15/02/2016 Newsnight


15/02/2016

In-depth investigation and analysis with Kirsty Wark, including an exclusive interview with the mother of one of the Columbine killers and updates on Syria.


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Transcript


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Tonight an exclusive UK TV interview with the mother of the Columbine

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killer who breaks her seventeen year silence.

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I remember at that point thinking if Dylan is really doing this,

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At that moment it was when I really prayed for him to die.

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And what would she say to the families of the dead

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I have this feeling of wanting to say over and over again,

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And I know that such a thing is so completely inadequate.

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But I don't know what else to say, except, I'm sorry.

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Also tonight we reveal and see evidence that Labour is telling

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members not to hold debates about leaving Europe,

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I think they shouldn't be nervous of having the debate -

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if they have a strong case let's hear it.

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We have got our case and we want to put it.

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And veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell on why people should

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be allowed to say Transwomen aren't real women.

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And transactivist Paris Lees on why they shouldn't.

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What is it like to know that your own son planned

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15 people died and 24 others were wounded

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in the Columbine High School tragedy in 1999.

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It was the first mass shooting of the 24-hour news era and pictures

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were beamed live from helicopters circling the school,

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and students trapped inside were interviewed live on air.

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The two killers, 17-year-old Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris

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who was eighteen, eventually killed themselves in the school library.

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In the aftermath the parents of the killers were excoriated.

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For seventeen years Dylan Klebold's mother kept her silence trying

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to understand what drove her 17-year-old son to kill

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Now she has written a book about it, A Mother's Reckoning,

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donating her profits to mental health charities, because one

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of the many things she didn't know about her son was

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This is Sue Klebold's only British television interview.

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You may find some of the scenes disturbing.

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Columbine High School lies 50 miles south of Denver in the shadow

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On the 20th of April 1999 its name became infamous around the world

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when two students, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, calmly

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drove their cars, packed with explosives, guns,

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parking lot and set about destroying the school.

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This wasn't a moment of madness, it was a cold-blooded massacre.

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The suburban high school turned into a killing field.

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I was screaming, and crying, I was telling them not to shoot me.

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So he shot the girl, he shot her in the head

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One by one they extracted the dead and injured from the school.

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This teenager was rescued from an upstairs classroom.

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I have been a SWAT officer since 1980 and this was clearly

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the most devastating and dramatic scene that I have ever seen.

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And began -- tell me how the day began. It was still dark. I heard

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Dylan thundering down the stairs in his boots. I was startled because it

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was too early for him to be up. I opened my bedroom door and I yelled,

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Dylan? He was at the front door already. I couldn't see him but all

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I heard him say was goodbye, then he slammed the door and left. I was

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very concerned. I woke my husband and said something is bothering him.

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Would you talk to him later? My husband said I will be home all day,

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I will talk to him when he gets home. And then what happened? About

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noon I was getting ready to go to a meeting. I worked for the college

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system. I had left my desk and came back and the message light was

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flashing on my telephone. I thought I better listen to it. I picked up

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the phone and listened and it was my husband, this voice, and he sounded

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horribly upset. His voice was cracking. He could hardly breathe.

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And he said, listen to the television, something horrible is

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happening at school. It was such a day of confusion. Police came to our

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home. We were asked to leave our home. We had to sit outside. We sat

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on the ground all day. At that stage you must have known that it was more

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likely your son was involved in the shooting, rather than someone who

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was shot. We heard through the window. The television was on. We

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heard that 25 people were dead. At that point I remembered thinking, if

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Dylan is really doing this, he must stop. And in that moment I prayed

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for him to die. I thought something has got to stop this. Whatever it is

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that is going on. It took me a very long time to believe, months, to

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believe that my son was actually responsible for killing and hurting

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people. Up until that time I believe I was living in an extreme state of

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denial. He was there, but he didn't really kill anybody, or, he wasn't

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what they were saying. That it was Eric? Yes, that it was Eric. Dylan

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Klebold lived in this house for almost a decade. In 1997 Dylan

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Klebold and Eric Harris were caught stealing. It hit the family hard.

