Robbie Travers On Campus Censorship: Ignoring Orwell At Their Peril

Robbie Travers, a 21-year-old law student, is being investigated by the University of Edinburgh for claims he committed a “hate crime”.

As we detailed previoustly, sharing a comment on his Facebook page – in response to the U.S. Air Force dropping a massive ordinance air blast (or MOAB, “Mother Of All Bombs) on a network of ISIS tunnels in Afghanistan in April – Travers said:

“Excellent news that the US administration and Trump ordered an accurate strike on an ISIS network of tunnels in Afghanistan. I’m glad we could bring these barbarians a step closer to collecting their 72 virgins.”

A complaint with the University was filed by a second-year history student that alleged Travers’ comment “put minority students at risk and in a state of panic” while also breaching the student code of conduct – with Edinburgh Uni even going so far as to open a probe over Traver’s plainly horrific comment obviously directed toward terrorists!

Today he speaks out in an op-ed via The Gatestone Institute,

When you hear the quite horrific stories of censorship and dangerous restrictions on expression at universities in the US, the UK and Europe, your first reaction might be to laugh at how infantile the nature of political discourse in the student world has become.

Cardiff Metropolitan University banned the use of the word "man" and related phrases, to encourage the adoption of "gender neutral" language.

It is the equivalent of the "newspeak" about which Orwell warned: "Ambiguous euphemistic language used chiefly in political propaganda".

Currently, longstanding expressions carrying no prejudice are now used as the trappings of often fictitious "oppressions."

City University in London, renowned for its journalism school, is apparently banning newspapers that do not conform to the current student body's various political biases.

If the Sun, Daily Mail and Express are such bad publications, why not allow students to read them and make up their own minds? Perhaps students do not trust their peers to make up their own minds? What if they make up their minds the "wrong" way? To suggest that the brightest and best at our universities cannot contend with a dissenting argument should probably be at least slightly concerning.

There seems to be a growing consensus among student populations that certain views should not be challenged, heard or -- if one does not hear them -- even known.

A culture has also emerged at universities of promoting "safe spaces". These ostensibly aim to be free of prejudices such as racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and other bile. But all too often, we have seen them filled with exactly these prejudices – anti-whiteness, anti-maleness and of course anti-Semitism, as even some of Britain's leading universities are "becoming no-go zones for Jews".

We have seen the staff of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo slaughtered by ISIS terrorists for mocking Mohammad, and banned from Bristol and Manchester University, apparently because some students might find it offensive. What about the delicate sensibilities of those of us who find censorship offensive? Especially of a publication that has stood up to religious fanaticism and paid the ultimate price? Where are the "safe spaces" for those who would ban banning?

At the University of Edinburgh, a student official was silenced for raising her hand -- as if a raised hand were a "thought crime" tantamount to physical violence. Yet, as Sigmund Freud said, "The first human being who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilisation."

Does mean, then, that many campuses are going back to pre-civilisation? Last year, the magazine Spiked found that 90% of British universities hold policies that support censorship and chill free speech. In February, riots to disrupt a speech at University of California, Berkeley caused $100,000 worth of damage -- but only one person was arrested.

Do the advocates of suppressing speech not see -- or care -- where silencing free speech leads? You set a precedent that allows further silencing, which, in turn, creates ever-expanding censorships. One imagines that especially universities should be the institutions that protect the exchange of ideas.

Historically, contrarian views -- such as those of Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Darwin, Muhammad ibn Zakariya al-Razi, Servetus, Oldenburg, Domagk and Freud -- have been essential to shaping our culture. They have reversed accepted practices and opened minds. Where would our culture be without the freedom to question, be creative or even at times offend?

Where would our culture be without the freedom to question, be creative or even at times offend? Pictured: Galileo Galilei at his trial by the Inquisition in Rome in 1633. (Image source: Wellcome Trust/Wikimedia Commons)

To begin with, just about any idea can be found "offensive" by someone. To devout conservative Muslims and Christians, homosexuality may be offensive; to anti-Semites, Jews; to white racists, blacks; to black racists, whites, and so on. When we legitimise anyone's right to be free of exposure to "offensive" ideas, we empower only authoritarians, who historically seem all too happy silence anyone over anything.

