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No Offence magazine responds to their OUSU ban


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In response to the news that new student magazine No Offence has been banned by the University of Oxford Student Union, The National Student tracked down magazine publishers Jacob Williams and Lulie Tanett to get their thoughts on events. 

No Offence

Firstly Tanett explained that while he respects the Union’s right to censor his publication he does not believe it is right. 

“I think it should be allowed to do what it wants, including censor us; but I don't think their decision to censor harmless student magazines is right.”

 He then elaborated on his thoughts and feelings of recent events. 

“People have asked several times whether No Offence was made for the purpose of intentionally causing offence. My answer is this: 

“It's not that No Offence *aims* to offend, it's that we think people *should not be offended* by different views or jokes.  

“People should be able to disagree without being offended by each other. People should be able to find jokes distasteful without trying to shut them down. It is all too easy to stigmatise any satire by claiming that it secretly endorses the position it's satirising. Along that route lies the destruction of all satire.” 

He added, “I have no problem with people feeling disgust, discomfort, even dislike in response to whatever given content. That's not the kind of 'offence' we are against.  

“But to say that this offends me and therefore it should be banned, or shut down, or removed, or censored... to say that this offends me and therefore should not be listened to, not taken seriously, etc. ... is bad. The proper response to content you disagree with is not trying to shut it down or prevent it from being heard. It is to criticise it, or ignore it.” 

His No Offence partner, Williams talked about how this illustrated an attack of freedom of speech at Oxford. 

“I and many other students felt that freedom of speech was under threat at Oxford and other British universities. There's a real climate of low level intimidation directed at those who don't accept certain viewpoints. We created No Offence to give a voice to students who feel afraid to speak out and to try to make Oxford once again a place where all opinions can be discussed on their merits. Sadly this decision by OUSU has only confirmed our fears.

“I don't have a problem in principle with the idea - we don't want publications that actually directly advocate violence, for example. But the arbitrary Regulation 13, which allows OUSU to ban anything it thinks 'might cause offence', is clearly ridiculous. “Yes, we will still go to the fair in order to show freshers how students are being censored at their university.

“This is a far wider problem that goes way beyond No Offence. Last year a debate on abortion was forced to close down by a protest; protests nearly succeeded in forcing the Oxford Union to cancel its discussion with French National Front leader Marine Le Pen; students have even been attacked in the street for being Conservatives, and, on a smaller scale, I have been approached by people who felt frightened to admit that they didn't agree with OUSU's very specific brand of left-wing politics. That this is happening at one of the world's leading universities is an absolute disgrace.”

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