On the heels of a study revealing that 94 per cent of UK post-secondary institutions limit free speech, the British Conservative government is stepping in.
Education Minister Jo Johnson is championing a bill working its way through Parliament to enshrine a “legal duty” to protect free speech in the practices of public universities.
Johnson sent a letter to the head of Universities UK informing her that “safe spaces” and denial of speaking platforms don’t align with the values those institutions should be upholding.
Just like in North America, the UK has myriad examples:
- A radical feminist, Julie Bindel, was denied the right to debate censorship at Manchester University because of her “dangerous” views on transgender people;
- Boris Johnson, the former mayor of London, was blocked from speaking at King’s College London over a controversial column about Barack Obama;
- There was a nearly successful campaign to block Germaine Greer from speaking at Cardiff University due to her own “offensive” comments on transgender people.
This is beyond the typical smattering of university nonsense like students being reprimanded for certain costumes, and schools trying to purge supposedly offensive turns of phrase.
The Higher Education and Research Bill that Jo Johnson is championing may seem like common sense, but it’s proof that his government actually recognizes that free speech is under threat.