The future of free speech: will preventing ‘radicalisation’ mean the death of debate?

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The government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy sees the sudden psychological ‘radicalisation’ of vulnerable children and young people as the cause of today’s apparently meaningless acts of terrorism. It has turned teachers and lecturers into spies looking out for signs of ‘radicalisation’ including signs of unusual behaviour and mental illness. ‘Prevent’ has many critics who often condemn it as ‘Islamophobic’ for targeting Muslims, while its supporters claim that the aim is to prevent terrorism in all its forms including that of extreme right or ‘Fascist’ groups and that of individual fanatics.

But is the idea behind ‘Prevent’ ineffective because it is essentially passive? Watching, waiting and hoping are hardly inspiring activities.  The celebration of freedoms, of fun and the enjoyment of life are what will challenge the tendency to nihilistic, misanthropic and often self-hating acts of violence. Instead of active assertion of values, lecturers and teachers are required to create an Orwellian climate of suspicion and fear. Some even welcome their community safety roles and go about seeking out supposed signs of radicalisation.

A duty to report suspicions to the police and other authorities leaves teachers and lecturers in a morally shameful state. Their only weapon in response to the challenge of narcissistic and nihilistic extremism is to use the one ability that any teacher or lecturer worthy of the name has, the ability to discuss and debate every issue, however ‘sensitive’ or ‘offensive’ it may be. That includes the necessity to debate ‘Prevent’ and its implications without looking constantly over your shoulder.

Teachers and lecturers have a choice, either they can live in fear and spread fear, or they can speak up and say what they think and encourage pupils and students to speak freely.

At this Battle of Ideas satellite, sponsored by AFAF, we will uphold the motto of the Institute of Ideas: ‘Free Speech Allowed!’ and let nothing prevent people from speaking up. Come along and keep debate alive.

Date, Time and Venue: Tuesday 8 November at 7 PM, in the Hallmark Midland Hotel, Derby. Tickets £5 (waged) £3 (unwaged) available on Eventbrite.

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Book Launch – Academic Freedom Matters

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‘This house would never limit free speech on student campuses’

Tom SlaterDennis HayesTom Slater, deputy editor of the online current affairs magazine spiked! and co-ordinator of the Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) and Dennis Hayes, professor of education at the University of Derby and founder and director of Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF) defended the proposition ‘This house would never limit free speech on university campuses’. (more…)

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Why Academic Freedom Matters

Why academic freedom mattersA ‘must read’ new book out this September from Civitas with contributions from many AFAF supporters including Jenny Jarvie, Dennis Hayes, Cheryl Hudson (ed.), Tara McCormack, Jason Walsh and Joanna Williams (ed.). Order it now on Amazon only £9.

“Academic freedom in British universities has become a national talking point. Government policies such as the Prevent Duty and the Research Excellence Framework pose a threat to academic freedom, as do students – and increasingly scholars themselves – who want to turn the campus into an intellectual ‘safe space’. (more…)

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Vote Elrica for Freedom of Speech

1st Mar 2016 0 Comments

Elrica NUS

Elrica Degirmen is standing for the position of Education Officer in the University of Manchester NUS Elections on a free speech platform…if you can, vote for her, if not publicise her campaign…stand up to the NUS censors! Here is her manifesto:

Elrica1Elrica Man

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The new intolerance on campus

16th Feb 2016 0 Comments

The new intolerance on campus‘ is an afternoon of debate as part of the launch events for Spiked‘s Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) which are sponsored by AFAF.

“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 is bringing 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 will explore 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”.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 from 12.00–17.00 (GMT), Conway Hall – 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL

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AFAF supports The Freedom Challenge

16th Oct 2015 0 Comments

The charity WORLDwrite which celebrates its 21st birthday this year and its Citizen TV station WORLDbytes are launching a touring Pop-Up Video Booth known as the Views Box. Initially to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and inflate the debate on the liberty we need, the Views Box will tour venues and locations to encourage the public to have their say. The videos made will be released online for viewing across the globe to inflate much needed debate.

The Freedom Challenge

At its Battle of Ideas launch at the Barbican in October 2015, the Views Box will record up to 80 speakers sharing their thoughts on the freedoms we need today. From free speech, press freedom, freedom of movement, free association to everyday freedoms, Liberty lovers will enter the booth and share their thoughts to camera to raise the banner for freedom. Take a look at the Full Programme.

The Year Ahead

From its inspiring debut the Views Box is set to tour locations for a whole year to video voices less heard on mainstream TV, to cover issues that are challenging and produce programmes that inspire.

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Roy Harris Obituary

Roy Harris, who died on 9 February 2015 after a long illness, was emeritus professor of general linguistics at the University of Oxford. Roy was the founder of integrationism. He wrote many works developing the integrationalist approach to all human communication and was the co-founder of the International Association for the Integrational Study of Language and Communication (IAISLC). (more…)

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Does Britain Need a Bill of Rights?

‘Adam Kissel – former vice-president of Fire – the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the leading American campaign group for freedom of speech – starts his ‘Free Speech England Tour’ in Derby on Tuesday 17 March. In this short opinion piece he reminds us that, as well as the Magna Carta of 1215, Britain once had a ‘Bill of Rights’ established in 1689 as a result of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ that was the inspiration for the Virginia Declaration of Rights in 1776. (more…)

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New ranking exposes curbs on university freedom of speech

Written by Dennis Hayes for The Conversation. Freedom of speech is at the heart of academic life and a university should be a place where every issue is discussed and debated. (more…)

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