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Dylan Became withdrawn and hostile but still took part of family

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events, held down a part-time job, he went to the school prom three

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days before the massacre. But what his parents didn't know was that

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Dylan Klebold has been suicidal for two years. He poured all of his rage

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and upset into diaries and journals that were only handed to the family

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by the police almost two years after the killing. What they were also

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unaware of was that Dylan had hidden a sawn off shotgun and ammunition in

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his bedroom. Police later said the killers had prepared 99 home-made

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explosive devices for use in the attack. It must have been a strange

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thing to compute, to know that between them Dylan and Eric Harris

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were going to blow up the whole school. That was one of the most

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difficult moments of this entire process. I had to go through so many

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phases of accessing this, and accepting, OK, they were there, OK,

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they hurt people, it was purposeful, yes, it was planned, it wasn't

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impulsive. Then at the police report to finally learned that their plan

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has been to kill everybody in the school but their plan failed. When I

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thought of that, and thought of the magnitude, I really did not think I

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was going to live through it. You come in the book, sometimes

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described him as withdrawn and monosyllabic, and that he took

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failure heart. Whether certain signs that you missed? -- failure hard. In

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his junior year several things happened. He got arrested, he got in

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trouble at school, he has scratched a locker at school... I did not

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recognise that those things meant there was a potential life and death

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situation. I didn't recognise that these were possible signs of a

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mental condition. According to FBI records there have

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been 50 mass murders, or attempted mass murders, in schools in America

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since Columbine. Sue Klebold made one stipulation before our

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interview, that we would not show the CCTV pictures of the boys in the

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school during the massacre. For fear of copycat attacks.

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You were asked to go to the Sheriff's office six months after

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the massacre to be showing videos. Tell me about that. It was a

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collection of the two of them talking about what they were going

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to do. Horribly violent and hateful... I remember when I saw

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that I actually stood up. I thought I was going to be ill. It was such a

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shock. The person I was seeing on that film wasn't anybody I could

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recognise. It wasn't Dylan. At that point did you have to face up to the

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fact that he was equally responsible for Columbine? That's it. That was

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the moment. That was the day in which I learnt that he was not an

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innocent bystander who happened to get involved. This wasn't an

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impulsive act. He prepared for this for a long period of time. And that

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he was equally involved in killing people, and saying horrible things

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to people before they died. In the aftermath of the massacre you had

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support from friends and co-workers, but you also had a substantial

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firestorm coming at you. What sort of things happened? I remember being

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in a grocery store and paying with a cheque. The checker recognised my

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name and asked me if I knew him. I said yes, he was my son, and then

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she started saying in a very loud voice, you know, this was the work

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of Satan, and just shouting at me. I am trying to bag my groceries and go

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out. I would turn on the radio and hear myself being discussed, and

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called disgusting. These were just things that happened. It created a

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feeling, always, of being watched, being judged. This instant decision

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from people who didn't know. People want to believe that it is something

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as simple as bad parenting. Because it is a comforting fort. Because

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nobody wants to believe that anything like this can happen to us.

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-- comforting thought. I think it made people feel safer to believe

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that we were all of the things they wished we were, or perceived us to

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be, or imprinted on us, because then they could feel, well, this will not

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happen to me because I am not like that. You also wrote to the victims'

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families. I did, yes. A father wrote back to us about a year later, for

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which I was extremely grateful. He wanted to meet with us. It was

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profoundly comforting to me. It meant so much to me. I received a

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letter from the sister of one of the girls who had been shot. And then

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one of the mothers of the girls who had been killed also reached out and

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wanted to meet with me. Those things meant so much to me. I couldn't... I

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couldn't even begin to explain how it felt so wonderful to have them be

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gracious enough, and brave enough to do that.

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Sue Klebold now believes her son's suicidal ideas were a significant

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factor in the Columbine massacre. Since 1999 she has become

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increasingly involved in the issue of the suicide prevention.

