There goes my alumni donation
In a stunning display of irony, campus crazies at the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE) are holding a vote to ban the university’s free speech society. Voting is likely to take place at the Union General Meeting this Thursday. [As far as I can tell, it's actually been moved to Monday the 8th now. I think.]
The society was recently founded by a group of students who were concerned that campus activists were becoming too eager to censor and ban offensive speech on campus. Dubbed “The Speakeasy,” the student society planned to challenge campus censors by educating students about the history and importance of free speech, holding debates on controversial topics, and inviting no-platformed (banned) public figures to speak to their members.
Speaking to London’s Evening Standard, society co-founder Charlotte Parker said, “Our society is emerging from this growing sense of censorship that seems to be a problem on loads of campuses in universities across the country.”
“We want to encourage discussion of difficult ideas as opposed to closing down debate and undermining students’ ability to make up their own mind,” she said.
As if to confirm the necessity of The Speakesy, campus activists in the student government have responded by trying to kick the society off campus. Maurice Bannerjee Palmer, a student at the university, has submitted a motion to the student union’s next General Meeting, proposing to ban the society. In an article written for the student newspaper, Palmer condemned The Speakeasy’s founders as “self-important” and “ill-informed.”
The London School of Economics is embroiled in an increasingly bitter fight over free speech, after members of its atheist society were forced to cover up satirical T-shirts depicting Jesus and Prophet Mohamed at a Freshers’ fair on Thursday.
Security guards and SU officers threatened two representatives of LSESU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student society with explusion after several students complained about the shirts, which featured characters from the popular “Jesus and Mo” webcomic.
Abishek Phadnis and Chris Moos at first refused to remove their shirts, as well as certain literature, from their stall. They were eventually confronted by a representative of LSE’s legal and compliance team, and its head of security, and told that the T-shirts were creating an “offensive atmosphere” and could constitute “harassment” – and that they were not behaving in an "orderly or responsible manner".
On a broader point, we have to carefully balance wanting to have free speech and ensuring that students have a supportive university environment. There can be a tendency to conflate free speech with the freedom to offend, and it is important that we draw a distinction between the two. They are not one and the same, and the freedom to offend can be used in a way that further marginalizes already marginalized groups.
That is not the behaviour of intelligent, rational adults. It is the behaviour of whiny, narcissistic crying little babies soiling their own diapers.
Back when we lived in a civilised society, this was something that most people understood: I have every right to call your mother a whore, but I shouldn't be surprised when you punch me in the face for saying it. And, since I was raised with a certain sense of manners and etiquette by a loving but firm-handed mother, I generally tend to refrain from insulting people unless I have to.