Some troubling things have been happening on university campuses of late – student unions have long been bastions of painfully extreme political correctness, but many appear to have gone into overdrive. Edinburgh has banned students from laughing during union speeches, East Anglia has banned sombreros as a racist symbol, Cardiff students tried to ban Germaine Greer from delivering a lecture and Oxford University tied itself into knots in the autumn by banning a free speech magazine.
It’s a disturbing trend – so-called ‘safe space’ policies are being used to put a stop to exactly what university should be about, namely intellectual experimentation, freedom of thought, freedom of expression and an open battle of ideas.
Happily, not all students are either taking part in this censorship or simply ignoring it as another outgrowth of weird student union politics. The Evening Standard reports that three LSE students have founded a ‘speakeasy society’, specifically with the intention of challenging this new puritanism:
‘The Speakeasy is planning three campaigns: inviting people who have been no-platformed (prevented from speaking) to talk, another recounting the history of free speech and the third, called Expose Yourself, debating ideas that people might be uncomfortable with.’
Good on them. No doubt their opponents will try to close it down, and no doubt the row will attract even more people to be interested in free speech – as always happens when po-faced commissars try to shut people up. Should they ever need a speaker from the Tory side of things, I’d be happy to oblige.