1. #1

    University Free Speech Bill

    Sorry if this has been posted and I missed it, but the UK government is looking to introduce a bill, The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, apparently designed to ensure freedom of speech on UK university campuses. Labour has decided to vote against this, as it affords the right to sue for anyone who has had their "rights" violated under the bill e.g., been no platformed (in addition to other areas). This has support from right wing organisations who feel this is a necessary step in order to avoid self censorship on campus.

    Now I know I am at odds with most on here on parts of this issue, as idealistic as I know this may be, I do think university is the place to discuss controversial ideas, and I am generally against no platforming, most of the time where I have heard of it here (or at least, attempts at it), it seems to me like it is done to avoid criticisms of ideas, or to enforce an orthodoxy of ideas, as opposed to preventing any actual harm, using the language of safety and harm to conflate criticism of ones strongly held beliefs with real world violence, which strikes me as either deeply cynical or symptomatic of potential mental health issues, though more importantly it was typically student led as opposed to institutionally led, and often didn't actually prevent people from speaking. There was a case recently of Stonewall advising a university to ban a speaker in order to avoid breaching certain laws, which turned out to be legally unsound advice, there was nothing illegal about what the speaker was about, they just didn't like her and misrepresented the law in order to stop her speaking, interpreting the law as they want it to be as opposed to how it actually is. I do find this unethical. It is also rare.

    Whilst not a no platforming incident, there was a case recently at a Scottish university where a student was asked in a discussion what she thought a woman was, I hope not to derail this into forbidden areas, but in part of her answer she said she thought men were on average stronger than women (I know most here will feel that this is a controversial and hateful statement, but I also feel it likely that the vast majority of people think this is just a reasonable statement of reality), and is currently undergoing a formal investigation by the university (not simply for this, but for other comments too), prompted by complaints. The actions of some activists have the potential for a chilling effect on the expression and discussion of ideas.

    However, that Toby Young (yes, I know) article defending this bill conceded, this doesn't actually happen all that often. In that case with Stonewall, they were rebuked and the university (to the best of my knowledge) apologised. In listing that case, I am not doing to to try to draw this out to say it is happening all over, because I don't think it is. I highlight it firstly to illustrate an example where I feel some are acting in bad faith (as the people who insist there is no problem are wrong in my opinion, and usually insist there is no problem because they support the dogmas being enforced), not to "protect" people but to enforce dogma, so I think in some cases things could have been handled better, but also to elicit a response of "what other examples are there?". And the answer is that it doesn't happen that often at all. Bans by the institutions are very rare. If you look there at the list on the BBC article (I know it is a few years out of date) showing banned groups by the NUS (of which there aren't many, and yes I know the NUS isn't the same as an actual university), 3 were Islamist organisations. I reference this as typically the people who want something done about this often cry that conservative voices are being silenced (I take issue with this, I don't feel that certain hot button topics are exclusively conservative), or rather that their tribe is the one under the heel. I think we can all agree that the likes of Toby Young have nothing to do with al-Muhajiroun, they are not in the same tribe, this simply isn't the NUS trying to shit down Toby Young et al. These are groups that aren't simply trying to discuss ideas, but actual extremists with histories of violence who want to recruit, a very different beast.

    Whilst I will disagree with most here over whether a problem exists, one area where we will agree is that I don't think it is a big problem, and a moral panic is being created over this issue. I have highlighted a few instances of what I feel are unethical and potentially chilling actions, actions that I don't think should be encouraged, but they simply aren't happening to the extent that some (especially the likes of the Daily Mail) would try to have people believe (hence a selective reporting of incidents), and more often it is student activists as opposed to institutions themselves, and several resolve themselves without the need for any kind of government interference. Bringing in legislation like this is a massive overreaction in my opinion. There is very real potential for this to be abused. Whilst I think that universities, the NUS and student activists haven't always gotten things right, given the existence of actual violent extremist groups, there have to be mechanisms for universities to say "no" to would be speakers. The answer to a few bad decisions should not be to enforce a potential free for all. For people who often talk about wanting small government and less government interference, the selective interpretation of this mantra is highly suspect. I do not trust them to not make a mess of this, and sadly with their majority, there is nothing the opposition can do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gelannerai View Post


    Remember, legally no one sane takes Tucker Carlson seriously.