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You say in the book, I shall listen more and lecture less. In all the

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years since I lost Dylan, I wish I had just said, you feel that way,

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tell me about it some more, tell me about how you feel. I think I had a

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tendency more to lecture, tell him what to do, to do what parents do. I

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just wished I had talked much less. I read somewhere that you had worn a

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piece of his clothing. You held onto things. I did wear his clothes for a

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long time. My husband and I both did. It was just a feeling of

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wanting him a little bit close. -- closer.

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The tragedy, which was at the time the worst school shooting in

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American history, cast a long shadow. Families were shattered.

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Sons and daughters dead. One teacher murdered as he tried to protect

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students. And those who were shocked that they and survived some of them

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living with the most horrific wounds.

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Have you been to the memorial? I have. What happened when he went

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there? I have been quite a few times. What I do is I sit there and

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in my head I talk to the kids, and the teacher who was there, without

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the rest of the world, without parents, lawyers, community... I

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just want them to know that I am thinking of them. And I will always

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think of them. Do you want to take a moment? I am

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OK. You talk a lot in the book about faith. Do you still believe in God?

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Not in the same way that I did before. But I wonder if you had

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religion before in a different way, whether you believe there is a God.

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I don't know, I go back and forth. The one thing I have hoped for again

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and again is that in some moment in this present life, or in the

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position or in the future like I will see him again. I am hoping I

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will see him again. The moment you believe in good and evil, you might

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be in a different place. I know. A lot of people will read this book in

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different ways because it means a lot to different groups, so it will

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mean a lot to the victims' families, to the survivors, some of whom are

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still in a wheelchair. What would you say to them? What do you say to

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them now? I have this feeling of wanting to say over and over again I

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am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry. I know that such a thing is so

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completely inadequate. But I don't know what else to say besides I am

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sorry. I am just so sorry for what Dylan did. Thank you very much.

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And you can see the full-length version of that interview

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with Susan Klebold on a special edition of Our World on the BBC

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News Channel this Saturday and Sunday at 9.30pm.

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At the start of the week which may well define Britain's chances

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of staying in Europe or leaving it, and as David Cameron

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and Francois Hollande have a hastily arranged meeting in Paris tonight

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ahead of Thursday's Brussels summit, the European Council President sent

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Risk of break up is real as UK in EU negotiations very fragile.

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"Fragile" is the word that could be applied to many elements of this

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Both the Government and the opposition are divided,

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and as our Political Editor David Grossman found out Labour officials

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have been attempting to keep a lid on their party's Eurosceptics.

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Labour used to be Britain's most Eurosceptic party.

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Here is Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell issuing dire warnings about joining

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We must be clear about this. It does mean if this is an idea the end of

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Britain as an independent nation state. I make no apology about

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repeating it, the end of 1000 years of history. You might say, it ends,

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but it is a decision that needs care and thought.

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I think it is anti-democratic, it is anti-socialist

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Its employment rate is high and its growth rate is low

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and looking at Southern Europe it has done terrible damage

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We have been on a long journey with this.

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Of course in 1983 famously we campaigned to pull out

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of the European Union and that helped to contribute to our most

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disastrous election result for a century.

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Our pivotal moment was Jacques Delors's speech to the TUC

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Congress in 1988 when he laid out the vision of a social Europe.

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Bruised from their third election defeat the labour movement became

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enthusiastic pro-Europeans almost overnight as a way of using Brussels

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to fight for the rights of working people.

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It is no secret that many of us have been sceptical about the benefits

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Colleagues, in the short term we have not a cat in hell's chance

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The only card game in town at the moment is in a town called

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Brussels and it is a game of poker where we have got to learn the rules

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By the mid-90s Labour had its most Euro enthusiastic leader ever,

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but many particularly on the left were unconvinced.

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They saw the EU as profoundly anti-democratic.

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We have European bureaucracy totally unaccountable to anybody. The powers

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have gone from national parliaments and they have gone to the commission

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and the Council of ministers and these are serious matters.

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Jeremy Corbyn did come down in favour of Britain's EU membership.

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There would have been mass resignations and rebellion

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I certainly let him know my view and this was a clear choice

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The word "maybe" is not on the ballot paper as I have always

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But I would give Jeremy Corbyn credit for being clear,

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not just on one occasion, but on many occasions since he took

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over the leadership, that he is going to campaign to stay

:20:07.:20:09.

