Oxford University bans free speech magazine as “offensive”

The Torygraph and The Independent report further restriction of free speech (not a “constitutional” guarantee in the UK)—this time at Oxford. And once again, it involves a student union, the OUSU, which has banned a magazine called “No Offence” from the Freshers’ Fair. The grounds? Because the magazine is offensive. From The Independent:

The magazine aims to promote a discussion surrounding ideas people are afraid to discuss, according to the Versa News student website.

The magazine was founded by third-year Philosophy Politics and Economics student Jacob Williams and Oxford local Lulie Tanett and the aim of the magazine is to promote free speech and provoke debate.

They say that ‘No Offence’ was set up to ‘promote debate and publicise ideas people are afraid to express’.

Here’s the email from the Oxford Student Union explaining why they banned the magazine:

ousu-email_3459818b

Further clarifying why the Stallholder Regulations were violated,  the OUSU explained to the Torygraph:

”We at OUSU do not wish to have an event which is intended to welcome new students to Oxford associated with a publication making light of racism, sexual violence, and homophobia in an attempt at satire.

“The Freshers’ Fair is one of OUSU’s most widely attended events and while Open Oxford are entitled to book a stall and distribute their publication elsewhere, we chose to withdraw their permission to distribute the publication.

“OUSU exists to represent and enhance the lives of all Oxford students and given that Freshers’ Fair is for new students, we do not wish to subject them to the offensive views of a minority which are present in this publication. Such views are in no way representative of Oxford students as whole.”

The Independent gives more information about the content that led to the banning:

OUSU told The Independent it did not allow the magazine because it “included a graphic description of an abortion, the use of an ableist slur, a celebration of colonialism, and a transphobic article. In an attempt at satire, another article suggested organising a ‘rape swagger’ – in the style of a ‘slut walk’ – in order to make rape ‘socially acceptable.’

“OUSU do not want to be associated with the views in this magazine, therefore do not want it to be distributed at our event. The offensive views exhibited in this magazine do not in any way represent the majority of Oxford students, or OUSU. We therefore are very comfortable with our decision not to allow the publication at our event, and would like to emphasise that the editors of No Offence are, of course, completely free to publish the document online, in the exact form in which it was sent to us, to enable students who wish to read it to do so.”

. . . UEA students’ union (SU) campaigns and democracy officer Chris Jarvis said that the body wants all members to feel safe and accepted by ensuring there is no behaviour, language, or imagery which could be considered racist at all events.

Once again we see the repression of speech that makes students “unsafe” or “unaccepted”.  Now it’s possible that the stuff in the magazine really is odious and offensive (the “rape walk” thing sounds disturbing), but it’s also possible that what we have here is a Charlie Hebo situation, in which the views of the magazine editors are misinterpreted as approving of the “wrong” sides of sensitive issues—issues that do warrant discussion. Regardless, why can’t the OUSU allow a magazine to be distributed that allows “freshers” to make up their own minds?

I remember that when I was younger, a callow and fearless lad of about thirteen, a friend and I visited the American Nazi Party headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, very close to where I lived. We wanted to see what it was all about and meet the infamous Lincoln Rockwell, head of that organization (he was later assassinated). We were given a tour of the facilities by people wearing uniforms and swastika armbands (a huge picture of Hitler adorned the wall), and then presented with a bag of souvenir literature; I remember in particular a pair of “Coon-Ard Boat Tickets to Africa,” expressing the Party’s desire to ship all black people back to that continent (“coon” is an American slur for “black”). I was at once disgusted and fascinated that people could really believe this stuff.

Nowadays I don’t think I’d have the courage to walk into that house (the place no longer exists, as far as I know), but, disgusted as I was, I didn’t and don’t think that this kind of stuff should be banned. After all, it is the speech of Holocaust deniers that have led people like me to learn exactly what evidence there is for the Holocaust, just as it is the speech of creationists (which I find offensive!) that spurred me to write Why Evolution is True laying out the counterevidence. Discussion with those you oppose, so long as you can keep your cool and remain fixed on evidence, can be a valuable learning experience.

