Brunel students who protest Katie Hopkins still don’t get free speech

Brunel became the latest university this week to diminish the standing of free speech as students turned their backs on rent-a-gob Katie Hopkins and then quit the lecture theatre.

Footage uploaded to the Internet showed the incident, which took place on Monday as Hopkins and other panellists debated the future of the welfare state as part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

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Street Fighter arse slap starts censorship row

Street Fighter V via Capcom

Feminists are forever whinging about the portrayal of women in video games, but now gamers appear to be matching their spurious complaints after a few minor alterations to character animations in the upcoming Street Fighter V.

The controversy erupted after fans noticed R. Mika, a somewhat clothed fighter from the game, was no longer shown slapping her arse as part of a finishing move, as demonstrated in the following clip:

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Mum bans son from playing Grand Theft Auto until he writes essay on misogyny

Grand Theft Auto, Rockstar Games

A mother banned her son from playing the video game Grand Theft Auto until he was old enough to write an essay on “misogyny and its effects on society”.

Heather McNamara, a “literature enthusiast, feminist, Marxist, queer theorist, lesbian, egomaniac, [and] mom”, set the task for her son after he asked if he could play GTA on his Xbox.

Then in mid-October the boy came to his mother saying he was ready to write the essay after watching episodes of Feminist Frequency, a YouTube channel run by “cultural critic” Anita Sarkeesian which strains to find sexism in as many games as possible.

McNamara and her partner then set three questions, asking their son to define misogyny, give three examples of it from video game clips seen on YouTube, and explain why these examples might “be correlated” to real life violence against women.

(Correlation, logic fans will note, does not equal causation.)

In his response defining misogyny, the boy wrote: “Misogyny is for men to think they’re better than women and they abuse women to show their dominance but that just make them look like jerks.”

But he then went on to make the same warped point feminists make when criticising video games, arguing that “for example in Mass Effect you could slap the mean news lady. That equals to misogyny.”

Whilst some video games allow you to perpetrate violence against women, no mainstream titles will allow you to do it exclusively against one sex.

A typical playthrough of Grand Theft Auto 5, the latest title in the series, will see the player kill far more men than women.

Sadly for the boy McNamara dodged her side of the deal, allowing her son to play Saint’s Row, another open world action game, rather than GTA. Both series have an age rating for adults.

Image Credit – Grand Theft Auto 5, by Rockstar Games

Warwick SU’s mistake was not the Namazie ban, but that it rejects hatred, insult and intolerance

Maryam Namazie, January 2015 by Anders Henrikson

One can only imagine the atmosphere at the cretinous Warwick Student Union as it decided to overturn a decision to block the anti-Islamist campaigner Maryam Namazie from speaking at the university.

Since the story broke in the press, Isaac Leigh, president of the union, has hidden behind the claim that no “final decision” had been made on the refused application, the matter having been subsequently appealed by Warwick Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society, the club arranging Namazie’s visit. He therefore had little choice but to flip-flop.

Of course by Leigh’s logic a court that has convicted a criminal has also made no “final decision” on whether he is guilty – though that will not stop the perp being carted off the jail in the meantime. The fact is that in an email to Benjamin David, president of the atheist society, the student union had clearly declined her application, with no intimation this decision was likely to change.

Perhaps Leigh was always intending to reverse this policy, and is a stern advocate of liberalism, free thought and rigorous debate. But if so the president of Warwick Student Union must surely be planning to revise the squalid rules that were used to justify Namazie’s exclusion, which stipulate a speaker:

  • Must not spread hatred and intolerance in the community and thus aid in disrupting social and community harmony
  • Must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge

How exactly one is supposed to criticise something without accepting a risk of insult is unclear. And why one wouldn’t wish to insult, hate and reject some religious practices – the more charming of which include homophobic abuse, maiming of children’s genitals and rejection of modern medicine – is still more mysterious.

Given the behaviour of the student union, and indeed Warwick’s pedigree as a leftwing university, one suspects the union would not have combated insults, hatred and intolerance directed against the Westboro Baptist Church with the same zeal with which they sought to protect Islam, certain adherents of which are even now terrorising the Middle East in the name of their god.

