Conservative Facebook group targeted in free speech hit

Lincoln University’s Conservative Society has had control of its social media taken away by the Student’s Union. Tory students were accused of bringing the University’s reputation into disrepute by tweeting about the SU’s poor track record for free speech. How ironic.

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The society has announced a two month break from Twitter, and its Facebook page is no longer available. Lincoln MP Karl McCartney called the response by the Union “intolerant, illiberal and totalitarian,” and said that this move marks “another chapter in their knee-jerk desire to stifle debate, which revealed itself as they began ‘no platforming’ people they don’t like – including those who are democratically elected”.

In February last year, Lincoln Student’s Union banned the social media app Yik Yak, due to it causing “much distress to a number of University of Lincoln students”. This prompted the app to be made unavailable on campus Wi-Fi.

Lincoln Students’ Union has previously said it was “proud to protect the rights of all individuals to express their opinions, ideas and concerns”.

From a public relations standpoint, suppressing the Facebook page to avoid the spread of ‘disreputable’ data has, instead of silencing the discussion, prompted a media response. This will inevitably bring about a far wider discussion on this topic than merely leaving the group alone would have done.

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Proper grammar is racist, and so are you

Based on a statement from the Writing Center on “antiracist and social justice work”, the University of Washington has declared that there is “no inherent ‘standard’ of English“, and therefore trying to enforce a standardised version of the English language would perpetuate a form of grammar and syntax racism, if you will.

In other words, if you don’t have quite a full grasp on spelling and grammar, you get a free pass. I guess the grading system for how well we communicate our thoughts clearly and effectively is now redundant.

The statement goes on to list its goals, which includes the wonderfully vague “be reflective and critical of the practices we engage in”. I assume that, much like the English language, that point can be interpreted in any way you choose, however, I think what they are trying to encourage is for students to constantly be aware of perceived ‘systemic racism’ that some believe permeates society as a whole. It also wishes to enforce a discussion on various social justice topics and to “challenge conventional word choices and writing explanations”.

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This form of postmodernism hearkens back to when a UCLA professor was called a racist for correcting grammar and spelling issues on students’ papers a few years ago. The argument against ‘proper’ grammar seems to be that, as part of a racist society, it deliberately disadvantages ethnic minorities, (black people in particular) and therefore to reverse standardisation would give everyone an equal footing. Sounds good right? But now understand the implication in that statement: how condescending (and dare I say discriminatory) it is to assume that minorities cannot uphold the same standards of grammar as everyone else, and therefore need special treatment because they can’t manage it on their own.

The increasing presence of social justice and extreme left wing groups on campuses is a trend that I’ve observed for a few years now. They employ bully tactics such as harassment and doxxing to get what they want under the guise of ‘antiracism’ and progressivism, when what a lot of them really crave is power. This is demonstrable when universities ban specific speakers from appearing on campus and give nebulous reasons for doing so. Even prolific feminist Germaine Greer was dis-invited from various universities for holding views that go against the dominant narrative. This is why I believe universities are no longer places where ideas can be challenged, debated and advanced. In fact, these campuses are fast becoming places where debate is being stifled, and a lot of it is due to ‘liberals’ bullying administrations until they get what they want.

When Art Meets Agenda: Analysing Political Cartoons

Following in and around a heated presidential debate which featured Secretary Clinton at her most aggressive and a surprisingly muted Trump (at least compared to the standard he had set for himself throughout his campaign), the political art world has burst into even more frenzied activity as the election deadline looms over the horizon.

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©Ben Garrison

Biased or non-partisan, cartoonists are desperate to give their opinion on this extremely polarising election. Those who are on the Trump train point out the perceived bias in moderator Holt’s questions, with Holt being likened to a doppelgänger of Hillary Clinton in some impressions of him. On the other side, artists stood behind Clinton’s cool mentioning of her website’s ‘fact checker’ and iterating Trump’s reported misinformation on some subjects. However, some cartoons ditched this relatively playful fun-poking in favour of fully-fledged attacks on the political opposition’s candidates. This is when art intersects with agenda, and it provides some of the most densely creative caricatures of some already larger than life characters. Ben Garrison quips about Secretary Clinton’s recent health scares by modifying her own campaign logo to humorous effect. The two shown to be carrying her are coloured in a recessive way, with the bold red of Clinton’s logo made to work against her here, as it provides the disturbing image of her ‘trembling’ to be effortlessly centrepiece, providing an immediate focal point to the image. This image achieves a purpose of making the Democrat nominee look extremely frail and weak, even implying that she is unfit for the extremely taxing role of presidency.

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©Dave Granlund

Dave Granlund’s piece on Trump highlights how out of touch he is with others’ opinion on him. The caricature version of Trump talks in response to the “gold star” Khan family, particularly Kzir Khan, who famously offered his copy of the US Constitution to Mr. Trump in a speech at the Democratic National Convention, suggesting he should ‘read it’. Trump’s hands are drawn impossibly small – a running joke among his opponents – and his distinctive hairstyle has been exaggerated. The humour of this piece is more literal compared to Garrison’s, showing Trump’s blind political gusto in the face of overwhelming facts against him, insisting that he has made ‘great sacrifices’ in his life. This statement is a half-truth, provided that he gloss over the fact that the things that were sacrificed bore almost no negative repercussions for Mr. Trump himself. This kind of hypocrisy is made abundantly clear in the image; the artist has even made a nice touch involving drawing his eyes closed, perhaps referencing the aforementioned ‘blind’ way in which Trump responds to criticism.

This style of vitriolic creativity only seems likely to increase in severity and frequency as the election draws closer. I predict that the more elaborate and clever artwork will be ditched in favour of more direct and uninterpretable work as time passes, as smear attempts and ‘strawmanning’ will increase to fever pitch in a last-ditch attempt by each artist to express their thoughts before the deadline.