s youth need to be penetrated with far more than lecture given the amount and type of content they devour. How else is Knowland to get them to think? The lack of critical thinking is a central problem in our society. The fact that no Master would take the other side to balance Knowland is pathetic. Why did staff who disagree not take up that task if they were so concerned? For one reason only. They are outraged that such a view could even be considered, so it is best to eliminate it. Pretend it does not exist. That’s what Progressives do. They eliminate debate because knowledge to which they do not agree weakens their power. Sad to see a historical institution cave to cancel culture fanaticism. Happens here in USA every day. I’d hire Mr. Knowland as tutor for my son any day. We want our son to be a man that society and his future partner respect because of his character, his depth of thought and his ability to ascertain what is right or wrong. How do you do that when you censure what they can hear in school? Yet foolishly think they won’t learn a more radical form of that thinking through their own means.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
1 year ago
Reply to  brad.mountz

yes, I agree with you. I was amazed at his prudish limitations about it all.

Geoff Allen
Geoff Allen
1 year ago

It seems a bit strange that Simon Henderson (Headmaster of Eton) is a fan of George Orwell – In the preface to Animal Farm, he wrote that “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” One of Henderson’s masters, an English teacher called Will Knowland, has lost his job because he was too committed to telling people things they did not want to hear. Wouldn’t it be better for Eton College if Henderson went to work for the Guardian.

john dann
john dann
1 year ago

After watching the interview I viewed the lecture in question. I thought it was excellent as a basis for discussion at an introductory level. It covered biology, anthropology, history, the popularity of masculine figures and the current trend at emasculation in society. I thought the point about police/sate violence was very appropriate to current events. Do we acknowledge the extent society relies on police (masculine) violence. Is censorship itself a masculine dominant force? These are the very things that well educated people must address, discuss and resolve. I can see that Will Knowland is an excellent teacher and can sense his passion for it. Bravo!

David Simpson
David Simpson
1 year ago

Freddie seems to have almost as many “issues” with the ideas in Knowland’s video as do Eton! It would have been interesting to have heard a more challenging debate on those points.

Denis Stone
Denis Stone
1 year ago

To offset some of the negative comments forthcoming herein towards Freddie Sayers, perhaps he will now interview the HM or Provost of Eton with the same ‘apparent’ but reversed bias? Or if Mr Henderson is not available, how about another controversial woke figure? As sometimes levelled at the BBC, the criticism is not necessarily because of the issue that has been covered: it’s as much to do with the issues that are not covered. Where else is one to look, if not on this channel?

John Barclay
John Barclay
1 year ago
Reply to  Denis Stone

That would be great. Then the rest of the world could see what a lightweight headmaster they hired. I found out the hard way.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Denis Stone

He really should invite Lord Waldegrave, a classical scholar who knows all about the original philosophical arguments from thousands of years ago.

Arild Brock
Arild Brock
1 year ago

Knowland stands his ground beautifully in this interview. He defends the liberal principle of openness to discussion in combination with concrete questions and viewpoints worth discussion. (This I find much more convincing than supporting the liberal principle alone, a standpoint famously attributed to Voltaire. When people fight impressively for free speech, it is because they have something to say)

I think Freddie Sayers in this interview goes far in the direction of suggesting the teacher himself being responsible for the consequences of the sacking. The pupils at Eton lose their teacher. Well, we may hope that the discussion here and around will make the school management turn. If not, it is to hope that the impression made on the pupils of a teacher fighting (for their education, you could say) will outweigh the loss of him as their current teacher. In any case, under the circumstances, I would say that THE SCHOOL is responsible for the pupils’ loss of their teacher, not Knowland.

Admittedly, the now controversial video may seem a “big dosis” of defence of masculinity. But it is felt as a big dosis partly because we are used to the opposite (endlessly). Part of the problem is also that pro-masculinity ideas (and realties) suffer a kind of “shadow existence” in our culture. There are male film heroes, like James Bond, but their creators do not endorse them as ideals. The heroes appear rather like a joke.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago

Mr K makes a lot of true and wise points but his most urgent and eloquent is right at the end, where he says appeasement never works. However much Eton concedes, it will never be enough, and the statues will soon be coming down.

