Terror Tactics Triumph, Silence Freedom of Speech at Bristol University

Angelos Sofocleous, our friend and editor, has been prevented from debating freedom of speech at Bristol University due to ‘security concerns’.

The University of Bristol Free Speech Society had invited our friend and editor Angelos Sofocleous to a panel discussing free speech. The first question they intended to ask was “is there a problem with free speech on campus?”.

Now it appears that Bristol Students Union have rendered Angelos’s appearance no longer necessary by answering that question in advance, with a resounding ‘YES’.

Despite being informed of the event over a month ago, the Students Union have seen fit to deny his invitation less than a week before the event was due to begin. This is a common tactic when attempting to disrupt an event for ideological rather than genuine reasons, with the intent of making the decision difficult to dispute in the time remaining.

This is not the first time that Angelos Sofocleous has faced serious repercussions for his philosophical beliefs, nor is it the first time we have reported on it.

But this time, the objections from the Student Union raise serious concerns about procedure. By declaring his presence a ‘security risk’ on the grounds that it ‘might spark protests which might lead to physical violence’, they are effectively caving in to those who would use fascist terror tactics to prevent their opponents from speaking.

We are left with two questions – first of all, are British Student Unions committed to using bureaucratic manoeuvres to prevent those they dislike from attending campus events? Secondly, are militant groups amongst the student body using threats of physical violence to do likewise?

Either question, if answered affirmatively, poses a serious threat to the future of free discussion in this country. I have written in the past about the dangers an erosion of speech poses to all of us, no matter our views, and call once again upon all those who are willing to stand up for the freedom to speak one’s mind, whether it be against bureaucracy, a dangerous minority, or stifling majority sentiments.

About Dan Fisher 46 Articles
Editor-in-Chief of Uncommon Ground Media

4 Comments

  1. You may do well to consider a tiny bit of American Constitutional jurisprudence.

    Our First Amendment prohibits content-based speech restrictions with a few very narrow exceptions. One of these deals with “fighting words”: words that are deemed to have the power to move people to unlawful violence. But, you see, if the criterion for speech prohibition is, the government can prohibit any speech content that someone swears will inevitably move him or her to unlawful violence. The term for this is the “heckler’s veto.” If our courts allow speech regulation based on the fact that someone says the speech content will move him or her or someone else to unlawful violence….then the most thuggish party becomes the censor for everyone. Hence this limitation on content-based government speech restriction has to be viewed very very skeptically. I think our (federal) Supreme Court last upheld a law prohibiting speech or writing pursuant to this rationale in 1947.

    This lesson of judicial experience is of course in addition to whatever harm you do to free inquiry whenever you say that someone’s view is too provocative or upsetting to be spoken. I commend to you the American belief that the solution to hate speech is more and better speech.

    • Hi Maria. This was a quick article in response to an attack on our friend. I’m terribly sorry it doesn’t meet your standards. But I don’t understand what you mean. He’s been banned because the SU deemed him a ‘security risk’. Now, if your question is, why do they think that, or ‘what has he done to offend people’ that’s an entirely different issue. Why should we have to try to justify other people’s opposition to our presence on campus? That’s up to them to provide legitimate reasons. But if you’re interested about Angelos there are plenty of other articles on this site and elsewhere which elaborate on the nature of his ‘controversy’.

    • Hi Maria, if you had read the artical properly you would see he was banned as a security risk . Hope you feel a little more enlightened now that you don’t have to actually read the full article.

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