Search results

How did we get here and why does it matter?

This book asks who gets to exercise free speech and who does not, and examines what happens when powerful voices think they have been silenced. It asks how the spaces and structures of 'speech' – mass media, the lecture theatre, the public event, the political rally and perhaps most frequently the internet – shape this debate. It explores the long histories of this contemporary moment, to think about how acts such as censorship, boycotts and protests around free speech developed historically and how these histories inform the present. The book first explores two opposing sides in this debate: starting with a defence of speech freedoms and examining how speech has been curbed and controlled, and countering this with an examination of the way that free speech has been weaponised and deployed as a bad faith argument by people wishing to commit harm. It then considers two key battlefields in the free speech wars: first, the university campus and secondly, the internet. This book is the first to explore this moment in the free speech wars. It hopes to equip readers to navigate this complex, highly charged topic: rather than taking a side in the debate, it encourages the reader to be suspicious – or at least sceptical – of the way that this topic is being framed and articulated in the media today. The free speech wars should act as context, provocation, stimulation and – hopefully – a route through this conflict.

Waiving the right to free speech on campus
Marta Santiváñez

‘raise flags and cause chatter so would rather not as this is sensitive around student freedosm!!! [ sic ]’ The boundaries of student freedoms are precisely what stood on the line in this incident. In the overdone debate over free speech at university, ‘no platform’ and safe space policies have been attacked as challenging academic practice. The focus of this debate mischaracterises the challenges that universities are facing and hinders discussion over the structural struggles that might truly be impeding free speech on campus through policies of securitisation and

in The free speech wars
Adam Standring and Daniel Cardoso

In February and March 2017 a controversy erupted in the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas – Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Faculty of Social and Human Sciences of the New University of Lisbon – FCSH-UNL) when a prominent but controversial historian, Jaime Nogueira Pinto, had his invitation to speak on campus cancelled. This was one of the first and most high-profile cases of ‘no-platforming’ to occur in Portugal and garnered a great deal of mainstream media attention. Nogueira Pinto, a staunch defender of the former dictator António Salazar, was originally

in The free speech wars
Robert Fine and Philip Spencer

labelled Israel ‘the illegitimate state’ and called for the ‘no-platforming’ of ‘Zionist’ organisations on university campuses. This campaign effectively singled out some Jewish Societies that had previously participated in the antiracist Anti-Nazi League. Some left-wing groups, who originally lent support to the campaign in a misplaced show of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, backed off when confronted with basic antiracist arguments. 15 When the boycott

in Antisemitism and the left
Abstract only
Charlotte Lydia Riley

In early 2020 a new organisation, the Free Speech Union (FSU), was launched with much fanfare across the British right-wing press. Toby Young, the organisation’s founder and director, has been associated with the cause for some time, having fallen back on the ‘free speech’ defence to justify, for example, making salacious remarks about female politicians’ breasts. 1 The organisation aims to defend people who are the target of a ‘digital outrage mob’, or who face calls to be fired from their jobs, or who are being no-platformed by a university or criticised by

in The free speech wars
Shaun McDaid and Catherine McGlynn

. Universities are already key sites of contestation in the contemporary culture wars and have faced robust critique from both the left and right, with (often unsubstantiated) allegations that those with whom certain student groups disagree have been ‘no platformed’, or of ‘safe spaces’ being provided where undergraduates can seek refuge from discussing controversial topics. The Prevent duty was therefore destined to become intertwined with anxieties about who gets to speak on campus and what they get to say. However, we argue here that the fear that the duty would have a

in The free speech wars
The case of libraries
Sam Popowich

‘Intellectual freedom’ is considered one of the core values of librarianship, and is the equivalent of free speech/free expression in other domains. However, intellectual freedom has always been equated with the professional ‘neutrality’ of libraries, and while there has always been a tension in the profession between intellectual freedom and social responsibility, the recent increase in politicisation of free speech has made the purported neutrality of libraries and intellectual freedom a site of political and cultural debate. In 2018 the American Library Association approved changes to an interpretation of its room-booking policy to explicitly allow hate groups to use public library spaces, setting off a major debate within librarianship over freedom of speech and no-platforming. The debate essentially revolved around hate groups gaining legitimacy or credibility by using public library spaces to proclaim their message, the question of supporting hate groups’ rights over the rights of users and staff who may feel targeted by hate speech, and the question of how the public library can or should adjudicate between competing rights. The language change was eventually reversed, but this has only postponed a resolution of the underlying contradictions within the library profession. This chapter begins by laying out the basic positions on the room-booking policy, but then broadens out to situate ‘intellectual freedom’ within librarianship’s hegemonic liberalism and offer a radical alternative vision for libraries in today’s highly polarised political culture. It then suggests that libraries need to abandon a pretence of neutrality and opt instead for a commitment to social justice. This commitment would enable libraries to escape from the paradox which a commitment to an abstract, neutral, intellectual freedom has placed them in.

in The free speech wars
Power, accountability and democracy

Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-level governance. It analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership on power dynamics, focusing on the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (PS), and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The purpose of this book is to investigate who within the three parties determines EU policies and selects EU specialists, such as the candidates for European parliamentary elections and EU spokespersons.

The book utilises a principal-agent framework to investigate the delegation of power inside the three parties across multiple levels and faces. It draws on over 65 original interviews with EU experts from the three national parties and the Party of European Socialists (PES) and an e-mail questionnaire. This book reveals that European policy has largely remained in the hands of the party leadership. Its findings suggest that the party grassroots are interested in EU affairs, but that interest rarely translates into influence, as information asymmetry between the grassroots and the party leadership makes it very difficult for local activists to scrutinise elected politicians and to come up with their own policy proposals. As regards the selection of EU specialists, such as candidates for the European parliamentary elections, this book highlights that the parties’ processes are highly political, often informal, and in some cases, undemocratic.

Jodie Ginsberg

no-platformed in this way. This labelling of individuals extends way beyond the denial of a platform, however. Individuals are also being reported to employers for lawfully expressing their own opinions: freelancers in the arts in particular report a growing number of incidences in which they are accused – often anonymously – of ‘hateful’ speech and then find work cancelled. In 2019 a Christian actress was dropped from the lead role of The Color Purple at Birmingham Hippodrome because of comments she made about homosexuality, and an Asda worker was sacked

in The free speech wars
Open Access (free)
Campaigns and causes
Brian Pullan and Michele Abendstern

the Union, even if while on the premises they kept silent about their views? The Union Executive was once criticised for removing Scientology posters from a Union notice board: members, or so it was said, were surely entitled to ‘accept or reject viewpoints’ without having the job done for them by presumptuous officers. chap 5 23/9/03 1:16 pm Page 113 The students: campaigns and causes 113 Serious doubts arose when the NUS adopted a ‘No Platform’ policy towards ‘openly racist or fascist organisations’. Not only were these to be denied financial or other forms

in A history of the University of Manchester 1973–90