In a recent segment on Newstalk, Deputy Editor of the University Observer Nathan Young and Iona Institute Director David Quinn traded blows on free speech on college campuses. 

The discussion, moderated by Sinéad Ryan, centered around recently announced government plans for greater protection of free speech on college campuses in the United Kingdom. These plans entail placing legal requirements on universities to promote free speech, as well as the creation of a post to enforce these rules. 

Much of the debate centered around the invitation of, resistance to, and cancellation of, controversial speakers on college campuses. Young and Quinn spent considerable time discussing Quinn’s own “cancellation”, as well as that of Richard Dawkins. 

Back in June, Quinn claimed that the then editors of the University Observer tried to have him cancelled. This claim arose after Gavin Tracey, the Observer’s editor at the time, wrote to UCD’s Law Society in an attempt to prevent Quinn’s appearance at a Lawsoc house debate.

The College Tribune followed up with both speakers after the debate for comment. When asked how he thought the discussion went, Young said, “I think that’s for the listeners to say, although if I got across the point that many of the right wing “Free Speech” advocates are nothing of the sort, and that academic and speech freedoms of non-conservatives are also important, then I think I achieved what I wanted.”

When asked whether he thought Quinn brought valid points to the debate, Young said, “Not particularly. Look, I do agree on a very basic level that free expression is good, and that censoring conservative voices is bad, but that’s about it.” He continued, “I would still be very interested in hearing why he thinks that Farage should be allowed as a guest, and Irving should not. If it’s because one is more obscene in their views, then how does Quinn propose we draw that line? Whose decision would it be?” 

When asked about the moderation of the discussion, Young said, “I would criticise the framing of the “Free Speech Champion” as being a policy to protect free speech. Just because the UK government says that that is the purpose doesn’t mean it’s true.”

He went on to say, “I do apologise to anyone hoping for a more stereotypical line on free speech from the blue haired homosexual SJW, but the issue is more complicated than that.”

This is not the first time a UCD student has faced off with Quinn on national radio over this issue. Fearghal Johnston, current Auditor of the UCD Law Society, discussed campus free speech with Quinn shortly after the Trinity Historical Society rescinded their speaking invitation to Richard Dawkins last September.

The College Tribune reached out to Quinn through the Iona Institute, and have not yet received comment.  

Jack McGee – Reporter

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