LUU shouldn’t be able to ban people speaking

The No Platform Policy makes no sense

Last night, a panel of Leeds students voted to uphold LUU’s No Platform Policy by a majority of 12:1.  Here, Jake Leigh-Howarth argues against the decision…

The LUU No Platform Policy gives the Union the right to veto any speakers they deem “offensive”, or who violate their “safe space” policy.

Although the Union are well-meaning in their attempts to make the Union a safe space, the worrying ease with which they stamp the ban hammer down is a cause for concern.

The Union has a ban on hate speech despite Nazis, bigots, white supremacists, and racists all having the right to speak at the Union. The only way to trump speakers of this ilk is to invite them to speak – and marvel as no-one turns up to listen to them talk. Underlining how no-one has any interest in hearing them speak is the most powerful way to counteract them. Who wouldn’t want to laugh in the face of a hate speaker?

Follow the example of the Brunel university students who staged a mass walk out when Katie Hopkins made an appearance as a speaker there. Ridicule is a far more powerful form of protest in this sense.

Shouldn’t anyone be allowed to speak here?

Repressing the right of an individual to speak regardless of how extreme their views are is dangerous and more in line with Kim Jong Un’s North Korea than one of the best universities in the UK. If you disagree with a speaker, isn’t it best to challenge them in debate and embarrass them rather than cowardly censoring them?

Besides, sometimes the people banned aren’t even hate speakers. Jack Straw’s Union membership was revoked  in 2000 because the Union didn’t agree with his politics. Thankfully it was reinstated in 2007 – but who’s to say this wouldn’t happen if someone like Nigel Farage came to speak? Someone would certainly make some noise, and he’d also be banned.

Today anyone can be “offended” by anything that remotely violates their world view. The Union indulges and pampers smug social justice warriors who are always looking to entertain their holier-than-thou attitudes because of the fear that they will themselves be accused of being “offensive”.

These people’s opinions are not superior to others and shouldn’t be considered above others. More often than not it is a small minority of people making the fuss whereas the rest just aren’t bothered. No wonder Leeds University Union is in the red for free speech – the Union just needs to chill the hell out.

Maybe the Union and its band of merry offense seekers should take a chill pill and learn to be offended like the rest of us. Maybe you should exercise your right to protest outside where they’re speaking if you disagree with them – or maybe you should just not turn up.

The LUU’s No Platform Policy takes pride in censorship, and for this reason it needs to be eradicated.