Friday, 4 October 2013

Student Unions Opposing Atheist Freedom Of Expression

Students just aren't what they used to be. Maybe they never were the rebellious, course work shy, last minute crammers stereotypes portray. I remember my brief stint at university being fairly memorable, involving the removal of bras in record time (undefeated champion, I'll have you know) and a disturbing game known only as "Nervous". Good times, good times. 

Alas such fun seems completely beyond the comprehension of the stony faced union enforcers who rule at fresher's fairs. 

Last year the University of Reading's Atheist, Humanist and Secularist Society was kicked out of their fresher's fair for naming a pineapple Mohammed. It is hardly the most sophisticated way to start a conversation but I can see what they were aiming for. But they didn't just provoke a debate about blasphemy, they were basically accused of it (blasphemy is showing contempt for that which is held as holy which, by definition, upsets believers and the RAHSS was accused of upsetting people). The Reading University Student Union has now forced out the RAHSS by attempting to get them to agree to not upset anyone ever again ("Just shut up you blasphemers!"). 

Meanwhile, in another rather unsophisticated move, the LSE atheist group decided to wear "Jesus and Mo" t-shirts to their fresher's fair this year. I find the Jesus and Mo cartoon strips pretty boring and don't really see the attraction. But different strokes for different folks and all that. Well it hasn't gone down too well. Even when they covered up the t-shirts with censored stickers today they appear to have been intimidated by student union officials and security whilst leaving the fair.  

Having your beliefs insulted isn't nice. We all accept that, and understand it. But having my relationship dismissed and insulted by other's beliefs is also not very nice. That is the world we live in, one where grown ups have to put up with some people not being nice. We can moan about it, shout about it, but silencing others just because you don't like what they say isn't a sign of a healthy free society. It is the sign of a disturbing authoritarian mindset that is creeping into a lot of "progressive" thought (again).

One Law For All's excellent document "Siding with the Oppressor" shows how the left are starting to move from preaching tolerance for all beliefs into actively siding with the more extreme wing of Islam over pretty much everyone else (including Muslims and ex-Muslims alike). 

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