Mike Ferro
Mike Ferro
1 year ago

This is all about the ‘you mustn’t say that’ response which I’ve remarked on before.
If someone opposes some view and knows it’s wrong they will say so and explain why it’s wrong. If they oppose something but know it’s right though won’t admit it, then the response is ‘you mustn’t say that’.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
1 year ago

No, no, no Freddie. You were too obviously biased and tried constantly to put words in his mouth. You were also repetitive thereby forcing him to be repetitive. One of your poorer interviews and I am usually a big fan.

Tony Warren
Tony Warren
1 year ago

Freddie forgets that all of these students and most of their teachers have been well enough indoctrinated into the ideas of the postmodern academic left. Will Knowland was probably the first teacher who has ever given them a point of view not entirely formed by Critical Theory.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
1 year ago

Evo-psych as popularly propounded is mostly reductionist nonsense. Having said that, I have a lot of time for Mr. Knowland’s vigorous defense of, and indeed the need for, opportunities in education for the sort of vigorous debate which his course apparently was designed to provide.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I don’t agree with the criticism of Freddie Sayers by some of the commenters, I thought he came across as fairly dispassionate, whilst playing devil’s advocate, but maybe I’m being over optimistic, I don’t know.

However, there was one line that made my blood run cold, that teenage masculinity needs to be “educated out of” boys. That’s horrific and sounds like brainwashing to me. There is nothing classically liberal about such an approach.

I am grateful that my children are adults now, I would not want any child of mine at the mercy of the level of left liberal indoctrination being peddled in our schools today.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

I agree. Although Freddie did seem to be moving dangerously away from his legendary unbiased-ness, the result was a fascinating interview in which Mr Knowland’s view was tested to the limit, and he came out extremely favourably and reasonably (perhaps a lesser interviewee may have cracked and we could have lost their message). Freddie is certainly an exceptional journalist.

toyinajidele
toyinajidele
1 year ago

This is actually crazy and getting out of hand. All he was doing was straw manning at the worst but also pointing out facts at best. You cannot have an opinion to the contrary anymore – even if this is fact, you self-censor so you do not offend snowflakes, absolute nonsense no do not cede ground. The only solution in the education space is to break it up and come up with something that resembles a freeform education that has structure but also allows for new thought and idea. I may disagree with you on aspects of things but I will always fight for the right to free speech – I want to know what people think, I want to understand your thought process, I want a chance to challenge and probe, I want to hear and learn about facts and evidence. It is bad idea to ban what you personally simply believe is wrong think. I am a woman nothing here was offensive – some of it is factual based on actual data and studies!

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
1 year ago
Reply to  toyinajidele

I begin to wonder about this fighting to the death for free speech stuff…..Sure, good at a philosophical level where ultimate, and thought out, concepts were being raised. But now it just means the freedom to disseminate degeneracy, evil, pathology, sick thinking and acts, hate, lies, and so on.

Back in the old days when standards existed in the public square it was a great good for the evolution of ideas, now it is more destruction of what is good, decent, and healthy.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 year ago

Well done Freddie … you played the role of devil’s advocate brilliantly … so well you seem to have fooled many of the contributers to this discussion page.

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Gordon Black

In that case he should be on the on the Stage.
In fact it is about time St Paul’s challenge the hegemony that Eton so obviously exercises over the Acting profession.

Katy Randle
Katy Randle
1 year ago
Reply to  George Lake

I believe he WAS on the stage 🙂

George Lake
George Lake
1 year ago
Reply to  Katy Randle

In that case a gravure performance, the hand gestures were particularly impressive.