The operative quote is from Salman Rushdie:

“Nobody has the right to not be offended. That right doesn’t exist in any declaration I have ever read.

If you are offended it is your problem, and frankly lots of things offend lots of people.

I can walk into a bookshop and point out a number of books that I find very unattractive in what they say. But it doesn’t occur to me to burn the bookshop down. If you don’t like a book, read another book. If you start reading a book and you decide you don’t like it, nobody is telling you to finish it.

To read a 600-page novel and then say that it has deeply offended you: well, you have done a lot of work to be offended.”

We need to stop putting college students in insulated bubbles and start treating them as adults. There’s lots of potentially offensive stuff out there in the real world, and college is the place to learn how to deal with it.

h/t: Barry

73 Comments

  1. Posted October 4, 2015 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    As a student (at Oxford!) what I find most insulting is that the Students’ a Union has taken upon itself to decide — on the behalf of all students — what is considered ‘offensive’. The irony is that if free-thinkers were to attend the fair, there’d probably be to-some ‘offensive’ material available in the form of religious texts etc. why the double standard? Allow everything that adheres to the principles of free speech — or ban everything, making the Freshers’ Fair redundant. What a welcome to Oxford: opinions welcome, as long as you keep them to yourself!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      I hope there are many more students like you there who can turn this thing around!

  2. Willard Bolinger
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I am 73 and about 30 some years ago I read Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and then two years ago I decided I wanted to read it again. That was so I could get accurate inform at one of my freethought groups that I attend. Millions of Germans praised Hitler’s speeches and turned out in huge numbers. Many supposedly read his book. I was trying through other readings to figure out how that could happen. I thought of the racism right here in good old USA and the statements I was used to hearing from people who thought of themselves as good “Christians”! I was the life long atheist. I wondered if Americans spread their racist views when they traveled to Europe and wondered if it played a role in their views?

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      Me too about Mein Kampf. I learned Hitler wasn’t all that good a writer too. 🙂

      • Scott Draper
        Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        perhaps it was better in the original German, like the Koran in Arabic. 😉

        • Monika
          Posted October 4, 2015 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          It’s not. I have read it, it’s boring and full of bad style, not to mention the odious topics.

          Fun fact: Hitler got royalties for every printed “Mein Kampf”, since each couple got it as a gift at their marriage, and each child in school got an edition too, he made a fortune.

          • martin
            Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

            Not only boring to the point of paralysis, but extremely long-winded and hysterical.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:48 am | Permalink

      “I wondered if Americans spread their racist views when they traveled to Europe and wondered if it played a role in their views?”

      Ah, are you suggesting that American racism played a role in Nazi views?

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      As I understand it, racism in Europe is much older older than the colonies. But I am sure that racist books and other literature from either side of the Atlantic found a receptive audience on the other side.

      • Doug
        Posted October 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

        In “Mein Kampf,” Hitler contrasts North and South America. He says that the United States became a great nation while Latin American countries didn’t, because the Spanish intermarried with the Indians and Americans didn’t. The “inferior blood” kept the South Americans from advancing. A warning to the Master Race in Europe.

  3. NAY
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    Good grief! Richard Dawkins must be livid.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      He was on Real Time Friday and mentioned the free speech issue on university campuses and he was justifiably outraged.

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    OUSU do not want to be associated with the views in this magazine, therefore do not want it to be distributed at our event.

    Sure in the moral superiority of their position, OUSU does not seek to hide the fact that this ban is purely because they don’t like the magazine. Whenever we hear people suggest that speech be regulated, we must push back, and ask, Who decides? If OUSU has the authority to make such a determination, it has it whether OUSU is run by the left or right, and the farthest extremes of both.

  5. nightglare
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    This is not an attack on free speech. The student union have a right to impose rules on participants at their events as a condition of participating in those events. They haven’t banned the magazine, or prevented the producers from distributing it at other outlets.

    Also, even if you think the decision made here is the wrong one, you would surely think that there are some restrictions on material which would be reasonable. For example, if a ‘pornography club’ wanted to distribute hardcore porn at the event, do you think it would be unreasonable for the SU to tell them no?

    • Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:28 am | Permalink

      For example, if a ‘pornography club’ wanted to distribute hardcore porn at the event, do you think it would be unreasonable for the SU to tell them no?

      Of course it’d be unreasonable. What reasonable case could possibly be made for prohibition?

      Presumably, there’ll be all sorts of sports clubs distributing materials about their sports. And chess clubs distributing chess books, glee clubs distributing songbooks, and the like. So why not a sex club distributing porn?

      b&

      • nightglare
        Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:56 am | Permalink

        I think the reasonable grounds are that it’s not an appropriate venue to distribute such material because it makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable. Maybe you think that’s mollycoddling, but it’s their event, so it’s their call.

        What right does anyone outside the union have to decide what its rules should be regarding this stuff? (It’s fair enough to criticize the rules, of course.)

        • Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:01 am | Permalink

          I think the reasonable grounds are that it’s not an appropriate venue to distribute such material because it makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable.

          Tough fucking shit.

          Wanna take a bet as to how many student clubs will be out there telling students about all the torture they’ll suffer for failing to kiss the asses of their imaginary friends? Any idea how many students will “feel uncomfortable” walking past at least one of the student political clubs?

          That’s the public bargain, the contract we all enter into. I don’t get to tell you to shut up about things that make me uncomfortable, and you don’t get to tell me to shut up about things that make you uncomfortable. You don’t want to feel uncomfortable, stay out of the public.

          b&

          • nightglare
            Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:10 am | Permalink

            But we’re not discussing what goes on in public. We’re discussing what goes on at event run by a private organisation, which has the right to decide how its own events are run.

            • Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:27 am | Permalink

              Then Oxford forfeits all rights to claim that they’re a liberal bastion of higher education that embraces Enlightenment values. They are, instead, a repressive institution for the indoctrination of youth.

              And, no; that’s not hyperbole. The freedom of expression is one of those areas that isn’t gray.

              b&

              • nightglare
                Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

                As I noted in another comment, this isn’t a decision made by Oxford, but by the SU, which is an independent organisation.

              • Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:44 am | Permalink

                Then Oxford is culpable for giving such authority to a bunch of petty tyrants and failing to revoke it.

                Plus they’re a bunch of cowards for hiding behind the apron strings of their own students.

                Are you trying to paint Oxford as the least respectable educational institution in Britain?

                b&

              • Adam M.
                Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:51 am | Permalink

                Is it really the case that this decision doesn’t carry the authority of Oxford? It’s just the student union? In that case, why obey it? Who made those students special?

                I don’t have anything to lose sitting at my keyboard, but I think they should bring whatever literature they want and dare the SU to call the police.

              • Ken Phelps
                Posted October 4, 2015 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

                Kind of loosely analogous to a “states rights” issue in the U.S.? Keep them Damn Yankee laws off our plantation?

          • Jeffery
            Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

            nightglare: You’re missing the point entirely which is that, given “free speech”, a person has the right to say whatever they like about the SU’s decision on this situation; I don’t see anyone “forcing” them to change their ruling- to whine that someone expressing dissatisfaction with their ruling is “wrong” (although it is entirely within your rights to do so) or that it shouldn’t be allowed is far more odious to me than their original rejection of the magazine!

            • nightglare
              Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:05 am | Permalink

              Well, I think a lot of people seem to be saying that the SU shouldn’t be able to ban materials from their own event. And some are suggesting that the university should step in and dictate to the SU what should be allowed and disallowed at the SU’s events. So I don’t agree that I’ve missed the point. There are people commenting here who think that the rules by which the SU is organised should be dictated from the outside.

              • Gregory Kusnick
                Posted October 5, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

                The event is being held on campus, using University facilities, and is open only to University students. So it’s not really “their own event”; it’s an event the SU is organizing on behalf of or in cooperation with the University. Under those circumstances it’s not unreasonable to expect the University to have a say in event policies.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

          I have a problem with the idea of making people “uncomfortable”. There are times when you’re single that just seeing a happy couple holding hands is difficult. You don’t ban hand-holding in case a single person gets sad or depressed.

