I see that law students at Oxford University were told that if they found the contents of a lecture on rape and sexual assault ‘distressing’, they would be permitted to absent themselves. This is an interesting approach for future lawyers and barristers. Perhaps, further down the line, they will excuse themselves in court when the evidence is a bit gamey and go to a safe space for a good cry. Or should we be more concerned about those students who remained in the lecture theatre because they did not find the contents remotely distressing, but actually ‘a bit of a hoot’ or ‘bloody hilarious — especially that bit with the Rohypnol!’
Either way, this is supposedly the first ‘trigger warning’ issued as part of the curriculum by a British university, and it accords with the incalculably infantile and borderline fascistic concept of safe spaces and no-platforming held dear by the student body, and particularly the NUS. Feminists banned from campus because they disagree with a transgendered man’s ‘right’ to call himself a nice lady (despite the chromosomes and the soon-to-be-lopped-off todger). Gay campaigners discriminated against because they are that most awful of all things, white and male. Sombreros banned because they might annoy Mexicans. Fancy-dress costumes banned because they might offend someone, anyone.
I wrote about all this quite recently for the Sunday Times and came to the conclusion that the excellent lesbian feminist writer Julie Bindel got it right when she said this terror of divergent views came from the fact that the students were, as she put it, middle-class tossers who had never been gainsaid in their lives, never challenged in their views. I still think that is largely right, but one thing I missed from the Sunday Times article was the role of the universities themselves in perpetuating a left-liberal monoculture in an arena where a plethora of opinion should be encouraged.