The recently formed ‘Glasgow University Free Speech Society’ has been revealed to have ties to the campaign to elect controversial right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos to the position of University Rector earlier this year. qmunicate magazine has also obtained records of transphobic and islamophobic comments made by organisers of the society in a private Facebook group. The society has already screened the controversial film ‘The Red Pill’ which has strong ties to the men’s rights movement, and have booked speaker Douglas Murray, an author and journalist for conservative magazine ‘The Spectator’, who has previously stated that islamophobia is ‘a nonsense term’, and has stated that ‘conditions for Muslims in Europe must be harder across the board; Europe must look like a less attractive proposition. We in Europe owe – after all – no special dues to Islam.’
qmunicate have obtained evidence that the ‘Free Speech Society’ has connections to the campaign to elect Milo Yiannopoulos as rector. Yiannopoulos is a far-right commentator with links to the ‘alt-right’, and an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. A former editor for Breitbart News, the publication run by ex-Trump Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, Yiannopoulos was let go from this position after expressing views condoning paedophilic relationships between teenage boys and older men. Yiannopoulos also lost a book deal with Simon and Schuster at this time – all of these events occurred before his nomination as a candidate for rector. Members of the society also repeatedly suggested contacting Yiannopoulos as a potential speaker on campus. Numerous founding members of the society were involved in the Jordan Peterson for Rector campaign, another controversial figure on account of his refusal to use gender-neutral pronouns when referring to students, and for his public support of the Yiannopoulos campaign.
qmunicate have also obtained records from a private Facebook group involving organisers and members of the society, many of whom have made numerous transphobic and Islamophobic comments, with one commenter writing that ‘Belgium is getting fucked over by jihadis’, and another remarking that they ‘saw in a documentary that all the trans sex stuff and what not has been an indicators [sic] of a society in decline, like the Romans and the Greeks went like that just prior to their downfall’, and described trans and non-binary self-identification thus; ‘none of it really matters except on government forms!!! Unless they want some hairy 22st man called Linda to share a bathroom with my daughter!!!” [sic]
Commenters also mocked the SRC’s move to include preferred pronouns in email signatures, with one saying that ‘we need a semi-serious blog/newsletter where we cover such cases of regressiveness on campus and give serious explanations as to why they’re wrong and what should be done instead.’, and another saying ‘do I now have to start signing letters [name redacted], (male, he, him, cock, prick, complete and utter fucking knobhead’.
University Rector Aamer Anwar has commented ‘Many of the bigots, alt-right, Nazis and white supremacists have realised that they can mask their hatred with the defence that they are free speech warriors when in reality they are nothing of the sort. Let me make it very clear I am an advocate for free speech but in a civilised society such speech carries responsibilities, if on this campus the far-right try to mobilise and spread their propaganda then the student body and staff stand united in using any means necessary to deny them a platform to do so. (Peacefully) As for that ‘muppet’ Milo, you weren’t welcome before and nothing has changed.’
qmunicate also approached SRC President Kate Powell for a statement regarding the society’s affiliation to the SRC: “The Free Speech Society are not a SRC affiliated society for 2017/18. If any society wishes to affiliate with the SRC, they must sign an Equal Opportunities Statement, upholding the Principles of our Equality Policy, based on the Equality Act 2010. In the case that a society is alleged to have breached these principles, we will investigate matters further and will consult with the Equality and Diversity Unit if necessary.”
qmunicate magazine fully endorse free speech and welcomes a society encouraging political debate on campus, however we believe that it is in the interest of students to share the information we have received that this group has ties to the Yiannopoulos campaign, and that the society is associated with Islamophobic and transphobic views.