Dear Mike Buchanan,
Welcome to the Free Speech Union’s weekly newsletter, our round-up of the free speech news of the week. As with all our work, this newsletter depends on the support of our members and donors, so if you’re not already a paying member please sign up today, or encourage a friend to join and help us turn the tide against cancel culture.
Nurse to sue NHS trust over “racist” Christianity training
Nurse Amy Gallagher is to sue an NHS trust after having been made to take training that said “white people are unconsciously racist, that Christianity is a racist religion, and that the Bible can be blamed for racism because it contrasts ‘darkness’ and ‘light’,” the Mail on Sunday reported. Our founder Toby Young was quoted in the report:
This is a prime example of the wokeness that’s endemic across the higher education sector, depicting whiteness as the root of all evil. All publicly funded institutions have a legal duty not to create a hostile environment for people in virtue of their protected characteristics, including religion and belief, so I suspect Amy has a strong case. I applaud her courage.
You can support her Stand Up to Woke crowdfunder here.
Kate Clanchy speaks out about attempts to cancel her
Author Kate Clanchy has written for UnHerd about her experience of being cancelled. In an interview with Freddie Sayers, Clanchy told him her life’s work has been taken away by the campaign against her. Perversely, a compilation of her students’ poetry has also been taken out of print following the furore. The Times reported her comments.
Sonia Sodha said the campaign targeting Clanchy was a witch hunt:
What has happened to Clanchy is a sad tale for our ages. No individual is to blame: it is the product of brittle and cowardly institutions, and the collective social media frenzy that prizes heads on a platter over change. But what I cannot understand is the lack of humanity at Pan Macmillan. One of its authors writes about feeling suicidal, as Clanchy has done recently, and, rather than offering her support, it walks away.
Maria Albano wrote in Spiked that fiction was being killed off by identity politics.
Trigger warnings for 1984 and Harry Potter
Durham University has published a statement saying the investigation into events in December, when students walked out of a talk by Rod Liddle, has been concluded. Student protestors are now demanding the report be made public. One activist was quoted in the Daily Mail saying that the university needed to be made “safer”.
An academic at the University of Bristol was told to remove the words “woman”, “she” and “her” from a maternity policy, and was investigated by university authorities when she said that only women can give birth.
Albert Eisenberg wrote about the wider consequences of the stifling orthodoxy now prevalent in universities and the need for an alternative academy.
The death of academic Peter Newbon is to be probed by the coroner. He had been hounded on social media by supporters of Jeremy Corbyn after posting a doctored image of Corbyn in which the ex-Labour leader is seen reading The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to children. In reality, he was reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Corbyn supporter Michael Rosen. In response, Rosen accused him – bizarrely – of anti-Semitism. This led to Newbon being investigated by his employer, Northumbria University, and being given a final written warning. Professor Newbon was Jewish.
More draconian version of Online Safety Bill expected
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries is expected to announce a more draconian version of the Online Safety Bill, which will propose that social media bosses should be jailed if they fail to remove “harmful” content. Meanwhile, the legislation could still fail to remove the illegal content it is targeting, the BBC reported. You can read our latest briefing on the Bill here.
A Finnish MP is on trial for a tweet quoting the Bible, and risks being imprisoned for two years. Our laws on freedom of speech are not much better in the UK and the Government is intent on making matters worse, wrote Lois McLatchie.
Vindication for women silenced in trans debate as EHRC tells Holyrood to pause self-ID plans
The EHRC has called on Holyrood to pause plans for gender self-identification. “It is difficult to see how these developments do anything less than vindicate the concerns of women across the UK who have been threatened, silenced, and bullied for speaking out in defence of their sex-based rights,” wrote Olivia Hartley for the Critic.
Gwent Police arrested a disabled woman in Newport after she put up posters saying “humans never change sex”. Police held her for 12 hours, raided her home, and seized an academic book about transgenderism by two feminist academics as “evidence”.
Brendan O’Neill warned about the increasing trend of laws criminalising parents who don’t “affirm” their children’s claims of gender dysphoria. Thirty Tory MPs have warned the Government against plans to rush through a ban on conversion therapy without due consideration of the unintended consequences the law could have. Primarily, they’re concerned about the banning of legitimate therapies for children who say they are trans.
Exeter Chiefs retire Native American branding
The Exeter Chiefs are to “rebrand” and retire their 25-year-old Native American-themed logo.
BBC censoring classic shows
The BBC is editing classic radio programmes to meet “changing audience expectations”, the Times reported. Episodes of Dad’s Army were among those quietly edited to remove politically incorrect material. Libby Purves decried the “sneaky” censorship, and urged the BBC to leave the programmes alone. Judith Woods wrote in defence of fairy tales, after actor Peter Dinklage criticised Disney’s live action version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
TV chef Jamie Oliver has revealed that he has “offence advisers” and “teams of cultural appropriation specialists” to vet his recipes.
A Pakistani woman has been sentenced to death for “blasphemous” messages she sent on WhatsApp.
David Davis MP has warned that libel actions by the ultra-wealthy, including Russian oligarchs, are undermining free speech and freedom of the press in Britain.
The battle continues over the name of The Black Bitch pub. Five hundred people joined a recent protest in defence of the traditional name.
Camilla Tominey spoke about the “virtual sewer” of social media that has produced cancel culture, and of the damage it has done to free speech.
Videos and podcasts
You can watch our ‘in-depth’ about the Equality Act with our founder Toby Young, Exeter lecturer Dr Wanjiru Njoya, Professor James Allan and Dr Anna Loutfi here. And you can hear Toby being interviewed by Brendan O’Neill about the second anniversary of the Free Speech Union here.
If you’d like to get involved in our work, we currently have three new posts available. Join our communications team as our Director of Digital Content and Marketing, or as our Communications Officer. We’re also looking for a Director of Data and Impact to help expand our membership base. We’re keen to fill the positions quickly, so will begin the interview process on a rolling basis.
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