Date-hungry veggies with a beef say nuts to website

Phil Baty - Published: 05 May 2006

A campaign by vegetarians organised through an obscure dating website has led Newcastle University to withdraw a series of essays published on its own website, prompting an unlikely row over free speech.

Newcastle has removed the personal webpages of evolutionary psychologist Nikolas Lloyd from its website after complaints about his tongue-in-cheek diatribe against vegetarianism called Why Vegetarians Should be Force-fed Lard, writes Phil Baty.

The university said that the pages, which the university was hosting on a discretionary basis, were withdrawn because they were deemed to be "deliberately provocative to a minority group".

But one academic at the university said this week that Newcastle had succumbed to pressure and "blackmail" from a small but organised lobby of vegetarians.

Bruce Charlton, reader in psychiatry at Newcastle and a friend of Mr Lloyd's, said: "It is amusing, although potentially ominous, that Newcastle has shown itself ready to cave in to threats emanating from so mild a source as a bunch of vegetarian lonely hearts."

Mr Lloyd has never been a paid member of staff at Newcastle, but has been a visiting fellow for many years. His essay on vegetarianism rubbished a list of common reasons people cite for being vegetarian and suggested that most men chose vegetarianism simply to impress vegetarian women.

It was posted on - "the place for vegetarian dating, friendships... whether your diet is fruitarian, vegan, raw food or macrobiotic" - and caused an outcry.

Ian Martin, a member of the dating site, wrote to the university to complain. Others followed suit.

Their arguments were initially rejected by Quentin Campbell, acting for the university's Information Systems and Services. His phone number was then published on the vegetarians' website with a suggestion that he should be pestered. Mr Martin also suggested that visitors call The Sun newspaper to generate "unwanted publicity for the university".

Shortly afterwards, all of Mr Lloyd's pages were removed from the university's website.

The Register's first article
The Register's second article
The veggie forum's thread (now off-line)
Dr Bruce Charlton's press release
Fraser Charlton's list of web-links on this affair
Richard Lockwood's blog, featuring many comments (you'll need to select normal founts)
The first (failed) attempt to have me banned
The silly essay that started the whole thing
Reinstate the veggie forum thread! Fight for freedom!


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