Censorship on campus – academic freedom bill is voted down by MPs who fear exposure to some ideas can be damaging to our health

Labour MP Jo Luxton – in a Parliamentary speech about academic freedom in this country – referred to the recent shooting in the United States by a young person who had been “radicalised and emboldened” by the mosque attacks in Christchurch a few years ago.

These were actions based on hate for someone of a different race or religion.

She referred, too, to the 23-day occupation of the grounds of Parliament by protesters earlier this year.

“Our place, the people’s place, was desecrated while people had a platform to spread their mis- and disinformation, where they spoke about freedom, freedom of speech, and they also spoke about hate.”

In defence of censorship on campus, in effect, she said she wanted her children to go out and explore the world and to attend university and other learning institutions.

“But I want to know they are as safe as possible while they do so. I can’t tag along to uni with them too, so, as parents, we put a lot of trust in those places—that they will do all that they can to keep our children safe, and that means minimising the risk of mental harm, minimising the risk of physical harm, which they are obliged to do under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015.

“This proposed piece of legislation takes that away.

Hence she opposed a private member’s bill intended to enhance the right to freedom of expression within our universities.  Continue reading “Censorship on campus – academic freedom bill is voted down by MPs who fear exposure to some ideas can be damaging to our health”

Many academics are nervous about saying what they think – but they should be okay if what they say is mana-enhancing

ACT MP James McDowall alerted us to new research showing an ominous level of apprehension among Kiwi academics about speaking freely at New Zealand universities.  He said this highlights the urgent need for his Member’s Bill, which requires tertiary education institutions to protect freedom of expression.

Curia research, commissioned by the Free Speech Union, found almost half of the academics who responded are concerned about raising differing perspectives or discussing issues related to gender and sex and half don’t feel free to debate or discuss Treaty issues.

McDowall acknowledged that tertiary education institutions are required by the Education Act 1989 and the Bill of Rights Act 1990 to uphold academic freedom and freedom of expression.

But universities have barred speakers and cancelled events citing ‘mental harm’ to students.

“Essentially, there are no consequences if an institution actively inhibits freedom of expression without legitimate cause.”

His Bill requires tertiary education institutions to protect freedom of expression, including the issuing of codes of practice that set out the procedures students and staff should follow to uphold freedom of expression, and by ensuring that the requirements of codes of practice are met. Continue reading “Many academics are nervous about saying what they think – but they should be okay if what they say is mana-enhancing”