Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Students wrong to ban & censor the SWP

It seems the Socialist Workers Party just cannot get away from the side-effects of the "comrade delta" scandal. A motion has been submitted to the Edinburgh University Students Association to stop the SWP from not only holding events on campus, ban them "advertising" their wares and prevent the ratification of any associated student groups.

The motion sponsored by the University's Feminist Society was due to go before the student body on October 23rd, but the SWP have threatened to sue for libel. The EUSA have suspended the motion whilst they take legal advice.

I don't intend to re-iterate the events surrounding the downfall of the SWP since they are well documented on this blog as well as probably hundreds of others around the world wide web. However the Journal reports:

Supporters of the motion claim that banning of the SWP is necessary under EUSA’s safe space policy, as well as their policy to “End Rape Culture and Lad Banter on Campus.”

Eleanor Brayne-Whyatt, Events and Fundraising Secretary of the Feminist Society, submitted the motion. She previously told The Journal: “This will show that rape apologism and victim blaming cannot be put up with, and any movement that allows them to take place and that stamps all over women’s rights for the furthering of some ‘bigger’ cause will not be accepted. It is a shame that this hasn’t come sooner.”

Now there are a whole range of difficult issues to be covered as a result of this on-going debate. Rape is a serious issue that everyone, not just students, not just the left but the whole of society has to address. Women's rights and in particular the right to simply say no to sexual advances must be taken seriously.

The SWP has behaved very badly in their dealings on not just the "delta" business but over other alleged incidents that have been reported as taking in place inside their organisation. If people want to shun the SWP and their publications that's their right. 

But should they be banned and censored?

If so where else does this policy lead us?

The right to free speech and peaceful assembly is fundamental to the functioning of a democratic society. There are limits to free speech, such as libel or promoting racial hatred or violence against individuals or groups of people.

I have no more time for the SWP than the British National Party. Both organisations stand against democracy. Both would introduce dictatorships. The SWP would have gulags, the BNP concentration camps. Violence is very much inherent in their adopted political philosophy's as much as both would seek to deny it.

But should we ban them because of their ideas?

The clear answer has to be no.

In order for democracy to function properly we have to allow those with whom we fundamentally disagree the same freedoms which we wish to afford ourselves, otherwise where would the limitations of the right to speak and write freely end?

There is no simple answer, but the approach of banning the SWP opens up a Pandora's box, especially in the students movement which seems to me to be dominated by increasingly bizarre and doubtful ideas and individuals.

Many Universities have given in to the Islamists demands of gender separation in meetings. "Islamophobia" is used as a means to silence any critic of Islam including the atheist, humanists and secularists who reject all religions not just Islam.

Yet the the SWP is to be banned in order to have a "safe space", whatever that actually means in practise rather than in theory. I can't see the students banning Islamic groups because of their anti-women, anti-gay, anti-anybody else ideology.

That would be "Islamophobic" wouldn't it.

Banning the SWP is wrong. Cold shoulder, ignore, argue with, steer clear. Fine.

Expose the SWP, expose their pathetic little group to scrutiny. Frankly the same should be done to all the dodgy little groups both political and religious that seem to run rampant in our universities.

Put Equality, Human Rights, Freedom of Speech and Democracy first and show the world what pathetic creatures these extremists are regardless of the ideology they claim to follow.

Freedom of speech is the rock from which democracy flows.

Use it don't lose it.

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