The future is bright for academic freedom

These organisations join the well-established Academics for Academic Freedom group, with branches being formed in numerous Universities across the UK at a fast pace; and the well-known Free Speech Union, which supports many academics and higher education staff in their free speech disputes.

James Murray, The Critic, 24th November 2023.

Civil servants temporarily deleted clause barring teachers from pushing political views

Bryn Harris, the chief legal counsel at the Free Speech Union, said: “Academy funding agreements are where schools go to understand what their obligations are.”
“There’s a real risk that absent a clear employment agreement, academy schools may actually not know their legal obligation regarding impartiality. It’s not just that it leaves the academy not knowing what their duties are, it may also complicate enforcing those duties with the relevant regulator.”
Analysis of 14 academy school funding agreements by the Free Speech Union in 2021 found that seven did not have “anti-indoctrination” clauses.

Louisa Clarence-Smith, The Telegraph, 20th November 2023.

What’s at stake in the culture wars?

The good news is that two initiatives have improved the prospects of free speech in this country over the past three years. The first was the founding of the Free Speech Union by Toby Young in February 2020. (I have an interest here: I chair the FSU’s board.) The FSU now boasts over 11,000 subscribing members, and it is helping to support legal cases that will nudge the future interpretation of the law in favour of freedom of speech. It has also spawned sister organisations in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Nigel Biggar, The Critic, 10th November 2023.

Why are libraries hiding gender-critical books?

Does being a gender-critical writer put you on par with Hitler? According to Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire, the answer is yes.
Earlier this year, Helen Joyce’s bestselling book, Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality, was deemed so offensive by a member of Calderdale Council that human resources insisted it be removed from public-library shelves and hidden in storage. Joyce wasn’t the only gender-critical author to be treated in this way – Kathleen Stock, Abigail Shrier and Heather Brunskell-Evans also had their books removed from public view, while still being available for order.

Carrie Clark, Spiked, 7th November 2023.

UK Newspaper Sacks Cartoonist for “Antisemitic Trope”

Indeed, Free Speech Union General Secretary Toby Young highlighted that the Shakespeare inference doesn’t even work. He told The European Conservative:
“Steve Bell says it was a reference to a famous cartoon of LBJ pointing to a Vietnam-shaped scar on his stomach, and Bell made that explicit by writing “After David Levine” on the cartoon. I think we should accept that explanation. To claim it was a reference to Shylock doesn’t make sense because Shylock at no point tries to remove, or threatens to remove, a pound of flesh from his own body. It’s a forfeit he wants his debtor to pay. In addition, the flesh Netanyahu is about to remove in the cartoon weighs considerably more than a pound.”

Michael Curzon, The European Conservative, 18th October 2023.

Struggling with CRT in the workplace

In a ground-breaking judgment against workplace cancel culture and for lawful freedom of expression, the Employment Tribunal has ruled that ACAS employee and Free Speech Union member Sean Corby was expressing a legitimate philosophical belief when he challenged Critical Race Theory in his workplace. As such, his belief amounts to a characteristic that will now be afforded protection by Section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.

Freddie Attenborough, The Crittic, 4th October 2023.

BLM’s critics will not be silenced

He [Sean Corby] refused to comply and took his case to the tribunal with the support of the Free Speech Union.

Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, Spiked, 3rd October 2023.