But is the Labour Party trying to stifle debate on the referendum?

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Newsnight has obtained an e-mail from the party's general secretary

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Ian McNicol warning constituency parties that they should not

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be organising debates on whether to stay in the EU or not,

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but instead get fully behind the party's policy of

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The e-mail was sent to a local party officer who had enquired

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about organising an in-out referendum debate.

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The answer they received was a forwarded message

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from Ian McNicol, the party's general secretary, which pointed out

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that party conference had voted unanimously to support remaining

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Rather than having a debate, the e-mail said, on whether to

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support Britain's EU membership constituency Labour parties should

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be campaigning to keep Britain in the European Union in line

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with Labour's values and labour policy.

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I think they should not be nervous about having the debate.

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If they have got a strong case, let's hear it.

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We have got our case and we want to put it.

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We asked the Labour Party to comment on the e-mail.

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They denied banning Labour leave speakers, but said it was right that

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all official Labour events and meetings focused

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on their campaign to stake in the EU.

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With me now is John Mills, businessman and Labour donor

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who will lead the Vote Leave campaign and from Birmingham

:21:25.:21:27.

the Labour MP Emma Reynolds, who is a member of the cross party

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Good evening. What is your reaction to the idea that the general

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secretary is saying you should not be having any debates, you should

:21:44.:21:47.

only be campaigning for a yes vote? That is very unfortunate. There are

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a large number of Labour members who used to the Labour who have gone off

:21:57.:22:00.

to Ukip and the Conservatives and they have a different view from the

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Labour Party nationally. They want to hear the arguments on both sides.

:22:05.:22:08.

That does not stop you voting to stay in it that is the way you think

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the argument goes, but it is not right that the arguments for coming

:22:14.:22:17.

out should not be heard. They should be. Surely you cannot be happy with

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a directive that says you should not have a debate? I think the secretary

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general was right to say that we have had that debate at our party

:22:29.:22:33.

conference and we unanimously agreed on a motion put forward by the GMB

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trade union that we should campaign as a party to stay in the European

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Union. Jeremy Corbyn has been clear about that as well. We have only got

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until the 23rd of June to make that case. I think it is right the party

:22:49.:22:53.

leadership is saying to party members, the vast majority of whom

:22:54.:22:58.

are pro-European, let's get on with it and get on with the debate. Hang

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on. What John Mills was saying just now, electoral damage has been done

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to you in 40 for Labour seats with Ukip finishing second. It suggests

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there are some Labour voters who are Eurosceptic. Are you saying they are

:23:17.:23:21.

out in the cold? No, what I am saying... You are. We are taking a

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decision that we are pro-European and that has been the case for

:23:29.:23:35.

decades. We should have a discussion with Labour voters about these

:23:36.:23:40.

issues, of course we should. Can I be clear? You as an MP in your

:23:41.:23:45.

constituency could not have a debate that had people who said leave on

:23:46.:23:53.

the platform with you? That is the directive, you would not have that

:23:54.:23:57.

debate? I have had lots of debate with people on the other side of the

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argument, but the priority for me as a Labour MP is to go and talk to my

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constituents about the decision they will have to make possibly as early

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as June. That is my priority, but that is not to say I am not

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debating. I did a debate last week with a Eurosceptic. Of course those

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debates will keep happening, but the focus in the Labour Party is to make

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the case to remain in the union, based on our values. This is a

:24:27.:24:33.

whipped vote. There is nothing freak about this, there is no suspension

:24:34.:24:37.

of the whip. Do you believe there should be a suspension? The Labour

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Party has agreed that Labour Party members can act on either side and

:24:43.:24:48.

come out if they want to stay in, so the Labour Party is not stopping

:24:49.:24:52.

people. Let's talk about the Shadow Cabinet, are there people who want

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out in the Shadow cabinet? Yes, there are people sympathetic to

:24:59.:25:04.

coming out. I dead people in there now? Yes, several. Not vast numbers,

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but several. They are stopped by Cabinet responsibility from

:25:13.:25:14.

advocating coming out, and that I understand. But outside the Cabinet,

:25:15.:25:20.

as in 1975, people should be allowed to canvas and support staying out

:25:21.:25:30.

and staying in? Time is of the essence and it looks like there will

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be a referendum vote in June. Will we see Shadow Cabinet people coming

:25:35.:25:39.

out and supporting leading? I am not sure what will happen to be honest.