          The point is there are lots of things lots of people find it difficult to see every day. The point of an open democracy is not to make society emotionally safe. It’s to enable all ideas to be discussed openly so, with all the evidence, we can make better decisions.

          The reason we now have same-sex marriage is not just because we discussed the idea openly, it’s because the evidence is that societies that have it are better. One of those reasons is about the acceptance of people in same-sex relationships and their emotional safety, but there are many others.

          • nightglare
            Posted October 4, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

            This is about a magazine being banned from a freshers’ fair, an event for welcoming new students to the university. I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the organizers to want to ban material from being distributed at that event that they take to be racist or misogynistic (i.e. not very welcoming stuff, especially to some students). Granted, they may have misinterpreted the material, and it was purely satirical, but that’s a judgement call. However, I can’t see a reason to object to the organizers banning material that *is* racist or misogynistic from this event, which is supposed to be about welcoming students, many of whom will be women, and some of whom will be from ethnic minorities. Certainly not on the grounds of free speech.

            Free speech is not the right to have your voice heard at whatever venue or event you desire it to be heard at, regardless of the wishes of the owners of the venue or the wishes of the people organising the event.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted October 4, 2015 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

              I agree that this magazine doesn’t have the right to be distributed, and I actually have some sympathy for the OUSA position. I just think it’s a dangerous precedent at a university of all places, especially one that’s so respected. I think it should have been possible to accommodate this magazine. Perhaps they could have restricted distribution to a certain site and required them to display a content warning or something saying the OUSA didn’t support them, or some other criteria.

              I’m uncomfortable with the idea of banning speech anywhere, but I actually agree that sometimes it’s appropriate. For example, I recently used my website to praise the government of Victoria, Australia, for banning protests outside abortion clinics.

              • nightglare
                Posted October 4, 2015 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                A very sensible decision. Women should be able to access legal medical services without intimidation.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted October 4, 2015 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

                Yeah. As a Kiwi it hurt having to praise the Aussies, but credit where credit’s due. 🙂

            • Posted October 4, 2015 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

              However, I can’t see a reason to object to the organizers banning material that *is* racist or misogynistic from this event, which is supposed to be about welcoming students, many of whom will be women, and some of whom will be from ethnic minorities.

              Wanna bet that there were Bibles and Q’rans distributed at the same event?

              The only criteria I’d be comfortable for the organizers to impose is that those staffing the booths be authorized representatives of recognized student organizations in good standing, and that the organization in question believes the materials to be helpful in furthering their cause.

              Take it another step beyond Bibles. Imagine a student Jewish advocacy organization handing out annotated versions of Mein Kampf in order to raise awareness of the evils of Nazism and refute the claims of Holocaust deniers. It’d be damned hard to censor them for such a thing…but, if you’d let them do that, then you’d also have to let the Student Nazi Order of Twerps hand out their copies of Mein Kampf as well.

              The only speech that actually needs to be free is the speech that nobody wants to be said. The rest can take care of itself.

              b&

              • nightglare
                Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:07 am | Permalink

                I’m pretty confident that the Nazi group wouldn’t get into the fair, or be allowed to affiliate with the union, in the first place.

              • Posted October 5, 2015 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

                Well, that’s another problem right there. Freedom of assembly and association is every bit as vital as freedom of speech.

                If you’re not willing to stand up for the rights of those you wish would go away, you don’t have any rights of your own.

                b&

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted October 4, 2015 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

              The claim that the event is about welcoming new students rings rather hollow when the clear message is that some viewpoints are not welcome. If they really want to be inclusive, they should let all voices be heard.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

      It would be interesting to know how the OUSU is funded, and whether or not individuals who unwittingly find their money ending up in the hands of such witless children can opt out.

      I’m not a big fan of this principle when applied too broadly to actual government, but when utterly nonessential organizations begin to play at kinderautocracy, it seems fair that unwilling supporters should at least be able to take their own toys out of the sandbox.

    • Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      I believe it would be most reasonable to allow adult university students to decide for themselves.

    • Scott Draper
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      “This is not an attack on free speech. ”

      Everything is a matter of degree. No, it doesn’t strike me as a major attack on free speech, but maybe a small one.

      More importantly, though, it shows an attitude.

      • Posted October 4, 2015 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        And a rigid, rather narrow-minded and paternalistic attitude, at that.

  6. Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    So, when is some student union going to develop the intestinal fortitude to make it their policy that they might not agree nor even like nor respect what some students have to say, but they’ll still defend to the death their right to say it?

    b&

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      I think part of it is university students are often young and idealistic and see things more absolutely. They think taking such stands is a good thing, and there are plenty of adults who will encourage that attitude. (The Greenwald crowd comes to mind.)

      I’ve noticed a lot of young USians think libertarianism is a good idea for example. The support for that drops away sharply the older you get, especially amongst women.

  7. Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on perfectlyfadeddelusions.

  8. nightglare
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Also, it was the Student Union that made the decision, not the University itself, as your title suggests.

  9. Merilee
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:30 am | Permalink

    Sub

    • Filippo
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      sub

  10. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Stop the world, I want to get off.

    Our universities are the safe guards of free speech! Lose free speech, lose democracy! I can’t believe this virus of offence has reached Oxford.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      That was pretty much my response. If Oxford is infected, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

      • jeremyp
        Posted October 7, 2015 at 7:35 am | Permalink

        Oxford University

        Transcript:

        Captain Blackadder: I then leapt on the opportunity to test you. I asked if he’d been to one of the great universities, Oxford, Cambridge, or Hull.
        Nurse Mary: Well?
        Captain Blackadder: You failed to spot that only two of those are great Universities.
        Nurse Mary: Swine!
        General Melchett: That’s right! Oxford’s a complete dump!

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted October 7, 2015 at 8:46 am | Permalink

          Remember it well! Big fan. 😀

  11. Randy Schenck
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    It’s simply a damn poor way to teach the younger generation what free speech is about. Start by censoring specific material from your event at a major university.

    I would ask the Student Union why they think they need to act to protect anyone, student or not. Let’s change the name to Student Police and drop the Union.

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      “It’s simply a damn poor way to teach the younger generation what free speech is about.”

      Although it is an excellent way to introduce them to the real world, where people whose ideas they find repellent will take their money and spend it in their name, usually attempting to create some form of religious or political dystopia.

  12. Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    It’s difficult to conclude if it’s reasonable to describe the contents of the magazine as offensive without knowing specifically what they are. Is the “rape swagger” a crass and insensitive joke about sexual assault or is it satire questioning whether or not a “slut walk”effectively communicates the message it intends to communicate? That assessment can’t be effectively made without more context. But I think the most relevant question is, who decides what is offensive and what is that decision based upon? JAC wrote that he finds creationism offensive, yet if the Discovery Institute we’re the OUSU, JAC would represent the one of most offensive and censorious public intellectuals in the world. What constitutes offensive speech is too subjective a proposition to allow one perspective to define it for everyone, particularly if the people doing the defining have a political/philosophical agenda. The holier-than-thou post-modernists of the regressive left do not and should not simply be allowed to set the standard for acceptability in speech.

    • nightglare
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      “the regressive left do not and should not simply be allowed to set the standard for acceptability in speech”

      They should be allowed to set the standard for acceptability in speech at their own events.

      It’s worth noting that if students disagree with the Student Union’s rules then they can seek election to the union’s governing body (or whatever it’s called) and attempt to change them.

      • Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:29 am | Permalink

        Freedom of expression at an institution such as Oxford shouldn’t be up to the whim of student body politics. Oxford should damned well be bloody ashamed that it is.

        b&

      • Gregory Kusnick
        Posted October 4, 2015 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

        If that’s the position they want to take — that this is a private event open only to groups whose politics they approve of — then they forfeit the right to claim they represent all students.

