New ‘blacklist’ for censorious universities
Should no-platforming be banned? Yesterday a white nationalist gave a speech at a Florida college while the UK government announced clampdowns on universities that stop people from speaking.
Yesterday the UK government announced that universities must pledge to uphold free speech or face punishment.
“Our young people and students need to accept the legitimacy of healthy vigorous debate in which people can disagree with one another,” said universities minister Jo Johnson.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, alt-right leader Richard Spencer gave a speech at the University of Florida under high security.
Spencer wants the United States to become a white ethno-state. He organised the infamous Charlottesville rally where his supporters chanted “You will not replace us” and a counter-protester was killed.
On Monday, Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for the county where the university is located, as speeches by controversial figures had met with violence in the past.
When anti-feminist provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was due to speak at the University of Berkeley, over 1,500 people gathered to protest. Some attacked the police and threw molotov cocktails.
Refusing to allow certain people to speak is known as “no-platforming”. The issue has become a central focus of a modern culture war.
Should governments step in to ban this trend?
Agree to disagree
“Students are the new masters – and the result is campus tyranny,”, writes Brendan O’Neill in The Spectator. Universities exist to expand the mind, not limit it. Free speech is a cornerstone of Western values, and if universities are failing to uphold it, it should be the government’s job to make sure they do.
Opponents of this note the irony of governments essentially forcing free institutions to be liberal. People can always read the books or watch the videos of banned speakers. No-platforming is simply about making students feel safe. And do we really need to hear the views of people like Richard Spencer?
- Should governments punish universities which ban people from speaking?
- Class debate: “This house believes there should be no limits on freedom of speech.”
Some People Say...
“You cannot give offence; you can only take it.”
What do you think?
Q & A
- What do we know?
- The British government has announced that universities will be punished if they do not uphold freedom of speech. This debate has also raged in America, where yesterday white nationalist Richard Spencer gave a controversial speech at the University of Florida.
- What do we not know?
- Whether the British government’s policy will work. One critic sees it as “waging war on the young”.
- Richard Spencer
- Although Spencer is frequently described as a “white supremacist” in the media, he calls himself a “white nationalist”. The difference is that a white supremacist wants to rule over other races, while white nationalists campaign for racial separation.
- Charlottesville rally
- The “Unite the Right” rally’s goal was to oppose the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
- State of emergency
- This measure states that: “It is a process that enables various law enforcement agencies to work together more efficiently.”