Universities are the marketplace of ideas, or at least they were until the authoritarian left gained the grotesque amount of power it now holds on campuses today, where you can be “No Platformed” for supporting UKIP, for taking the wrong line on transgender women (over ten years ago and despite having apologised profusely several times) and for, well, disagreeing with the far left on any social issue they decide might “cause mental harm”.
On Tuesday, a debate between Brendan O’Neill and Tim Stanley, set to take place at Christ Church College, Oxford, was cancelled. The debate was entitled, “This House Believes Britain’s Abortion Culture Hurts Us All”, and was organised by anti-abortion student society Oxford Students for Life.
The first thing the feminists took umbrage with was, of course, the fact that two “cis” (meaning not transgender) men were the speakers, and that because they are not in a position to get pregnant they have no right to talk about the subject of abortion.
To take this to its logical conclusion, Western atheists have no right to speak about the Israel/Palestine debate because it has nothing to do with them, and god forbid Owen Jones starts talking about “taxing the super-rich” again. Owen Jones isn’t one of the “super-rich” so how dare he have an opinion on what should be done with their money.
The New Statesman wrote an entire article purely about how inappropriate it supposedly is to have two men (white men, no less, as the piece reminds us twice) debating abortion.
The other problem here seems to have been that it’s a pro-life organisation hosting the debate, which led many commentators to argue that the debate would be skewed in favour of Tim Stanley (what, and Brendan O’Neill agree to ‘throw’ the match, recanting everything he believes in? Is this plausible?).
An article cropped up in October, written by a Cambridge fresher who objected to the mere presence of Cambridge Students for Life at a Freshers’ Fair. With no evil men having a debate about abortion, one might think there would be nothing to decry, here, especially as there were no graphic signs and none of the often objected-to scare tactics were present.
In the comments directly below her article, the author says that signs saying, “Science has proved that life begins at conception,” have “undertones” of “Mommy you killed me.” So basically, Cambridge Students for Life should cease to exist, not because they’re doing anything outrageous but merely because she feels threatened by imagined undertones of people who have a different opinion.
I imagine the girls at the stall wearing “Social justice begins in the womb” T-shirts probably rankled, too. There’s nothing left wingers hate more than to see others use the term in unapproved-by-the-Left ways.
A Facebook event appeared, set up by a now deleted account called “Oxrev Fems”, which called on feminists to attend the abortion debate, “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”.” So, to shut it down basically.
Within the group, yet more straws were grasped as a user called Francesca Rogers posted a list of hyperlinks to Brendan’s articles, complaining he has a history of “whining about ‘political correctness’ infringing his right to ‘free speech'”. Users below this commented that the articles were offensive to feminists and transgender people and so he should be No Platformed on that basis.
As there is no strong intellectual or rational excuse, they will cook up any reason to shut down the debate, it seems. Particularly touching though had to be that the words “free speech” were in inverted commas. Because free speech of course, is not a good that should be strived for, it’s just a nasty excuse for evil, vicious white men to oppress women and the downtrodden.
One user outright told a dissenter, “You lost the argument 40 years ago. You can’t have your free speech,” and this is where the authoritarian left now openly stands. It seems perverse that 50 years after the student Free Speech Movement, the left, now in power, culturally speaking, wish to deny their ideological opponents any semblance of free speech.
Ann Furedi, CEO of the abortion provider BPAS criticised the “moral cowardice” of the “pro-choicers” who wish to silence debate. The terror the left show towards free speech nowadays is perhaps telling. While their forebears had wanted free speech to argue their corner, their progeny now shy away, apparently too thick to actually make arguments.
They have what they want, and they’re too intellectually dim and lazy to bother defending it beyond shutting down debates, nitpicking the race and sex of their opponents and engaging in pathetic “Occupy Movement” type stunts that veer between tiresome and hilariously awful.
The reason for the cancellation of the event was “safety (mental and physical)”, as apparently women who have had abortions might feel traumatised to know people were discussing abortion.
The president of Cambridge Union took part in a quite stunning discussion on Twitter in which we saw how far the leftist rot has spread, where hearing an opinion one disagrees with can “threaten someone’s safety”. How far universities have come from when in the 19th century, feminists campaigned for women to have access to the exact same education as men.
When Emily Davies set up Girton College in 1869 she said she intended it to be a “college like a man’s”. Instead, we now have feminists insisting women be coddled, their delicate ears incapable of hearing arguments they disagree with for “their own safety”, lest they descend into hysteria, their poor feminine bodies convulsing with the shock of disagreement. Modern feminists are trying to send women back to the 19th century.
I’ll end with words from the brilliant organisation FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), who wrote, “FIRE often sees students confuse physical safety–an understandable priority–with emotional comfort, which students must often forego if they wish to expose themselves to new ideas and challenge themselves intellectually.” Quite.