A student has been banned from joining a debate about free speech at the University of Bristol because he once exercised his right to free speech.
Angelos Sofocleous, a Durham University student, cannot take part in the Free Speech Society event due to “security concerns”.
The society said the student union had banned him from the panel discussion. The union said it was “committed” to free speech but security was needed. The union are, apparently, the best placed body within the university to determine what security is necessary considering that they didn’t deem it pertinent to talk to the university’s Security team about security.
Mr Sofocleous was sacked from his post as assistant editor at Durham University’s philosophy society’s journal last August after he tweeted comments deemed by some people to be transphobic.
The transphobic comment in question? He retweeted a comment that “women don’t have penises”.
According to The Times:
Mr Sofocleous said that he stood by his views and called his sacking “a dismissal of free speech”. “Sadly [my] views were taken to be ‘transphobic’ by individuals who cannot tolerate any criticism, either of their movement or their ideas, and are unable to engage in a civilised conversation on issues they disagree on,” he said. “These are individuals who think they hold the absolute right to determine which ideas can be discussed and what language can be used in a public forum.”
Mr. Sofocleous did attend the event last week (and was asked to speak) despite being uninvited because he’d already bought his train tickets.
It’s not the only time in the last week that a penis has caused controversy. Tanya Husnu, 33, was shocked after her daughter Aylah, three, ran up to her and asked her about the ‘willy’ on the toy lion that her brother Hakan had been bought.
Mrs Husnu, a professional blogger from Melton, said:
We were planning a trip to the zoo and I thought it would be really great if the kids could take some animal toys with them on the day. We went into Kmart and my three youngest picked out their own toys. They were all really happy with them. Then one of the twins turned the lion around, and my daughter yelled out ‘look mum, the lion’s got a willy’ and they all started laughing. I thought it was really inappropriate. In this day and age, it’s not acceptable to have things like that on children’s toys.
Despite the inappropriate nature of the toy apparently the kids found it hilarious shouting “willy” and showing it to everyone else at the zoo. Their parents found it quite funny too, if not a little embarrassing. I doubt Bristol Student Union would have been as amused.