In addition, sometimes causing offence is unavoidable -- or we would all still be mired in the Inquisition or, as still takes place, murdering people for sorcery.

Discussion is still probably the most constructive way to decide which ideas are worth being celebrated and which are worth rejecting.

Last week, I found myself under investigation -- without evidence -- for some of my political views, posted on my Facebook wall:

"Excellent news that the US administration and Trump ordered an accurate strike on an Isis network of tunnels in Afghanistan. I'm glad we could bring these barbarians a step closer to collecting their 72 virgins".

This note was then alleged to be "blatant Islamophobia" and consequently a "hate crime." Under UK law, that would make being a member of ISIS a protected characteristic -- presently, however, it is not.

There are also claims that "ISIS has nothing to do with Islam", yet, according to the woman who complained about my post, Esme Allman, mocking ISIS apparently makes one guilty of having "incited hatred against religious groups and protected characteristics."

Allman also alleged that I had, "without her consent," published "a decontextualized quote" by her, in which she had referred to "black men" as "trash."

In the UK, however, quoting someone for criticism of their work or speech, regardless of whether their work is copyrighted, is completely legal, especially if it is intended to facilitate the "reporting of current events." As the quote of Allman's remark was intended to question her behaviour in a public position, the law would presumably protect it.

Moreover, her complaint alleges that my remarks regarding Trump's strike on ISIS, noted above, induced a "state of fear and panic." At a Western university, why would mocking a terrorist organisation that has slit throats, burned people alive, drowned people (some in boiling tar), be seen as inducing "fear and panic"? The people who commit these atrocities should be causing the fear and panic. It is our job in the West to point out what they do so that eventually they do not do it here, too.

What also should cause "fear and alarm" is that individuals are now taking it upon themselves to defend such terrorists against criticism. Members of ISIS openly despise Jews, the LGBT, women and free thinkers. Why would any individual who is supposedly championing human rights for minorities support such a death cult?

It is hoped that students, especially at a leading university, would be intellectually curious enough to withstand being alerted to what ISIS is up to. If fellow students disagree, they should be able to challenge one's allegations through a reasoned analysis of the argument. They did not.

Another screenshot that served as the only evidence was a Facebook post in which I noted that:

"I won't give elements of Islam or Muslims who hold regressive beliefs a free pass for their assorted poisonous bigotries and regressive values because they face bigotry. If you have terrible, oppressive views that seek to attack the rights of others, expect to be called out for those views, regardless of being oppressed yourself..."

It is essential that the culture of victimhood, in which people think they can silence others on the grounds of "identity," is dismantled. Anyone should be able to question or criticise just about anyone, within the limits of Brandenburg v. Ohio. Free speech, according to this 1969 U.S. Supreme Court decision, is limited only if it encourages immediate and credible danger or other unlawful action. We should not care -- or even know -- what minority group, if any, someone belongs to. That would be racist.


tion Thu, 09/14/2017 - 03:54 Permalink

This is part of why you hypocritical globalist-hating-yet-globalist-wannabe-flagplanting-cucks need to consider putting on your big boy pants and standing your ground, or one day you may find yourselves without a safespace to run to.

Blue Steel 309 Thu, 09/14/2017 - 04:05 Permalink

Has there ever been a more blatant example of Jews taking both sides of an issue they created for some self interested but tangential motive?

The key sentence in the article being "Today he speaks out in an op-ed via The Gatestone Institute,"

pawn AUD Thu, 09/14/2017 - 05:01 Permalink

Well, did he make any money Tyler. Funny. Did his stock go up? Got 2say you have a hell of s lot of writers in my opinion are pretty impressive very talented writing English language at least we still have the English language non gendered. Go back 2 sleep pawn.

