Freedom of speech dying at universities

From the Adelaide Advertiser:

My experience as a student magazine editor for the past year has shown me that freedom of speech no longer has de facto acceptance on campus. Universities are no longer a place of inquiry or rigorous debate. Academic censorship is rife.

Take Bjorn Lomborg, the Danish environmentalist who sought to establish a research centre at the University of Western Australia and Flinders University. At both institutions he has faced resistance form students who staged protests and leveraged their student bodies to prevent such a centre from being established.

Their rationale? They do not agree with his findings and they’re not prepared to engage in debate.

Lomborg’s situation is strikingly similar to that of Galileo when he posited that Earth revolves around the sun, and not vice-versa. The church was not willing to hear out the argument and simply cast Galileo out.

Absolutely. And Lomborg’s crime wasn’t even the capital offence of climate change denial, but simply having a view that other environmental issues were a better use of spending.

If anything exemplifies the dangers of academic censorship it is the case of Galileo. How do we expect our society to advance when new ideas cannot be discussed because of an unwillingness by some precious, self-centred students?

Sadly they don’t want to be challenged. They only want to hear views they approve of, and want to stop others hearing dissenting views.

These same students also want to limit free expression by mandating the use of “trigger warnings”, as well as censoring books they find uncomfortable or challenging. A “trigger warning” is a device that has emerged in the past two decades that seeks to warn a reader where a post traumatic reaction may be induced based on the content.

This has gone from warning of a discussion about rape to now including things such as ‘‘how many calories are in a food item’’ and “drunk driving’’. The discussion of these things doesn’t actually harm anyone, it’s just that students now demand to live in a cotton-wrapped world.

Great works such as The Great Gatsby, Metamorphoses and Mrs Dalloway have been banned from university reading lists simply because some self-absorbed students find the content emotionally challenging and upsetting.

There is no right not to be offended or even upset.

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