Free speech, not just for academe 3

January 12, 2007

The restrictions on free speech supported by Keith Flett are profoundly dangerous precisely because words such as "racist" and "homophobic" have no objective definition and undermine the objective criteria of criminal justice.

The argument that some people might be offended is disingenuous and irrelevant because the alleged offence is always to the self-appointed representatives of identity groups such as race zealots.

Academic freedom is not negotiable if John Henry Newman's objective of intellectual culture is to survive. Any legal obligations must comply with the Human Rights Act, which takes precedence, in particular article ten.

The notion that something "cannot be true and should not be investigated"

is profoundly dangerous, Lysenkoist and is a concession to an anti-scientific form of infallibility. The human rights community has been shamefully silent on the growing assault on free speech for essentially politically correct reasons.

But the tide has turned. I submitted a motion to the annual general meeting of human rights group Liberty to create a settled and robust position on free speech. This was passed overwhelmingly and specifically included a reference to academic discourse.

Mazin Zeki
London

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