Thursday, 20 June 2024

From The Liberty Wall – Free Speech: How Do We Protect It? – March Of The Thought Police (Part 2)

‘We need a new fight for freedom of speech. We need a renewed commitment to the freedoms of thought, conscience, speech and the press, and one which is consistent – which defends these freedoms not only for intellectuals and the right-on, as too many free-speech campaign groups narrowly devote themselves to doing, but also for so-called deniers, for the politically weird, for those who are offensive or outrageous or disturbing. For it is only by having unfettered free speech that we can guarantee an open and lively public sphere in which bad claims or ideas might be beaten, and the truth, a real truth, arrived at’.

Brendan O’Neill, Editor, Spiked Online

THIS IS THE second in a four part article looking at the vitally important issue of free speech. Written by Dominic Sandbrook, this article originally appeared earlier this year in the Daily Mail
Free Speech doesn’t agree with everything Mr Sandbrook writes. We feel that, when it comes to attacks on freedom, he tends to focus solely on the ‘left’. However, we feel that the ‘right’ is simply a mirror image of the ‘left’ and would seek to deny the right to free speech, given the opportunity to do so.

This article continues directly on from the first one which you can find here:

Once again, our sole intention is to stimulate mature debate on issues relating to free speech. It goes without saying that there are no official links between Free Speech, Dominic Sandbrook or the Daily Mail.


March Of The Thought Police (Part 2)

Free Speech believes that elements of both the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ are dogmatic, undemocratic and totalitarian in nature. They would jump at the chance to curtail the rights of others. Check out for more information

In some ways we have been here before. In the late Sixties and early Seventies, the headlines were full of half-crazed students picketing visiting speakers and staging sit-ins.

But there are two significant differences today.
First, with undergraduate numbers at around two million, there are ten times as many students as they were then — which means universities are more influential than ever. Second, university lecturers have become almost exclusively Left-wing.
In 2015, a pitiful 7 per cent of lecturers voted Conservative; the vast majority voted Labour, Lib Dem or Green.
So perhaps it is no wonder that, according to YouGov survey data, a staggering 66 per cent of 18 to 19-year-olds, and 62 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds, voted Labour on June 8.
I hesitate to say they have been brainwashed, but at the very least their brains have been given a light rinse.
Perhaps that sounds alarmist. But consider what happened at Tyssen Community Primary School in Hackney, East London, on election day. When voters arrived to cast their ballots, they were met by posters, drawn by the children, demanding more money for schools and libraries.
‘We can’t tell you how to vote,’ read a notice by the posters, ‘but the kids aren’t happy. They want change. Vote with your heart.’
To make matters worse, some of the children’s posters had been adorned with the hammer and sickle. If that isn’t indoctrination, I don’t know what is.
The tragedy is that our schools and universities are supposed to be crucibles of debate where no idea is too outlandish, no opinion too heretical. Instead, they are becoming bubbles of received opinion, echo chambers in which the same lazy prejudices — the vital importance of transgender toilets, and so on — reverberate unceasingly.
Here is just a taste of the madness that has infected our higher education system in the past few years. At Oxford, the ‘equality and diversity unit’ has warned staff and students that if they fail to look people in the eye, or if they ask where people come from, they will be guilty of ‘microaggression’, a kind of ‘subtle, everyday racism’.
At Cambridge, Dr Lucy Delap, deputy director of history and policy, has asked her colleagues to stop using terms such as ‘brilliance’, ‘genius’ and ‘flair’, as they apparently ‘carry assumptions of gender inequality and also of class and ethnicity inequalities’.
At Sussex, students have been warned not to use the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ because they might offend transgendered colleagues.
And at Cardiff Metropolitan University you are not allowed to call girls ‘girls’, nor can you use the terms ‘forefathers’, ‘mankind’ or ‘sportsmanship’. Even complaining about the ‘taxman’ apparently marks you out as a dangerous reactionary.
Risible? Of course. And an embarrassment to our national tradition of a system of education based on open-minded debate and the challenging of received wisdom.
The problem is that too many universities seem incapable of striving for those ideals, preferring instead to close down debate.
At London’s City University, the student union has banned both the Mail and the Sun, accusing them of fostering ‘fascism and social divisiveness’. That, by banning newspapers, they were copying what genuine Fascists once did in Germany and Italy clearly never occurred to them.
To be continued.
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