In reply to by AUD

Kina Thu, 09/14/2017 - 04:43 Permalink

A student was upset that support for attacking head-lopping terrorists could put them at risk?The only way it could put any student at risk is if they were also a Terrorist.That the University of Edinburgh even considered this for a second is beyond rediculous.The Left intend to burn down the entire USA house if that means Trump doesn't have a victroy on anything.HOWEVER this will come back to haunt these little whiny fuckers.Because it is certain they will be crucified on the very cross they built.

Gruntcakes DetectiveStern Thu, 09/14/2017 - 06:52 Permalink

People became weak. People also remain mentally as children for a lot longer these days. Because of this, they see themselves not only as entitled, but almost sacred, whereby any little thing, any comment, any thought  can be seen as a weapon of hurt.These people are too full of their own self importance. And they now start to occupy positions of authority, which obviously does not bode well for the world.

In reply to by DetectiveStern

BritBob Thu, 09/14/2017 - 05:01 Permalink

Censorship or just sticking your head in the sand?Critics of the Argentine government’s strategies and rhetoric toward the islands have coined a new verb – malvinizar – to describe how the claim for and memory of the Malvinas is used simply to divert attention away from more serious domestic socio-economic challenges . Indeed, if all claims of uti possidetis juris were resolved, the world map politically might look profoundly different today!Falklands- Never Belonged to Argentina (1 page): 

Rebelrebel7 (not verified) Thu, 09/14/2017 - 06:11 Permalink

Excellent essay Robbie Travers! Thank you for publishing it Tyler! It is inconceivable that universities are banning gender labeling terms! I don't think that is logical or practical! However, I'm sure that they are probably working on a plan to turn us all into hermaphrodites just for the hell of it through genetic editing! Maybe they wanted us to adopt the language first. I'm not excited about that and I am furious with the  way that the universities staff  are conducting themselves!

conraddobler Thu, 09/14/2017 - 06:19 Permalink

There is only one thing to do with a rabbit hole and that is to dive straight in.So said seemngly almost everyone who have all lost their ever lovin minds.It is difficult to preserve one's sanity amidst the sea of insanity currently gripping the world.  You have to dodge the bullets from all the half baked useful idiots flopping around vying for position as chief toady to some dominant psychopath.Sigh.You want to just shake the ones who aren't really evil but are just misguided.  It wouldn't do any good but you still want to.Perhaps just a beer summit?Ah fuggit they won't learn until they get to see their real masters mad faces.Same as it ever was.

hoytmonger Thu, 09/14/2017 - 07:12 Permalink

This is a result of postmodern, neo-Marxist ideology being "taught" in colleges and universities. Sociology classes are MANDATORY if a student wishes to receive their degree. The classes begin freshman year, to indoctrinate students while their minds are still essentially a blank slate.These are the people that create the useful idiots that riot in the streets, screaming to end free speech and capitalism while promoting socialism.

Emperor_Norton hoytmonger Thu, 09/14/2017 - 10:25 Permalink

I concur. However, if one child has a blank slate for a mind by the time they get to college, the parents either seriously fucked up or....... maybe it be considered a smashing success by lazy ass mom or dad. Public education is the bain of a developing mind.
My crumb crunchers fought the entire way, one straight to valedictorian. God the principal was pissed.
Checkmate bitch. (Principal=bitch)

In reply to by hoytmonger

hidflect Thu, 09/14/2017 - 07:34 Permalink

The Enlightenment was built upon the principle of "a marketplace of ideas". Now some purple haired SJW's want to get rid of that. Keep happy thoughts when the Sharia devotees throw you off a rooftop.

honest injun Thu, 09/14/2017 - 10:33 Permalink

Clearly Robbie doesn't understand the pyramid of victim idea.  He/she? might be considered as a victim if someone made a disparaging remarks about androgynous people.  But, gender confusion is lower on the pyramid than Islam.  So, if a heterosexual man says that homosexuals do not have the right to exist, that's a hate crime.  But, if a Muslim says this, it is not. Of course, this is ridiculous but is Robbie fighting to destroy the pyramid of just to get his/her position moved higher in the pyramid?