  2. #2
    Void Lord Elegiac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    The Berenstein Timeline
    Posts
    55,275
    TERF Island getting even TERFier these days, I see.

    This is just one of several attempts by the British government to push through increasingly bigoted legislation as part of the recent anti-trans panic, but I'm more amused that even its proponents admit the thing they're bitching about happens very rarely as to not actually constitute a problem that requires legal redress.
    Every heartwarming human interest story in America is like "he raised $20,000 to keep 200 orphans from being crushed in the orphan-crushing machine" and then never asks why an orphan-crushing machine exists or why you'd need to pay to prevent it from being used.

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialka View Post
    so ? Teacher is about teaching, not education.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by tehealadin View Post
    she said she thought men were on average stronger than women (I know most here will feel that this is a controversial and hateful statement)


    I wonder what it feels like to be such a victim. And here I was thinking that it was the gibbering hordes of SJW college kids and their nefarious college administration masters who were the supreme arbiters and purveyors of victimhood.

    I have to ask, though. Do you think staff aren't supposed to investigate something for which they've received multiple reports?
    Last edited by s_bushido; 2021-07-11 at 02:59 PM.

  4. #4
    I Don't Work Here Endus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Ottawa, ON
    Posts
    68,867
    Quote Originally Posted by tehealadin View Post
    Sorry if this has been posted and I missed it, but the UK government is looking to introduce a bill, The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, apparently designed to ensure freedom of speech on UK university campuses. Labour has decided to vote against this, as it affords the right to sue for anyone who has had their "rights" violated under the bill e.g., been no platformed (in addition to other areas). This has support from right wing organisations who feel this is a necessary step in order to avoid self censorship on campus.

    Now I know I am at odds with most on here on parts of this issue, as idealistic as I know this may be, I do think university is the place to discuss controversial ideas, and I am generally against no platforming, most of the time where I have heard of it here (or at least, attempts at it), it seems to me like it is done to avoid criticisms of ideas, or to enforce an orthodoxy of ideas, as opposed to preventing any actual harm, using the language of safety and harm to conflate criticism of ones strongly held beliefs with real world violence, which strikes me as either deeply cynical or symptomatic of potential mental health issues, though more importantly it was typically student led as opposed to institutionally led, and often didn't actually prevent people from speaking.
    If you only consider edge cases, it's always going to seem iffy. By virtue of it being an edge case.

    Go to the extreme hypotheticals, and see if your position still applies. Do you think a university should be obliged to host a speaker who's legally changed their name to "Adolf Hitler Jr.", who espouses that the Nazis were right all along, that the Jewish "disease" must be purged from all nations, along with a long list of other "undesirables", that they're not just talking hypotheticals but telling their audience to pick up weapons and start taking action for the cause.

    You think the university's position should be a casual shrug and a statement that they've got the right to use university facilities as much as anyone else?

    Once you establish where your stance is at the extremes, it becomes a question of where you draw the line, not if you draw a line.

    Whilst not a no platforming incident, there was a case recently at a Scottish university where a student was asked in a discussion what she thought a woman was, I hope not to derail this into forbidden areas, but in part of her answer she said she thought men were on average stronger than women (I know most here will feel that this is a controversial and hateful statement, but I also feel it likely that the vast majority of people think this is just a reasonable statement of reality), and is currently undergoing a formal investigation by the university (not simply for this, but for other comments too), prompted by complaints. The actions of some activists have the potential for a chilling effect on the expression and discussion of ideas.
    This is just a stupid statement. I wouldn't consider it "hateful", just really, really dumb. First, she defines women as "physically weak", which is dumb. Second, by making such a definition, any female who's stronger than the average schlub guy, she's apparently "not a woman" any more. And weedy guys who aren't strong, well, they've clearly turned into women because of their lack of strength training. Is that stupid? Of course it is. That's the point. Once you see how stupid it is to apply that as definitional of gender, you can't use that as a characteristic of that definition.

    She's been cleared, looking into it, so this is a complete non-issue in the first place. Literally no action taken against her by the university.

    Which kind of speaks to the central issue.

    The rhetoric is that "conservative voices are silenced/excluded".
    The reality is that hatefully abusive voices are excluded.
    If you can't distinguish between "conservative" and "hatefully abusive", that's telling me everything I need to know about why you're afraid of "cancel culture".


  5. #5
    Meanwhile in the US, where the right camps out on their fainting couches over "cancel culture," this happened in Tennessee:

    "Matthew Hawn, who had been a tenured teacher at the Sullivan County School District since 2008 and baseball coach at Central High School, was dismissed by the local board of education on June 8 in a 6-1 vote for two separate incidents where he taught about race, reported WJHL.com, a news outlet based in Johnson City, Tenn.

    At issue was Hawn assigning the essay “The First White President” by Ta-Nehisi Coates to students in his Contemporary Issues class in February, and later in March, playing a video of “White Privilege,” a spoken word poem by Kyla Jenée Lacey to the same students.

    “[Donald Trump’s] political career began in advocacy of birtherism, that modern recasting of the old American precept that Black people are not fit to be citizens of the country they built,” Coates writes of the former president. “It is often said that Trump has no real ideology, which is not true — his ideology is white supremacy, in all its truculent and sanctimonious power.”

    News of Hawn’s dismissal resurfaced over the weekend, entering the national stage, with professors, politicians, and members of the media weighing in. Several pointed out that the case was reminiscent of the Scopes trial, which had its 100-year anniversary on Saturday. Also known as the Scopes Monkey Trial, science teacher John Scopes was prosecuted in 1925 for teaching evolution at a public school in Tennessee.

    “This really seems extreme and a harbinger of what is to come,” wrote Donald Moynihan, the inaugural McCourt Chair at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University.

    “As local school board elections become dominated by people driven by or responding to a moral panic, expect more teachers to be fired for engaging in any sort of critical speech,” Moynihan wrote. “What a disservice to their students.”

    Hawn’s firing was precipitated by a parent who complained to the district that the essay conveyed a “somewhat angry, and hateful opinion towards President Trump” and contained words he believed should not be “introduced to our children by a high school teacher,” according to documents provided to WJHL.com.

    According to the documents, Hawn said he was comfortable assigning the essay because “those were the words of the President and I thought the kids were mature enough to handle it.”

    When asked what other reading materials he could have assigned to offer a differing viewpoint, Hawn replied: “There is no credible source for a differing point of view.”

    Hawn was informed in May by David A. Cox, the director of schools, that the board would be moving forward with the charges of dismissal against him during the public meeting in June, and until then, he would remain on suspension without pay, according to the documents.

    Cox wrote in a document outlining the charges of dismissal that Hawn should be let go as a tenured teacher with the district “based upon his insubordination and his repeated unprofessional conduct.”

    He alleged that Hawn exhibited unprofessional conduct by demonstrating “questionable judgment” in assigning Coates’ essay “containing inappropriate terms” and for “unreasonably denying” students in his class “access to varying points of view in violation of the Teacher Code of Ethics.”

    “Your job is not to teach one perspective. Your job is also not to ensure students simply adopt your own personal perspective,” the letter of reprimand to Hawn read. Hawn appealed the letter, but the board of education unanimously voted to uphold it. A month later, he showed his students the video, which the school deemed inappropriate for some of the language used.

    Critical race theory first emerged in the legal academy and then spread into other fields of scholarship, according to the American Bar Association. It is the practice of interrogating the role of race and racism in society, and it critiques “how the social construction of race and institutionalized racism perpetuate a racial caste system.”

    The academic concept, according to the American Bar Association, acknowledges that the legacy of segregation and slavery continues to play a role in the social fabric of the country. Conversation over the theory, largely driven by Donald Trump and his supporters, found its way into the classroom this past spring — with numerous state legislators debating bills seeking to ban its use.

    Those efforts have been met with pushback from proponents of teaching critical race theory.

    “To ban the tools that enable those discussions is to deprive us all of the tools necessary for citizenship in the twenty-first century,” a coalition of scholarly and educational groups wrote in a joint statement in June. “A white-washed view of history cannot change what happened in the past.”

    Both in the letter of reprimand and in the charges of dismissal, school officials took issue with Hawn apparently not teaching a “conservative perspective,” and where Coates’ essay was concerned, not providing an opposing point of view to Trump having ascended to power in large part because of his standing as a white man.

    “As noted with the prior letter of reprimand, Hawn remained more than welcome to offer and discuss appropriate materials with Contemporary Issues students which provided a more liberal perspective, assuming he would know that would also require offering and discussing appropriate materials which provided a more conservative perspective on the same subject matter,” Cox wrote.

    He added: “This crucial — and ethical — standard was lost on Hawn in early 2021, and it appears that it is still lost on him now.”

    Dozens of supporters showed up at the meeting last month to express their support for Hawn, and former students told News Channel 11 that “latent racism was ever-present” at Sullivan Central High School. One graduate who had previously taken Hawn’s class on contemporary issues told the outlet that “we talked about white privilege, and he was very open and fair and balanced on both sides of the argument.”

    Hawn was unable to speak during the meeting, and the board only heard the charges made by Cox, reported the Bristol Herald Courier, a daily newspaper based in Bristol, Virginia. Cox complained during the meeting that he was being accused of racism for the charges against Hawn.

    Only one board member voted against the dismissal. The Herald Courier reported that Hawn has an opportunity to appeal the decision to dismiss him, but that it could be a “long, drawn-out process.”"

    https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-...-it/ar-AAM1yiF
    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Angel of Riots View Post
    Until then, I honestly don't care about anything else much. Until then it can all burn down to the ground for all I care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    Yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that "Fuck the poor" "Arch-angel of Riots" is just in it with the hope of inflicting maximum harm for maximum chaos, and since they've shown no particular attachment to any guiding moral, ideological, or political principle, it seems to be for the sake of maximum fun.

  6. #6
    Legendary! unfilteredJW's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Seagrove Beach, FL
    Posts
    6,710
    “Our objectively wrong viewpoint should be treated with the same validity as factual information” cries the snowiest of snowflakes.

    School boards were a mistake.
    Blessed are the fornicates, may we bend down to be their whores. Blessed are the rich, may our labor deliver them more.
    Blessed are the envious; bless the slothful, the wrathful, the vain. Blessed are the gluttonous, may they feast us to famine and war.
    What of the pious, the pure of heart, the peaceful, the meek, the mourning, and the merciful? All doomed, all doomed

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by unfilteredJW View Post
    “Our objectively wrong viewpoint should be treated with the same validity as factual information” cries the snowiest of snowflakes.

    School boards were a mistake.
    As if we haven't all been subjected to the "conservative perspective" on race in this country for ~500 years.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Angel of Riots View Post
    Until then, I honestly don't care about anything else much. Until then it can all burn down to the ground for all I care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    Yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that "Fuck the poor" "Arch-angel of Riots" is just in it with the hope of inflicting maximum harm for maximum chaos, and since they've shown no particular attachment to any guiding moral, ideological, or political principle, it seems to be for the sake of maximum fun.

  8. #8
    Void Lord Elegiac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    The Berenstein Timeline
    Posts
    55,275
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    As if we haven't all been subjected to the "conservative perspective" on race in this country for ~500 years.
    To be fair, the thread concerns TERF Island rather than the US, and things there are a little more complicated than colonialism's legacy being a bitch.

    Basically what happens if you're living in England and you turn 40 the government requires you to take a pill that turns you into a TERF and makes you vote Tory. I'm sure there's probably another explanation or something but, yeah.

    The Gender Recognition Act, which was signed into law in 2004, defines the legal process for trans people to change their legal sex on their birth certificates, which currently involves an expensive and highly intrusive investigation by an anonymous government board that has the final say over a trans person’s legal sex. In 2017, the UK government announced an inquiry into a proposed reform that would let trans people make a legal declaration that they pledged to live the rest of their lives as their transitioned genders. Opponents of the reforms seized the narrative, backed by a friendly press, distorting the proposal’s aims at so-called “self-ID.”

    Anti-trans members of the British press repeatedly and falsely claimed that “self-ID” meant that a person could ostensibly declare themselves a man on Monday and a woman on Friday, allowing potential sex perverts to claim a female gender identity in order to access women’s spaces for nefarious purposes — a claim that research on the subject shows has essentially no merit.

    The disinformation campaign soon moved on to spread falsehoods about trans children, and other hot trans topics du jour. As a result, a large proportion of mainstream British feminists, who sometimes call themselves “gender critical,” have expressed potentially transphobic views like Rowling’s, saying that it’s not possible to change biological sex. Meanwhile, in most mainstream US feminist circles, speaking out against trans women is not considered feminism.

    But trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) ideology has been helped along in the UK by media under the leadership of Rupert Murdoch and the Times of London for years. Any vague opposition to gender-critical thought in the UK brings accusations of “silencing women” and a splashy feature or op-ed in a British national newspaper. Australian radical feminist Sheila Jeffreys went before the UK Parliament in March 2018 and declared that trans women are “parasites,” language that sounds an awful lot like Donald Trump speaking about immigrants.
    This is the context for the moral panic motivating the bill in the OP, btw.
    Last edited by Elegiac; 2021-07-11 at 03:39 PM.
    Every heartwarming human interest story in America is like "he raised $20,000 to keep 200 orphans from being crushed in the orphan-crushing machine" and then never asks why an orphan-crushing machine exists or why you'd need to pay to prevent it from being used.

    Quote Originally Posted by Specialka View Post
    so ? Teacher is about teaching, not education.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Elegiac View Post
    To be fair, the thread concerns TERF Island rather than the US, and things there are a little more complicated than colonialism's legacy being a bitch.

    Basically what happens if you're living in England and you turn 40 the government requires you to take a pill that turns you into a TERF and makes you vote Tory. I'm sure there's probably another explanation or something but, yeah.



    This is the context for the moral panic motivating the bill in the OP, btw.
    That's fair. Was really more a side conversation about happenings in Tennessee by a similar strain bad faith "cancel culture" hysterics.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Angel of Riots View Post
    Until then, I honestly don't care about anything else much. Until then it can all burn down to the ground for all I care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    Yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that "Fuck the poor" "Arch-angel of Riots" is just in it with the hope of inflicting maximum harm for maximum chaos, and since they've shown no particular attachment to any guiding moral, ideological, or political principle, it seems to be for the sake of maximum fun.

  10. #10
    We have an active thread for American school boards. Keep that discussion there, please.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Flarelaine View Post
    We have an active thread for American school boards. Keep that discussion there, please.
    It's directly related, and it's part of a broader, worldwide pattern of using legal means to impose regressive, illiberal policies under the guise of "inclusivity." Can we mention Biden in the Trump thread, that ok? Can we mention policing in the insurrection thread? The micromanaging is picayune and out of hand.
    Last edited by Levelfive; 2021-07-12 at 12:35 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Angel of Riots View Post
    Until then, I honestly don't care about anything else much. Until then it can all burn down to the ground for all I care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    Yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that "Fuck the poor" "Arch-angel of Riots" is just in it with the hope of inflicting maximum harm for maximum chaos, and since they've shown no particular attachment to any guiding moral, ideological, or political principle, it seems to be for the sake of maximum fun.

