Tuesday 18 November 2014

Freedom of Speech and Oxford University Students

Back in 2012 I wrote a blog about Students at University College London trying to dictate how the subject of Abortion should be handled in University debates and trying in effect to prevent pro-life groups having any platform.

 Sadly the same intolerant views have surfaced in Oxford University where Christ Church College has caved into intimidation and have cancelled a debate on "Abortion Culture" organised by Oxford Students for Life who had arranged for there to be 2 speakers 1 for and 1 against but even that degree of balance was not enough for the pro-abortion crowd who were pretty blatant about the intimidation and disruption they planned

“We thought we should go and say hi! Bring your friends, and if you want take along some non-destructive but oh so disruptive instruments to help demonstrate to the anti-choicers just what we think of their ‘debate’.”

This particular Face Book page has now, for some reason, been removed but I saw it myself before it was removed and can testify to the words used.  It was headed with the words "What the f*** is an abortion culture ?" using the full "F" word.  Frankly I have represented crack head yobs who could express themselves more elegantly than those "students" at what is supposed to be one of the leading Universities in the world

Anyway the actions of the members of the threatening disruptive group could constitute a criminal offence of Harassment under s1A Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as applied by s7(3A) of the same Act.  In addition the College, and Oxford University as a whole, has a legal duty under s43 Education (No 2) Act 1986 to 

"“ensure that freedom of speech within the law is secured for members, students and employees of the establishment and for visiting speakers”

and both the college and the University appear to have failed in their legal as well as their moral responsibilities.  Freedom of speech is precious and without freedom of speech no other freedoms are safe.  It should never be forgotten that in Nazi Germany it was idealistic students who were the first ones to throw books into the flames.  Those students who succeeded in stopping this debate probably consider themselves to be radical left wingers but the reality is that they are fascists who need to be faced up to and defeated.  

UPDATE  19 November 

In researching this subject and trying to make sense of some of the jargon on the oppositions Facebook page I discovered that I am a "Cisgendered Binary person without a Uterus" otherwise known as a Male (and they say Lawyers overcomplicate !)

An "Interesting" in the sense of "Completely Self Centred arrogant" article in The Independent  by one of the protesters who got the talk cancelled 

However not all is Doom and Gloom the Twitter Feed of a certain Will Neaverson (who seems to be an Officer at Christ Church) states (Nov 16)  "I'm proposing a motion to request my college not grant permission for Oxford Students for Life to host a 'debate' on abortion. Updates soon." which would normally have upset me until I noticed that he describes his current status as "Researching for North Korea thesis".  

which made me laugh out loud. An Oxford student studying North Korea who wants to close down democratic debate in Oxford, you simply couldn't make it up.  He is obviously a very good student of his subject. 


Frank Cranmer said...


The duty under 43(1) is to "take such steps as are reasonably practicable to ensure (etc)". Presumably the Censors at Christ Church would argue that they had been concerned that there was a risk of demonstrations and disorderly behaviour should the debate to go ahead and that that possibility would meet the "reasonably practicable" test. Might that argument stand up in court?

But in any event, it doesn't reflect well on any university if people can't debate the issue of abortion without resorting to a punch-up.


Neil Addison said...

The question then becomes what "reasonably practicable" steps did the College take to ensure the debate went ahead. Merely giving in because there was a danger of disruption without looking at ways of dealing with the disruption is hardly taking "reasonably practicable" steps

richardhj said...

I have heard of the man who was supposed to be arguing in favour of abortion before.

He has written more than one article about the bullying that we have all been subjected to to accept "gay marriage". He says that he is against it from a liberal perspective, but was threatened with being murdered amongst other less serious threats.


Perhaps it wasn't only the pro-life side that these fascists were trying to silence, on this occasion at least