Cameron Government Moves To Impose Speech Code On English Universities

David_Cameron_official150px-royal_coat_of_arms_of_the_united_kingdom-svgA proposed British law creates a serious threat to academic freedom and free speech. The law seeks to force universities to take action to stop young people being exposed to extremist ideas and speakers. The law is consistent with a trend toward greater speech regulation in the West As I discussed in column yesterday in the Washington Post.

We have seen a crackdown on free speech in the West. For other recent columns, click here and here and here.

This law is part of the government’s counter-terrorism and security bill and imposes a new obligation on universities, prisons and probation services, schools and health authorities to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Schools would not have to perform risk assessments on visiting speakers, including checking the content of any speeches or debates beforehand, to ensure they are not promoting “extremist” or “radical” ideas.

A Home Office consultation paper insisted that universities “must take seriously their responsibility to exclude those promoting extremist views that support or are conducive to terrorism.” This new “responsibility” includes reporting students “at risk” of being drawn into terrorism to external anti-radicalization programmes and to actively challenge extremist ideas, including non-violent extremism.

This ill-conceived measure would drive into the heart of academic freedom and turn universities into agents of the government in censoring speech. Universities are based on a foundation of free speech. Indeed, the lack of success of governments in France, England, Canada and other countries in increasing speech regulation should, if anything, cause a review of their own approach. It is better for such ideas to be voiced and answered rather than suppressed. More importantly, you do not answer those who would deny freedom by curtailing it.

We have previously discussed the alarming rollback on free speech rights in the West, particularly in England ( here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here). Much of this trend is tied to the expansion of hate speech and non-discrimination laws.

England’s premier educational institution have been a critical part of its national identity and contribution to the world. This law is a concession not a confrontation for extremists. They want to deny free speech and this law shows that the greatest injuries in the war against terror tends to be self-inflicted.

Source: The Guardian

71 thoughts on “Cameron Government Moves To Impose Speech Code On English Universities”

  1. I was going to get into the parallels between Hey Zeus and the Prophet and their pedophile proclivities. I do not think that Lord Bhudda was of similar bent. So, if I was not an 8th Day Dog Adventist, then I would probably be a Bhuddist. Or however ya spull it.
    We have dogs in the dogpac who will hump anything. It is not about religion.

  2. Nick: You were right about the vowel. But, I bark, growl, howl, and wofff, into this Dogalogue Machine and it turns out printed English. I am a dog with four paws but no ability to type. I bark, therefore I am.

    I wonder. If I am a student in a Brit University, if I can say that the Prophet Mohammed was a pedophile. I guess I could ask Cameron if he was a pedophile. I don’t mean Cameron, I mean the Prophet. But it is a matter of debate. Civil debate. I wonder if it will be uncivil to talk about the right of catholics to eat meat on Good Friday. Or if we can speak out about Cassius Clay’s name change.

    Great Britain. Still got a Queen. No Constitution. No more Winston Churchill around to stand up for civil rights.

    1. BarkinDog – there is no indication that the Prophet was a pedophile. Aisha was 6-7 when she went to him but 9-10 when the marriage was consummated. There is every indication that she had had her first menses before the marriage, so the Prophet would not be a pedophile. Additionally, there is no indication that he was interested in young girls, except for Aisha.

      Aisha’s age range places her in the same range as Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit (according to the Gospels). She was considered to be about 13-14. So, the Prophet and the Holy Spirit, each have a thing for one young woman.

  3. Straight ahead, Max-1. There just aren’t very many world leaders – or local folks either, who aren’t afraid of free speech.

  4. Viva le censorship…
    Good thing Cam marched for Freedom, yes?

    So, who noticed the hypocrisy facing the world when world leaders who regularly oppress speach gather and march to “preserve” free speach?

    Why are they even credible?

  5. NS,

    You didn’t try to refute what I said, because it was the truth, unlike your
    paranoid, uninformed opinions about conservative speakers on college campuses.

    If you want to discuss your paranoia about people driving after they’ve had a cocktail or some wine, then submit an article, and maybe your powerful thinking will be honored by being published.

  6. Bill, You made that comment on another thread. Paranoia runs deep. LOL!!! Maybe we need your wisdom on the DUI thread!! Folks, Bill has some unique views on DUI. I’m not certain of his stance on CUI.

  7. DARREN & NS

    WHY did you censor my comment about Baylor University? Does JT really only want to see comments that are uninformed opinions? That’s hard to believe, but maybe it’s true, and you are the gatekeeper? One JREF is enough..

