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Anorak | Free speech: Milo Yiannopoulos hones his karate, Julie Bindel is banned and Manchester University is wrapped in cottonwool

Free speech: Milo Yiannopoulos hones his karate, Julie Bindel is banned and Manchester University is wrapped in cottonwool

by | 6th, October 2015

To Manchester University, where “Transphobe” Julie Bindel is banned! She’d been asked by University of Manchester Free Speech & Secular Society to speak at a debate called – irony of ironies – “From liberation to censorship: Does modern feminism have a problem with free speech?”

The ban was decreed by the Students’ Union Executive Team (SUET). Bindel’s presence, say these wise heads, is “potentially in breach of [the] safe space policy”. Adding with hubris:

“The Students’ Union has decided to deny this request based on Bindel’s views and comments towards trans people, which we believe could incite hatred towards and exclusion of our trans students.”

Women’s Officer Jess Lishak opines:

“The proposed society event requested to invite two highly controversial and offensive speakers; radical feminist and famous transphobe Julie Bindel, and journalist and ‘men’s rights activist’ Milo Yiannopoulos.

“We unanimously decided to not allow Julie Bindel to be invited to speak at an official SU event. We also approved the request for Milo Yiannopoulos on the provisos that, should the event go ahead, there will be extra security put in place for everyone’s safety.”

They have doubtless heard that Milo knows karate.

Lishak adds:

“Julie Bindel is a journalist and activist who’s been on a crusade against the trans community, and trans women in particular, for many years. She abhorrently argues that trans women should be excluded from women-only spaces, whether that be through feminist organising or women’s sexual and domestic violence services.”

So much for free speech. So much for debate. The laughable, censorious, dictatorial Lishak “refuse[s] to allow our campus to be poisoned by this woman’s tireless campaign to deny trans people their basic human rights and… to subject our students to a campus that puts Bindel’s wish to spread and incite hatred above the safety and inclusion of our trans members.”

One word from Bindel and students will be all catching transphobia. The University must be kept safe from words.

“This is not about shutting down conversations or denying free speech; this is about keeping our students safe,” says Lishak. “If this were about silencing people we happen to disagree with or avoiding uncomfortable conversations, we would be denying the application for Milo Yiannopoulos to speak.”

But it is about denying free speech. That’s exactly what it is. Lishak speaks with the authority of someone who has read one book and found it spot on.

“The difference in these two cases is inciting harm to a group of our students. Yiannopoulos is very careful to criticise feminist thoughts, theories and methods of research or statistics rather than calling for active discrimination against women like Bindel does to trans women,” she continues.

His free speech is within the boundaries of Lishak’s realm of acceptable free speech. Of course, free speech either is free or else it is not free. It can’t be a bit free.

The Mancunion website adds: “She [Bindel] is included on the NUS’s no platform list, alongside George Galloway, Julian Assange, and any member of the BNP.”

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Posted: 6th, October 2015 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink