Amber Rudd protest isn’t a threat to free speech | Letter

The disinvitation of the former home secretary by an Oxford University student society was not a matter of no-platforming, says Anshuman Mondal

Amber Rudd’s disinvitation by an Oxford University student society has been framed as yet another example of the free speech “crisis” on campus (Report, 7 March). It is no such thing; in fact, it has absolutely nothing to do with free speech, since the students’ protests were not directed at what she was planning to say or had said in the past, and indeed had nothing to do with her expressed views about anything. Nor was she even planning to speak about the topic over which the students were apparently protesting. Rather, they were concerned about her actions (or lack thereof) as home secretary in relation to the Windrush scandal. Her freedom to speak was therefore not denied; nor was she no-platformed, since no-platforming is about denying legitimacy and thereby normalising morally repugnant ideas and opinions. These distinctions matter, but this apparently doesn’t seem to matter to those who are determined to manufacture a free speech crisis at every opportunity and/or appear to know very little about free speech.
Prof Anshuman Mondal
University of East Anglia

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Free speech row at Oxford University after Rudd talk cancelled
University said it opposed ‘non-platforming’ after former minister’s speech was cancelled last minute

Lucy Campbell

06, Mar, 2020 @6:04 PM

Article image
Amber Rudd hits out at 'rude' Oxford students after talk cancelled
Former minister’s appearance at International Women’s Day event called off at last minute

Jamie Grierson Home affairs correspondent

06, Mar, 2020 @10:15 AM

Article image
Cancelled Rudd event at Oxford not free-speech issue, say feminists
Oxford Feminist Society’s ethnic diversity representative says booking of former home secretary was misjudged

Mattha Busby

07, Mar, 2020 @1:39 PM

Article image
We’re grateful for your Windrush work – but the fight for justice goes on | Letters
Letters: Guy Hewitt, high commissioner for Barbados, thanks Amelia Gentleman for exposing the Windrush scandal, Gideon Ben-Tovim says too many bodies colluded in creating a hostile environment, immigration solicitor Sheona York says it was clear from 2013 that people in the UK lawfully would be affected, and Diane Astin says the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (Laspo) has much to answer for

Letters

23, Apr, 2018 @3:08 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on the Windrush anniversary: more bitter than sweet | Editorial
Editorial: Celebrations to mark the ship’s arrival won’t mend the lives ruined by Theresa May’s cruel immigration policy

Editorial

21, Jun, 2018 @5:41 PM

Article image
Windrush generation will get UK citizenship, says Amber Rudd
Home Office will waive fees and knowledge test, and applicants may get compensation

Pippa Crerar, Anne Perkins and Amelia Gentleman

23, Apr, 2018 @7:32 PM

Article image
How the Windrush scandal led to fall of Amber Rudd – timeline
All the key events, from the Guardian breaking the story to the home secretary’s resignation

Nadia Khomami and Goda Naujokaityte

30, Apr, 2018 @3:44 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on attitudes to immigration: focus on people, not numbers | Editorial
Editorial: Politicians who thrive on fear want us to forget that immigration is a story of humanity and hope. That story must be retold

Editorial

28, Jun, 2018 @5:27 PM

Article image
Windrush row: five questions Amber Rudd has yet to answer
The home secretary is due to make a statement to the Commons on Monday

Rajeev Syal

29, Apr, 2018 @2:09 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on the Windrush apology: overdue and inadequate | Editorial
Editorial: The UK government has finally acknowledged its injustice to immigrants from the Commonwealth. But many more are suffering from the ‘hostile environment’ Theresa May created

Editorial

17, Apr, 2018 @5:34 PM