UK Mag's "Down with Campus Censorship" Campaign

Ashley Thorne

Spiked, an online magazine based in the UK, has launched a project called “Free Speech NOW!” a subsidiary of which is its “Down with Campus Censorship” campaign. Like our allies at FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), who yesterday announced a plan to bring lawsuits against every college with speech codes, spiked is challenging censorship in universities.

Specifically, spiked is responding to the “No Platform” policy by the NUS (National Union of Students), which represents about 95 percent of student unions in the UK. “No Platform” bans would-be campus speakers who, NUS says, “may incite racial hatred or discrimination.” NUS even has a list of organizations (see page 37 of the linked pdf) it proscribes from being represented as university speakers. 

In response, spiked says:

Robust and open debate, a willingness to take on difficult, even offensive, ideas, has traditionally been at the heart of university life. By banning those with distasteful views from speaking on campus, No Platform shuts down debate and displays intellectual cowardice.

Free speech matters because, in spiked’s words:

it is only by having a full, utterly unpoliced exchange of ideas and information that we, using our moral and mental muscles, can decipher truth from nonsense and be properly autonomous creatures. In short, freedom of speech makes us free.

Kudos to this British magazine for having the boldness to defend freedom of speech in the face of powerful opposition, and for giving a timely reminder of what academic debate ought to look like. 

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