Skip to main content

Culture wars

My showdown with the Durham students

Journalist Rod Liddle. Colin McPherson/Corbis/Getty Images

My experience with the “Durham mob” has left me worried about the implacability of our students, says Rod Liddle in The Spectator. A small group walked out on my speech at Durham University last Friday evening “for the simple reason that I was giving it”. As I left the college, one shouted that my views on transgender issues were “disgusting”. Yet when I calmly and affably engaged with him on the issue, explaining our difference of opinion, he didn’t know what to say. He was so confused “to be debating, reasonably, with somebody who was the fount of all known evil” that he simply withdrew from the discussion.

The problem is, these students have “never had their views challenged”. Indulged for years by their teachers, they go to university “wholly unfamiliar with the notion of an opposing argument”. One student said she was left “literally shaking” when she read what I’d said in my speech. To which I’d say: “Man up a bit. It’s just an opposing view. Use logic, facts and rhetoric to defeat it.” Alas, the university has taken the side of the protesters, leaving the professor who invited me fearing for his job. And no doubt this ugly spectacle will make other universities wary of inviting social conservatives to speak – dooming our students to “continue hearing only one view”. 

Get our daily newsletter in your inbox

We cut through the noise to give you a fresh take on the world – in just five minutes a day. Sign up for the newsletter here.