The New Intolerance on Campus

This event was held on Wednesday, 17 February 2016, at Conway Hall in London.

When speakers are banned on campus today, they are often accused of being intolerant, or bigoted. Whether it’s a far-right firebrand or an Islamist preacher who’s being silenced, the charge that someone is being intolerant – of other religions, of women, of homosexuals – is the go-to justification for No Platforming him or her. But who are the real intolerant ones? Those who wish to air their views – as hateful or batty as they may be – or those who can’t tolerate hearing them?

At this unique, one-off conference – the first of its kind in the UK – spiked brought together world-renowned writers, academics and activists to interrogate these questions. With sessions on Safe Spaces, the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, No Platforming and hate speech, we explored the rise of a new intellectual bigotry on campus, which is producing young minds that would rather censor or boycott their opponents than argue with them.

Safe Spaces: education or therapy?
12.30–13.45

Universities have always been conceived of as places of unfettered debate and inquiry. But, today, student politicos see it differently. Safe Space policies, which restrict offensive or upsetting speech, are the hottest thing in student politics. Proponents of Safe Spaces argue that they create an atmosphere of civility and sensitivity that helps marginalised individuals engage in university life. But is university really made better for anyone if certain ideas are off the table? Should we sanitise student life for the sake of protecting the so-called vulnerable from offence? Should university ever be a Safe Space, or should we accept that academia is always a risky business?

Speakers

Speaker

Siobhan Fenton Freelance journalist

Speaker

Naomi Firsht reporter, Jewish Chronicle

Speaker

Ella Whelan staff writer, spiked

Speaker

Abi Wilkinson Freelance writer

BDS, bigotry and academic justice
14.00–15.15

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is finding favour among UK academics, with hundreds endorsing a boycott of Israeli universities. While critics say this is an affront to academic freedom, BDS activists argue that allowing Israeli academics to speak only shores up the state’s power and legitimacy. Such activists claim that a model of academic justice, which censors academics who are seen to harm social-justice causes, is a more progressive alternative. But will silencing academic debate do anything to resolve the Israel-Palestine crisis? And, while academic justice presents itself as an egalitarian force, isn’t punishing Israeli academics for the actions of the Israeli state a form of bigotry itself?

Speakers

Speaker

Sai Englert Lecturer, SOAS

Speaker

Barnaby Raine member, NUS executive council

Speaker

Joanna Williams education editor, spiked

No Platform: is hate speech free speech?
15.30–16.45

In recent years, campus censorship has moved to the top of the political agenda. But while No Platforming and the Safe Spaces have been criticised by commentators across the political spectrum, the existing, legal restrictions on speech have received little scrutiny. UK law maintains stringent restrictions on incitement to racial and religious hatred, and even liberal-minded students feel that so-called hate speech is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Can we blame student campaigners for No Platforming extremist speakers in a country where bigotry is effectively illegal? And, more profoundly, does free speech mean anything without the right to express hateful views?

Speakers

Speaker

Dan Hodges Commentator, Telegraph and Spectator

Speaker

Maryam Namazie human-rights activist

Speaker

Brendan O'Neill Editor, spiked

Comment and analysis from spiked and our speakers

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We must be free to hate

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BDS: censorship disguised as justice

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The sexism of Safe Spaces

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Meet the students fighting censorship

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The cult of victimhood must fall

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The tyranny of Safe Spaces

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BDS vs the SA boycott

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Why the UK should ban The Donald

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The ignorance of BDS

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‘If Islamists can speak on campus, why can't I?'

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Cutting through the BDS BS

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Safe Spaces don't limit free speech

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Rhodes Must Fall is not a threat to free speech

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BDS is about justice, not anti-Semitism

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The nasty nonsense of Israel Apartheid Week

Time and Location

17 February 2016

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL

For more information on future events email Viv Regan.

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Tickets

16 November 2016

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