John Cleese Withdraws From Cambridge Union Event Due To ‘Wakened Rules’

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John Cleese withdrew from an event at the Cambridge Union, claiming he “gets blacklisted” before “someone else does.”

The Monty Python and Fawlty Towers star’s decision was in protest after the debate society banned art critic Andrew Graham-Dixon for impersonating Adolf Hitler.

Cleese was due to address the union on Friday, but withdrew, saying he also emulated Hitler in a Monty Python sketch. He said on twitter: “I was eager to speak to the Cambridge Union students this Friday, but I heard someone over there was blacklisted for impersonating Hitler.

“I wish I did the same on a Monty Python show, so I get blacklisted before someone else does.” I apologize to anyone in Cambridge who hoped to speak to me, but maybe some of you can find a place where the watch rules don’t apply.

There are reports that Cleese was traveling to Cambridge as part of a documentary he is making on “waking culture.”

Cambridge Union President Keir Bradwell said it was a “huge shame” that Cleese felt he could no longer attend the event. “We were really looking forward to welcoming John here.

“It would have been a really fantastic event and our members are really delighted to hear from him – the documentary he is making is extremely topical. He is the kind of speaker that would thrive with our audience and in our room.

Graham-Dixon’s impression and remarks on Hitler came during a debate last week on the motion “This house thinks there is no good taste.” In a statement, the art historian said his intention was not to upset people, but to persuade the public “that bad taste and bad morals often go hand in hand.”

He added: “I sincerely apologize to all who found my debate tactics and the use of Hitler’s own language painful; On second thought, I can see that some of the words I have used, even in the quotes, are inherently offensive.

He rejected “the implication that I am racist and anti-Semitic … The speech I gave was a vehement attack on Hitler’s racism and anti-Semitism.”

In a letter posted to Facebook, Bradwell said Graham-Dixon’s remarks at the event were “thoughtless and grotesque,” and apologized for his own failure to intervene. He said he had consumed “two glasses of wine over dinner beforehand, just like our speakers”, but added that he was “not hampered in my ability to chair the debate”.


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