Hate speech remains a crime in Britain, though the law is roughly enforced and provides caveats for criticism of religion. Perhaps Warwick’s student union is just supporting the law, though again one suspects that if this were not the law a similar policy would still stand at the university.

Ultimately the failure at Warwick was not that it blocked Namazie from speaking, but that such policies that could exclude her from speaking existed in the first place. Spiked and the Spectator have already chronicled the spread of censorship at university campuses, and for this there has been little apology from the so-called Stepford students who dominate many student bodies.

Until that attitude changes, student unions will continue to censor dissent and sanitise debate. That certainly should not be tolerated.

Image Credit – Maryam Namazie, January 2015 by Anders Henrikson

Student union bars ‘highly inflammatory‘ anti-Islamist campaigner

Islamist in London, February 2006 by Voyou Desoeuvre

Warwick University’s student union refused to let Maryam Namazie speak at an atheist society after it accused her of being “highly inflammatory” and warned that she “could incite hatred on campus.”

The student body said it had a “duty of care” to prevent people from speaking if they disobey the union’s policies, which prohibit incitement to hatred, violence and law-breaking, or the glorification of terrorism.

Most contemptibly the union also says that speakers “must seek to avoid insulting other faiths or groups, within a framework of positive debate and challenge”, effectively blocking any criticism of religion which will always be classified as insulting by some.

Writing online about the decision, Namazie said:

“The student union position is of course nothing new. It is the predominant post-modernist ‘Left’ point of view that conflates Islam, Muslims and Islamists, homogenises the ‘Muslim community’, thinks believers are one and the same as the religious-Right and sides with the Islamist narrative against its many dissenters.

“This type of politics denies universalism, sees rights as ‘Western,’ justifies the suppression of women’s rights, freedoms and equality under the guise of respect for other ‘cultures’ imputing on innumerable people the most reactionary elements of culture and religion, which is that of the religious-Right. In this type of politics, the oppressor is victim, the oppressed are perpetrators of ‘hatred’, and any criticism is racist.”

Whilst Namazie said that inciting hatred “is what the Islamists do”, hating Islamists should hardly be controversial given the atrocities many of them have perpetrated, a point which appears to be lost on the student union.

Isaac Leigh, president of Warwick Student Union said:

“The initial decision was made for the right of Muslim students not to feel intimidated or discriminated against on their university campus rather than in the interest of suppressing free speech.”

The double irony is that any student who feels intimidated when somebody criticises their beliefs has no place in a university, and the student union is discriminating when it chooses to protect Islam, with such censorship unlikely if a speaker wished to attack Christianity or atheism.

Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said:

‘This is yet another example of a student union reacting hastily to censor non-religious students and their invited guests. To think that anyone would ban Maryam Namazie from speaking on the grounds that she is a threat to students’ safety or wellbeing is simply surreal.”

Update: Following the publication of a number of articles on this subject, Leigh and the student union are backpeddling on their decision, pointing out that an appeal remains ongoing in a statement online

“Our policy has a number of stages and – whilst risks have indeed been identified – contrary to what has been communicated in the public domain over the last 24 hours, no final decision has been taken.

“To this point, neither I nor authorised senior staff members have had any involvement in the process – the next stage of which is that we review the request, determine what can be put in place to facilitate the event and then discuss this with the event organiser, whose role is integral to the process.”

As Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists president Benjamin David counters, many articles mention the fact a final decision on the appeal has not been made.

Though this piece did not allude to that fact, it was still accurate to say that Namazie’s application to speak had been rejected and thus fair to say she had been barred by the censorship-happy union.

In his statement David went on to say:

“According to the SU, the response we received from one of their members that: ‘I am afraid on this occasion we are going to have to decline authorisation for her attenfance on campus’ somehow should not be taken as a final decision – and this somehow absolves the SU from any criticism.”

“These are the facts as they stand. We will allow you to decide if the SU should be absolved from any criticism. We still hope that the SU will indeed reverse their decision.”

Either way, it does not detract from the despicable nature of the policies put in place to protect overly sensitive students from having their Dark Age creed criticised.

Image Credit – Islamist in London, February 2006 by Voyou Desoeuvre, edited by the Right Dishonourable