Bristol University Students’ Union is considering no-platforming a highly esteemed conservative philosopher because of statements he made on homosexuality in the 1980s.
Their objections have led to warnings of “Marxist bigotry and censorship” on British university campuses.
Sir Roger Scruton, a philosopher of aesthetics and one of Britain’s most eminent philosophers, is due to address Bristol students as part of the Richmond Lectures programme. However, students are currently considering whether to withdraw the invitation thanks to comments Scruton has made in the past on homosexuality.
According to the Independent, his invitation to speak has led to complaints despite the fact that he spoke at the university just last year.
Students’ Union representatives have now raised concerns over his comments on same-sex marriage, in particular those featured in his 1986 book Sexual Desire and his 1989 essay “Sexual Morality and the Liberal Consensus”.
A 2013 article co-authored by Scruton entitled ‘Same-sex marriage is homophobic’ was also raised.
In the article, he argued: “To pursue gay equality is noble and right. But to pursue it by undermining heterosexual institutions is deeply damaging to both hetero and homosexual persons alike. For heterosexuals need an institution that shapes them for the consequences of opposite sex union and without that it is disaster and despair for children, burden and poverty for women and dislocation and atomisation for society.”
In a statement, Bristol SU said: “We are in the process of confirming speakers for this year’s Richmond Lectures.
“Given our commitment to Equality and Diversity, the SU officer team have expressed concerns about one of the speakers given his published views on homosexuality and have raised this with the student led committee of the initiative for them to consider.”
However, Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of The Bow Group, Britain’s oldest conservative think tank, of which Scruton is a Senior Patron, slammed their prevarication as bigoted and censorious.
He told Breitbart London that the University of Bristol should be “privileged” to hear from Scruton, saying: “That there is even a consideration of banning him from campus for being a Christian and conservative is representative of the true level of bigotry and censorship that is now a prominent feature of the British academia.
“That this assault on Christians and conservatives is being made under the faux name of anti-bigotry is perhaps the greatest insult of all.”
Calling on conservatives to stand up against bigotry on campus, he continued: “The Bow Group set up Generation Conservative three months ago to tackle this dangerous Marxist movement of bigotry and censorship rising on campuses across Britain. It’s time for the national conversation to turn its attention to the danger to us all that this movement represents.
“It’s time for Parliament to look at changing legislation to make the NUS an “opt in” rather than compulsory membership organisation, and remove all funding and employ sanctions towards Student Unions and universities that seek to censor and demean Christians and conservatives in this despicable manner.”
He added: “It’s unsurprising that young graduates are finding it so difficult to engage with the real world and to accept the results of the Brexit referendum, and now the American Presidential race, when very important perspectives are censored from their view.”
Bristol SU states online when pitching the lecture series: “Coming to University is about broadening your mind and learning new things. The Richmond Lectures are part of Bristol SU’s contribution to this!”