Most British students favor NUS’s “no platforming” policy

Well, the no-platforming policy of British students continues apace. This time it involves rescinding a speaking invitation to the Donald Trump of England—London mayor Boris Johnson (they’re both clowns, but Johnson’s hair is marginally better). Johnson was set to take part in debates at King’s College London about whether Britain should dissociate itself from the EU. Writing in The Sun about how leaving the EU would solidify Britain’s ties to the U.S., he had said this about President Obama:

Something mysterious happened when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office in 2009.

Something vanished from that room, and no one could quite explain why.

It was a bust of Winston Churchill – the great British war time leader. It was a fine goggle-eyed object, done by the brilliant sculptor Jacob Epstein, and it had sat there for almost ten years.

But on day one of the Obama administration it was returned, without ceremony, to the British embassy in Washington.

No one was sure whether the President had himself been involved in the decision.

Some said it was a snub to Britain. Some said it was a symbol of the part-Kenyan President’s ancestral dislike of the British empire – of which Churchill had been such a fervent defender.

Well, that’s sort of rude, but I don’t consider it either racist or a terminal macroagression. And the rest of Johnson’s piece is a fairly tame call for leaving the EU, and calling out America for its hypocrisy, like our country’s not signing UN human rights accords.

Nevertheless, the Independent reports that “Think Tank,” the King’s College student group who had invited Johnson, rescinded his invitation on the basis of the last two lines above. Their email:

Dear Mr Johnson,

Given your inappropriate comments and inferences toward President Obama’s Kenyan heritage, of which he is rightly proud, and your general tone of disrespect over the past few days in relation to the President of the United States of America, we are now formally withdrawing your invitation to speak at Kings College London.

We are looking forward to providing a forum for both sides in the EU Referendum Debate to argue their point of view without fear or favour. The level of discourse over the past few days does not meet the bar we set for these events nor do we feel does it help the British people in making the most momentous decision of our lifetime. Furthermore we believe it does not reflect the true greatness of the United Kingdom, a land of tolerance, respect and fair play towards all.

Mike Molloy (Director of EU Referendum Events at Kings College London)

Margot MacDonnell (President of Kings College London Think Tank)

Erica Arcudi (Vice President of Kings College London Think Tank)

In other words, they rescinded his invitation because he was rude to the U.S. President! He was also “rude” to the U.S. as a whole, but so what? Clearly the reference to Obama’s Kenyan ancestry was somehow mistaken for racism.


Boris Johnson

But this is just one pustle from a more virulent disease sweeping Britain’s youth. For according to yesterday’s BBC News, a poll o0f 1001 British students showed that 63% of them agree with the National Union of Students’ (NUS’s) “no-platforming policy,” which asserts (but does not require) that some people or organizations should not be allowed to speak at universities, nor should any NUS officers share a stage with them.

Here are the six proscribed groups (from Wikipedia); three are right-wing British groups and three are Muslim groups that were considered either anti-Semitic or supportive of terrorism:

Also according to Wikipedia, some individuals have been no-platformed:

The NUS also has policy refusing platforms to people or organisations for other reasons: the NUS LGBT Campaign (and formerly, also the Women’s Campaign) refuses platforms to those they consider to be transphobic, including Julie Bindel; and the National Executive Committee has policy refusing a platform to those it considers to be rape deniers or rape apologists, following George Galloway‘s statements about rape when asked about the allegations of sexual assault facing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Universities and individuals themselves can decide to no-platform others as well, as when the NUS’s LGBT representative said she wouldn’t share a stage with Peter Tatchell, a courageous advocate of gay rights. The BBC adds this:

In recent years, individuals believed to be sexist, transphobic or rape apologists have also been banned from speaking at universities.

It is argued these speakers would threaten a “safe space”, which is described as an accessible environment in which every student feels comfortable, safe and can get involved free from intimidation or judgment.

At Canterbury Christ Church University, an NUS rep refused to share a platform with gay rights activist Peter Tatchell, whom she regarded as having been racist and “transphobic”.

. . . Feminist writer Julie Bindel was banned from speaking at Manchester University’s student union last October as students said her views on transgender people could “incite hatred towards and exclusion of our trans students”.