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
1 year ago

I support open debate and free speech. I listened to the lecture. It was very interesting, but also distressing. I am not a feminist. I am female. I realise that females can only be regarded as equals in a society that is developed enough so that the males do not use their fists on the females. But males should not see their self control (chivalry) as a privilege that females should feel thankful for. We cannot separate ourselves from our sex. Both sexes have equal value. Neither should dominate. The idea of patriarchy is archaic. This lecture is not a helpful portrayal of either sex in a modern world. May I suggest that it would take a young male with considerable experience of females to be able to debate the worth of a female from this lecture. Experience the young males at an all male boarding school are unlikely to have. I do wonder what Mrs. Knowland thinks.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

In almost no societies do men regularly use their fists on females. Violence against females is universally condemned, principally because of their essential role in giving birth and raising children. Instead, being the subject of violence almost always falls upon men, who are far more expendable.

John Barclay
John Barclay
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

Some women in a part of the world between the Near and Far East that would disagree.

Alex S
Alex S
1 year ago
Reply to  John Jones

When most of human life consisted of living in closely knit tribes or villages, violence against women could be easily discovered and handled by, presumably, other men in the tribe or village. Even if some violence against women was considered permissible in some societies, surely there were limits even then.

In most modern societies lacking such social structures, it is up to the woman herself to leave the abusive partner, find help from other men, or from the social services to deal with it. I’m guessing that for various reasons that leaving the partner can be hard; finding help from other men relies on knowing at least one or preferably several men who would stand up to the violent man; and getting help from the social services requires the issue to be bad enough that the social services will actually intervene.

Hence, why it becomes rather important modern societies what values are inculcated in the youth. If it is considered permissible, even in a sort of “It’s ok, but we don’t talk about it”-way, to hit your partner for one reason or another, there are probably gonna be a lot more abusive households in that culture compared to one where it is not considered permissible.

In some parts of the world, abuse is presumably (I don’t have data/references for this at hand) more common than in other parts. This may be explained by e.g. alcohol consumption (Russia…?), but also by culture at large. Whatever benefits may be had from a machisimo upbringing and honor culture, in such a culture violence in not a bug but a feature. And in that context, violence against your partner becomes within some limits reasonable to use. When that violence is male on female, the female usually does not have any reasonable way to defend herself.

The same goes for violence against children; most parents probably would limit themselves to regular spankings, but a certain number would be much worse. Then, is it not better to have a culture where violence against children is simply unacceptable, even in mild forms?

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex S

I am afraid the die is cast at birth. If a boy grows up watching his father beating his mother, however much he hates the father and loves the mother, the pattern will be repeated.

Now we also have a problem of fatherless families, with no good role to emulate at all.

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
1 year ago
Reply to  Alex S

this is a great response. How can smacking a child ever show the child anything other than a big person can make a small person comply by hurting them.
but my point was larger than this. I find it sad that this lecture has been produced because our young males feel under attack for being themselves. To get along, we all need to ‘do unto others’ regardless of sex, gender, race, ethnicity. We are all different, and all valuable.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

This is a really negative take on men. I don’t exhibit self-control by not hitting women. It just doesn’t once enter my mind to do so.

Women have been conned into believing that men are bad and so think that the state will protect them by prescribing yet more laws, policies and guidelines aimed at curbing civic freedoms.

Unfortunately, once a state neuters its men, it eventually turns against its women as we are now witnessing with MTF transgender activism.

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
1 year ago
Reply to  Brian Dorsley

I am really sorry you took my comment this way. Did you look at the lecture? Most modern men do not think about hitting women to control them. But a patriarchy is based on fear. I really do not think men are bad.I really like men. Men are great. They do loads of fabulous things. A world without men would be really awful. I want us to value each others strengths and weaknesses, that’s all. The lecture is full of offensive female stereotypes. It is really not appropriate as a free standing lecture.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

No, a patriarchy is NOT based on fear. A patriarchal society is an anthropological description of a society where the power structure is predominantly male, the power MAY be totalitarian and fearful, but it could equally be benevolent.
Almost all societies worldwide are patriarchal, matriarchal societies tend to be small and isolated.

