The ability to speak our mind is a much cherished freedom of the society in which we live, but one that I believe recent events at Lincoln University Union have suggested is sadly under threat. The recent brief suspension of Lincoln's Conservative Society simply for sharing an image from a study that suggested Lincoln University ranked as "very intolerant" on freedom of speech, appears to be illustrative of an endemic problem throughout many campuses.
We seem sold on the whole idea that freedom of speech means we are obliged to amplify hate and give bigots a platform. We don't owe bigots a platform. You are right, they're free to say what they want but giving them a platform to the detriment and regression of others is irresponsible... The latest scandal has seen alt-right professional troll, Milo Yiannopoulos, immersed in criticism for his latest statement on "cross-generational" sexual relationships between boys and older men. For some people, this has been the last straw, but many people are pointing out that the last straw should have been issued a long time ago. Yiannopoulos has a history of well documented bigoted behaviour that many have chosen to ignore.
The pro-Safe Space brigade always give the same defence for their restrictive policies, claiming that implementing rules on what language is acceptable and how people should interact, allow greater freedom of expression for marginalised, oppressed groups. The argument that more censorship equates to greater free speech is nothing short of Orwellian.
It has been possible for several years, on most social network platforms, to purchase accounts with a specific intention of increasing follower counts or support for certain opinions. This doesn't have massive impact in the context of isolated cases. When Twitterbots begin to influence elections, brands and shares, the real threat becomes clear.
In a bid to stem the tide of digital radicalisation by terrorist groups such as Islamic State, the European Parliament has approved plans for new legislation which will allow rapid and widespread removal of extremist content from the internet. Digital rights activists are up in arms over the decision, which they fear will lead to private organisations policing and censoring internet users with impunity.