Increasingly, Americans have witnessed the suppression of speech on college campus not by conservatives or white racists, but rather by individuals representing the very groups who most often call for tolerance and accuse others of hate.
The spread of censorship and intolerance isn't limited to America. Britain is seeing a wave of intolerance sweep through universities as well. Over the weekend, The Sunday Times of Britain ran an exposé by Ron Liddle on leftist students censoring the speech of leftist professors and intellectuals that is truly shocking.
It turns out that the old saying is right, revolutions eat their own.
According to Liddel, a long list of left-leaning professors and intellectuals are no longer welcome on campuses by leftist college students. The list includes feminist Germaine Greer, the head of anti-racist group Hope Not Hate Nick Lowles, gay activist Peter Thatchell, Cambridge professor Mary Beard, Iranian communist Maryam Namazie, feminist journalists Julie Bindel and Suzanne Moore, feminist comedian Kate Smurthwaite, and others.
Here’s Liddel on gay activist Peter Thatchell:
“The latest — and, if you have a cruel streak of humour, the funniest and certainly most ironic — is the aforementioned Peter Tatchell. A man of enormous principle and some bravery, for 50 years Tatchell has fought for homosexual equality, frequently being beaten up for so doing. He has also campaigned for equal rights for transgendered people — but this has not prevented senior members of the National Union of Students claiming that he is ‘transphobic’ and (for reasons I do not entirely understand) ‘racist’.
…His crime was not that he had said anything derogatory about men who have subsequently decided that they are women, or the other way about — far from it. It was simply to have signed a letter to a newspaper suggesting that there should be greater freedom of speech on Britain’s campuses — and that included the rights of some feminists to explain their political objections regarding men who insist, contrary to the objective chromosomal evidence, that they are women. The letter was got up by a bunch of lefty academics, campaigners and journalists and sent to The Observer…
The people who signed it are no longer welcome on campuses, to give talks and address meetings. Not for being transphobic, but for not supporting the ‘no platform’ policy towards people who might say something that the activists believe is transphobic. The student activists do not wish to hear anything at all that conflicts with their views. Or even hear anything that does not conflict with their views but allows for the fact that there might be conflicting views.”
That last part is truly disturbing. Read it again.
“The student activists do not wish to hear anything at all that conflicts with their views. Or even hear anything that does not conflict with their views but allows for the fact that there might be conflicting views.”
The problem is that there are conflicting views, especially when it comes to the issues of gender and sex, which is what’s at the core of many of these denouncements. Leave conservatives and the religious out of the discussions, feminists and transgenderists have fundamental disagreements about what it is to be a woman (or a man). As Liddel reports:
“The first victim of the transgender furore, however, was the excellent lesbian feminist writer and activist Julie Bindel. She has devoted 35 years of her life to trying to raise awareness about violence against women, but is now persona non grata on university campuses (that is, when the student unions find out she is due to be speaking; other times, she gets away with it). Bindel does not believe that trangendered women are authentic women — ‘what kind of Alice Through the Looking Glass utter f***wittery is that?’ — and so, if the unions find out she is speaking, she is promptly banned.”
Liddel asks some good questions about the mindset of these college activists:
“You might wonder to yourself, why are these kids so terrified of opinions that may diverge from their own? What sort of education are they getting if the only stuff they are allowed to hear is stuff that conforms to their own half-baked and constricted agenda? The King’s College London guidelines on external speakers warn explicitly against those who might prove to be ‘highly controversial’. Since when were students worried about a spot of controversy?”
Let’s take it a step further, what does it mean for our societies in the West if we have large swaths of students who not only refuse to hear dissenting views, but who also believe with absolutist and tyrannical surety that suppressing the voices of others is okay?
That should worry all of us.
(Image Credit: TheRutgersReview.com)