And from another piece in the Independent:

Chief Executive for HOPE not Hate, Nick Lowles, was reportedly “no-platformed” by the NUS in February on the grounds that he was seen to be “Islamaphobic”. The anti-racism and fascism campaigner responded on social media that the NUS had “officially become a joke” after “ultra-left lunacy” stopped him from speaking at the anti-racism conference.

Ironically, HOPE not Hate is a left-wing, antifascist and antiracist group.

Even more ironically, Malia Bouattia, the problematic new president of the NUS, accepted with smiles the endorsement of MPAC spokesperson Raza Nadim—the representative of a group that her own organization has no-platformed on the grounds of racism and anti-Semitism. Nadim has also said that “Israel is 100% worse than ISIS.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 12.57.24 PM

The BBC survey, taken by ComRes, also showed that 54% of the surveyed students supported enforcing the policy “against people who could be found intimidating.”

As you might guess, I don’t support any official policy of no-platforming. It is of course up to universities and individuals if they wish to invite representatives of various groups, and some groups are so clearly beyond the pale that it’s not likely many people will want to invite them. But to have a list—to claim that nobody belonging to these organizations should ever be given air time, or share a platform with an NUS officer—is clearly an attempt to stifle discussion. People like Peter Tatchell and Julie Bindel have things to say, and if you don’t like their views on, say, the way we should regard transgender people (Tatchell didn’t do anything but sign a letter opposing censorship), they should be opposed with counterspeech, not banned from speaking.

These lists also demonize people, irrevocably tarring them with the label of “racist” or “transphobe”, or other names that, fairly applied or not, can follow them around for the rest of their lives.

Let us call the NUS what it is: a fascist organization, even if it does oppose right-wing fascism. It’s simply a Fascism of the Left. And in an Orwellian demonstration of doublespeak, the NUS claims it really is on the side of free speech (my emphasis):

. . . The NUS said it was proud of the policy and the fact that the majority of students surveyed agreed showed demonstrated that the policy was necessary in standing up to racism and fascism.

A spokeswoman said: “In the past, students have been physically harmed and tragically even killed as a result of such organisations coming on to campuses and inciting hatred. That is why ‘no platform’ was introduced in the first place, to keep students safe in a very real sense.”

Our policy does not limit free speech, but acts to defend it by calling out violence, hate speech, bullying and harassment, which allows debate to take place without intimidation. Students’ unions are champions of debate on campus, in fact a recent survey showed zero out of 50 students’ unions had banned a speaker in the past year.”

I’m not sure which students have been harmed or killed by the incitement of hatred, but if they were it constitutes a violation of the law, and the speakers should be prosecuted.

The part I’ve put in bold is simply laughable, for who gets to determine what constitutes “hate speech, bullying, and harassment”? The NUS, of course! But Julie Bindel and Peter Tatchell don’t fall into those proscribed categories. They just espouse views that liberals, and the NUS, don’t like. By arrogating unto itself which speakers are deemed “safe,” the NUS is becoming students’ Big Brother—just the kind of paternalism they’re supposed to escape when they go to University.


  1. Dermot C
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Here we go again: ‘”Our policy does not limit free speech, but acts to defend it by calling out violence, hate speech, bullying and harassment, which allows debate to take place without intimidation.”’

    In an echo of Rushdie’s what-a-buttery point, I think it is John Rentoul of The Independent who points out that everything before the word ‘but’ is BS.

  2. lewis lorton
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Are all 63% of British students such delicate snowflakes that they can’t bear hearing something they disagree with or are they so unaware of the hypocrisy of their stance?

  3. tubby
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Have they seen what is said about Obama freely in the US? Boris Johnson’s comments are pretty tame compared to what people here think is true of him.

    • craigp
      Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      Interestingly they’re not Boris’s comments originally. Various publications, including The Guardian, talked about this back in 2009. And now The Guardian is berating Boris for those comments.


      • tubby
        Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        Oh, that’s kind of interesting at a meta level. It’s not really quite in the same grade as Dominionists screaming that Obama is going in institute Sharia courts, but to see media outlets wallowing in that kind of mud is interesting.

        • craigp
          Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          I know what you mean. I occasionally take a look on Breitbart to get an alternative view of the world. The comments section there is a real smorgasbord of bitter, angry nastiness, especially towards Obama. They seem to quite like The Donald though.

      • Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        This seems similar to the earlier remark I made about a failure to recognize authorial voice and avoid the pathetic fallacy. Here, there’s a failure to recognize paraphrased speech. Hint to the students: I can cite something and not endorse all (or even some) of something.

  4. Cindy
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Speech that I disagree with is hate speech!


  5. Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    I think the first “US” in the post must be “EU”.

  6. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    I think a lot of the students who took part in the survey simply haven’t thought through the consequences of the policy. They think they’re doing the right thing by being tolerant to a fault, but are failing to ask questions like who’s deciding what’s okay, and how do you decide without listening to the arguments.

    Essentially they’re allowing others to decide for them what to think.

    Also, Boris Johnson is a git currently entertaining fantasies of running the country. He’s been making a bit of a fool of himself lately with the stance he’s taken on leaving the EU. I say give him the rope.

    • plingar
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

      I believe your description of British MP Boris Johnson as a “git” is at best somewhat offensive and in my opinion undeserved. He is entitled to his view on the subject of the U.K. exiting the EU.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

        He is entitled to his opinion. I’m not calling him a git because I disagree with his stance on Brexit – that’s separate. I just think he’s a git. I don’t think of him as a bad git though. There are good gits and bad gits, and he’s a good git. His antics make me laugh, but not in a mocking way. I enjoy them, and they’re what make me call him a git. I don’t draw a direct comparison between him and Trump, for example. Trump is a bad git. You can find that offensive if you want.

        Let me make it clear though that I think he should be allowed to speak at this event.

        There’s stuff I disagree with him on, and I wouldn’t like to see him as PM, but he’s been an effective mayor in many ways.

        • plingar
          Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

          OK, my apology, I misunderstood your use of the word ” git” I thought it didn’t sound like your normal response somehow.
          Thank you. All is good.

  7. eric
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    Re: the movement of Churchill’s bust. Johnson is indulging in right-wing dissembling so ludicrous it would make Trump and Cruz proud. There is no “mystery” about what Obama did with it, everyone high up in government knows exactly where it is, and it wasn’t returned to the British embassy. Obama had it moved from the Oval office closer to his private/personal WH office so that he can see it every day. And this was reported in <a href=" the mainstream news, so Johnson basically has no excuse now if he repeats his lies. Which, I predict, he’ll probably do.

    • craigp
      Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      To be fair to Boris, that ABC link is to an article published on the same day that Boris’s comments were published. Unless I’m mistaken it’s possible he didn’t know about it before he made his comments.

      • eric
        Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

        As I said, he has no excuse if he repeats his claims.

        • loren russell
          Posted April 26, 2016 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

          It appears that there are/were two busts of Churchill in the White House — the [really ugly] one that was prominently displayed the Bush Oval Room is said to have been sent as a personal loan from Cameron to Bush, not a permanent doorstop.

          There is an older, nicer bust that belongs to the US government, and this is currently housed in the private wing of the White House.

          Boris Johnson was basically parroting one of Dinesh D’Souza’s favorite rants about Obama — that the latter channels his [supposedly] MauMau grandfather, so hates everything English.

    • Craw
      Posted April 26, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Lies? Which lies precisely? I saw “Some said X” for various values of X. I have seen those Xs said. So, what lies precisely do you mean?

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 26, 2016 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

        “Some said” is a weaselly way of repeating and spreading a statement without taking responsibility for it. A bit like the phrase beloved of Internet debaters, “Just sayin'”.

        Anyone who uses “Some say” without themselves further committing to or contradicting the statement quoted, is a coward, IMO. (Just sayin’).

        That said, nothing Johnson’s done would or should result in his ‘no-platforming’.


    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:36 am | Permalink

      According to the New York Times from Apr. 24, after Obama’s team had offered various explanations of the affair before, now the president is clarifying: “It was, Mr. Obama said, his decision to return that Churchill to his native land, because he wanted to replace it with a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.”

      So it was Obama’s aides who lied, not Johnson.

