Speaker cancels lecture, cites offensive KSU poster

Amadeus Smith

An advertisement for a lecture describing Serbians’ moral deficiency has lead to a cancellation from its speaker, Peter French.

French, a philosophy professor at Arizona State University, wrote to serbianna.com, saying the poster for “On Being Morally Challenged by Collective Memories,” contains statements that give a false impression of the intent and focus of the speech, which was scheduled for today.

“I certainly do not think that Serbian culture is morally deficient or any such thing,” French wrote. “I do not know enough about Serbian culture to make such a judgment.”

French went on to say the ideas presented in the poster were not part of his paper, which was the basis of the speech.

According to serbianna.com, the poster said that Serbian men felt they had to “rape and murder Kosovar women and children,” and the urge was influenced by “collective memories nurtured in Serbs for seven centuries.”

French said the advertisement, which was “created to excite audience interest,” has offended a portion of the Serbian community.

“However, after event organizers generated a poster with a blurb citing the Serbian/Kosovo example to announce the lecture and displayed it on the Kent State University campus and Web site, there arose an outcry of complaints and accusations regarding my supposed views about Serbs,” he said.

At this point, the promotional poster’s author has not been determined.

The lecture was part of the 2006-2007 Veroni Memorial Lectures in Philosophy and the Humanities. According to the philosophy department’s Web site, the department is currently scheduling another lecture on collective memory and moral responsibility.

Contact minority affairs reporter Amadeus Smith at [email protected].