:25:40.:25:44.

It may well be that Cabinet responsibility will stop that

:25:45.:25:47.

happening. But that should not stop other people in the Labour Party,

:25:48.:25:52.

including a substantial minority, from being allowed to express their

:25:53.:25:57.

views. Why do you think we are not seen so much of Jeremy Corbyn

:25:58.:26:00.

talking about Europe at all. It has been left at Alan Johnson, yet it is

:26:01.:26:06.

one of the most important thing we are discussing in decades and Jeremy

:26:07.:26:08.

Corbyn is not leading from the front. This is important. Jeremy

:26:09.:26:15.

Corbyn and the entire Shadow Cabinet has signed up to a pro-European

:26:16.:26:20.

agreement with MPs in Parliament and over 90% of our MPs have signed up

:26:21.:26:27.

to that group. There are only a small number of MPs who want us to

:26:28.:26:32.

come out. The vast majority, the consensus, is we should campaign to

:26:33.:26:36.

stay in the EU. Jeremy Corbyn was very clear from the start of his

:26:37.:26:40.

leadership that is a party which he is leading we will be campaigning to

:26:41.:26:45.

stay in the European Union and he has been clear and consistent on

:26:46.:26:49.

that point. I wonder how many speeches he has made in the last few

:26:50.:26:52.

weeks about the importance of staying in Europe. He has made a

:26:53.:26:58.

number of speeches in Parliament because he has had to respond to the

:26:59.:27:01.

Prime Minister who has come back from a number of summits. But they

:27:02.:27:07.

are both on the same side. How do you think Jeremy Corbyn is doing in

:27:08.:27:12.

all this? He is under very substantial constraints because of

:27:13.:27:16.

Cabinet responsibility. Whether that is where his heart lies is another

:27:17.:27:17.

matter. Thank you all very much. The United Nations say that almost

:27:18.:27:24.

50 people have been killed in missile attacks on hospitals

:27:25.:27:26.

and schools in Syria, which it called a blatant violation

:27:27.:27:29.

of international law. Two of the hospitals that

:27:30.:27:38.

were hit were in Idlib, where rebels have taken control

:27:39.:27:41.

of the province and where Syrian and Russian fighter jets

:27:42.:27:44.

have been in operation. One target was a field

:27:45.:27:46.

hospital supported by MSF, and the organisation

:27:47.:27:48.

says its destruction will deprive At the Munich conferecne

:27:49.:27:50.

at the weekend, the Russian Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev denied

:27:51.:27:59.

Russian planes had killed civilians but activists have blamed Russia

:28:00.:28:02.

for all three attacks. I'm joined now by Andre Heller

:28:03.:28:04.

Perache, Head of Programs at Medecins Sans Frontieres UK

:28:05.:28:07.

who has been monitoring Good evening. What is the latest on

:28:08.:28:20.

these attacks in Syria? From the information we have got today, there

:28:21.:28:27.

are rescue operations to find more survivors and it has stopped with

:28:28.:28:31.

nightfall. Seven people were confirmed dead within the hospital,

:28:32.:28:37.

including patients and personnel. There are eight still missing

:28:38.:28:40.

presumed dead that we are aware of and beyond that there are additional

:28:41.:28:46.

patients who were in the hospital. You are pretty sure you were

:28:47.:28:49.

targeted rather than it being collateral damage? Effectively it

:28:50.:28:55.

was direct targeting and by that I mean there were successive air

:28:56.:28:58.

strikes on the same location, the hospital, totally destroy it in

:28:59.:29:02.

multiple waves of attacks over the course of 90 minutes. If it was a

:29:03.:29:06.

bomb hitting that then close by, that discussion can be had, but this

:29:07.:29:12.

was targeted repeatedly. It is not something one can write off saying

:29:13.:29:18.

