By The Great Defender
Free speech is under attack. Who from? It’s ‘Greatest Defenders’…The Left, of course.
Traditionally universities have been places which exemplify the ideals of freedom of speech and the free exchange of ideas. Increasingly however, there is a rising trend amongst certain groups on campus, particularly student unions, to try to censor any view that contradicts their own. Although these groups will try to justify their often aggressive actions by defining them within the fame work of the “safe space” and “no platform” policies, at the end of the day they represent nothing more than an illiberal attempt to stifle debate.
Examples from the UK seem to exemplify such thuggery, but even here in Australia we are not immune. Recently, the retired UK colonel Richard Kemp tried to give a talk at Sydney University arguing in favour of Israel’s right to defend itself during Operation Protective Edge. I am sure many in the audience disagreed with the retired colonel’s point of view, and had been prepared to debate him at the appropriate time. What ensued however was shocking; protesters crashed the talk, and with loud chants and acts of violence ensured no debate could even occur. What is even more shocking is that members of the university staff are currently under investigation for supporting and encouraging the protest. This mirrors similar events at other campuses, for example at Essex University, where a talk by Israel’s deputy ambassador was shut down after it was gate crashed by anti-Israeli protestors.
Activist-leftist controlled student unions also play a role in this suppression of freedom. For example, in the UK, student unions have managed to ban the sale of the Sun newspaper at dozens of campus’s across the country, both for its page three which some students deem sexist and also its past stances towards asylum seekers. Oddly enough, copies of “Mein Kampf” still sit in the libraries of these same universities. Whatever one thinks of a newspaper, there sale on campus should not be based on the sensitivities of a few students on campus. At Sydney
University, student unions have similarly tried to unilaterally control the discourse on campus, repetitively trying to move towards a formally backing the racist BDS movement against Israel. Luckily, attempts so far have failed, but the fact that student unions feel such a level of self-entitlement, proves how dire the situation really is.
Acts of aggressive protest and censorship by left wing students are often justified on the basis of protecting students from points of view that may offend or insult them. In this way, those who share different ideas to these left wing activists are violently censored. Alternate views on a broad range of topics including abortion, religion and asylum seeker policies are effectively removed from the discourse by an elitist group of students, who believe they have the indisputable right to determine which views are permissible and which are not. A major problem with this approach however, is that it treats students on campuses as aggrieved victims, rather than autonomous individuals with the ability to make their own mind up on issues. Such an environment won’t help in educating a generation of open-minded and independent thinkers.
People shouldn’t fear idea’s that differ to their own, particularly at university campuses. A bad idea should be argued against and defeated in the arena of debate. Left-wing activists on campus’s however, seem to find the act of banning and protest a far easier way to shutdown their opponents. Such actions should not be tolerated. The point can be summed up perfectly with a twist on Rousseau’s most famous quote; “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself”.