I despair of students being led like sheep into cancel culture – what is the point of debate if there’s only one side?

I despair of students being led like sheep into cancel culture – what is the point of debate if there’s only one side?

WHEN I was growing up, people went to university to immerse themselves in new and unfamiliar ideas.

The whole point of higher ­education was to expand young people’s minds by challenging them with critical thinking.

Oxford students are planning to protest philosopher Kathleen Stock because they oppose her views
Oxford students are planning to protest philosopher Kathleen Stock because they oppose her viewsCredit: Rex

Sadly, it seems something has gone badly wrong on that front.

Oxford students are stepping up their campaign to stop a talk by visiting philosophy professor ­Kathleen Stock — because they do not agree with her views.

Their complaint is that Stock is “transphobic and trans-exclusionary” because she opposes gender self-identification and has the temerity to say that biological sex is real.

I agree with Stock. But even if I did not agree with her, I would be interested to hear her view and maybe even open my mind to the possibility of changing my own opinion as a result.


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But hundreds of trans activists from the Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society cannot bear to hear a view that differs from theirs, so they are protesting against a planned debate at the Oxford Union on May 30 at which ­Stock will be speaking.

Hopefully the students will see sense and “allow” her to come to talk at the debating society.

But I despair at the state of what is supposedly the pinnacle of education, where the finest minds should be free to learn and think.

Why would anyone want to be left in around £50,000 of debt to have a load of group-think thrown at them?

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Kathleen Stock is not asking ­students to agree with her — if they don’t want to listen to her views, they don’t have to go and hear her speak.

Why are these students’ views more important than those who do want to hear what Stock has to say?

And it’s not just Oxford that appears to be full of narrow-minded reactionaries.

Two years ago, Stock was hounded out of her job at the University of Sussex for daring to express gender-critical views.

Oxford dons are so concerned about the issue that last week 44 of them — including evolutionary biologist Professor Richard Dawkins and theologian Professor Nigel Biggar — signed a letter warning that freedom of speech is at risk on their campus.

As they put it: “Professor Stock believes that biological sex in humans is real and socially salient — a view which until recently would have been so commonplace as to hardly merit asserting.”

Stock, a married lesbian with children, has expressed concerns about “people born as men, who’ve never had a sex change operation” having “access to female changing rooms” or “refuges from domestic violence or women’s prisons”.

Given the deeply disturbing story this week of Andrew Miller, who — while dressed as a woman — kidnapped, held captive and sexually assaulted a girl of ­primary school age, it is easy to see why some people consider the concept of self-identification as being open to dangerous exploitation from men who want to harm women.

Thinking that does not make someone transphobic.

Students should try to listen and learn from opposing points of view
Students should try to listen and learn from opposing points of viewCredit: AFP

As Stock herself has written: “Discrimination against trans ­people is utterly abhorrent. They need protection from abuse.

“But we must also look at the effects of these demands and ­consider, in particular, any costs to women and girls.”

When it comes to the trans debate, one of the things I am increasingly uncomfortable with is that the only people being ­cancelled seem to be women.

It’ll be a short career

I’ve said it before but women are not the problem in this debate. Nor are trans women.

The problem — and it really is a huge problem — is men who want to harm women.

I also despair of the younger generation who are being led like sheep into a mentality so steeped in cancel culture that when they encounter a view that they ­disagree with, they just block their ears and say: “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

It’s entitled and immature to cancel someone because they don’t think in exactly the same way that you do.

Apart from anything else, what happens when you enter the workplace and your boss has different opinions from yours?

Are you going to cancel them? Good luck with that — it will be a short career.

Debate should be at the heart of any university. What is the point of even having a debating society if everyone says the same thing?

And what sends a chill through me is that these people are the leaders of tomorrow.

If they have no tolerance for anything other than their own views, God help us.

Miley Cyrus has expressed her regret at over-sexualising her image
Miley Cyrus has expressed her regret at over-sexualising her image

SHE came in like a wrecking ball . . . but then lived to regret it.

Miley Cyrus has revealed her battle with shame after over-sexualising her image in an attempt to shake off her Disney child-star past.