it is an unfortunate event. It is too bad this happened. It is beyond

:29:19.:29:23.

that. What is the policy now of announcing where you are? It is a

:29:24.:29:28.

complicated question, particularly in Syria. Over the course of this

:29:29.:29:33.

conflict there have been multiple instances, it has been a feature of

:29:34.:29:38.

this conflict, that humanitarian structures as well as protected

:29:39.:29:40.

human infrastructure has been repeatedly targeted deliberately,

:29:41.:29:46.

like schools, marketplaces, grain silos, clinics, bakeries. They all

:29:47.:29:52.

have signage. This structure did not have signage on the outside. What I

:29:53.:29:58.

am saying is the other ones. Prior to this we have known that they were

:29:59.:30:02.

hospitals, but in this case we do not openly advertise this is a

:30:03.:30:04.

hospital? Over 240 hospitals have been

:30:05.:30:15.

destroyed. One cannot say that this is an identification error of the

:30:16.:30:21.

structure. This hospital had been relocated from its previous location

:30:22.:30:24.

where it had been targeted and struck three times. People are

:30:25.:30:28.

afraid to say they are doing medical work. If you are an aid worker

:30:29.:30:32.

within Syria right now, and we are talking about Syrians by and large,

:30:33.:30:36.

they know the risks. They know they can be a target. Aid has been turned

:30:37.:30:42.

into a target, as well. We talk about the number of hospitals, an

:30:43.:30:45.

astonishing amount have been targeted and destroyed, what is the

:30:46.:30:49.

impact on health care more broadly in Syria? I have read some

:30:50.:30:56.

statistics which says 60% of the general public hospitals within

:30:57.:30:59.

Syria have been destroyed since the beginning of this conflict. In this

:31:00.:31:04.

particular instance we are talking about a small hospital with two

:31:05.:31:08.

operating theatres, an emergency room, and an outpatient department.

:31:09.:31:12.

They have seen 5500 external cases per month. 1100 emergency cases per

:31:13.:31:19.

month. You talk about the number of lives being saved. But when you look

:31:20.:31:23.

at the scale of the conflict, Medecins Sans Frontieres is

:31:24.:31:27.

supporting a large amount of structures within the country, but

:31:28.:31:33.

there are millions of people who have been displaced. Millions of

:31:34.:31:36.

people along the borders trying to escape. The suffering is

:31:37.:31:43.

unimaginable right now. Aleppo was referred to at the weekend as

:31:44.:31:48.

Stalingrad. We have been doing everything in our power to support

:31:49.:31:55.

as many networks as possible. Aid workers, doctors, in the suburbs of

:31:56.:32:00.

Damascus, this year alone the kinds of risks these people are taking

:32:01.:32:05.

means 17 separate medical structures have been hit in 2016 and it is only

:32:06.:32:10.

mid February. This is the fifth structure which has been supported

:32:11.:32:13.

by some measure by Medecins Sans Frontieres which has been hit alone.

:32:14.:32:17.

The pressure on people is unbelievable. And that pressure

:32:18.:32:20.

continues to grow with time. Things are just getting worse. Thank you

:32:21.:32:23.

very much. A debate on the topic

:32:24.:32:24.

of "Re-Radicalising Queers" is not taking place at Canterbury Christ

:32:25.:32:26.

Church University tonight, because one of the participants

:32:27.:32:28.

didn't want to share a platform So, is Peter Tatchell

:32:29.:32:31.

guilty by association, or should we applaud student

:32:32.:32:33.

activitists for doing what they can You do not witness the suffering of

:32:34.:32:47.

lesbian and gay people. Racist and transphobe are not words that

:32:48.:32:50.

normally spring to mind when we talk about Peter Tatchell. Your long

:32:51.:32:58.

history of anti-Semitism, homophobia, and attacks on the

:32:59.:33:13.

Muslim community... Doctor Greer had offended and insulted some activists

:33:14.:33:15.

when she expressed her view that transwomen are not women simply by

:33:16.:33:22.

their desire to be thought of as such.

:33:23.:33:22.

