I‘m expressing with my full capabilities / And now I’m living in correctional facilities.” So said Dr. Dre of the constraints placed on rappers by radio censorship back in ’88. It applies equally to the limits on freedom of expression which still exist in every sphere of public life.
Do we not live in the most tolerant of ages? There have never been more forums for voicing your views; never a greater receptive audience. Our freedom to hold opinions is sacrosanct, and if the light still glimmering under a student’s door gone two o’clock in the morning is anything to go by, then the tradition of debate and discussion among friends ‘til the early hours still lives long.
Many of our readers will have joined a political society at the Freshers’ Fair this week; others paid up for their Union membership; some may even have signed up to write for their student rag. We congratulate your alertness to a world beyond academia, and receptivity to the issues that really matter.
Think you have a right to express an opinion without interference? Don’t assume that everyone will agree. The Cambridge University Russian Society stands accused of censoring social media posts in support of LGBT+ causes. Their defence? That the issue under discussion was culturally irrelevant, and that any debate provoked by it “may cause conflict and negative exchanges” among members.
This university’s vibrant and unendingly warm-hearted LGBT+ scene is received positively by the vast majority of its students, and we are certain that many Russian students would count themselves among its supporters. To take so dramatic an action as censorship to suppress any view, let alone one with which so many sympathise, is of the utmost arrogance.
Take that alongside the recent controversy over members of the LSE Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Student Society forced by their student union to remove t-shirts featuring cartoon depictions of various religious prophets, and there lies real cause for concern. For fear of provoking debate, the word “offence” is being bandied around to the extent that it loses sight of the point it’s meant to serve.
Your view may not be shared by others, but never forget that you have every right to hold it. Offended? That’s the price you pay for living in a free and open society. Got a problem with that? Express yourself.