    NS – again your facts couldn’t be more wrong. Right-wing conservatives are probably the majority of speakers on campuses today,

  8. Free speech in universities. Maybe not in a crowded theatre. Cant yell Fire!
    Cameron needs to be Prime Minister of Cameron. That is in Africa. East of Corfu.

  9. Jeff, I tend to agree. The left have become the party of victimhood. They seem to think there is an amendment to the Constitution making it illegal to offend people. Now, there are only certain people included in this shadow amendment protection. Poor, fat, white..well you can offend them w/ impunity. But, we qll know the special snowflakes. So, you may be correct, maybe the 1st Amendment needs a power boost w/ an inalienable right to offend anyone, anytime, for any reason.

  10. Jeff:

    Speech that the majority of voters view as “popular or good speech” doesn’t need much protection. The 1st Amendment was designed to protect unpopular and even offensive speech from government censorship or interference (as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court under the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution).

    Centuries before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, in England there was a legal tradition called “Judicial Review” which officially became U.S. law after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling “Marbury v. Madison”.

    You are correct that we no longer seem to have an Independent Judiciary that provides a “check” on the other two branches – giving the executive branch agencies near absolute power to violate the Bill of Rights with impunity.

  11. Paul:

    In 1215, the Magna Carta restricted some activities against the monarchy primarily supported supported by the barons.

    In 1869 the English Bill of Rights established rights for all citizens and was the model for the American Bill of Rights.

    In the 18th Century, when Britain violated it’s own rulebook it created the American Revolutionary War – which is what our Declaration of Independence is based on.

    The original question, would that be viewed as extreme speech post-9/11?

  12. I’m thinking that freedom of speech should be restated to freedom to offend.

    The salient corollary to freedom of speech (i.e. offend) is the freedom to rebut.

    Seems like you don’t get to “interpret” the Preamble//Constitution/Bill of Rights to your liking. Just read the words.

    Does the Bill of Rights say “freedom of speech” unless you want to change it to allow some particular aspect you enjoy? No.

    It was never the job of the SCOTUS to interpret, but simply assure that action comports with law. If the accused spoke freely and without obstruction or interference, he was well within constitutional rights. Next case.

    Problem with America since the outset is that the SCOTUS is the bought-off, pivotal point of constant and perpetual corruption. The SCOTUS issues corrupt decisions, such as Obama care, affirmative action, forced busing, all forms of redistribution and no Confederate secession, regulation of industry, with impunity. In China, corruption of any sort is dealt with through the liberal application of capital punishment. It may be that corruption is inevitable. It may be that corruption is always the case everywhere. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It may be definitively impossible to oppose the axiom of corruption.

    For example, it’s astonishing to hear that the Preamble is not binding when it is the very context. The nation was told what was done and what existed, what was “established, insured, provided for, promoted and secured – government limited to Justice, Tranquility, Common Defence, Promotion of (infrastructure) General Welfare – while our endeavors, business and industry were “…the blessings of liberty…” secured “to ourselves and our posterity.” Those who wrote and placed the Preamble directly in front of the Constitution did not intend that it be ignored. They intended that the Preamble set the parameters within which the Constitution and Bill of Rights provided for governance.
    “Interpretation” is unconstitutional, corrupt and insurrectionist.

    In the American thesis, business and free enterprise, including activities of the help, jobs or labor, were never the purview of government and government had no, zero authority to interfere in any way, as a system of justice was established for redress of grievances (decisions, awards and settlements, yes – legislation from the bench and control of industry, no). Morality, beliefs or religion did not trump or controvert the words of the Preamble/Constitution/Bill of Rights.

    Freedom and Self-Reliance.

    (“Adverse” consequences of that constitutional principle may be effectively rebutted by similarly free enterprise as private charitable activities).

  13. At least in the United States, there is a fundamental difference between “voter issues (political) vs. constitutional issues”.

    Many Americans that attack lawyers also frequently cite the 2nd Amendment so let’s use that as an example. The 2nd Amendment can be regulated by the voters’ representatives in Congress (voter issue) but to fundamentally change the meaning would require a constitutional amendment. The voters wishes must circumscribe the constitutional law. Anyone that cites the 2nd Amendment is making a constitutional argument that lawyers litigate in court – not decided by voters.

    Constitutional issues supersede voter issues, that applies to most nations with an Independent Judiciary.

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