Should university fees be paid to institutions which support censorship? The case of Jordan Peterson, a Canadian academic whose invitation to a visiting fellowship Cambridge was withdrawn via a tweet, highlights again the erosion of free speech in our supposed centres of academia. The vast majority of universities have restrictions speech or publications. At the acceptable end, I'd happily back anyone who didn't want sales of the Sun on their premises (until recently I'd have said the same about the Mail, it has moderated a bit under a new editor). At the unacceptable end is the 'no platforming' of speakers whose views are too difficult for tender liberal ears to listen to.
Universities are places of learning. Part of learning is working out how to defend your own ideas, and to critique those of other people. We have anti-terror laws to police the worst excesses of hate speech and incitement to violence. But hearing a view which makes you feel uncomfortable is not the same. As a Christian, I heard lots of things said at my university, many by lecturers, which I found offensive, insensitive or just difficult to hear. I even went to a debating society which featured Jacob Rees-Mogg and lost a robust debate on whether capital punishment should be brought back (you can guess which side he was on). But I'm glad we could debate it. It helped me think through my own position, and the arguments I used to back it up.
In a few years time I may become a 'customer' of one of these universities, what with being a parent of children at secondary school. I'm already composing a mental list of the ones I don't want to finance, if this is what they are going to do with the money. Cambridge has become a house of fools if it thinks the best way to advance learning is to no platform one of the leading public thinkers around. It's on the list.