So, is Peter Tatchell guilty by association,

:33:23.:33:24.

or should we applaud student activitists for doing what they can

:33:25.:33:28.

I'm joined by Peter Tatchell and Paris Lees.

:33:29.:33:36.

Did you get flak at the debate? It was a debate about the future of

:33:37.:33:48.

LGBT politics. I am sad she did not attend. I would have welcomed an

:33:49.:33:55.

exchange. She has every right to do this. What I object to is the fact

:33:56.:34:01.

she labelled me a racist and a transphobe. And when asked to

:34:02.:34:04.

justify her views she failed to do so. There is the evidence. She

:34:05.:34:07.

didn't offer evidence even when asked. What has been the impact on

:34:08.:34:17.

you? We asked the NUS to come on tonight and they wouldn't. It is not

:34:18.:34:22.

just that you didn't want -- it isn't that she did not want just due

:34:23.:34:26.

to take part, but she didn't want others to take part, as well. I

:34:27.:34:31.

respect her. But this is not about me. This is about the rights of

:34:32.:34:34.

black and ethnic minority background people, and the rights of trans

:34:35.:34:39.

people. I have constantly criticised those feminist who disrespect

:34:40.:34:43.

transit people and oppose their human rights. I constantly challenge

:34:44.:34:46.

those who deny the human rights of black and Asian people and will

:34:47.:34:52.

continue to do so. Paris Lees, this debate was about gay rights tonight,

:34:53.:34:55.

it was nothing to do with the rights of trans people. We did defend trans

:34:56.:35:05.

people. So what is the problem with somebody taking part in a debate

:35:06.:35:10.

with Peter? I would like to say that Peter Tatchell is not a transphobe

:35:11.:35:15.

in my opinion. I think it is ludicrous to suggest that. He is a

:35:16.:35:18.

national treasure as far as I am concerned and one of the few people

:35:19.:35:21.

who spoke up for transgender rights on a public platform a few years ago

:35:22.:35:27.

and nobody was talking about this. I'm very grateful to him for that. I

:35:28.:35:32.

think there is a lot of anger towards Peter because of signing

:35:33.:35:36.

that letter. Not just signing it, but maybe your reaction afterwards

:35:37.:35:42.

wasn't that helpful. I think, you know, to call him a transphobe is a

:35:43.:35:47.

little over the top, but I think it is somebody getting carried away. To

:35:48.:35:52.

come to the issue of this, I think it is unfortunate Peter has been

:35:53.:35:56.

involved in this debate. But more broadly, yes I think it is right

:35:57.:36:00.

that people should not engage with transphobe O'. I don't think Peter

:36:01.:36:04.

is one of those people, but for some people there is no point speaking to

:36:05.:36:14.

them. -- transphobes. You take people on in order to have that

:36:15.:36:17.

debate and you win it when you are fighting for the rights of people.

:36:18.:36:22.

There is also an argument that marginalised people have had to

:36:23.:36:25.

explain themselves over and over again. There are certain people who

:36:26.:36:31.

are just not willing to engage in debate. They have heard the

:36:32.:36:34.

arguments. That is a different kettle of fish from Peter. This

:36:35.:36:39.

person has made personal attacks on individual trans people before. They

:36:40.:36:44.

have argued for conversion therapy, which has proved to be very

:36:45.:36:48.

dangerous. Those people should not be given platforms to air their

:36:49.:36:53.

prejudices. I understand the anger. Given the scale of violence towards

:36:54.:36:57.

trans people, the discrimination, all of the medical issues, the

:36:58.:37:00.

hurdles they have to go through the transition, and all of those kinds

:37:01.:37:05.

of issues... We need to be talking about that. But I also think, in my

:37:06.:37:11.

view, the best way to defeat bigoted prejudiced ideas is to take on a

:37:12.:37:18.

challenge by taking on people who say it. That is why I have challenge

:37:19.:37:22.

Germaine Greer and many others. I did a debate last year against

:37:23.:37:27.

