From Socrates to Salman Rushdie heretical thinkers and writers have been persecuted by powerful authorities whether they were the church or the state. In the last few years a new form of persecution of dissident voices has appeared not from without but from within universities which are supposed to be bastions of free speech. That persecution comes not from government or bureaucracies but from academics themselves in alliance with students. Open letters, petitions and campaigns by academics and students to get academics removed from their posts are the new form of censorship. AFAF’s The Banned List gives many examples which, in 2019 alone, include Noah Carl, John Finnis, Jordan Peterson, Michelle Moore, Nina Power and the latest, Boris Johnson.
Our speaker, in conversation with Professor Dennis Hayes (Director, Academics for Academic Freedom), is Professor Nigel Biggar (Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford). In 2017 Professor Bigger was subject to an international campaign to close down his five-year ‘Ethics and Empire’ project which sought to have a balanced assessment of colonialism. Critics said he was an apologist for colonialism.
This is a Battle of Ideas Satellite event hosted by the East Midlands Salon and sponsored by the campaign group Academics For Academic Freedom (AFAF). It is the first in a series of three on The Silencing of Speech.