By Kathleen Stock
Excerpt: Is it ever possible to take a neutral position on the importance of free speech? The task certainly seems quite difficult. As Vogue’s favourite philosopher, Amia Srinivasan, notes this month in the London Review of Books, many Right-wingers seem to assert the value of free speech, mainly or even only to make room for political views the Left would prefer smothered at birth. Occasionally, someone on the Right will complain about the suppression of a position or person they don’t agree with, but usually more to avoid complaints of inconsistency than anything else.
The Left, however, also has its blind spots — many of which are apparent in Srinivasan’s essay. Scathing about the new Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act’s attempt to create a culture which promotes academic freedom in UK universities, she barely acknowledges the problems diagnosed by its authors and defenders.