People who like banning things, should be banned from doing so. Discuss. And no, it’s not an A-level philosophy question. It is the essence of the argument the higher education minister Jo Johnson started this week, when he announced that universities who don’t protect freedom of speech on campus could be fined. It was preposterous, he said, that someone like Germaine Greer could be no-platformed when “she has every right, if invited, to give her views on difficult and awkward subjects”. (Greer’s invitation to give a guest lecture at Cardiff University was famously challenged by its women’s officer, who accused her of transphobia, although it eventually went ahead). Fostering “healthy disagreement” and challenging conversations was, Johnson insisted, what universities are all about. The idea of zero tolerance for liberal intolerance will be wildly popular with the sort of Tory who spontaneously combusts at the word “safe space”, and doubtless with the anonymous Cambridge don who told the Times his students seem determined to “exclude anyone who challenges them”. But the practicalities are baffling, and not just because of the fiendish difficulty universities face in making their student union activists fall into line. How does all this mesh with a Prevent… Read full this story
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