“Greer ban at university ‘is to seem fair to Muslims’: Vince Cable warns feminists and right-wingers will be censored to prove institutions are not ‘anti-Islamic,'” by Eleanor Harding, Daily Mail, October 28, 2015 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):
Universities will ban feminists, Right-wing politicians and other controversial speakers to appear fair on Muslims, Vince Cable has warned.
The ex-business secretary said the Prevent strategy would make institutions feel compelled to censor all ‘extreme’ views to prove that they are not ‘anti-Islamic’.
Under the Government’s counter-terror drive, universities have a duty to monitor students for signs of ‘non-violent extremism’ and block hate preachers.
But yesterday Sir Vince said institutions would feel obliged to ‘demonstrate impartiality’ and ban ‘non-Muslim speakers whose reputation is also controversial for different reasons’.
He said some speakers were already being given hostile receptions on campuses, including Ukip leader Nigel Farage who cancelled an appearance at Cambridge after protests.
A petition was also set up to stop feminist Germaine Greer speaking at Cardiff because her views could allegedly offend ‘trans’ people.
Sir Vince said: ‘Once we get into the way of thinking that the best way to deal with extreme views is to suppress them, we get into very dangerous territory indeed.
‘And unfortunately I think that is the way the government is trying to lead.
‘If the government is successful in getting through legislation which in turn leads to guidance to universities, I suspect what will happen is this.
‘The legislation and the guidance will be vague, and universities being naturally risk adverse institutions will err on the side of caution and try to stop controversial speakers.
‘They will then be accused of being anti-Islamic and so they will try to stop other speakers of other persuasions.’
He added that censoring any one group of people could result in the same consequences for wider society.
‘The danger is that we say “Ok well we’ve banned that lot, therefore we will ban this lot”,’ he said.
‘You get on to this downward spiral where any form of radical dissent is actively discouraged or not allowed.’
The Lib Dem, who was responsible for higher education during his stint in the cabinet, claimed planned new powers would leave universities so risk averse they would allow only a ‘bland exchange’ of ‘politically correct’ views.
In a speech to the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Sir Vince said he had blocked attempts to impose restrictions on so-called extremists during his time in government.
He added: ‘Instead of intellectual challenge there will be a bland exchange of views which are inoffensive and politically correct.
‘This will not stop terrorism or terrorist recruitment and may even make the problem worse by driving underground those who are regarded as extreme but are currently non-violent.’
Sir Vince, who suggested religious sectarianism in the West of Scotland was a form of ‘nonviolent extremism’, warned that prevention measures ‘can easily degenerate into surveillance’.
He added: ‘Common sense suggests that anything which encourages secretive, suspicious behaviour is more likely to help terrorism than hinder it.’
David Cameron earlier this month vowed to ‘aggressively’ pursue and disrupt extremists trying to spread the ‘poisonous ideology’ of radical Islamism.
Mr Cable criticised the government’s proposed Extremism Disruption Orders, so-called Asbos for hate preachers, claiming it could make them seem ‘martyrs’ and would prove ‘counter-productive’.