There have always been powerful women in patriarchal societies, eg, queens, mothers, wives, widows, sisters and daughters of successful men, + a few extraordinary personalities like Joan of Arc and Dame Julian of Norwich.

It is largely Marxist and Feminist ideologies that have sought to twist history and turn “the patriarchy” into an omnipresent deliberately oppressive force that requires revolution to rectify, rather than a human social development responding to necessity.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

Your comment about young males in an all male boarding school really chimed with our family’s experience – 2 daughters and their interactions with boys from Dulwich College when they were teenagers. Misogynistic, racist, entitled, deaf, blind, unable / unwilling to debate anything was the repeated litany that we heard.
Maybe Eton is / was different ?

The video comes across to me as deliberately provocative. It has (cherry picked) references. If it is used for its designed purpose – namely as a starter for 10 in a wide ranging critical debate then bravo.

My concern would be that it would / will just be used as reinforcement of established dogma.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

Re your daughter’s experinces, I can’t help wondering about the context, was this a debate arranged by the schools ? or did it happen at a social gathering ?
Is it possible these boys found your daughters strident in their feminism and a bore, and behaved badly accordingly ?
I don’t mean to be unkind about your daughters, they may have been utterly charming teenagers, but I am always a bit sceptical about one-sided stories.

teresa_d_wood
teresa_d_wood
1 year ago

I agree it is deliberately provocative. The author has said that it is a counterbalance to the one sidedness that the students hear on this subject. I have some sympathy with that view. But, historically patriarchy is established through fear. Not only women are subjugated by patriarchy, as is also referred to in the lecture. I do feel that the lecture is given with such certainty, that it is verging on the authorative. It just seems sad that we are still debating this. My original comment was really trying to cut through the divisiveness of this issue. We are all human beings. Males and females are complimentary and have different strengths and weaknesses, but generally we work better together. We should regard each other as equals.

John Jones
John Jones
1 year ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

Patriarchy is not established through fear, but through men providing resources and protection in exchange for female sexual fidelity. This is the basis for male-female pair bonding. The so- called “patriarchy” is simply a consequence of female mate choice over two hundred thousand years . It has nothing to do with fear, but male compliance in servicing female needs.

toyinajidele
toyinajidele
1 year ago

It is called straw manning lol!

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  teresa_d_wood

He explains it is a corrective.

John Barclay
John Barclay
1 year ago

No real surprises from Knowland, but we learned a lot about Freddie in this interview didn’t we? Pretty woke, I’d say. He seemed to be very carefully controlling his speech so as not to show his disgust.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago

“A female master”! How much worse can it get at Eton? All this fuss about patriarchy (which didn’t exist here because we had matriarchy, unlike in much of the world) and then the feminine noun “mistress” isn’t allowed to be used.

Freddy doesn’t even understand what “a liberal education means”. He thinks it means liberal in the sense that his political prejudice interprets it. Has he heard the phrase “the liberal arts”?

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

As far as anthropology is concerned almost all societies worldwide are patriarchal and have always been. There are a handful of small islands and states which have been matriarchal and a few still may be so, but they tend to be cut off from the rest of the world, because they would not be able to survive otherwise.

Britain has never been a matriarchal society, as far as we know.

‘The Patriarchy’ is a conspiracy theory, used in feminist ideology, as a weapon to attack men, and induce them to give up power voluntarily out of misplaced guilt.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Claire D

Of course ours was a matriarchy, but no longer. Matriarchy ordained what the men did, in the interests of women and children, and of society in general. Do you think men would have instituted life long marriage to just one woman? And the support of all children born “in wedlock” even though they might be someone else’s? Women ran the family, neighbourhoods, and society; local government, charity, and health. Men were guests in all of those, abiding by women’s rules. Men ran diplomacy and international affairs, but women can exert power through men, without appearing to. Who ran the political parties and selected the candidates? Who were the Primrose League? What of the great political hostesses? And the salons throughout Europe? None of this happened in patriarchal places like the Near East and beyond. Who had to do all the dirty, dangerous, heavy work here? And who did it in the Near East and elsewhere? Knowland is on to something but he doesn’t see what it stems from.

