Posted Thursday, May 10, 2001

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There was a large potential for interesting and important debate. The right of free speech has been compromised. -- The Oxford Union press officer

London, Thursday, May 10, 2001

Editorial Opinion

Error of judgment

THE OXFORD UNION'S decision to cancel its debate on free speech, in which controversial author David Irving was due to take part, is a sorry error of judgment. Pressure from academics and students hostile to Mr Irving has caused the Union to act in a fashion increasingly familiar on American campuses, but happily unusual here.

Mr Irving is at best an eccentric figure, who represents some deeply unpleasant opinions. But the Union -- which has invited many disreputable figures in the past, most recently Michael Jackson, in the cause of publicity -- should not have backed off now, merely because Mr Irving is unpopular.

If British universities become dominated by the sort of intolerance to minority views which is commonplace across the Atlantic, it will be a sorry business for free speech and democracy. It is the academics who seek to suppress minority opinions who do not belong in places of learning.



Related items on this website:

 Oxford Union bans Irving from debate on free speech | Free speech under threat at Oxford Union | debate storm | boycott threat | threat to Oxford Union over Irving appearance
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