Suicide in The Fast Lane: European Civilization in Accelerated Decline, Politically Correct Universities ‘Are Killing Free Speech’

British universities have become too politically correct and are stifling free speech by banning anything that causes the least offence to anyone, academics argue.

Javier Espinoza writes: A whole generation of students is being denied the “intellectual challenge of debating conflicting views” because self-censorship is turning campuses into over-sanitised “safe spaces”, they say.

“A generation of students is being denied the opportunity to test their opinions against the views of those they don’t agree with.”

“The College does not share Cecil Rhodes’s values or condone his racist views or actions.”

Oriel College says the statue of Rhodes, on a building he paid for, jars with the values of a modern university. It is facing a battle with Historic England, which has listed the statue as an object of historical interest.

Writing in The Telegraph, the academics, led by Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Canterbury, and Joanna Williams, education editor, Spiked, say it is part of a “long and growing” list of people and objects banned from British campuses, including pop songs, sombreros and atheists.

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“Students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university.”

They say the “deeply worrying development” is curtailing freedom of speech “like never before” because few things are safe from student censors.

Because universities increasingly see fee-paying students as customers, they do not dare to stand up to the “small but vocal minority” of student activists who want to ban everything from the Sun newspaper to the historian David Starkey.

“In September, the University of East Anglia banned students from wearing free sombreros they were given by a local Tex-Mex restaurant because the student union decided non-Mexicans wearing the wide-brimmed hats could be interpreted as racist.”

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

A student wears a sticker calling for the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the campus of the University of Cape Town

“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.

[Read the full story here, at the Telegraph]

“A generation of students is being denied the opportunity to test their opinions against the views of those they don’t agree with.”

Calling on vice-chancellors to take a “much stronger stance” against all forms of censorship, they conclude that “students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university”.

Freedom of speech carries a burden of responsibility which shouldn’t be overlooked.

A crane prepares to lift the university of Cape Town’s statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the position he has occupied for over 100 yearsNtokozo Qwabe, who set up the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford campaign, is one of more than 8,000 foreign students who have been able to study at Oxford because of a Rhodes Scholarship, paid for by the Rhodes Trust, which was set up by Cecil Rhodes in his will.

Professors have complained recently that they are being bullied online by students who are easily offended by opposing views.

In recent months, students at British universities have banned, cancelled or challenged a host of speakers and objects because some found them offensive. Maryam Namazie, a prominent human rights campaigner who is one of the signatories to the letter, was initially banned from speaking at Warwick University because she is an atheist who, it was feared, could incite hatred on campus. She spoke at Warwick in the end. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Magna Carta: King’s College London Celebrates 800 Years of The Great Charter

Celebrations will take place across the country and King’s College London will be supporting the Anniversary through an important research project, which will produce the first clause-by-clause commentary on the Charter’s content in a hundred years, as well as hosting lectures and other commemorative events.

In this film leading experts examine the history, significance and relevance today of the document that is credited with establishing the rule of law.

Dr Andrew Blick
Institute of Contemporary British History (ICBH)

Professor Vernon Bogdanor
Institute of Contemporary British History (ICBH)

Professor David Carpenter
Department of History

Rt Hon Lord Judge
The Dickson Poon School of Law

Professor Maleiha Malik
The Dickson Poon School of Law


Magna Carta: Eight Centuries of Liberty

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June marks the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, the ‘Great Charter’ that established the rule of law for the English-speaking world. Its revolutionary impact still resounds today.

Daniel Hannan writes: Eight hundred years ago next month, on a reedy stretch of riverbank in southern England, the most important bargain in the history of the human race was struck. I realize that’s a big claim, but in this case, only superlatives will do. As Lord Denning, the most celebrated modern British jurist put it, Magna Carta was “the greatest constitutional document of all time, the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.”

“We British have, by any measure, been slow to recognize what we have. Americans, by contrast, have always been keenly aware of the document, referring to it respectfully as the Magna Carta. Why? Largely because of who the first Americans were.”

It was at Runnymede, on June 15, 1215, that the idea of the law standing above the government first took contractual form. King John accepted that he would no longer get to make the rules up as he went along. From that acceptance flowed, ultimately, all the rights and freedoms that we inventing-freedomnow take for granted: uncensored newspapers, security of property, equality before the law, habeas corpus, regular elections, sanctity of contract, jury trials.

[Order Daniel Hannan‘s book “Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World” from Amazon.com]

Magna Carta is Latin for “Great Charter.” It was so named not because the men who drafted it foresaw its epochal power but because it was long. Yet, almost immediately, the document began to take on a political significance that justified the adjective in every sense. The bishops and barons who had brought King John to the negotiating table understood that rights required an enforcement mechanism. The potency of a charter is not in its parchment but in the authority of its interpretation.

“The whole constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on Magna Carta.”

— Victorian historian William Stubbs

The constitution of the U.S.S.R., to pluck an example more or less at random, promised all sorts of entitlements: free speech, free worship, free association. But as Soviet citizens learned, paper rights are worthless in the absence of mechanisms to hold rulers to account.

United for the first time, the four surviving original Magna Carta manuscripts are prepared for display at the British Library, London, Feb. 1, 2015. Photo: UPPA/ZUMA PRESS

United for the first time, the four surviving original Magna Carta manuscripts are prepared for display at the British Library, London, Feb. 1, 2015. Photo: UPPA/ZUMA PRESS

Magna Carta instituted a form of conciliar rule that was to develop directly into the Parliament that meets at Westminster today. As the great Victorian historian William Stubbs put it, “the whole constitutional history of England is little more than a commentary on Magna Carta.”

“As early as 1637, Maryland sought permission to incorporate Magna Carta into its basic law, and the first edition of the Great Charter was published on American soil in 1687 by William Penn.”

And not just England. Indeed, not even England in particular. Magna Carta has always been a bigger deal in the U.S. The meadow where the abominable King John put his royal seal to the parchment lies in my electoral district in the county of Surrey. It went unmarked until 1957, when a memorial stone was finally raised there—by the American Bar Association.

[Read the full text here, at WSJ]

Only now, for the anniversary, is a British monument being erected at the place where freedom was born. After some frantic fundraising by me and a handful of local councilors, a large bronze statue of Queen Elizabeth II will gaze out across the slow, green waters of the Thames, marking 800 years of the Crown’s acceptance of the rule of law. Read the rest of this entry »