  8. Posted April 26, 2016 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think the comparison of Boris to the Donald is entirely fair. At least from what I’ve seen, Boris is immensely more entertaining, comes across as much better educated and (at least from my perspective living in the US) seems less threatening (I might modify were I living in the UK – although that would be an election choice between Corbyn and Johnson). He is clearly less than politically correct, and I did feel that his comment about Obama was rude, but not at close to the level that seems to spew regularly from the lips of the New York property developer (or other US sources).

    Boris’s freakonomics podcast had some real moments of hilarity.

    No platforming (the real issue here) was popular in the late ’70s NUS too. And as various people have said, I think it largely reflects student leadership that rises to those positions because nobody reasonable has the time or motivation to care about or to run for those positions. Something that probably has not changed too much in the last 40 years. I don’t know who ran the NUS when I was a student, likely didn’t at the time, and I don’t remember it really impinging on my life.

  9. eric
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Let us call the NUS what it is: a fascist organization

    Uh oh, I feel a no-platforming of PCC coming on! Be sure when you get your rejection letter that you frame it.

  10. Craw
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    On Tatchell, Zinoviev could not be reached for comment.

  11. jay
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m one of the folks here old enough to remember the pre-civil rights days. When blacks (and others) were attacked, abused, denied justice. When a white woman could get a black man jailed or hung just by making an unproven accusation (some modern feminists want to bring that back, except applying it to any man). Jim Crow.

    THAT was racism. THAT was the kind of racism that killed, that destroyed. That needed to be stopped.

    Now, the meaning has crept. Even the slightest expression of favor or disfavor (we are tribal creatures, after all) towards another group is now termed racism, a word that is used to poison and shut down any discussion. Do you prefer to date people like yourself? Racist. Do some music or clothing styles leave you cold? Racist. Do you feel that people should be judged without considering their race? Surprise.. That’s racist too!

    One can’t logically have it both ways. If racism refers to the poisonous violent behavior of the (mostly) past, then you can’t use the same word for minor slights, or for observations that might be a bit offensive (sometimes legitimate discussion may actually need to touch on the offensive).

    • mrclaw69
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:34 am | Permalink

      Psychologists call this ‘concept creep’. I recall a panel at (I think it was) NYU with Jon Haidt, some other professors and a student rep (SR).

      The SR didn’t seem to get the point at all. While all the professors were talking about campus speech-codes and trigger warnings and their impact on the teaching of curriculum; and about overly-sensitive students, etc, the SR just kept banging on – over and over – about ‘marginalised/oppressed groups’ – even when it wasn’t at all relevant. It was all just buzz-terms. Presumably she thought she was being terribly ‘right-on’.

      During the latter stages of the discussion I recall her stating that she defined ‘violence’ not as violence, but in some nebulous fashion. Haidt pointed out that this was concept creep.

      Actually – just found it. It’s this one:

  12. Al
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    There was a scathing response to Johnson by Remainer Nick Cohen who’s been mentioned here quite a few times. I particularly liked this quote:
    “Boris Johnson is a former editor of this newspaper, and as such has the right to be treated with a courtesy Spectator journalists do not normally extend to politicians who do not enjoy his advantages.

    I am therefore writing with the caution of a lawyer and the deference of a palace flunkey when I say that Johnson showed this morning that he is a man without principle or shame. He is a braying charlatan, who lacks the courage even to be an honest bastard, for there is a kind of bastardly integrity in showing the world who you really are, but instead uses the tactics of the coward and the tricks of the fraudster to advance his worthless career.”

  13. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    As someone who generally approves of both Churchill and Obama, I hope Boris Johnson’s story is wrong. (I like Loren Russell’s account at #7, I rather hope it’s correct).

    But anwyay, be that as it may, Johnson’s article is no reason for no-platforming the guy. In fact ‘no-platforming’ would be wrong in almost all cases, even for ‘offences’ orders of magnitude greater than B. Johnson’s.


    • mrclaw69
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:53 am | Permalink

      By contrast, I’m not a Churchill fan. I realise that he was exactly what the UK needed at a time of war. But I’m no fan at all. In many respects, Churchill’s an Hitler’s views are indistinguishable.

      1. In 1919 he planned, and used, chemical weapons in Russia.

      2. He wanted to use chemical weapons in India to quell the ‘rebellious natives’. He stated, about the Kurds, that “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes… [It] would spread a lively terror”.

