Academics have warned the Joint Human Rights Committee that universities and student unions are banning ‘offensive’ speech, citing sexual discrimination, homophobia or transphobia. They say this stifling of free speech is having a ‘chilling’ effect on debate and discussion and that a generation of conformist students are being taught to see themselves as vulnerable. Committee chair Harriet Harman responded: ‘Isn’t it empowering women for them to be able to shut up misogynist men?’ (Telegraph, November 16, 2017).
Recently, however, several ‘empowered women’ successfully ‘shut up’ other women at Oxford University, drowning out a debate in which they were to give their reasons for opposing abortion. Refusing to leave, the poor victimised female protesters forced the meeting out of the hall.
In the 1970s and 1980s Ms Harman’s National Council for Civil Liberties (now called Liberty) argued that all views were equally valid – indeed, they even worked with paedophile groups – but having conquered the political scene they shut down debate. Might makes right: the early fascists disdained discussion, preferring to break up their opponents’ meetings. Now, on the pretext of protecting the snowflake generation – chiefly from the dangers of hearing an alternative to the far-Left worldview – in her privileged position as chair of a human rights committee, Ms Harman attempts to dictate the one-sided debate in a speech worthy of a despot.