At last, some good news to report. William Knowland was an English literature teacher at Eton College which is one of the best-known private schools in the world. His ‘crime’ that resulted in his dismissal, was to challenge orthodox feminist liturgy in a YouTube video called the Patriarchy Paradox that you can find by clicking here. You can also find useful interviews with Will Knowland on Triggernometry here and Times Radio here.
I couldn’t see a lot wrong with his YouTube video much of which was backed by citations to the peer reviewed literature; of course that doesn’t mean he was right but it does suggest that he was operating from within the frame of acceptable discourse. It was important that boys at Eton experienced viewpoint diversity and not just the gospel according to Laura Bates (to which Eton schoolboys had been subjected). William’s video contained at least one factual error, that male rapes in prison exceed female rapes out in the community. However, Laura Bates’s book Men Who Hate Women also contained factual errors but nobody has called for Laura Bates to be removed from the scene and neither should they. There was much that was stimulating and thought-provoking in the video and the Pupils at Eton ought to have been exposed to William Knowland’s thoughts and in turn that could have been a jumping-off point for useful discussion. Instead, Eton chose to sack him and doing so it has tarnished its reputation.
Eton’s final act of spite was to report William to the teaching watchdog, the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA). This could have resulted in his never being able to teach again – just because of a challenge to orthodox feminist liturgy.
The TRA has now delivered its verdict “Mr Knowland does not have a case to answer in relation to the allegations, this case will be closed and no further action will be taken.”
It seems that the TRA agreed with William Knowland’s submission that “Promoting freedom of thought and robust, open discussion clearly upholds Eton’s ethos and practices, hence the overwhelming support from the Eton community.”
Will Eton College apologise to Mr Knowland? Will feminist journalists who sprayed abuse in his direction, accusing him of being a vile misogynist, apologise? I doubt it.
Perhaps the best comment comes from Simon Henthorn at Doyle Clayton – Workplace Lawyers. “The decision also marks a victory for freedom of speech in schools. In producing the video, William Knowland was aiming to promote freedom of thought and stimulating debate on what was an emotive and topical subject. The robust open discussion clearly upholds Eton’s ethos and practices, hence the overwhelming support of the Eton community. It would have been particularly controversial for the education sector as a whole if the allegations had been proven. Thankfully the TRA reached a sensible decision.”
I couldn’t agree more.