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 Universities Stifling Free Speech
Charles
 Posted: Dec 27 2017, 04:15 PM
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Opinion: Attack on free speech means university is no longer a place to learn life lessons

Gemma Tognini
Wednesday, 27 December 2017 12:28PM


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Illustration: Don LindsayPicture: The West Australian

My university life was more than 20 years ago. Trust me when I say just typing those words makes me feel like an old gal. Someone told me the other day that I’m too young to be nostalgic about anything but I reckon you’re never too young. I remember all too well the excitement of my new-found freedom — social and intellectual.

Free from the rigidity of a Catholic school (where I once got detention for wearing the wrong-coloured ribbon in my ponytail) and released from the shackles of a uniform and a timetable, the experience best described as sudden-onset-adulthood was, in a word, glorious. I remember the cheap thrill of being able to dress how I wanted, driving to uni each day in Betsy, my trusted and ancient beige Toyota Corolla which had been handed down from my mum, to my brother, to me. It was a sweet ride, people. It had a cassette player and everything.

Kebabs, beer, conversation and, when necessary, study shaped our days. Yep, I did an English degree in the 90s and as far as rites of passage go, it was awesome. It was for the most part, uncomplicated.
It was wholly free from a dialogue of victimhood, political correctness and timidity of thought.

Now, as my 17-year-old nephew prepares to go to university in a month or so, I confess to being a little nervous about the environment he and hundreds of thousands of Australian young adults are going into.

For some time at least anecdotally there have been concerns about the erosion of critical thinking at Australia’s universities. The odd opinion piece, like this one, the occasional news report, all hinting at, warning of an odious slide into mental protectionism.

What do I mean by that? Well, campuses have seemingly become overrun by the notion of providing a “safe space” either in word or in deed, where nobody disagrees, nobody is allowed to get offended and truly diverse ideas inevitably die like dogs in the gutter.

Now, let me be clear from the get-go. This is not about curriculum, although that’s one for another day.

It is about social engineering and deliberate restriction of free speech.
What’s that I hear you say?

Prove it?

Thought you’d never ask.

Research conducted by the Institute of Public Affairs and published at the end of last year in the Weekend Australian paints a clear and frightening picture of just how real this issue is. The IPA conducted an audit and analysis of university policies, procedures and guidelines. It found 81 per cent of Australia’s 42 universities are actively hostile to free speech. Actively hostile. That means the people running these joints are actively trying to restrict intellectual freedom.

At universities. Let that sink in for just a minute.

The IPA also found that 17 per cent go so far as to threaten free speech.
It found hundreds of policies, including in one case, a 1600-word “flag policy” (the mind boggles), yet the majority of unis fail to comply with their legislated obligation to have a policy that “upholds free intellectual inquiry”. Only eight universities complied.

It went on to describe an environment in which there have been violent protests against certain speakers, and students instructed not to express their viewpoint. Violent protests.

Apart from violence being, you know, a criminal activity, does that not just scream a lack of intellectual depth? If the best response students have to a differing view is to torch the joint or belt someone with a piece of 4x2, you’re not really talking about our nation’s brightest. What is even more sobering is that the audit found almost all of the regulations and restrictions extend beyond the law itself. Students are more censored, restricted and gagged by their universities than in real life.

It seems the culture behind all of this has been allowed to quietly thrive and spread like lantana on your gran’s back fence because nobody thought they’d ever need to prune it.

I know it’s the habit of every generation to look back and think they did things better.

I’m not so foolish nor blinkered to suggest it was perfect, because it wasn’t.

But what it was, was an environment in which we learnt not just in lectures (and let’s be clear, sometimes not even in lectures) but in the day-to-day social navigation around differing views, ideas, cultures and beliefs and the basic life skills that navigation teaches a person.

The reason we should be taking notice of this lies in the black and white numbers of the IPA’s audit. Sure, it backs up a view I’ve held and many of my peers and mates have held for some time, but it’s not about being right, it’s not even about that. It’s about the kind of place a university should be.

It’s about the systematic removal of circumstances in which young people can, through normal, everyday life, develop independent and critical thinking by dealing with people who hold opposing views — even ones most of us might find a tad gauche.

I’m going to go a step further. Learning to deal with offence — rather than the offence itself, is a gift. It’s a life lesson. It teaches you to think for yourself, toss out the garbage, keep what works, listen with an open mind, and respectfully walk away without setting fire to something or calling a lawyer.

And if university isn’t one of the places young people get to learn this, then change is way overdue.


https://thewest.com.au/opinion/opinion-attack-on-free-speech-means-university-is-no-longer-a-place-to-learn-life-lessons-ng-b88699829z

Once again Gemma Tognini has produced an excellent opinion piece. Political Correctness is all about protecting people from perceived offence. As Gemma writes, life lessons should be about learning to deal with offence, not denying individuals the right to express their opinions.

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“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” - John Wooden
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scepo
 Posted: Dec 28 2017, 09:20 AM
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I could not agree more Charles.

A great and well written O.P.

