The BBC's Reality Check has a piece by Rachel Schraer and Ben Butcher headlined Universities: Is free speech under threat?, and the answer they give is a pretty emphatic 'No'.
Indeed, it's clearly an attempted debunking of the kind of fears you find expressed by the likes of Brendan O'Neill and spiked, and also by many on the political Right.
Naturally, the good folk at spiked have responded, and I have to say that I found their reality checking of the BBC's Reality Check rather convincing - especially as they give large numbers of links which back up their claims (which I've added to this post).
CAMPUS CENSORSHIP THREAD: This BBC piece is being enthusiastically shared by lecturers and students' union officers who want to pretend Free Speech isn't under attack on campus. It is. And here's why this BBC research is so shoddy 1/10
spiked's Free Speech University Rankings has for four years assessed policies that limit speech as well as bans on speakers, events and materials by both unis and students’ unions (SUs). In 2018, we found 55% placed explicit restrictions on speech 2/10
The BBC focuses on different (and very limited) metrics, and breezes over the role played by policies -- policies that, for eg, ban 'transphobic' material outright, as some unis do. Hey ho. But putting those huge oversights aside, its claims still don't stack up 3/10
It claims only six universities have banned speakers since 2010. This is incredibly misleading. The majority of speaker bans are imposed by SUs. Everyone knows this. But it seems because SUs aren't subject to freedom of information requests, they haven't been included. 4/10
We at spiked actually bother to check. We analyse news reports, contact SUs directly and pore over publicly published SU documents. But frankly, an hour on Google would make clear that six speaker bans since 2010 is a big underestimate 5/10
Only 6 speakers banned since 2010? Here's 6 to start with (Unis & SUs):
Haddad at Kent 6/10
Here's 6 more (Unis & SUs):
Beyond speakers, here are 6 banned events (Unis & SUs):
I could go on
The BBC also pretty much dodges No Platform, despite the fact No Platform policies (held by 37% of SUs) are blanket, pre-emptive bans on speakers/groups. Events featuring speakers from those groups don't have to be cancelled because they're never approved in the first place 9/10
Measuring campus censorship is tricky. So much of it is cultural, rather than institutional. Events are disrupted by protests. People self-censor. But even if you're just looking at black-and-white policies and bans, the 'it's barely a thing' conclusion is just plain wrong 10/10
A BBC Reality Check that is just plain wrong? Well, blow me down with a feather!
Incidentally, it's only a very few years since BBC Online journalist Rachel Schraer, who co-wrote this piece, was writing pieces for The New Statesman - such as this during the 2015 general election, subsequently reposted at her own blog.
The Conservatives want you to think that their programme is nasty but necessary. They’re half right.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few weeks shouting at middle-aged white men. They are very keen to reassure me I’ll come round to their side once I grow up a bit, get a fatter pay packet and stop being so young, naïve and female.
Because, this much we know to be true – the left-leaning among us might have the bleeding hearts, but it’s the centre-right, cynical but pragmatic, who make the necessary hard decisions to fix the economy – because they used to be like you, you know, until they got real. You can accuse the Nasty party of a lot of things, but naïve idealism is not usually one them.
There’s a persistent narrative here that needs interrogating, not least so I can stop getting into arguments with old Tories. It’s become so ingrained that even people who stand against Conservative policies have internalised the belief they are based in hard-nosed, sensible economics.
I presume she wasn't a BBC journalist three years ago, but fresh out of uni maybe? Where, as a "left-leaning" student, she'd have been regularly "shouting at middle-aged white men" perchance? Was she the very kind of student union activist that she's defending here?