Sorry, we won’t do it again, until next time

In (only slightly) better news – the Southbank University Student Union has apologized to the Atheist Society for trying to make it shut up. That’s nice, but it would be much better news if Student Unions just stopped trying to make atheists shut up in the first place.

Following a meeting this morning with their Atheist Society and the AHS, South Bank University’s Student Union has issued a full apology on its website, stating “We have apologised to the Atheist Society for the actions taken and the distress that it has caused… We remind students that the appropriate response to opinions they may find offensive is to engage in healthy debate respecting the rights of others to hold views or beliefs differing from their own.”

The AHS welcome this statement as a the start of a sensible approach to free speech for our members at South Bank. AHS President Rory Fenton said, “ Again and again our members are censored and then apologised to. Apologies are all very well but it would be better if these incidents never occurred. The appropriate response to being offended is to engage in debate, not censorship.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if all the Student Unions could finally get that straight?


  1. rnilsson says

    Here’s a thought: What if Universities put up a course on the meaning and implications of and case for free speech and actual respect for non-conformist viewpoints? Maybe more than one Student Union could benefit from increased knowledge and understanding of such subjects.

    Naah, I know. It would be nice though.

  2. says

    The appropriate response to being offended is to have a thick skin. That is even more important than debating the issue in question. Because thinking on a logical level while being in a negative emotional state of mind is not easy. Neither of course is not being angry and it can take years to adopt a calm disposition but it really is the only way. It allows for clarity of thought and makes for better delivery of argument. In meat space the spontaneity of exchange may not allow for proper discourse but in the cyber world there is no excuse. One has plenty of time to formulate a response so the notion of getting angry at particular arrangements of vowels and consonants on a computer screen is almost laughable. It can be worked on by anyone who does not have a psychological disposition to anger. This particular issue is about religious sensitivities being offended but everyone of us will at some point find something unacceptable. The natural default position is not to get angry. Not only does it make thinking the issue through clearly hard if not impossible but it also damages one psychologically too. Being angry just because someone did something you did not like ? Not a good philosophy that one. So a thick skin and a clear argument and in that order too

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