‘Freedom to criticise ideas is being eroded’: Oxford University student newspaper editor resigns following article censure

An editorial member of Cherwell, Oxford University’s independent student newspaper, has resigned following the publication’s refusal to publish one of his articles online.

It has been reported that the reason for this refusal was due to the fact that the article in question ‘could be considered offensive’. Former Profiles Editor for the paper, Freddie Hayward, has posted on Facebook with a statement saying that the piece does not ‘incite hatred or violence towards other people’ but instead offers a critique of some of the views that it presents.

The article, a profile on Armin Navabi, the founder of the Atheist Republic, that outlined ‘his views and life story’, was deemed unsuitable for online publication due to its reference to Navabi’s potentially controversial views on the Quran.

As a further response to this offence claim, Haywood has written an article for the New Statesman claiming that this censorship is indicative of the current climate of journalism, particularly student journalism; arguments are valued not for their ‘logic, evidence, and reason’, but instead for their ability to ‘conform to the current zeitgeist’. He has also suggested that this is just part of a wider ‘illiberal tide’ that is ‘sweeping British universities and thwarting debate’.

As such, Haywood has urged that students ‘should be able to engage with views even if they differ from their own’ rather than hiding from them under the blanket of censorship. As a result of this controversy, Haywood has halted his further involvement claiming that the views of the editorial team are ‘too divergent’ from his own.

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January 2022
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