Editorial: On the Free Speech debate that’s rocking campus

By Taryana Odayar, Executive Editor. 

In true LSE fashion, this past week the university and its students have been caught up in a media whirlwind over the free speech debate on campus, which seems to have branched off innumerably, much in the same way that distributaries branch off the main river channel. Having made quite the splash in several national headlines, the tempest that began fairly innocently with a certain article in the Comment section of our newspaper a couple of weeks ago, has resulted in an unceasing flow of articles being sent in, each one bravely aspiring to take on a different facet of the free speech debate.

Looking at some of the national headlines these past two weeks gives one a good idea of the sort of issues coursing through the campus community. With Dr Perkins’ anti-benefits discussion being postponed due to online threats from Black Triangle campaigners, as well as LSE SU India Society choosing to withdraw their invitation to one of their proposed speakers for their upcoming forum given concerns from the LSE SU LGBT+ Alliance, the British media have had plenty of headlines which include the three-letter acronym “LSE.” A Guardian headline read, “Disability activists say LSE wrong to shelve welfare lecture”, headlines in The Telegraph included, “LSE talk on welfare postponed over fears of disruption”, the Mail Online ran a particularly lengthy one, “The ugly truth about benefits CENSORED by LSE students after top academic tried to tell them welfare can make claimants work-shy, aggressive and anti-social” and even The Times Education had something to say about it, with “Left-wing activists forc(ing) LSE to cancel anti-benefits talk.”

In George Orwell’s The Freedom of the Press; his proposed preface to Animal Farm, he states that, “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, and this is certainly a view that has been argued for and against by many voices on campus. But what does the coming week portend? With the current state of affairs, one gets the sense that this is only the end of the beginning.

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