Stifling debate

August 26, 2005

Rikky Rooksby (Letters, August 19) accuses me of a lack of "disciplined thinking" and of inappropriate "literal interpretation" when I referred to Blake's Jerusalem as urging an "unceasing use of the sword to build a Jerusalem of peace and justice". If Rooksby were to reread my letter (August 12), he would see that I did not condone this interpretation, I merely warned of the danger to academic freedom of "what could be represented as condoning or glorifying terrorism".

Your report "Hate law threat to academic freedom" (August 19) gives examples of heavy-handed university authorities, under the shadow of religious hatred laws, stifling debate on "subjects that could be considered controversial". My fear is that the proposed law that condemns the condoning of terrorism could easily be used to stifle legitimate debate. I would like to see universities campaign for explicit clauses to protect legitimate debate and academic freedom. Rooksby's area (literature and music) would benefit as much as others.

David Packham
Bath University

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