October 9, 2015
Brendan O’Neill: Today’s backlash against censorship just isn’t good enough
Brendan O’Neill writes:
What we’re witnessing is not a new movement for freedom of speech, but the rise of cliques that deploy the language of freedom in a quite cynical way to defend people who espouse ideas they agree with. So feminist commentators are currently arguing against students’ unions’ banning of Julie Bindel, yet say nothing about the banning of Dapper Laughs by Cardiff University, or the NUS’s nationwide clampdown on ‘laddish banter’ (speech), or the ban on the Sun and ‘Blurred Lines’ on campuses across Britain. They aren’t defending freedom of speech, which is, by definition, undiscriminating, and should apply as equally to a sexist rugby club leader as it should to Julie Bindel; instead they are merely defending speech, in this case Bindel’s speech, the content of which they admire and support.
Likewise, the secularists who defended Maryam Namazie said nothing about the banning of a homophobic Islamist preacher at the University of East London. And Bahar Mustafa and her friends might be terribly concerned about Mustafa’s arrest for tweeting #killallwhitemen – as they should be – but, as I discovered when I debated Mustafa in London last month, they don’t support anyone else’s right to be offensive: not lads, not ‘transphobes’, not people who are critical of Islam – no one.