Philosopher Peter Singer 'de-platformed' after SkyCity cancels appearance

Philosopher Peter Singer says he won't be speaking at SkyCity in June after the venue "cancelled" his contract due to fearing "reputational damage".

Singer, a philosopher who has been recognised both as the Australian Humanist of the Year and the most dangerous person in the world, was scheduled to appear at the Auckland central venue on June 14 for 'An Evening with Peter Singer'.

However, the figure now says the event had been cancelled by SkyCity after a "news article attacking" his view that it may be ethical for parents to choose euthanasia for severely disabled newborn infants.

"We decided that yes it was a reasonable decision for parents and doctors to make that it was better that infants with this condition should not live," he has said. 

On Saturday, Newshub reported that the New Zealand disabled community was frustrated by his appearance. Dr Huhana Hickey, who has used a wheelchair since 1996 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010, said he wasn't an expert in disability.

"He's one of a kind when it comes to his expertise in animal rights, however, he's not an expert in the area of disability," Dr Hickey told Newshub. 

"His views against disabled people have been picked up by the abled community over the years and a lot of his views have been used against us."

However, Dr Hickey said while she would protest his ideas and "counter his speech around disability", he has "every right to freedom of speech".

A statement from Singer on Wednesday said that this was the first time he had been "de-platformed" in his 50-year career.

"It's extraordinary that Skycity should cancel my speaking engagement on the basis of a newspaper article without contacting either me or the organiser of my speaking tour to check the facts on which it appears to be basing the cancellation," Singer said.

"I have been welcomed as a speaker in New Zealand on many occasions and spent an enjoyable month as an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury more than 20 years ago. If New Zealand has become less tolerant of controversial views since then, that's a matter for deep regret."

A SkyCity spokesperson told Newshub: "Following concerns raised by the public and local media, SkyCity has cancelled the venue hire agreement for 'An Evening with Peter Singer'.
"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."

Singer is well-known for authoring Animal Liberation, which argues in favour of veganism, and for being a prominent animal rights activist. Proceeds from his speaking tour were going to his charity 'The Life You Can Save', which helps "transform the lives of people in extreme poverty in low-income countries".

The show's promoter Suzi Jamil of Think Inc, says the "incident sets a dangerous precedent for all forms of intellectual discourse and is an affront to academic freedom".

The promoter will now look for a new venue.