In recent months there has been a great deal of discussion and debate on the subject of free speech at universities. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign at Oxford, and the protests over controversial speakers like Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel, have kept the issue in the headlines, and the publication of Sp!ked Magazine’s Free Speech University Rankings seems to have emboldened free speech advocates to push back against campus censorship. A new campaign, Right2Debate, targets the National Union of Students (NUS) and its No Platform policies that prevent controversial speaker events from going ahead. As a campaigner with English PEN, I support the campaigns to expand free speech at universities. But in recent weeks I have become increasingly frustrated with the way the debate is evolving. Each side talks over the other, and some of the fundamental questions at the heart of the issue remain unresolved. Campaigners will not succeed in changing minds and changing students’ union policies unless they better understand why anti-free speech policies have developed, and until they offer students alternatives to the banning of offensive speech. Continue reading “Briefing Notes: Free Speech at Universities”
Ukip demands police action to arrest so-called ‘anti-racist’ protestors Janice Atkinson, as Ukip SE chairman, and MEP candidate, jointly with colleagues Patricia Culligan and Alan Stevens, MEP candidates, have raised concerns about the way the police will deal with the protestors at the Hove Ukip public meeting, on Tuesday, 13th May to be held in the Jewish Hall. They have formally asked the chief constable to arrest any protestors who call our supporters ‘fascists’, hurl other abuse or any physical assault, for ‘hate crime’ or under the public order act. … We therefore call on the police to confirm that they will prosecute under ‘hate crime’ any individual or group who seeks to intimidate our supporters and candidates or at least under the Public Order offence under Section 4, 4A or 5 of the 1986 Public Order Act.