Claire D
Claire D
1 year ago

I think you are confusing your own very personal definition of a Matriarchy with the scholarly definition.

I absolutely agree with you about powerful women exerting their influence, I referred to that in my comment above, but their influence was more likely to be covert. That is not what a Matriarchy would be.

I would’nt underestimate Middle-Eastern women if I were you. All men have mothers, grandmothers or nannies.

As for why monogamy exists we cannot say for certain, we can only look at the archeaological evidence, and that varies from place to place; there is evidence in Sumerian, Greek, Roman and of course Judeao-Christian artefacts, all patriarchal societies, BUT not without matriarchal influence.

Monogamy probably exists because it works biologically for the sake of our survival as a species.

It’s a pity to compete over this really, men and women need each other, that’s the bottom line, men exert their power and influence in one way and women do it in another. Different but equally valuable.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

Whatever Eton’s goal with this was, they likely spread the ideas way more widely than they expected to if people from far outside the bounds of Eton are now talking about it. Seems like a bit of an own goal to me. Knowland will do fine, he is after all, now a free speech martyr and I’m sure that wasn’t Eton’s goal with this. Plus he got his ideas out to the larger marketplace of ideas in a way that he probably could not have before. He will undoubtedly be taken on by a more progressive school with a wider platform of allowed ideas. After all, no one heard of Jordan Petersen until someone tried to shut him down. I agree with some but not all of his ideas but in any case, best wishes to Mr. Knowland.

Mike C
Mike C
1 year ago

I am so, so disappointed in this interview. Freddie seems hyper-focused on individual points in the lecture, (e.g. shoe laces?!) and can’t see the forest for the trees.

Freddie seems to think that a liberal education is simply a modern, or progressive education. Poppycock. The point of liberal education is to liberate oneself from the immediacy of life, to step back, and critically examine the nature of humanity and ask question of how one should be in the world. To gain liberty from falsehood, dogma, and ideology.

Through loudness, fear and intimidation, feminism has strong-armed private and public institutions into accepting an ideology that viscously pits the sexes against each other. And it’s much worse that that because it has suppressed free speech and open debate on the subject, and it’s done so in the very institutions that historically have been dedicated debate in the ongoing pursuit of wisdom, honesty, and occasionally truth.

Knowland’s lecture isn’t merely liberal. It epitomizes a liberal education because it has revealed ideas, history, and science that have otherwise been silenced, outlawed, and criminalized. Whether all the notions in the lecture are all “true” doesn’t matter. Whether Knowland believes none, some, or all of the ideas doesn’t matter. What matters is that he has he promoted broader thought on a politically-taboo topic that is worthy of consideration and discussion.

Freddie asked, “Do you think these ideas should have been acceptable, or do you think anything goes?” Shocking! How about (c) many of the ideas are simply worthy of examination and discussion?

He described the video as promoting machismo. My God, man, did you even watch the video? It explicitly speaks against it! Why did Freddie miss that? Was he still fuming over the shoe laces comment?!

Freddie’s conspicuous sensitivity to the lecture utterly nullified his otherwise very keen analytical skills. I’m so disappointed. I suggest he not tackle any more subjects in which his sensitivity overwhelms his objectivity.

Jason Wemyss
Jason Wemyss
1 year ago

I must second neilccox2’s comment:
“Freddie, your distaste for this teacher and what he had to say was palpable. Not one of your better interviews.”
I’m all for asking hard questions, but Fredie’s inability to wipe the smirk off of his face during this particular interview made for a very uncomfortable viewing experience. 
Freddie was so busy asking Knowland, “Was this really the hill to die on?” (for the 5th time) and “So what are you going to do now for work?” (what a thing to ask) that he failed to follow up on more interesting issues, such as the fact that the school administration had specifically approved the material before it was posted, or the amount of support that Knowland has received.

