Category Archives: Free Speech/Censorship

Feminist Writers Talk Back!

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/feminist-writers-talk-back-tickets-61701818801

Declaration of Sex Based Rights

Join us in Leeds for a U.K. Launch of The Declaration of Sex Based Rights.

Academic, author and activist Dr. Sheila Jeffreys, sociologist and author Dr. Heather Brunskell-Evans, and lawyer and legal academic Maureen O’Hara will be presenting The Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights, for the first time in the U.K.

The meeting will be Chaired by Sarah Field, Leeds City Councillor for Garforth.

The Declaration re-affirms that women’s human rights are based upon sex.

Our panellists will speak about how the idea of ‘gender identity’ is eroding the notion and practice of women’s rights.

‘Gender identity’ is increasingly being used in an official capacity – for example the ability to change your ‘gender marker’ on the Leeds City Council website, with no checks or documentation.

They’ll explore how the official adoption of gender, as opposed to sex, endangers the rights of women and girl children to safety and dignity, and leads to discrimination against women in areas such as political representation, freedom of speech and association, sports and culture.

Join with women around the world to make a stand to defend our sex based rights, as laid out in the 1979 U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), ratified by the U.K. in 1986.

Sat, May 25, 2019, 12:00 PM – 4:00 PM BST, tickets available here

QotD: “UK online pornography age block triggers privacy fears”

The government will next week confirm the launch date for a UK-wide age block on online pornography as privacy campaigners continue to raise concerns about how websites and age verification companies will use the data they collect.

The plan for implementing the long-delayed age block, which has been beset by technical difficulties, is expected to be announced alongside the government’s other proposals for tackling online content harmful to children, although it could be several months before the system is fully up and running.

The age block will require commercial pornography sites to show that they are taking sufficient steps to verify their users are over 18, such as by uploading a passport or driving licence or by visiting a newsagent to buy a pass only available to adults. Websites which fail to comply risk substantial fines or having their websites banned by all British internet service providers.

Jim Killock, the executive director of the Open Rights Group, said he remained concerned about the prospect of a major data leak as a result of people handing over their personal identification: “It might lead to people being outed. It could also be you’re a teacher with an unusual sexual preference and your pupils get to know that as a result of a leak. It won’t get you sacked for viewing something legal but it could destroy your reputation.”

“Politicians don’t understand that data about their porn preferences might end up in the hands of journalists or others.”

Killock, whose organisation campaigns against state intervention online, said he was particularly worried about the role played by a single company called MindGeek, which owns the vast majority of major pornography sites such as PornHub, and has founded its own age verification company called AgeID: “The problem is you’re giving all your data to the pornographic equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg: ‘This is what I like, this is who I am, and these are all of the sites I’ve visited’.”

AgeID has previously said it believes there is a market of up to 25 millions Britons for its age verification system, suggesting it believes around half of British adults will want to access online pornography through its service.

Its system will require individuals to create an account with their email and password and then upload a passport or driving licence, which will be verified by a third party. If they do not feel comfortable doing this, they can present themselves in person with appropriate ID at a newsagent to buy a so-called “porn pass” for £4.99 per device, with the owner of the shop verifying the age of the purchaser.

James Clark, the director of communications at AgeID, said its method of storing the login and password of verified users meant that “at no point does AgeID have a database of email addresses”, citing external audits of his company’s processes.

“AgeID does not store any personal data input by users during the age verification process, such as name, address, phone number, date of birth. As we do not collect such data, it cannot be leaked, marketed to, or used in any way.”

He claimed that while AgeID could not be used to link viewing data to an individual’s identity, rival age verification companies “may not be so robust” and could be prone to leaks.

Continue reading here

QotD: “The case against Miranda Yardley is over. The judge said there was no evidence”

Debbie Hayton on twitter

QotD: “Trigger warnings OK but no-platforming may be illegal, universities warned”

Consistently no-platforming people could have a chilling effect on free speech on university campuses and should not take place, according to government guidance.

While student unions are free to choose whether or not to invite individual speakers, placing blanket bans on groups that hold a particular political view is likely to breach English and Welsh free speech laws, according to the guidance released on Saturday.

“Free speech is a value integral to the independence and innovation that embodies the higher education sector in the UK, fuelling academic thought and challenging injustice,” said the universities minister, Chris Skidmore.

The release of the guidance, which was drawn up by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), with help from the National Union of Students, the Home Office and a host of other bodies, comes amid a growing debate over free speech on campuses.

While it makes clear that a student union choosing not to invite a speaker because of their views is permissible, it says they should not ban such people from using their facilities altogether. And universities must not allow student complaints to censor course content. Exceptions are made for speech that breaks the law, including stirring up racial or religious hatred.

It reads: “Any decision about speakers and events should seek to promote and protect the right to freedom of expression.”

The guidance makes clear that people have the right to protest against speakers within the law. But it adds: “Protest should not be allowed to shut down debate or infringe the rights of others.”

