Jesus Christ would be banned from preaching on university campuses if he were alive today, after Britain became “too feeble” at standing up for free speech, a leading Oxford professor has said.
Professor Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European Studies at Oxford University, said the trend for “so-called safe spaces” had led to free speech being eroded from all sides, with even students insisting on shutting one another’s opinions down.
Warning universities must “hold the line” against the “salami slicing” of free speech, he said it was time for the public to stand up against creeping legislation and self-censorship.
Speaking at the Hay Festival, sponsored by the Telegraph, Prof Garton Ash said he had identified four key areas of threat to free speech in Britain, including an increasing fear of violence against those who chose to share their opinions.
Home Office legislation, he added, meant that universities were now encouraged to block even non-violent extremists from sharing their opinion, in a definition that could include some of the world’s leading thinkers of centuries past.
He told an audience: “Some of you may know that in the new counter-terrorism legislation, the securocrats in the Home Office are trying to impose on universities a so-called prevent duty, which would call on us to prevent event non-violent extremists speaking on campus.
“Now non-violent extremists? That’s Karl Marx, Rousseau, Charles Darwin, Hegel, and most clearly Jesus Christ, who was definitely a non-violent extremists. The Home Office wouldn’t want him preaching on campus. Continue Reading