‘University censorship tactics are a threat to freedom of speech’

Students, including those with pro-life values, feel increasingly limited in what they can and cannot speak about on campus, according to an atheist commentator.

Brendan O’Neill made the comments in a wide-ranging article for the Spectator magazine – in which he also slammed student groups for resembling “factories of conformism”.

O’Neill said freedom of speech and liberty was under threat as universities “socialise youths to think censorship is good and other people’s opinions are bad”.

‘Shunted off campus’

The Editor of Spiked magazine gave examples of student groups ‘facing censorship’, with pro-life groups “denied space at freshers’ fairs”.

Over the last year, it has emerged that pro-life students at a number of UK universities have experienced concerted attacks against them including at Glasgow’s Strathclyde University, Newcastle University and Cardiff University.

O’Neill warned that incoming students could soon find themselves “enveloped in a world that’s more censorious than stimulating and taught not to question ideas but to learn by heart the progressive creed”.

He said they can be “shunted off campus for having the wrong opinion” and may eventually “lose faith in freedom and democracy”.

Restricting free speech

Earlier this year, a report by Spiked found that more than 90 per cent of UK universities are restricting free speech.

The magazine’s Free Speech University Ranking found that 21 universities have banned speakers from attending debates or lectures in the last year.

In his Spectator article, O’Neill criticised student groups for resembling “factories of conformism, training their student body not to think freely but to fear the eccentric, hide from the provocative, and prize their self-esteem more highly than their intellectual development”.

‘Liberty dies’

“A Europe-wide poll this year found that only 46 per cent of Brits aged 18 to 21 think people should be free to ‘say what they want’. And polls of millennials frequently show that they’re more down on democracy than older generations.

“This is what happens when we socialise youths to think censorship is good and other people’s opinions are bad”.

“They will leave uni and populate public life with these views. This is how liberty dies”, he concluded.

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