      3. He defended, and advocated, the use of concentration camps in South Africa.

      4. He was a white supremacist who advocated war and conquest against ‘barbarous peoples’. He stated that “[t]he Aryan stock is bound to triumph”. On the subjects of the indigenous Americans and Australians he stated that “…a stronger race, a higher grade race… has come in and taken [their] place”.

      5. He was responsible for street violence by creating the notorious Black and Tans in Ireland.

      6. On the subject of carpet-bombing, he proclaimed that it was “…a question of fashion – similar to that of whether short or long dresses are in”.

      7. On the subject of the Bengal Famine, he stated: “I hate Indians… They are a beastly people with a beastly religion… [The famine was their own fault for]breeding like rabbits.”

      8. He boasted of his war crimes in Sudan: of burning houses and crops and spoiling water sources and shooting ‘natives’ during “jolly little wars against barbarous peoples”.

      9. He was eugenicist. In 1910 he stated that “The multiplication of the feeble-minded is a very terrible danger to the race”. He was a visiting member of the British Eugenics Education Society and, although the UK never passed any eugenics laws (unlike much of the rest of the world), Churchill did manage to get through the quasi-eugenic Mental Deficiency Act in 1913.

      10. He even praised Hitler on a few occasions (although obviously he’d later change his mind). “I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations.”

      So a necessary war-time leader, perhaps, but something of a vile individual with much that is deeply troubling about him and a very murky career. Obviously he was an Imperialist and a ‘man of his time’, but that doesn’t at all prohibit us from judging his legacy by ours.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:06 am | Permalink

        Jeesh, nobody said Churchill was a saint.

        I expect if I dug enough and was selective enough I could make a similar list about Roosevelt or Kennedy or Abraham Lincoln or maybe even Gandhi.

        You want to be ‘deeply troubled’ about past leaders, go right ahead. I’m not about to bother with a comparative-shit-throwing contest over [past leader of choice].


        • Dave
          Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:55 am | Permalink

          No doubt if Churchill was alive today he’d be “no-platformed” by the NUS and by the likes of mcclaw69.

          Hitler, however, would probably get a hearing, given that he wasn’t very fond of Je….sorry, Zionists!

          • mrclaw69
            Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:08 am | Permalink

            I suggested below that they’d no-platform Hitler for no other reason than it’s complete pointlessness (in the same way that they’ve announced they’ll ‘no-platform’ an already illegal group in the UK: al-Muhajiroun); but perhaps you have a point. The NUS doesn’t really like Je- ‘Zionists’.

            • mrclaw69
              Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:22 am | Permalink

              – sorry “its”, not “it’s”.

              Terrible. Oh for an edit button….

        • mrclaw69
          Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:21 am | Permalink

          I’d say there’s a difference between not being a ‘saint’ and being something of a monster.

          That said, I don’t think we should pull down statues of Churchill or anything else. He is, after all, an important part of the UK’s modern history. I just think he has an undeserved reputation for righteousness among the general public here in the UK. He came top in the race for the title of the publicly-voted ‘Greatest Briton ever’ (1.6m people voted). Then again, Princess Diana came in at number 3 so it’s hardly ‘scientific’! Sadly Darwin and Shakespeare could only make numbers 4 and 5 respectively (I voted team Darwin!).

          I’m not suggesting we endlessly self-flagellate about our colonial history. No doubt the NUS would have us do exactly that. I’m just proposing that we’re honest about our national heroes. Most people simply don’t know what a “f*cking rotter” (in the words of Steve Jones – no not that one!) Churchill was and accept the idea of him as the great and righteous leader.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

            Well I wouldn’t call him a monster either. Not unless someone demonstrates that, *by the standards of the time*, he was worse than almost everybody else.


            • mrclaw69
              Posted April 27, 2016 at 8:51 am | Permalink

              I’ve always been uncomfortable with the “standards of the time” argument.

              As I said above:

              “…Obviously he was an Imperialist and a ‘man of his time’, but that doesn’t at all prohibit us from judging his legacy by ours….”

              We *always* judge people of old by our own standards. We are incredibly critical of ancient religions at least in part for this reason. The only way to (morally) progress, it seems to me, is to look at the past, adjudicate it and try to do better.

