Oxford union bans magazine that might cause offence ... called 'No Offence'
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Officers at Oxford students' union have banned a new magazine No Offence from their freshers’ fayre … as it might cause offence. Final year Oxford PPE student Jacob Williams teamed up with Oxford local Lulie Tanett to set up the magazine "devoted to controversy and free speech" Williams was told by OUSU officials that No Offence "will not be suitable" to be given out at the freshers' fair, due to be on 7th October. The reason given by Oxford union vice president welfare and equal opportunities, Alasdair Lennon was that that in the view of officers, it would be likely to cause offence. Chair of the Student Publication Association, Jem Collins, speaking to The National Student said: "Free speech is just as important for student papers as it is for nationals, and the SPA fully support any student publications who are being censored by their students' union or university. Sometimes this can mean things are controversial, or even in cases offensive, but that's all part and parcel of the freedom of the press, and something we should always strive to uphold." Defending his magazine, Tanett, speaking to The National Student said: "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.
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"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."Williams replied to OUSU offering to consider alterations so long as it didn’t "completely change its character," although Versa reports OUSU didn’t acknowledge the offer and instead replied saying it had already contacted the union-owned media outlet The Oxford Student. Oxford University received a 'red' rating in spiked’s Free Speech University Rankings and is no stranger to cries of censorship. In February this year, controversial French Politian Marine Le Pen, the leader of right-wing party National Front, was met by hundreds of protesting students about her stance on immigration. Last November a debate on abortion was cancelled after student threats of protest, with Christ Church College citing 'welfare concerns' for the even not taking place. Oxford union posted a statement saying: "The magazine included a graphic description of an abortion, the use of an ableist slur, a celebration of colonialism, and a transphobic article. In an attempt at satire, another article suggested organising a 'rape swagger' – in the style of a 'slut walk' – in order to make rape 'socially acceptable. "OUSU do not want to be associated with the views in this magazine, therefore do not want it to be distributed at our event. The offensive views exhibited in this magazine do not in any way represent the majority of Oxford students, or OUSU."