Phi Beta Cons

Oxford Disinvites a Debate

The opposition to free speech where the speaker is presumably going to say things that could upset some thin-skinned campus groups has led to a great many “disinvitations” for people who have been asked to speak is well known here. As we read in this College Fix piece, the same mentality is found in Britain. Oxford had scheduled a debate between two men over the morality of abortion, but an irate feminist group protested that men should not be allowed to debate what they regard as “their” issue. Oxford caved. No debate.

I used to teach logic years ago, and one of the fallacies I tried to teach my students to spot was the ad hominem circumstantial. That is the fallacy of claiming to have refuted someone’s argument by pointing to some circumstance about the person making the argument, rather than showing a fault in the argument itself. This case is an interesting variant — pointing to a circumstance about the person to prevent him from making an argument at all.

Here again we see the authoritarian nature of modern “liberalism.” It was always about expanding the scope and power of the state, and that includes the power to shut down debate.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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