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Unsafe Space

unsafe spaceI'm excited to see that Unsafe Space, a new book of essays on free speech on campus, has just been published in the US. I'm one of the contributors, with a chapter on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement: "BDS: Demonizing Israel, Destroying Free Speech." The book is edited by Tom Slater, deputy editor of Spiked

The book is packed with excellent contributions, from Brendan O'Neill and other Spiked writers, Greg Lukianoff of FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) and Peter Wood of the National Association of Scholars, among others. From the back of the book:

The academy is in crisis. Students call for speakers to be banned, books to be slapped with trigger warnings and university to be a Safe Space, free of offensive words or upsetting ideas. But as tempting as it is to write off intolerant students as a generational blip, or a science experiment gone wrong, they’ve been getting their ideas from somewhere. Bringing together leading journalists, academics and agitators from the US and UK, Unsafe Space is a wake-up call. From the war on lad culture to the clampdown on climate sceptics, we need to resist all attempts to curtail free speech on campus. But society also needs to take a long, hard look at itself. Our inability to stick up for our founding, liberal values, to insist that the free exchange of ideas should always be a risky business, has eroded free speech from within.

The book is recommended by free speech heroes Jonathan Rauch, Harvey Silverglate and Nadine Strossen. Here's what Rauch has to say about it:

Trigger warning: If universities' becoming hostile environments for intellectual freedom doesn't worry you already, it will after you've read the passionate, wide-ranging, and sometimes startling essays in Unsafe Space. Fortunately, when you pick up this book, the solution--more speech, better arguments, and moral courage--is in your hands.

Finally, here is an overview of what's in my chapter:

BDS seeks to delegitimise Israel, and advocates censoring anyone connected with Israel. Of course, anyone should be free to criticise Israel’s policies, BDS included. At the same time, it must be recognised that BDS is inherently hostile to free speech. It is not a stretch to say that these anti-Israel campaigners are the most censorious group on campuses today.

For those who support the exchange of ideas, BDS’s increasing prominence raises the question of how best to defend free speech when it comes to the issue of Israel and the Palestinians. As I argue here, some of the more high-profile cases of opposing BDS have been misguided, in that they have sought to clamp down on BDS in illiberal ways – in other words, they have stooped to BDS’s own censorious level. It would be much better and effective, in my view, to respond with a principled stand for freedom of speech.

You can buy the book here.

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