Unsafe Space

pp 47-57

Teaching Students to Censor: How Academics Betrayed Free Speech

  • Joanna WilliamsAffiliated withspiked


Today, the most insidious threats to free speech on campus do not come from legislating governments or controlling institutional managers. That some students are at the forefront of calling for debates to be cancelled, songs banned and course content to come with trigger warnings has been well documented. It would be easy to get the impression that while students seek freedom from speech and desire to turn the university into an emotional and intellectual Safe Space, academics look on in horror and champion the cause of free speech. Often, however, such students are simply putting into practice the ideas of their lecturers. Academics have taught and legitimised the notion that words and images harm, that people should be protected from offence and that restricting free speech is the best way to achieve this aim.