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London School of Economics Apologises For Banning Free Speech

jesus and mo

FREEDOM of Speech is under attack on your student campuses. The London School of Economics (LSE) banned Chris Moos and Abhishek Phandis, of the student Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society (LSEASH), from wearing Jesus and Mo cartooons at the SU Freshers’ Fair on 3 October.

It’s not the Islamofascists and funny, dangerous foreigners eroding our free speech; it’s us.

But it’s all about equality, isn’t it? Only, if everyone gets to be equal, who gets to be free?

The University of Birmingham’s code of practice on freedom of speech on campus is long. A nine-page list of codes for being free and saying what you want in public. Because free speech needs a lot of explaining when it’s not free.

The University of Bolton actually wants students to debate what can be talked about before any event:

APPENDIX 1

Anyone involved in organising a meeting or other activity, or processing a room booking should consider whether there is a possibility that the speaker may not be able to enter or leave the building safely and/or have the freedom within the law to deliver their speech; or that a breach of the civil or criminal law may be committed. The following is an indicative list of circumstances which might give rise to a reasonable apprehension that disruption or disorder may occur.

You know, the kind of things students might want to talk about are only allowed to be talked about with official approval lest the sensitive be upset. This is great:

(a) where the subject-matter of the meeting or activity includes in whole or in part  Animal experimentation  Immigration and nationality policy  The supposed superiority or otherwise of racial/ethnic/religious groupings  Blood sports  Genocide  A current or recent war (or revolution)  Sexual abuse of children and paedophilia  Abortion  Drugs policy  Terrorism  Other local or national controversial matters

(b) when the guest or visiting speaker includes  Any current Member of the House of Commons or Lords  A present or former representative of any political party which has put forward candidates at a British or Irish Parliament election in the last 20 years  Any member of the British or an overseas Royal family  Any diplomat or the representative of a foreign power  Any person who has previously been prevented from delivering a speech or whose presence has threatened a breach of the peace at the University or any other Higher Education Institution

(c) where the subject matter might be considered to be of a blasphemous (3) nature (not just in respect of Christianity), obscene or defamatory. This list is provided for guidance and is not intended to be exhaustive. If there is any doubt whether the Code applies, the guidance of the University Secretary and Clerk to the Governors should be sought.

Bolton then explains: “‘Blasphemy’ is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as ‘irreverent talk about God or sacred things’.”

And get this caveat to free speech from Exeter University:

The University expects students, staff, governors, the Students’ Guild and visitors to ensure freedom of speech within the law is assured. Whilst there is no legal prohibition on offending others, the University nevertheless believes that discussion that is open and honest can take place only if offensive or provocative action and language is avoided.

Talk about anything you like. But you must not offend anyone.

The LSE Code of Free Speech includes the gem: “The Conference and Events Office will normally screen bookings from within and outside of the School.”

Students, Give up now. Ideas are set in stone. Forget that speech is how we communicate ideas – both good and bad; how we shape lives; and just stick to the talking about the things the officials approve of. What ideas can be discussed has been decided upon. Free speech means freedom not only for the thoughts you approve of but those you despise. Don’t ban it. It just makes you look weak.

Last year, we noted that the LSEASH wanted to feature a picture of Muslim Prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ “sitting in a pub having a pint” on its group Facebook page. The LSE Student Union was upset enough to call an “emergency meeting”.

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Posted: 19th, December 2013 | In: Key Posts, Reviews | Comments (4)