Liberals and universities censor free expression

founder of UCD

Cardinal John Henry Newman

No diversity in university! Universities, liberals and lefties are censoring freedom of speech and expression. Universities use the defence of “safe-place.”

In the recent Same Sex Referendum in Ireland, the polling station at TCD recorded a 98% vote for the referendum to pass. Only 2% voted against. No dissenters, no free-thinkers, no-one going against the tide of thought there. So, what’s the purpose of a university education?

If one were to establish a place of true learning for young people today, what would it be like? What would its purpose be – other than force them to conform to certain ideas which are comfortable for the enforcers? Such were the questions for Cardinal John Henry Newman who established University College Dublin. An article on Newman, Oxford and UCD by Francis Phillips Universities Could Learn a Lesson From Newman in which he refers to a book “which has recently absorbed me,” The ‘Making of Men’: The Idea and Reality of Newman’s University in Oxford and Dublin, by Paul Shrimpton writes, “Central to the book is Newman’s emphasis on the pastoral dimension of university life: how to assist the development of character, ie. the virtues, in young men (women were not then admitted to higher education) at a critical time in their lives.”

He quotes Shrimpton,

In Dublin, his abiding aim “was to create the best possible conditions for human flourishing”. His thinking is reflected in his remark that “residence without examinations comes nearer to the idea of a University Education than examinations without residence… Teaching people not how to make a living, but how to live.

Phillips says, “In Dublin, his [Newman’s] abiding aim ‘was to create the best possible conditions for human flourishing.'” He continues,

Shrimpton comments that modern universities “wash their hands of the non-teaching side of student life” and that “virtually no-one has challenged the process and asked why.”† He believes Newman would have objected strongly: “He witnessed the beginning of that unrestrained quest for professional training and mere technical knowledge urged by the liberals and the utilitarians of his day and saw an antidote in both a genuinely liberal education and a collegiate education.”

This is all in stark contrast to modern universities like that of Oxford, ironically, where Newman taught. Such liberalism, flourishing, educating a person for life not a living, are not the realities today. For example, this article This is the Speech on Abortion Oxford University Doesn’t Want You to Hear shows the totalitarianism that is many universities today. Regardless of your position on abortion, again, a top university feels the need to silence debate. Autonomy, conscience, freedom of thought and action, agency, worryingly are repressed at this top university which avails of state aid.

And yet another exposition of Oxford’s totalitarianism, again hitting the news for the wrong reason – this time the new “Feminist Hit-Squad.” Read about it here (a 13 minute video discussion on the banning of the Oxford abortion debate is available here)

Here’s a debate which questions the idea of “safe-places” which many universities, on both sides of the Atlantic, have become. Campus Reform published an overview of a debate between Prof Cornel West and Prof Robert George: Universities Shouldn’t Be Intellectually ‘Safe places’.  Read it here

The best thing I’ve read this year is by Roger Scruton, Oxford philosopher, on the dumbing down of universities and on what a university should be and do for students and society – The End of the University A must read!

The new book by editor-at-large of Spiked-Online, Mick Hume, Trigger Point: Is the Fear of Being Offensive Killing Free Speech? will throw the cat among the pigeons as he has always, as a liberal, campaigned for and defended freedom of expression. In a Sunday Times preview of the book, he says of the Charlie Hebdo paper, which had no qualms about feely expressing itself, “A leading student official at Bristol University told me that Charlie Hebdo would have been banned from the university anyway, since it’s potentially offensive images would have fallen foul of the university’s ‘safe-space’ policies, which treat students as delicate flowers”, he says, “and words and images as if they were automatic weapons.”

Returning to same-sex referendums, Brendan O’Neill, writing in Spiked-Online, argues against the aggressive intolerance of the ‘Yes’ side in various same sex marriage referendums and campaigns, which depend on “groupthink and intolerance,” we are told. Read From Ireland to Indiana, the spread of gay-marriage groupthink: Why the campaign for same-sex hitching is so censorious and intolerant. In an earlier article Gay Marriage: A Case Study in Conformism he criticises the Yes campaign in the U.K. from a liberal perspective.

Regarding the famous attack on gay fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana by Elton John for suggesting same-sex couples shouldn’t be parents, (see my post on it here), Hume says John and a plethora of celebrities tried to destroy their business, not because they pay slave wages or overcharge customers, but because the Italian pair said something unfashionable.

Hume concludes his article thus,

As ever in times of trouble, the only thing that is likely to work (i.e. preventing radical Islamists expounding their beliefs) is encouraging more free speech rather than ordering there be less of it. Free speech is the potential solution, not the problem.

Real Clear Politics ran an article The Left’s Crusade Against Free Speech which quotes Kirsten Powers in her new book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech,

 In “The Silencing,” she methodically documents—and exposes the hypocrisy, incoherence, and sheer contempt for evidence and argument that underlie—the delegitimization of dissent that has become the stock in trade of what she characterizes as the “illiberal left.”

Addendum
University life has gone so far down the road of liberalism and “rights” that they are now the epitom of irony and hypocricy, to the point of making a mockery of rights, equality, leftie love of free expression etc.