Islamist extremists. I think I demolished them. That was far more

:37:28.:37:30.

effective than if I had stayed away and they were allowed to say

:37:31.:37:35.

whatever they wanted. But you can understand why people feel they

:37:36.:37:38.

don't have a power and they withdraw. Absolutely. I respect

:37:39.:37:43.

that. And I'm really sorry if trans people felt offended by me taking

:37:44.:37:47.

that stand and signing that letter. My intention was never to give

:37:48.:37:51.

endorsement to Germaine Greer or any other feminist who opposes trans

:37:52.:37:57.

rights. Those people are wrong. They are deniers of human rights. They

:37:58.:38:01.

are on the wrong side of history. I stand with the trans community for

:38:02.:38:05.

their writes, acceptance, and dignity. -- rights. The argument is

:38:06.:38:16.

whether their views should be aired. You believe that these issues should

:38:17.:38:22.

be taken on and argued down. Exactly. I am lucky because I have a

:38:23.:38:27.

lot of experience... With a way to get experience is to do it. Others

:38:28.:38:31.

may not have that experience, and are therefore in a difficult

:38:32.:38:36.

position. Germaine Greer has been going around saying the most

:38:37.:38:39.

disgusting, dehumanising things about trans people for decades.

:38:40.:38:44.

Completely unchallenged. Lauded in the media. You didn't have trans

:38:45.:38:49.

people on this show 15, 20 years ago, maybe not even five years ago.

:38:50.:38:54.

You are only aware of us because of social media. We had a number of big

:38:55.:39:00.

stories, transgender rights, trans people in prisons. We have made

:39:01.:39:06.

ourselves known, that we are visible, but nobody was challenging

:39:07.:39:08.

Germaine Greer. When I was in University six years ago I

:39:09.:39:15.

experienced family rejection, street harassment, I didn't blend in when I

:39:16.:39:18.

first transition. I was being messed about by the NHS. I faced

:39:19.:39:24.

discrimination at work. I had mental health issues. Had I known Germaine

:39:25.:39:29.

Greer was coming to my university, because of all the horrible things

:39:30.:39:31.

she said about trans people, because, let's face it, if Nick

:39:32.:39:37.

Griffin goes anywhere he is a known racist and is challenged. But if

:39:38.:39:40.

Germaine Greer is going somewhere, everybody gets excited about it. I

:39:41.:39:44.

think that would be enough to tip me over the edge and I'm not a weak

:39:45.:39:47.

person. It doesn't happen in a vacuum. Do you think there has been

:39:48.:39:53.

a generational change, and what is acceptable and unacceptable is

:39:54.:39:59.

different? And maybe the younger activists are even more successful.

:40:00.:40:03.

Maybe that's true. But I think that is a negative move. I understand why

:40:04.:40:08.

they say what they say. I have sympathy for those in the NUS when

:40:09.:40:11.

they wanted to defend the weak and the marginal. That is an honourable

:40:12.:40:16.

position to take. But I think they are wrong to try and close down

:40:17.:40:21.

debate, or exclude people, who they disagree with. The best way to

:40:22.:40:26.

challenge bigot is by taking them on, refuting their arguments,

:40:27.:40:29.

providing counter evidence, because that, I think, is the way to win

:40:30.:40:33.

hearts and minds. If we don't convince the bigots, at least we

:40:34.:40:39.

will convince the wider public. I think free speech has been expanded

:40:40.:40:43.

for people who never previously had a voice. You are nobody these days

:40:44.:40:49.

if you haven't been on a platform. Thank you both.

:40:50.:41:00.

who was at the Welsh open and rolling towards that holy

:41:01.:41:07.

Then he found out what the prize money was.

:41:08.:41:10.

He has just had a look at me in the commentary box and I have put

:41:11.:41:14.

Sometimes he doesn't try if it is not enough.

:41:15.:41:18.

He didn't look too impressed when you said it was only

:41:19.:41:22.

See he is not even going for one now.

:41:23.:41:26.

If they are going to pay you ten grand, it's worth a bit

:41:27.:41:32.

In-depth investigation and analysis with Kirsty Wark, including an exclusive interview with the mother of one of the Columbine killers and updates on Syria. The team also ask if Labour are scared of Europe debate, and Peter Tatchell discusses free speech.


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