She certainly left her squeaky-clean persona behind when she twerked and writhed her way through No1 song We Can’t Stop and stripped naked in the video for Wrecking Ball in 2013.

She said: “I carried some guilt and shame around for years because of how much controversy and upset I really caused.”

The singer, rightly, thinks she was judged “harshly”.

And she was only 20 at the time – an age when we all make mistakes – but that’s how we learn to be better adults.

Eur my cup ace heroes

There will be a clamour for tickets for West Ham's upcoming cup final
There will be a clamour for tickets for West Ham’s upcoming cup finalCredit: Getty

THE Europa Conference League semi-final win over AZ Alkmaar on Thursday could mark the end of 47 years of hurt for West Ham.

Pablo Fornals’ late winner in Holland capped a remarkable 3-1 win for David Moyes’ Claret and Blues – and skipper Declan Rice could now become only the third Hammer to raise a major trophy after Bobby Moore and Billy Bonds.

Unfortunately, our fans came under attack from violent AZ supporters.

This sort of awful behaviour has no place in football.

But what a night the final in Prague on June 7 will be.

Tickets for that match will be in such hot demand as the capacity in Prague is only 20,000 – so, as the club’s vice-chairman, I’m expecting a few calls from my hairdresser’s dog’s third cousin twice removed.

Putting the Me! me! me! into Meghan

Meghan Markle is attempting to rebrand herself as a showbiz celeb
Meghan Markle is attempting to rebrand herself as a showbiz celebCredit: TheImageDirect.com

MEGHAN MARKLE donned a gold dress and went to the 2023 Women Of Vision event in New York City last week, where she received an award.

Her first public appearance since the King’s Coronation was blighted by a paparazzi “car chase” – but who was to blame and what really happened is unclear.

What struck me is that she seems to be aiming for a rebrand.

More and more it looks like Meg and Harry are placing themselves in showbiz rather than the royal realm, and all while making themselves very rich.

Who can blame them for wanting a new image?

Their brand has got no value in the UK due to their decision to leave the Royal Family – at the same time as clinging to their titles and exploiting royal fame mercilessly.

Quite how that fits with their alleged desire for privacy is anyone’s guess, especially with their numerous TV shows and podcasts plus, of course, Harry’s bridge-burning ­tell-all book.

Harry’s endless lawsuits are possibly a sign that he does not have enough to do in his new life.

But whatever their motivation and whatever their plan, it all just seems so “Me, me me” . . . and so self-indulgent.

Rishi’s winner

Akshata Murty made a series of stunning sartorial choices at the G7 summit
Akshata Murty made a series of stunning sartorial choices at the G7 summitCredit: ALICE HODGSON/No10/UNPIXS

I’VE really been enjoying Akshata Murty’s elegant, stylish emergence into the spotlight.

She was at husband Rishi Sunak’s side at this week’s G7 Summit, where she made a series of stunning sartorial choices.

It’s the latest in a series of recent high-profile public appearances for the businesswoman, who earlier this month hosted a Coronation lunch at Downing Street.

I’ve got a feeling Akshata is going to be Rishi’s secret weapon in the upcoming election.

SOCIETY is better off now the paedophile brother of This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield has been jailed for 12 years after being convicted of sexually abusing a vulnerable teen boy.

Timothy Schofield, 54, was found guilty of 11 offences between 2016 and 2019, including two of sexual activity with a child, and – clearly – prison is the best place for him.

It’s good news for us but bad news for Phil, who could probably do with some good publicity this week after quitting his show while being surrounded by ex-colleagues who appear to be queuing up to bad-mouth him.

Chore blimey

WE all know that women do most of the domestic drudgery – but Spain has an innovative plan to get husbands helping out.

The Government there hopes to promote equality at home by producing an app that allows women to audit their husband’s share of the housework.

The idea is that the app will ensure chores are being shared equally.

But in my experience women don’t need an app to know whether or not husbands are pulling their weight.

When there is an issue between couples, the solution doesn’t boil down to a tally of who is doing what.

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Progress can be made when both parties decide to pull their weight and do their fair share.

In my experience, if you want your husband to take the bins out, you just need to tell him.


Dan Coombs

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