Full article here

QotD: “”(The Vancouver Police Department) will be monitoring and will take appropriate action should conduct breach the Criminal Code”, says a Canadian public library about a feminist speaking about women’s rights”

“(The Vancouver Police Department) will be monitoring and will take appropriate action should conduct breach the Criminal Code”, says a Canadian public library about a feminist speaking about women’s rights.

Today is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day.

#MeghanMurphy

Raquel Rosario Sanchez on twitter

QotD: ‘University Unchallenged’

Do universities have a broad enough diversity of political opinion? Matthew Flinders, professor of politics at Sheffield University, presents a personal view and asks fellow academics whether the intellectual climate in universities is damagingly constrained by a lack of “viewpoint diversity”.

Definitely worth listening to.

QotD: “University alerts students to danger of leftwing essay”

An essay by a prominent leftwing academic that examines the ethics of socialist revolution has been targeted by a leading university using the government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

Students at the University of Reading have been told to take care when reading an essay by the late Professor Norman Geras, in order to avoid falling foul of Prevent.

Third-year politics undergraduates have been warned not to access it on personal devices, to read it only in a secure setting, and not to leave it lying around where it might be spotted “inadvertently or otherwise, by those who are not prepared to view it”. The alert came after the text was flagged by the university as “sensitive” under the Prevent programme.

The essay, listed as “essential” reading for the university’s Justice and Injustice politics module last year, is titled Our Morals: The Ethics of Revolution. Geras was professor emeritus of government at the University of Manchester until his death in 2013. He rejected terrorism but argued that violence could be justified in the case of grave social injustices.

Full article here

QotD: “Jenni Murray pulls out of Oxford talk after students try to ‘no platform’ her over ‘transphobic’ comments”

Jenni Murray has pulled out of a talk at Oxford University after LGBTQ+ students claimed that she is “transphobic” and attempted to “no platform” her.

The veteran BBC broadcaster and Women’s Hour presenter was due to speak this Saturday at an Oxford History Society event, as part of their “Powerful British Women in History” series of events.

But on Wednesday Murray told the History Society that she is no longer able to attend the event due to “personal reasons”.

Earlier this week, three student groups wrote a joint letter urging their peers to “publicly condemn” Murray’s views and “if possible, cancel the event”.

The LGBTQ+ campaign and Women’s Campaign, both of which are run by Oxford University’s student union, as well as the LGBTQ Society have all signed the letter.

They say that “inviting publically transphobic speakers to the university, without challenge, further marginalises and unnecessarily compromises the welfare of trans students and staff”.

Students claimed that Murray “explicitly transphobic comments” in a newspaper article last year, in which she argued that trans women who have lived as men “with all the privilege that entails” do not have the experience of growing up female.

The students’ letter contains “trigger warnings” for “Terfs”, which stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists, and is generally used as a derogatory term to describe those who believe that “identifying” as a woman is not the same as being born a woman.

Full article here

QotD: “Activists thwart work on gender law reforms”

Academics working in the field of gender identity have warned that hostility and threats from student activists are affecting their ability to research the possible effects of proposed reforms to the law.

Rosa Freedman, a law professor at Reading University, revealed last week that one student had called her “a transphobic Nazi who should get raped” because of her work on the legal implications of reforms that would make it easier for people to change their gender.

Selina Todd, a history professor at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, said yesterday that she feared a “witch-hunt” would target anyone who dared to challenge proposals to open female-only spaces — such as changing rooms and refuges — to men who identify as women.

Other leading lecturers have called on universities to defend their freedom after protests against academics who signed an open letter two weeks ago complaining they were being “harassed over research into transgender issues”.

[…]

Activists have tried to block an event that Freedman is organising on her campus tomorrow on the “legal implications of reforming the Gender Recognition Act” at which the feminist Julie Bindel is scheduled to speak. Bindel has been no-platformed by some student unions.

A Reading University spokesman insisted the event would go ahead and said the university would try to ensure “healthy and respectful debate”.

He added: “We respect the right of our trans staff and students to self-identify their gender and we have a track record of support for LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] staff and students.”

Todd has faced demands that she should not be considered for future membership of women’s committees because of her views on preserving women-only spaces. “First of all I was taken aback — now I feel angry,” she said.

“This feels to me like an attack on women’s rights and their right to speak. It feels like the beginning of a witch-hunt. I would like universities to strengthen academic freedom in the face of a few activists trying to stir up trouble.”

A fellow don at Oxford, Michael Biggs, another signatory of the open letter, said he had been “threatened with a formal complaint for transphobia”.

Students at University College London (UCL) complained about Julia Jordan, an English lecturer who also signed the harassment letter, describing her views as “alarming and disappointing”. They warned that their faculty could become a “hostile space” for trans students.

UCL said: “We would like to see respectful and constructive dialogue on the issues raised in relation to the Gender Recognition Act consultation.”

(source)