Censored for trying to discuss censorship

Feb 13, 2019 by

by Fraser Myers, spiked:

The Bristol University Free Speech Society wanted to organise a panel to discuss the question, ‘Is there a free-speech problem on campus?’. And you can probably guess what happened next. Bristol’s Students’ Union gave them a clear answer to that question by banning one of the speakers.

The speaker in question was Angelos Sofocleous. He is a student at Durham. Last year, after he retweeted a Spectator article titled ‘Is it a crime to say “women don’t have penises”?’, Sofocleous was accused of transphobia and duly sacked as assistant editor of a student journal, and as president-elect of the student humanist society.

Bristol SU claims that its assessment of Sofocleous, in consultation with the police, raised security concerns – public disorder would be ‘very likely’ if he was allowed to speak, it said, and extra security would be needed. It gave the Free Speech Society only a week’s notice to reorganise the event – a demand the society rightly considered ‘unreasonable’. The event will still go ahead on the planned date, but without Sofocleous.

An SU spokesperson says that ‘Bristol SU is committed to freedom of speech and the rights of all our students to discuss difficult and sensitive topics’. It denies accusations of censorship.

But this is nonsense, of course. As Tom Slater points out on spiked, the free-speech opponents’ new line these days is that campus censorship is a myth. But somehow the campus censors still manage to outdo themselves in the banning stakes.

Read here

Read also: What happened when I was banned from a free speech debate on campus by Angelos Sofocleous


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