  12. #12
    Topics will obviously overlap and referring to context is unavoidable. Comparisons are fine and indeed enrich debate, but I would prefer to see this thread not taken over completely by American developments.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Flarelaine View Post
    Topics will obviously overlap and referring to context is unavoidable. Comparisons are fine and indeed enrich debate, but I would prefer to see this thread not taken over completely by American developments.
    Yeah, same. It was 3 self-contained posts, and we've now had more conversation about their existence than on either topic in the thread, though I have no doubt you were alerted to the "derailment."

    I will say again "it's part of a broader, worldwide pattern of using legal means to impose regressive, illiberal policies under the guise of "inclusivity."" I, too, am of the opinion that universities in particular should be places where ideas are challenged and arguments and critical thinking honed but doing so does not require the university to put its imprimatur on ideas that are fundamentally incompatible with specific people's existence (the mere existence of whom is NOT fundamentally incompatible with anyone else's existence). In other words, you can sharpen critical and analytical skills without platforming nazis. And this aggressive movement to mandate as much under the guise of "fairness" or whatever should raise the hackles of any freedom loving soul. I don't know how else to warn people not to be taken in by specious arguments that are deliberately designed to appeal to and exploit liberal sensibilities ("oh, I guess we *should* mandate platforms for every point of view because, goodness, yeah, we shouldn't be excluding anyone, and who *does* decide what's "acceptable"? ok, nazis, TERFs, racists, you're up, since everything's equally valid!"), but this essay is evergreen:

    "Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.

    When viewed through this lens, the problems above have clear answers. The antisocial member of the group, who harms other people in the group on a regular basis, need not be accepted; the purpose of your group’s acceptance is to let people feel that they have a home, and someone who actively tries to thwart this is incompatible with the broader purpose of that acceptance. Prejudice against Nazis is not the same as prejudice against Blacks, because one is based on people’s stated opposition to their neighbors’ lives and safety, the other on a characteristic that has nothing to do with whether they’ll live in peace with you or not. Freedom of religion means that people have the right to have their own beliefs, but you have that same right; you are under no duty to tolerate an attempt to impose someone else’s religious laws on you."

    https://extranewsfeed.com/tolerance-...t-1af7007d6376
    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Angel of Riots View Post
    Until then, I honestly don't care about anything else much. Until then it can all burn down to the ground for all I care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    Yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that "Fuck the poor" "Arch-angel of Riots" is just in it with the hope of inflicting maximum harm for maximum chaos, and since they've shown no particular attachment to any guiding moral, ideological, or political principle, it seems to be for the sake of maximum fun.

  14. #14
    The Undying Cthulhu 2020's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Rigging your election
    Posts
    34,184
    Oh, I see this is "conservatives are mad that they're facing the consequences of their own actions" thread #9082138
    "Nazis are like cats. If they like you, it's probably because you're feeding them." -John Oliver
    Quote Originally Posted by Knadra View Post
    I don't care if he committed tax fraud. Scoring political victories and crushing the aspirations of your political opponents is more important than adhering to moral principles.
    Knadra finally just admitting Trumpkins care more about political victories than morals.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Cthulhu 2020 View Post
    Oh, I see this is "conservatives are mad that they're facing the consequences of their own actions" thread #9082138
    More, conservatives are mad they're facing consequences for having shit opinions, so they're going to pass laws requiring everyone to listen to them.
    Quote Originally Posted by Arch-Angel of Riots View Post
    Until then, I honestly don't care about anything else much. Until then it can all burn down to the ground for all I care.
    Quote Originally Posted by Levelfive View Post
    Yeah, I think it's fair to conclude that "Fuck the poor" "Arch-angel of Riots" is just in it with the hope of inflicting maximum harm for maximum chaos, and since they've shown no particular attachment to any guiding moral, ideological, or political principle, it seems to be for the sake of maximum fun.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •