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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‘Concerned Student 1950’ social justice warriors merrily trample on the free press

Concerned Student 1950 vs the media, screencap via Mark Schierbecker

Censorious students are moving from ironic to trite with remarkable speed these days, even given the famed naivety of undergraduates when it comes to political moorings.

In Britain the Spectator termed the latest generation of pupils the “Stepford Students” some months ago, with the author Brendan O’Neill’s main title Spiked also putting together an index on which universities were the most illiberal in terms of free speech.

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Milo Yiannopoulos and Julie Bindel ban proves feminism has a problem with free speech

Milo Yiannopoulos, June 2013 by Official LeWeb Photos

Irony has a habit of catching up with you.

And on Wednesday Manchester’s Student Union decided to ban the journalist Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking at an event aptly titled: “From Liberation to Censorship: Does Modern Feminism have a Problem with Free Speech?”

Clearly there is an economy to the student union’s decision. Not only is it faster to settle a debate by not having it, but in banning Yiannopoulos and his co-speaker and journalist Julie Bindel they have proved that feminism does indeed have a problem with free speech.

Even in explaining the decision to ban Bindel, prohibited a day before Yiannopoulos, the student union’s women’s officer Jess Lishak said it herself via a now conveniently deleted Facebook post, referenced by student paper the Mancunion here:

“This is not about shutting down conversations or denying free speech; this is about keeping our students safe. If this were about silencing people we happen to disagree with or avoiding uncomfortable conversations, we would be denying the application for Milo Yiannopoulos to speak.

“The difference in these two cases is inciting harm to a group of our students. Yiannopoulos is very careful to criticise feminist thoughts, theories and methods of research or statistics rather than calling for active discrimination against women like Bindel does to trans women.”

The authoritarian impulse can be found in almost any political group. But it’s emergence among social justice warriors has proved particularly gruesome for the universities they frequent, with Warwick’s student union attempting to stop criticism of Muslims and Islam only last week.

Attempting to justify their censorship, the cretins at Manchester’s student union said:

“We have been made aware of various comments lambasting rape survivors and trans* people, and as such we are concerned for the safety of our students on the topic of this event. He is a rape apologist and has repeatedly used derogatory and debasing ableist language when describing members of the trans* community.

”As such, this undermines the principles of liberation enshrined in the Students’ Union, as outlined in the Safe Space policy. We believe these views could incite hatred against both trans* people and women who have experienced sexual violence. As we believe it is probable these views would be aired in this discussion should he be allowed to speak on campus, we have no choice but to ban him.”

It is hard to believe that nobody involved in the Bindel decision was aware of Yiannopoulos’ pedigree as a controversialist, his criticism of the concept of rape culture or his more incendiary comments about transgender people.

So yet again the hate speech concept is used to block criticism of ideas. Instead, students must be protected from having their opinions and feelings questioned.

Update: Apparently Bindel is speaking to her lawyers about the matter.

Image Credit – Milo Yiannopoulos, June 2013 by Official LeWeb Photos