In the battle over free speech on campus, students’ unions and university groups have a new line of attack: denying that the problem even exists. Campus censorship is a myth, they say, cooked up by commentators and peddled to a gullible media.
It’s an argument that might be more convincing if it didn’t come from students’ unions that are actively, and often proudly, hostile to freedom of speech, and from university groups that have an obvious interest in downplaying the censorship problem.
But let’s knock it down on its own terms, nonetheless.
This latest round of campus-censorship denial comes in the wake of the publication of new government-backed guidelines, setting out universities’ and students’ unions legal obligations regarding free speech.
For the most part, they serve as a reminder of how illiberal British law is with regard to free speech, and how much cover this gives to those on campus who want to limit it further. Though the guidelines aim to safeguard debate in universities, they are unlikely to radically change things on the ground.
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