Gaye Fisher
Gaye Fisher
1 year ago

Unusual for Freddie to display bias so openly. His comment “isn’t there a risk that the video would appeal to a kind of teenage masculinity that probably needs to be educated out of them” was astonishing. It clearly illustrates, to my mind, why this video is so important. Perhaps Freddie would like to elaborate on what kinds of teenage femininity need to be educated out of girls.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
1 year ago

Freddy taking a lot of stick hereabouts in the comments, I believe undeservedly. The point is to elicit the ideas of the person interviewed, which I believe was done very well. A little odd to find the supposedly independent minds of the commentariat disappointed that Freddy wasn’t merely a cheerleader or poodle here.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

If you look at our remarks in greater detail, you will notice that we emphasise the clear devotion to his own position very evident in some – not all – of Mr Sayers’ points and questions. This is most notably the case in the way he deals with the feminine response to strong and potentially violent males. True, he is unusual among the media / journalist class for his willingness to give the likes of Mr Knowland a platform; but he shows, at the same time, a depressing degree of alignment with the censorious, social constructivist zeitgeist of today. He can’t be blamed, exactly; at his age and in his exalted milieu, he is going about as far as he can. But it is a straw in the wind.

Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
Elaine Giedrys-Leeper
1 year ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Mr Knowlands claimed that his video was deliberately provocative in order to encourage counter arguments / debate.
So Mr Sayers raised some counter observations and was understandably interested in Mr Knowland’s personal take on some of the assertions he made in the video. Who knows what Mr Sayers’ biases are ?

Mr Knowland is a teacher. Even if he chose to sit back and simply act as a facilitator while his class researched / discussed / debated the observations he would still consciously or unconsciously steer proceedings to a degree. His biases count.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
1 year ago

True. But “tu quoque” doesn’t absolve Mr Sayers, does it? It merely proves that few people today are capable of deploying ideas dispassionately and at a distance.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

The best interviewer ever was Roy Plumley. He did it by setting his subjects at ease and drawing them out with his exquisite manners. We learned far more about them that way than in today’s/Today’s aggressive and accusatory style which puts people on their guard and prevents true discourse.

Cassian Young
Cassian Young
1 year ago

The most shocking thing about this video is that neither Freddie nor Will know what a “liberal education” is. “Liberal education” has nothing to do with political liberalism, which it predates by over a millennium. It is education suited to a free man, as opposed to a slave. It has been pursued successfully in many autocracies in which liberalism and individual rights are unknown.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
1 year ago
Reply to  Cassian Young

And it is liberal in the sense of “broad”. Taking in all there is to know.

Cassian Young
Cassian Young
1 year ago

No, it is not. It is liberal in the sense of free and not a slave, as were 40% of the population when the phrase originated.

Catherine Dahlström
Catherine Dahlström
1 year ago

I have worked as scholar with ideas about gender, the biology versus culture debate for very many years, What is so interesting and indeed discouraging is the way that the same old ideas and prejudices – on both sides – are repeated over and over with very little understanding of their historicity. From the 19th century onwards the opposing sides have tended to interpret factual – or semi-factual information in the light of their own assumptions. Though not always, 19th century American scholars who were completely convinced of the determining significance of biological sexual difference actually found similarity in the empirical material. The video’s total unawarenss of this, or indeed any acknowledgment of problems seems to me to make it pretty inadequate as teaching material.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
1 year ago

Facts can attract ideas and prejudices, old and new, but they remain facts. This video, as you said, ignored ideas and prejudices and as a factual presentation made excellent teaching material.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago

Wouldn’t 19th century scholars be a bit out of date?

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

Whatever. He was told by his employer to do something and didn’t do it. They sacked him. Not for making, putting up or using the video, but for not taking it down when told to. Let him take the matter to an employment tribunal. There are plenty of teachers would like a job at Eton and plenty of parents willing to pay the fees for a place. It is not a state school and is not answerable to any court of private opinion. It is beyond me why any believer in free speech and freedom of action should not support Eton in whatever actions it chooses to take.