      • Posted October 5, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

        Really, the OUSU is the exclusive purview of over-wrought social justice warriors? Other viewpoints need not apply at a Union that is intended to represent the entire University?
        What if the board of the student union at Louisiana State University were all fervent NRA supporters and they decided that, because of the board’s political views, that all events, debates and publications at the student union should be free of controversial and potentially hurtful language which suggests firearms should be regulated. Would you really be okay with the board having the authority to make that decision for everyone?

    • Posted October 4, 2015 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

      I would say the “rape swagger” joke was a bit of both. More than anything, it was trying to be a satire of a misogynist character.

      Though I think “crass and insensitive” downplays how important it is to make taboo-violating, politically incorrect jokes. Even crude jokes can have value if they serve to break down the irrationality of taboos.

  13. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    There’s lots of potentially offensive stuff out there in the real world, and college is the place to learn how to deal with it.

    All in agreement, but surely people ought to be learning to handle things they disagree with well before they get to college. I was challenging my classmates and RE (Religious Education) teacher’s beliefs and claims with my atheism when I was 13 and 14, and I have to give credit to a couple of the class’s JWs that they didn’t take the cowards way out and use their “religious sensibilities affected” get-out-of-RE-free card but actually stuck around to handle the disagreement and deal with the disputation.
    But that was the past, they did things differently there.

  14. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    I like to think that the immediate and I think well said denunciations of this problem on campuses would lead to the withering of said problem. Well, the denunciations are well known, now, and are common features in the media. But I see no abatement of this laughably obvious but dangerous issue as yet.
    This may take some time.

  15. Hempenstein
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    And Coon-ard is a play on Cunard (the great ocean liner company, now a subsidiary of Carnival) in case anyone missed that.

    • Delphin
      Posted October 4, 2015 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      As for banning such speech, can anything make them look at foolish, hate-addled and petty as their own “coon-ard” pun? Shouldn’t we want people to see that?

  16. Michael Scullin
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    “OUSU exists to represent and enhance the lives of all Oxford students and given that Freshers’ Fair is for new students, we do not wish to subject them to the offensive views of a minority which are present in this publication. Such views are in no way representative of Oxford students as whole.”

    OUSU exists to represent and enhance the lives of all Oxford students . . . .

    Such views are in no way representative of Oxford students as whole.

    Is there a Lewis Carroll in the house? Poor Alice was subjected to totally gobbledygooked language such as this.

  17. Mark R.
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    As noted above, I don’t see why the institution doesn’t step in. Whose the boss around there? The students apparently. This is not how to run a University, especially one of the caliber of Oxford.

  18. Posted October 4, 2015 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I think No Offence should be celebrating. The story just gave them free advertising, and what better way to entice a 18-19 year old to try something than let them know that it has been officially banned but freely available elsewhere?

    • Posted October 4, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes! (Wish I’d thought of that.)

    • Barney
      Posted October 5, 2015 at 6:32 am | Permalink

      They are celebrating:

      “Williams commented that “There is nothing offensive about healthy debate. To ban us from promoting it on the grounds that people might be offended proves everything the free speech movement has been saying. No offence OUSU, but you just shot yourself in the foot.””

      This was the outcome they wanted, I think. They wanted to show they could write something offensive enough for OUSU to say “that’s too offensive for us”, and then get the publicity (2 serious national newspapers) of OUSU saying there are limits to what it will be associated with.

      If I were the Independent or Torygraph, I wouldn’t have taken the bait.

  19. Posted October 4, 2015 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    When a friend of mine introduced me to South Park and its antisemitic humor, he warned me in advance and clarified that it was satire to show how stupid the antisemites who really spout that hate really are. He was right: My first reaction was offence; trusting him, I kept watching and saw the satire. I’ve been a happy fan of South Park and all its humor ever since.

  20. Diane G.
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    sub

  21. Don Quijote
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    It’s amazing to discover that people just entering university are unable to decide for themselves what they may or may not find offensive.

  22. Wayne Tyson
    Posted October 5, 2015 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I said this before, but I’ll say it again. My grandmother would say, “Consider the source.” And that would be it. Done.

    WT

    PS: What if all authoritarian behavior was prohibited?


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