When it was brought to OCR’s attention that the criticisms were made from the student’s perspective as a principled vegetarian, it promptly apologised. But what is truly chilling is the implication that it would have been less merciful had she been criticising an Islamic practice in its own right.
Indeed, OCR seems relaxed about policing students’ opinions, saying it ‘takes all incidences of suspected offensive material against a religious group in exams very seriously’. Apparently, there are ‘rules which are set out for all exam boards in such cases’.
Do we want students to be afraid of applying their own critical thinking to anything and everything? Surely, in an academic context especially, religious practices and beliefs should be freely discussed?
Such censoriousness runs deep. It is increasingly accepted in certain quarters that there are such things as ‘illegitimate opinions’ that must be silenced, and that we must search for the unseen motives of those who hold them to determine the extent of their guilt.
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