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charka
 Posted: Dec 28 2017, 01:47 PM
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look at SSM debacle
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Alicia
 Posted: Dec 28 2017, 03:55 PM
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Well done Gemma, I hope she isn’t hung, drawn and quartered but our social “ elite”. http://fairdinkumnewschat.com/rolleyes.gif
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Flin
 Posted: Dec 28 2017, 03:56 PM
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I was going to say was that now-a-days thermometers aren't the only things that have degrees and are graduated but posses no original thoughts, but I wouldn't like to offend any one who may be offended or be offended on someone's behalf who may or may not take offence, so I'd better not say it..  http://fairdinkumnewschat.b1.jcink.com/uploads/fairdinkumnewschat/smiley_wink.gif

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Alicia
 Posted: Dec 29 2017, 06:28 AM
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http://fairdinkumnewschat.com/blink.gif http://fairdinkumnewschat.com/laugh.gif http://fairdinkumnewschat.com/laugh.gif http://fairdinkumnewschat.com/laugh.gif
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Charles
 Posted: Dec 31 2017, 09:15 AM
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There was a very interesting letter in the "Weekend West" in response to Gemma Tognini's opinion piece.The writer, John Geary, states, "... there is no better example ... than the decision, two years ago of my alma mater, the University of WA, to reject $4 million of Federal funding to set up a Consensus Centre under Danish academic Professor Bjorn Lomborg.
It was to be a think-tank to debate and address pressing global issues.
In this case, the opponents of free discussion were the student body and the staff who pressured a weak administration into refusing the Commonwealth offer.
The good professor's sin?
Having the temerity to suggest that the trillions of dollars worldwide being thrown at global warming could be better spent on alleviating poverty."

Mr Geary concludes his letter with, "My donations to the university now flow to more worthy causes."
This example is the total antithesis of what a University should be doing. The students need to have the freedom (and ability) to question and debate global issues rather than simply (and blindly) toeing the so called "progressive" line.

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Bill
 Posted: Dec 31 2017, 12:46 PM
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The students need to have the freedom (and ability) to question and debate global issues rather than simply (and blindly) toeing the so called "progressive" line.

They also need to be told the truth Charles.

The $4 Million offered to the UWA by Tony Abbott, and rejected, was also rejected by every University in Australia.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg

"In April 2015, it was announced that an alliance between the Copenhagen Consensus Center and the University of Western Australia would see the establishment of the Australian Consensus Centre, a new policy research center at the UWA Business School. The University described the Center's goals as a "focus on applying an economic lens to proposals to achieve good for Australia, the region and the world, prioritizing those initiatives which produce the most social value per dollar spent.".[18] This appointment came under intense scrutiny, particularly when leaked documents revealed that the Australian government had approached UWA and offered to fund the Consensus Centre, information subsequently confirmed by a senior UWA lecturer.[19] Reports indicated that Prime Minister Tony Abbott's office was directly responsible for Lomborg's elevation.[20] $4 million of the total funding for the Center was to be provided by the Australian federal government,[14] with UWA not contributing any funding for the centre.[21]

On 8 May 2015 UWA cancelled the contract for hosting the Australian Consensus Centre as "the proposed centre was untenable and lacked academic support".[22][23] The Australian federal education minister, Christopher Pyne, said that he would find another university to host the ACC.

In July 2015, Flinders University senior management began quietly canvassing its staff about a plan to host the renamed Lomborg Consensus Centre at the University, likely in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. A week later the story was broken on Twitter by the NTEU (National Tertiary Education Union)[24] and Scott Ludlam.[25] The story appeared the next day in The Australian,[26] but described as "academic conversations" with no mention of Bjorn Lomborg’s involvement and portrayed as a grassroots desire for the Centre by the University.[27] The following week, a story appeared in the Guardian quoting two Flinders University academics and an internal document demonstrating staff’s withering rejection of the idea.[28] Flinders staff and students vowed to fight against the establishment of any Centre or any partnership with Lomborg,[29] citing his lack of scientific credibility, his lack of academic legitimacy and the political nature of the process of establishing the Centre with the Abbott federal government. The Australian Youth Climate Coalition and 350.org launched a national campaign to support staff and students in their rejection of Lomborg.[30]

On 21 October 2015 education minister Simon Birmingham told a senate committee the offered funding had been withdrawn.[31] It was subsequently unclear whether the Australian Government would honour its original commitment and transfer the funds directly to the Centre to cover the costs incurred, in particular given Lomborg's unique expertise and contribution."

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Alicia
 Posted: Dec 31 2017, 01:23 PM
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Yes Bill, that would be correct that all the Australian universities rejected the offer, freedom of speech, opinion, thought and ideas are not welcomed in Australian educational establishments unless the “progressive” line is toed. Note that I did not include “facts” in my list. I do miss my daily dose of the west. http://fairdinkumnewschat.com/rolleyes.gif
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Charles
 Posted: Dec 31 2017, 01:29 PM
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"They also need to be told the truth Charles."

Rather than being told "the truth" I would prefer to see students at this level seeking the truth rather than believing everything they hear and read.

For example, rather than taking for granted one particular section of Wikipedia regarding Professor Lomborg, you might have included the following excerpt:

In 2009, Business Insider cited Lomborg as one of "The 10 Most-Respected Global Warming Skeptics". While Lomborg campaigned against the Kyoto Protocol and other measures to cut carbon emissions in the short-term, he argued for adaptation to short-term temperature rises, and for spending money on research and development for longer-term environmental solutions. His issue is not with the reality of climate change, but rather with the economic and political approaches being taken (or not taken) to meet the challenges of that climate change. He is a strong advocate for focusing attention and resources on what he perceives as far more pressing world problems, such as AIDS, malaria and malnutrition. In his critique of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Lomborg stated: "Global warming is by no means our main environmental threat." In 2011 and 2012, Lomborg was named a Top 100 Global Thinker by Foreign Policy "for looking more right than ever on the politics of climate change".

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg

Sadly the academics of this world are more interested in following ideological dogma regarding issues instead of engaging in healthy debate where others' opinions are respected and analysed rather than dismissed out of hand.

In the case of Professor Lomborg, who clearly states that "his issue is not with the reality of climate change, but rather with the economic and political approaches being taken (or not taken) to meet the challenges of that climate change", he has been dismissed by many as a climate change skeptic when clearly he is not.

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“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

“All of life is peaks and valleys. Don’t let the peaks get too high and the valleys too low.” - John Wooden
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