On quiet nights, a strange noise can be heard in Berlin-Tegel: the brothers Wilhelm and Alexander von Humboldt are rotating in their grave. What happened at the Berlin university named after them cannot leave the two great minds in peace.
The lecture by a biologist was canceled by the management because they allegedly could not guarantee the safety of the event.
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In the “Long Night of Science” Marie-Luise Vollbrecht wanted to talk about the following topic: “Gender is not (gen)gender, sex, gender and why there are two genders in biology”. The “Working Group of Critical Women Lawyers” had called for a protest against this event, which in turn triggered the announcement of a counter-demonstration.
The management of the university then got “security concerns” and canceled the lecture. That was a blow to academic freedom, an embarrassment for the more than 37,000 students and a gross disregard for the namesake. Alexander von Humboldt, the younger of the brothers, wrote: “The unveiling of the truth is inconceivable without a divergence of opinions.”
The justification “security concerns” is embarrassing for the university in every direction. If the management seriously cannot protect their lecturers, they have to change their organization. But when those responsible give in to troublemakers and terrorists with this excuse, they betray the freedom of science and intellectual debate.
They should feel the consequences in the regular competition for the rank of an excellent university. Banning a discussion should score a sack of demerits.
A reader plunges me into deep helplessness. The headline of his email is “Minister of Health as Talk Show Clown”.
He writes that he has been a loyal FDP voter for many years, but threatens to have his vote withdrawn. If he continues to see Karl Lauterbach “with his unfounded, panic-inducing statements” on a talk show, the FDP and the SPD are dead for him.
Dear Mr. R., I have zero influence, and the parties don’t send any talk show guests either. The editors of Maybrit Illner, Sandra Maischberger and Frank Plasberg independently invite those who suit them into their dramaturgy to their programs.
Roger Köppel was visiting. The publisher and editor-in-chief of “Weltwoche” came from Zurich to interview me. The result was a lively conversation lasting several hours, from which he had to extract the questions and answers from his tape at home in Switzerland.
Roger Köppel is one of the most original and versatile journalists in the German-speaking world. In the “Weltwoche”, which he bought, he advocates freedom, competition and the market economy in his commentaries.
Against many temptations during Putin’s war, he fights undeterred for Switzerland’s neutrality. But he accepts other opinions as well. Many free spirits have their say in his “World Week”. He scares me too. He gets up at three in the morning for his podcast “Weltwoche daily”.
FOCUS founding editor-in-chief Helmut Markwort has been a FDP member of the Bavarian state parliament since 2018.