              I’m sure (most of us?) have never advocated war crimes, white supremacy, eugenics, mass bombings, etc, etc. As a result I doubt a future generation would judge us as as morally repugnant as someone like Churchill. Then again, I doubt many of us will likely ever achieve what Churchill achieved either.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

                “We *always* judge people of old by our own standards.”

                Well in that case, the leaders of old were *all* ‘monsters’, each and every one of them, and the term rather loses its meaning.

                I could debate your list of Churchill’s crimes in detail but I don’t want to spend the time and it’s a bit off the current topic.


    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      I respect Churchill and think he has generally done a good job, without loving him (because of Gallipoli and the carpet bombings).
      This said, I do not see why the bust of any foreign statesman should stay in the Oval Office. So I do not think Obama deserves any blame for removing it. However…
      1) Why not put it somewhere else in the White House, which is quite a large building?
      2) Why did the aides tell various conflicting untruths for years?
      I admit that after giving the New York Times link in my previous comment, I put on my protective gear, because experience has proven it necessary after an unflattering statement about Obama. However, this time nobody seems to has noticed.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

        Well, apparently there was/is another bust of Churchill in the White House already, and the one in question was only ‘on loan’.

        With regard to (2), with two busts of Churchill in play, plus Lincoln, Martin Luther King and presumably various others, it’s easy to see how confusion could arise and I expect the aides saw the question as trivial – which it is – and just repeated whatever they’d heard.


  14. Chewy
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Haven’t followed it, and now wouldn’t if paid, but how the heck can London have such as sh*t/clown as mayor?

    Or should we wonder as well how once nominally sane Americans of Republican persuasion are now flocking to one D. Trump, the most bogus idiotic sex-crazed lunatic since, since … since Hugh Hefner? No, maybe worse. Caligula?

    We no longer live in “real” time-space.

    • Dave
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:51 am | Permalink

      Boris became Mayor because a majority of those voting in London supported him. By most accounts he’s done an effective job. I don’t live in London but if I did, I would certainly have voted for Boris, given that the alternative was the vile, terrorist-supporting Marxist creep Ken Livingstone.

      I would also willingly see Boris as Prime Minister, which will hopefully come after we’ve regained our independence by cutting ourselves free from the mouldering corpse of the EU.

      • Richard
        Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:49 am | Permalink

        That’s at least two of us who will be voting “Yes” to Brexit, then. 🙂

        • plingar
          Posted April 27, 2016 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          Three actually and POTUS should keep his opinions on Brexit to himself!

  15. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted April 26, 2016 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I am not a supporter of Boris Johnson but i can’t see how it is remotely racist to suggest that someone of part Kenyan heritage might harbour less than positive feelings towards the British Empire.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 5:55 am | Permalink

      Well I wouldn’t call it racist, but I think it might be libellous to ascribe to Obama motives or feelings which he may not have.

      Has Obama ever said anything to indicate either antipathy or approval of the British Empire? If he hasn’t then imputing motives to him is bogus.


  16. Jonathan Dore
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 2:10 am | Permalink

    This worries me because the weakness of support for free speech on the left, combined with eagerness to restrict it by religious fanatics, besieges that freedom from both sides. The precedents are not good: the Weimar Republic’s fatal weakness was that, by the time of its last elections, the majority of its population had lost faith in democracy and were voting for openly anti-democratic parties of both right and left.

  17. Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on babelbricks and commented:
    On the sorry state of freedom of speech across UK university populations, and the worrying tendency (I’m not yet sure ‘trend’ would be appropriate) of censoring – whence the neologism ‘no-platforming’ – of those with whose views students disagree.

    In the words of Norman Chomsky, ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all’.

    • Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      *Norman* Chomsky?

      But that aside, yes, the point is right.

      • Posted April 27, 2016 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

        Well, that’s extremely uncooperative of my phone. I managed to post it correctly elsewhere, but the edit apparently doesn’t carry over to original posts, so here, alas, he’ll have to remain “Norman”. Luckily I caught my phone trying to convert “Chomsky” into “chump”.

        • Posted April 28, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

          When I was at CMU, the default spell check on my workstation wanted to correct “Carnegie” to “carnage” and “Mellon” to “melon”. I was sorely tempted a few times to submit something with my affiliation being listed as “Carnage Melon”.

