what I want
The LSE authorities are clearly trying to put the whole issue of blogs and freedom of speech behind them. My 15 minutes of fame seem to be coming to an end. The official statement from the LSE director claims that ‘we regard the matter as closed.’ At long last they even seem to be winding up the investigation into my crimes and misdemeanours. Let’s hope so anyway.
Yet the bigger issue remains. The present situation is untenable. This is what I want to happen …
- there must be an official LSE policy on blogging and other internet use by students and staff. No one should have to go through the kind of harassment and abuse that I have had to suffer during the past six weeks. An offical LSE policy — ‘a bloggers’ charter’ — would protect internet users, guarantee our right to speak and make sure that no one can censor or intimidate us.
- more generally — no more hypocrisy on free speech. The LSE explicitly incorporates article 19 of the UN Human Rights Declaration in its charter. This article guarantees everyone the right to freedom of expression. The LSE must live up to its own rules. There is a difference between a great university and Walmart or the Chinese authorities. For example: all students and staff must be allowed to criticise the LSE, privately and publicly, without threats of retaliation.
- academic freedom. The right of academic staff to speak freely in the classrom must be explicitly guaranteed. No more official Powerpoint presentations, no vetos by heads of departments or LSE administrators.
- the LSE needs a much better way of communicating with its students. The School must begin to really listen and engage with student concerns. The obvious way to do this is for the LSE administration to start blogging. I’m very much looking forward to the Sir Howard Davies blog! What a great way to recruit new students!
- in fact, everyone who reads this should start their own blog. A blog allows you to speak in public, in your own words and in your own fashion. This is particularly important for people who previously never had a public voice. Blogs are incredibly empowering and as such a great — you could even say a necessary — complement to human rights. If you only have your own blog you can even take on the British establishment — and live to tell the tale.