Students setting up “speakeasy” groups to challenge lad culture ban


DEFIANT students have been setting up new “speakeasies” to challenge lad culture bans.

Universities including Edinburgh, Manchester and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) have created free-speech groups in order to oppose bans and campaigns that universities and student unions have implemented.

And some students have even been setting up events and debates in order to argue that some of the universities prohibitions are in breach of censoring free speech.

Photo:Philip Allfrey

A “speakeasy” group at LSE have plans to hand out leaflets listing dozens “of the most controversial ideas” in order to encourage students to hold debates over them.

One of the proposals include a plan to allow Robin Thicke’s hit single, Blurred Lines to be played around campus despite several universities banning the song in 2013 after claims were made that the lyrics promote rape.

In the past their university rugby club have also banned newspapers from the campus which they believe promote lad culture.

And two students were threatened with expulsion after wearing tshirts branding Jesus and the prophet Muhammad.

Charlie Parker, a politics and philosophy student at LSE, said: “There’s a really censorious atmosphere on campus. It feels like you are walking on eggshells the whole time in terms of what you can and can’t say.”

Milo Yiannopoulos, founder of an online magazine that argues that rape does not exist, will take part in a debate with feminist academics in Edinburgh next month, organised by a new free-speech group.

Yiannopoulos and feminist writer, Julie Bindel were previously stopped by the student union at Manchester University from debating the question, “Does modern feminism have a problem with free speech?”

Blair Spowart, a philosophy student from Edinburgh who will be taking part in the debate, said: “There is a lot of activity around what is called the lad culture in the student union. They pay a lot of attention to restricting it.”

The controversial groups come ahead of a publication due to be released next month showing research into censorship’s on campuses.

Compiled by online magazine, Spiked, the Free Speech university Rankings are expected to show that the universities that have imposed bans  on racist or sexual speech or that have particular organisations is expected to have rise from 40% last year to 50% this year.

Tom Slater, who was involved in compiling the figures, said: “It’s much worse than last year. There has been an explosion of incidents and a lot more policies have been pushed through on things like ‘no platform’ for speakers with certain views.”

Joanna Williams, a lecturer at Kent University and education editor of Spiked, believes that academics are leading the attack on freedom of speech.

She said: “Instead of an intellectual robustness to challenge and debate views, academics are instead teaching that words can inflict violence and oppression and should be censored.

“It is precisely because I disagree with sexism, racism and homophobia that I want an open forum where everyone can debate them and not drive them underground, where they become more attractive to people.”