UK government to "fight" "wokeness" in universities (in England)

This doesn’t really fit into any of the regular threads here, which are mostly US focussed, so I’m making it its own topic. This is incredibly concerning and infuriating. The increasingly populist, trending far-right, Tories are transparently trying to stoke a “culture war” because they have seen how that garners them votes in otherwise traditionally Labour voting demographics. In addition to the whole “let’s create real cancel culture to fight imaginary cancel culture” the remarks about history are really shocking. This sounds like the agenda of a totalitarian regime, it is as bad as the disgraced 1776 commission’s report in the US.

A source from his department told the paper Dowden was trying to “defend our culture and history from the noisy minority of activists constantly trying to do Britain down”.

(I added “in England” to the title because they thankfully only have the jurisdiction to do this in one country rather than the whole UK)


The wired thing about it is that the proponents of this see it the other way round.

Just FTR, not sure if you noticed, but in the last days there has been an attempt to “discuss” (i.e., discredit) “the woke” in Germany and distinguish it from “the left”.


I hadn’t, actually. That’s concerning yet not surprising.


“Free-speech champion” is a just code word for “consequence-free speech champion.” They want to be able to say whatever they want and forbid others from judging them for it.

Meanwhile, the right to impose social consequences on speech that we find distasteful is, in fact, part of free speech.


Speech is a lot like sex in this regard. It’s not good to have it totally free of consequence, since it then loses all meaning. But put too much consequence on it, people get so afraid of making a mistake, it stops being any fun.

I see the right wing (on both sides of the atlantic)having spent so much energy opposing anyone to their left, they no longer stand for anything other than “not being the other guys”.


I like to think of it as, “You can say whatever you like and not go to jail for it and I can react to what you say however I please, even if that means writing a letter to Disney saying that I don’t want to watch any more Star Wars with you in it.”

Of course, the “victims” of wokeness somehow almost always tend to be people who are already rich and famous and have enormous platforms that the average person could only dream of. Their being “cancelled” ends up meaning nothing more than being knocked down a peg or two, which leaves them…still much better off than most of us.

The rest of the time, it’s just some asshole saying something absolutely indefensible and getting told off. Maybe they will lose friends (there is no right to friends) or, in some cases, employment (the right wing has made quite sure that there is no right to employment either) as a result. As long as nobody is going to jail for their speech, it seems like a pretty fair balance.


So far, the only person I miss is Al Franken. AFAIK, everyone else has pretty confirmed their own conviction by their behavior afterwards.

What is your opinion on calls for racist violence or calls for acts of stochastic terrorism (especially ones that are calls for murdering a specific person, combined with doxxing)?

An argument that i noticed today was being made by the worst of the Hitchens brothers and Parker’s evil twin Peter Hitchens, who obviously thinks the so called “cancel culture” is coming for him and his bigoted out of date views.

It’s not a whole lot better on Labour’s side though.

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I see that strategy as giving in. They are just flailing trying to get the red wall back.

The thing is, they will never outjingo the Grand Jingo de Pfeffel.


And then of course there’s the 1-2-punch with this:

Though what the hell take is this, NYT?

The BBC’s reputation did suffer during Brexit, with critics saying it gave too much time to those who opposed leaving the European Union. But it has rebounded during the pandemic, its round-the-clock coverage helping to unite the country.

Emphasis mine. Too much? Their obsession with Workington man on the street interviews, with Question Time audience plants and “rebuttals” of the opinions of all major economists by interviewing the one dissenter are what brought the whole thing on!


The courts have long maintained that such acts do not fall under the definition of free speech. and there are laws that provide for civil and criminal punishment in response thereto.

Just as “I was just following orders” does not give one a free pass, neither should “I was just exercising my free speech rights…by giving orders.”


Thanks for clarifying!
I’ve misunderstood your original post as free speech absolutism.
I’ve been getting death threats recently, so it’s kinda sensitive topic for me.


The act of threatening somebody with violence, whether with words or by brandishing a weapon, is a clear crime that is completely unrelated to free speech. Stay safe and maintain records of every instance for legal action if the chance ever arises. The police may not be much help, but you have more robust options for civil action. Take it seriously, but don’t let it get to you.

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