Let me give you an example. Recently the students union had an inclusivity meeting, from which the student union banned all men and all white women! Yes, I’m serious. Read about it here “White people and men told ‘please don’t come’ to student protest against inequality” (23 Apr 2015):

A student group has been accused of sexism and racism for banning all men and white people from attending an equality event. Goldsmiths University student union have been slammed after refusing to allow anybody that isn’t a non-white female from attending the event – organised to protest against inequality…

A week later, the Students’ Union at Goldsmiths bought in to the looney leftie idea (link):
“Students’ union backs excluding white people from ‘anti-racism’ events” (30 Apr 2015), says the Daily Telegraph:

…White people and men told ‘please don’t come’ to student protest against inequality The claims came as the union came out in “solidarity” with a student officer at another institution in the capital, Goldsmiths, University of London, who asked men and white people not to come to a diversity meeting…

Then in May, as if things weren’t mad and bad enough, the welfare and diversity officer’s job is being reviewed after she (not white and not female but of Asian and Muslim origin) tweeted “Kill all white men.” Read the Telegraph account here. The article states, “Police investigate union officer over ‘kill all white men’ tweet, (23 May 2015):

…The 27-year-old is also facing being dismissed from her position as welfare and diversity officer at the student union of Goldsmiths University, in London…

But no, we can’t sack people for reverse racism, bigotry, religious intolerance, sexism etc, so just four days later the Daily Telegraph could happily report in an article “University union officer who wrote ‘kill all white men’ tweet will remain in post” (27 May 2015) (link):

A university’s diversity officer will remain in post, despite provoking a storm of protest by tweeting #killallwhitemen and labelling people “white trash”.

Bahar Mustafa also banned white men from a university event on diversifying the curriculum at Goldsmiths University, London.

She then defended her position by stating that she could not be racist because she is an ethnic minority woman.

Work out her logic in the last sentence quoting Bahar Mustafa… if you can! Yes, despite a then petition of 21,000 signatures, she’s not stepping down from her throne.

Footnotes
† This reluctance to question, I maintain, is a fear of authority instilled in students at the start of their education, i.e., in primary school. It does, however, suit those egotistical enough to assume authority.

Further Reading and Updates
Nick Cohen’s book You Can’t Read this Book could be worth a read too. Nick is a talented journalist. His Standpoint article Political Correctness is Devouring Itself is another great read and freely available.

Philosopher John Gray’s essay in the leftie The Guardian where he undermines the foundations of liberalism: What Scares the New Atheists is enlightening.

And possibly the newly published How Propaganda Works by Jason Stanley, award-winning author, could be a good read.

On liberal, left and university madness, visit the Maverick Philosopher here to find some links to stories with a mad modern twist!

The Daily Signal has just run a story Why Professors Are Becoming Scared of Their Students about the abuse of “expressing oneself” as a means of silencing the non-conformists,

The irony now is that the terms “free speech” and “due process” are being turned on their heads, particularly by university professors themselves…

Whether vandalizing student displays, stealing student newspapers or attempting to silence dissent from the left-wing consensus, the sham defense is so often “but we are just expressing ourselves, too.”

“Yet in their efforts to achieve a more egalitarian conversation, left-wing academics and their students completely ignore (at best) and marginalize (at worst) students and the rare colleague who disagree with them politically.” Read in full the article “38 Ways College Students Enjoy ‘Left-Wing Privilege’ on Campus” in Time to understand Left-wing privilege on campus. Click here

A short overview by Prof Reville, Irish Times: Is the liberal agenda based on a delusion?

Surely to be a classic: “David Cameron’s ‘British values’ agenda is anti-Christian” by Professor John Charmley applies to all western countries. Link

Chrissie Hynde, the singer, by acknowledging her responsibility for being sexually abused draws the wrath of the feminist censors, says Julia Hartley-Brewer here.

The Coddling of the American Mind: In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Why that’s disastrous for education and mental health, say a lawyer and social psychologist here.

The contagious madness of the new PC – Obsessive searching for hurt and offence will create it where once it never existed, says Mary Wakefield here

Even in Social Psychology diversity is absent: see here

Latest – Germaine Greer can say whatever she likes about trans politics

A good summary: How political correctness rules in America’s student ‘safe spaces’

Fight-back! After many sackings and resignations over silly PC nonsense and precious spoiled privileged students, a university president fights back: This is Not a Day Care. It’s a University! The fact that it made headlines across the world says it all!

Shutting Down Conversations About Rape at Harvard Law: The New Yorker

British academics fight back with a letter in the Daily Telegraph

SIR – At British universities, freedom of speech is being curtailed as never before. The Government’s anti-terrorism legislation, known as Prevent, imposes restrictions on who can and cannot speak on campus and forces academics to police students and each other. At the same time, the list of speakers banned from unions by students is growing, and even banned artefacts: from pop songs to sombreros.

With the rise in tuition fees, universities increasingly see students as customers. They face growing pressures to give students what they want. In turn, many of the most vocal students feel they have a right to demand protection from images, words and ideas that offend them.

A small but vocal minority of student activists is arguing that universities need to be turned into “safe spaces”. This represents an attempt to immunise academic life from the intellectual challenge of debating conflicting views. Banning speakers from campus is not new; there has never been a golden age of free speech at universities. Two things, however, are new: the number of bans being enacted has risen, and the targets are much more nebulous.

Few academics challenge censorship from students. It is important that more do, because a culture that restricts the free exchange of ideas leaves people afraid to express their views in case they may be misinterpreted. This risks destroying the very fabric of democracy.

An open and democratic society requires people to have the courage to argue against ideas they disagree with or even find offensive. At the moment there is a real risk that students are not given opportunities to engage in such debate.

We call on academics and vice chancellors to take a much stronger stance against all forms of censorship. Students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university.

Photo Credits: Wikimedia commons

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