Oxford University was slated to host a debate between a Pro-Lifer and an abortion advocate last month. Until, that is, a mob of about three hundred angry fauxminists threatened to shut down the debate and all but forced the school to cancel. A couple of days before the event, according to Oxford Students for Life, “OxrevFems” took to Facebook vowing not to let the debate proceed (because the debate was between two people who didn't have uteruses). Oxford Students for Life told their side of the story when the debacle gained international attention:
While we have hosted two all-women panel debates over the past year, this motion was about the wider social questions raised by abortion, and Tim and Brendan were invited as well-known commentators who have something to contribute to the discussion. But last weekend, a Facebook page was set up by OxrevFems denouncing us for our choice of two male speakers and threatening to sabotage the event by using ‘oh so disruptive instruments’.
Tim Stanley and Brendan O’Neill were the invited debaters. In the this video, the abortion advocate, Brendan O'Neill, debates one of the fauxminists who vehemently opposed his right to free speech on abortion.
O'Neill calls students like the fauxminists in question “Stepford students.” These students, he says, “deflect controversial discussions.” The student fauxminist who confronts O'Neill in the video above, Harriet Brown, exemplifies the Stepford ideal by talking over O'Neill, badgering him, interrupting him, and not allowing him to complete his sentences.
In her panic-inducing soliloquy, Brown bizarrely claimed that her cohort shut down the debate for “safety reasons,” holding that abortion was a closed topic that was not up for discussion. But O'Neill was keen to the real safety hazards:
That's incredible. Safety reasons. By which you mean the threat of three hundred people who said they would turn up with instruments and disrupt the debate. This is the very definition of censorship, and no weaselly-worded bureaucratic talk is going to disguise that fact.
O'Neill conveyed his alarm that free speech was stifled at a renowned university because a large group of people believe that free speech does not apply to every topic. In short, they do not believe in “free” speech at all:
But what I'm saying is to hear someone from Oxford and the other people who campaign against this saying that something shouldn't be up for discussion, that the question should be closed: this is what I mean by Stepford students. I mean this robotic response to public debate which says that some things are so controversial and so problematic and so difficult that we should just not talk about them, and we should suppress the other side. For a modern-day student in the 21st century to take that attitude — an attitude that is more suitable to somewhere like Iran or North Korea — to me that is alarming.
What do you think: should abortion ever be a closed topic? Tell us in the comments below.