There appears to be missing here any group of staff, of pupils or of parents campaigning against Eton’s decision. So is it any big deal?

Meanwhile Mr Knowhereman is free to make and put up as many Youtube videos as he likes – indeed he has some more free time now to devote to this endeavour.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

It’s a very big deal.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

OK, well you suggest some criteria as to why it’s of any great consequence to anyone – except Mr Knowitall, who is by his own ill-considered actions, out of a job.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Who is next? What if your employer simply doesn’t like something you post. Okay for them to just order you to take it down? On a whim?

Don’t we want our young people to consider ideas and decide for themselves which ones have merit and which do not? Isn’t that the point of education? Or is it that we just call those we disagree with names and then preen?

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

It’s up to them really if I want their job. An employer’s freedom of action is important too. If Eton no longer wish to employ Mr. SpellCorrector, why should they? If he thinks he has been unfairly dismissed, he should take it to an employment tribunal.

You should note that he has been fired for refusing to take down a Youtube video when told to, not for the content of his classes.

As to “the point of education”, and how it might be pursued, this is a far larger topic to which Mr X’s personal fate has little relevance.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

I doubt he will need to. A more progressive institution will undoubtedly scoop him up. Your point about not being fired for his classes is especially relevant but I doubt you recognize why. I’d agree if he refused to do something in his classes but as you note, this wasn’t.

You also miss the fact that the teacher has gotten more attention to his video through Eton’s actions than he ever could have otherwise. Unintended consequences, eh?

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

In which case, even less reason for his sacking to have any importance. He gets new job in “progressive institution” and everyone watches his video. Nothing to see here.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Nothing except the light Eton has shined on its own actions. Of course you’re free to believe that people won’t see this as Eton attempting to censor non-school speech but from this thread it doesn’t appear that you’re in the majority here. And yes, the video is still freely available, boosted by Eton’s own behavior. Own goal indeed.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

“People” don’t care. Show me the campaign amongst parents and funders to reinstate him. It doesn’t exist. Everyone appears happy to see the back of him. It is only a few loons with no skin in the game on the internet that want to make an issue of it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Read the thread. You’re in the minority. If you think normals don’t see this for what it is, you’re more confused that I thought.

Dan Poynton
Dan Poynton
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

I’m glad you were not one of my teachers – in life or at school, dear fellow. What a feeble cynical world would result if all our teachers espoused this message. And yes, they cry in the spirit of capitalistic freedom, Twitter certainly has the right to censor whom it wills – which it does, of course, but are we then going to discus the Public Square……and many other issues…..

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago
Reply to  Dan Poynton

What, if all our teachers behaved as their employers requested, to the extent that their contracts of employment required? Most actually do and the world doesn’t appear that feeble as a consequence. Mr Knowthing was not censored by Twitter.

I am lost as to the relevance of Wallace Stevens’ poem.

Patrick White
Patrick White
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Your tiresome inclination toward altering the teacher’s name to a sophomoric insult is itself revealing.

Perhaps you are threatened academically in some way, or are unappealingly slender.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago
Reply to  Patrick White

Almost as revealing as you turning the discussion away from the subject to attempting to denigrate me Mr Wit.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

No, Patrick’s right. It’s juvenile. You should stop.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

I think you’re both wrong and I shall do as I wish. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Do you work at Eton?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

You’re free to think we are wrong. After all, we are not Eton, demanding you take your opinion down, are we? Thanks for making the case against Eton so beautifully.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

Glad that’s agreed then. And if my employer wants to fire me for making these comments here, that is fine by me.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Me too. Never thought you’d change your mind.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

The point is that his employer had no grounds to request he take it down.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

They don’t need grounds. They are a free agent. If my employer says jump, I jump – or I find another job. If they ask me to kill someone it is a different matter (especially as I am not a soldier 🙂 ).