  18. mrclaw69
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    The NUS has no-platformed Al-Muhajiroun? How terribly brave!

    Not too hard to ban an already illegal organisation they say! Pointless tokenism they say!

    Well to them I say… err…

    • mrclaw69
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      Who will they ban next? Adolf Hitler?!

  19. Posted April 27, 2016 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    The debate surrounding who should be granted a platform is not a new one; it was very much on the agenda in my own university days, in the late nineties. The difference here, I believe, may be in that the people being summarily ‘no-platformed’ are more high-profile, and the debate has therefore come to the attention of a wider audience than previously.

    My own view is that the NUS’s stance is at best myopic political correctness, and at worst, rank hypocrisy. As Noam Chomsky reminds us, ‘If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all ‘.

    • mrclaw69
      Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

      I would add that back in the late-90s (my Uni days also) you probably wouldn’t have Iranian, communist, feminist, human rights activists (Namazie), or anti-fascist, anti-racist, human rights and gay-rights activists (Tatchell) banned. Even Trevor Phillips (former chair of the Commission for Racial Equality) has been no-platformed!

      That seems new. Previously such people would have been the heroes as they are/champion the underdog. Now they’re seen as the enemy. I don’t recall that sort of thing in the 90s.

      • Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:38 am | Permalink

        But the enemy of what, exactly? A certain demographic’s sensitivities?

        • Richard
          Posted April 27, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

          It seems to me to be “virtue signalling” from people who regard themselves as being at the very top of the totem pole of social justice, so much so that anyone even slightly below them on that pole is now considered the enemy because of their (comparatively) incorrect opinions.

          • mrclaw69
            Posted April 27, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

            Oh absolutely it’s virtue-signalling.

            Tatchell’s the enemy because he supports free speech. He’s a homophobe and a racist the the virtue-signallers – despite spending his life as an anti-racism/pro-gay rights activist, and getting so many beatings that he’s now partially brain-damaged.

            The virtue-signallers don’t have the courage of their convictions though. They’re the sort who think they’d get PTSD from the mere mention of ‘colonialism’ or ‘oppression’ or ‘rape’. None of those lot are willing to do what Tatchell has done and put his very safety on the line. The only way to one-up him is to slander him.

          • Posted April 27, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

            Yes, perhaps the difference being that, as I understand it, ‘virtue signalling’ is essentially about getting approval from one’s peers, or from whatever group one identifies with. It may, though generally appears not to, have wider consequences outside the group. What we have here is positive support for the suppression of diverse views, in an environment in which, if anything, pluralism should be encouraged. The direct results of this, I feel, are lost opportunities and cultural and intellectual impoverishment. I’ll look at the poll in more detail later, as I’d like a better feel for how representative it is.

            • Cindy
              Posted April 27, 2016 at 8:28 am | Permalink

              I love it when privileged white liberals sit back and accuse Bernie Sanders of “not doing enough for black people” when he actually marched with them in the 1960s. Bernie certainly risked more than these spoiled children do today. But no, they have to shit talk him as they sit comfortably at their computers. They won’t risk a thing to actually help others yet they have the gall to criticise Bernie for not doing enough. Assholes.

  20. Linn
    Posted April 27, 2016 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    I hadn’t heard about Peter Tatchell before but having read about him now, the no-platforming of him seems the saddest case of all here. He seems like such a brave man.
    When the heck did the left start to fight against gay rights? I just don’t get it. It’s like the world is turned on the head.

    I must say that this seems to be a problem of UK and US universities.
    I didn’t even know stuff like this happened until I started reading WEIT. I tried to do a search to see if f.ex the university in Oslo has ever been responsible for censorship or boycotting.
    All I could find was that they have actually refused to do an academic boycott of Israel.

    There was also a case of a gender segregated event by an anti-feminist muslim that someone protested against, but she was still allowed to hold her lecture.

    So at least, the problem doesn’t seem too bad here yet. I jut hope it will remain that way.

  21. Posted April 28, 2016 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Great post. No -Platforming is absurd, but it is also dangerous. And very, very sad that at precisely the time when young people should be able to hear diverse views and learn to address and debate with those they do not agree with, they are prevented from doing so. How anaemic and dull university ‘debate’ will become if the NUS continues in this fashion.

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