Do they just not like free speech in Cambridge?

by Stephen Tall on March 2, 2012

I ask the question given the quite astonishing stance of the Cambridge University Students Union to try and pull the plug on the Cambridge Union’s invitation to former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn to come and speak.

So far some 665 members of Cambridge University have signed a petition arguing in favour of the reversal of the golden thread of justice, with a presumption that the accused is guilty until proven innocent:

We ask that the Union Society revokes its invitation to DSK. We believe that free speech is about more than inviting rich, white, powerful (in this case allegedly rapist) men to define the Union’s termcard year after year. Free speech is also about maximising the variety of ideas that are given platforms, and fostering a culture of debate that seriously engages with the society’s membership.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has not been acquitted of any of the multiple accusations of rape, attempted rape and sexual assault that have been leveled against him. Rather, we believe he has been able, because of institutional sexism in the legal system, to evade court.

I’ve no idea if the charges against Strauss-Kahn are true or not. Nor does the Cambridge University Students Union. And until such time as he faces trial he’s innocent. It’s a pretty basis tenet of justice to grasp.

If there’s one place you’d like to believe freedom of speech would find a home it’s in a great university city like Cambridge. But sadly the place has form in attempting to silence those it doesn’t want to hear from.