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

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