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London School of Economics free speech society faces ban threat after student files motion

Student says it would be 'hilarious if the anti-ban society was actually banned', while the group remains 'undeterred'

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Thursday 04 February 2016 17:29
The students' union at LSE has placed bans on newspapers, pop songs, and other societies in recent years
The students' union at LSE has placed bans on newspapers, pop songs, and other societies in recent years

A students’ union group at the London School of Economics (LSE) - established to fight against the banning of freedom of speech on campus - could, infact, itself be banned after a student filed a motion against it being “self-important and ill-informed.”

LSESU Speakeasy, founded by former spiked magazine intern Charlie Parker, was set up shortly after the online publication released its Free Speech University Rankings (FSUR) last month which found LSE to have a “shocking score” when it came to stifling free speech.

spiked’s deputy editor, Tom Slater, described how LSESU Speakeasy was created to challenge an oppressive campus climate which has, in recent years, led to the students’ union to ban newspapers, censor pop songs, and also clamp down on student societies.

Now, however, writing in the LSESU newspaper, the BeaverOnline, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) student Maurice Banerjee Palmer said “it would be hilarious if the anti-ban society was actually banned” and was compelled to file the motion after a feature on the society in the London Evening Standard was “misinforming” the public.

Palmer described how Speakeasy and the FSUR “pretty much endorse hate speech which is illegal,” and continued: “They don’t seem to have put any effort into understanding the rationale behind safe spaces, or their effect. And for a supposedly pro-debate organisation, they don’t seem awfully keen on putting across the other side of the argument.”

On the subject of their “self-importance,” Palmer accused the three students in the London Evening Standard article of being “three musketeers” who have decided to “set up a society in the name of debate and get their faces in the papers.” As well as this, he said: “They seem to fall into a group of people who don’t like a perceived focus on women and minorities. They seem to be looking for a victim card to play and to ‘confuse a loss of advantage with an act of oppression’.”

spiked’s Slater, though, described how Speakeasy is “undeterred” and the society’s outreach officer, Connor Naylor, told the magazine: “If anything, it’s only strengthened us, and our support as well.”

Parker, Speakeasy’s president, described the motion as “ludicrous,” adding: “The fact there is a motion to ban our society - after just over a week of its existence and before we’ve even held an event - proves the need for this group better than we ever could.”

spiked has reported how the motion will be debated at LSESU’s general meeting in just a few weeks’ time where both Naylor and Parker plan to oppose it, as they aim to “break down the wider culture of self-censorship” Parker concluded: “Speakeasy is not just a bunch of white, privileged males out to cause offence for no reason.

“The debate will provide exactly the platform we need to get our views across.”

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