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Of course they do. People have free speech rights. He said nothing obscene or inflammatory. And he said nothing in his class. If you write an op-Ed in a newspaper that your employer didn’t like, but wasn’t obscene or inflammatory, could they in your view, force you to retract it through the publication?

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

It depends on one’s contract. Schools are concerned about their reputation. Named teachers publishing material can affect their reputation. Thus it is within their rights to exercise control over this if they so wish, in whatever manner they see fit. Obviously a newspaper article cannot be unpublished – but a Youtube video can be removed. It is a trivial thing. To elect to lose one’s job over it is frankly rather narcissistic.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

I’m going to disagree. There was nothing at all in the video that affected Eton’s reputation, in addition, it wasn’t done in his classes. So it wasn’t within their rights to control. If a company can control anything you say even away from work then you are a slave, not an employee. And of course a newspaper article can be retracted. You cannot really ever remove anything from the internet, that should be clear by now. In the end, Eton not only did not get their way on the video, they made their own actions a subject of debate. And not in a good way. I don’t believe that was their goal.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

Yes it was. You really don’t get this do you. He’s sacked. He can’t get himself unsacked. An employment tribunal won’t reinstate him and would be extremely unlikely to grant him any compensation. Under the law, Eton can do what they want here.

No-one much cares about this. It is a non-issue. The rest of the world continues to go about their lives. Unherd’s audience of a few hundred is aware of it and a couple of dozen feel strongly about it. Meanwhile, the student body at Eton, the parents and the rest of the staff don’t appear to give a [email protected]@. That tells you something, surely?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

I don’t believe in slavery if that’s what you’re asking, no. What kind of patsy believe their employer has total control over anything they say?

If it’s a non issue, there wouldn’t be a thread on it, would there? And you wouldn’t be so frantic about it either.
It’s almost like you have a dog in the fight.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

Unherd specialises in articles on non-issues. It is a fringe publication with a tiny readership. I have no dog and such fight as there was is over. He appealed and lost. There will be no employment tribunal case. I am not so much frantic as incredulous that anyone deems this affair worth pursuing.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Yes we know you don’t like unherd. Which begs the obvious question.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

No I don’t DISLIKE it – it is but a channel. I dislike some of the articles. Mostly the many which are a lot of fuss over nothing or clearly commissioned by the square yard. One can choose to ignore or skim read these.

As to the begged question, it is good practice to explore sources and to engage with which you don’t necessarily agree. It provides context and avoids getting stuck in echo chambers. Unlike some of the alternatives like Breitbart and TCW, Unherd is not populated mainly by total nutters rabbiting the same tired nonsense every day. There are quite a few intelligent commenters and the discourse, when one occasionally dips into it, is usually civil. There’s a few narcissists commenting every day on every other article showing how clever they think they are and a horde of zombie up and downtickers but these are both easily ignored. Also, there don’t seem to be too many bots or troll farm residents.

Hope this helps.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Seems like you do dislike it. And if you can’t identify the troll, it’s you.

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

I don’t think you’re adding anything of value to our discussion with this comment.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

Isn’t it great that you’re free to think that as well as say it?

James Moss
James Moss
1 year ago

It would be very peculiar if I wasn’t. However, I have no problem if my employer tells me to stop posting here. I would do as they ask.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  James Moss

So it would be peculiar if you were not free to say what you wanted but you’d have no problem with your employer indicating that you are not free to do so.

So it wouldn’t actually be peculiar if you weren’t free to say what you wanted then.

Ali C
Ali C
1 year ago

I think the chap has made a bit of an idiot of himself. I’m all for free speech and the teacher should not have been sacked but an apology to the snoflake teacher and temporary withdrawal of video were all that was needed?

toyinajidele
toyinajidele
1 year ago
Reply to  Ali C

Cede ground then end up not turning up and thinking….bad idea.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
1 year ago
Reply to  Ali C

Why did he owe anyone an apology? Does the snowflake teacher owe an apology to those who do want to hear or read the lecture?