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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Tattletale software at universities threatens free speech

By: V4 Agency

In an increasing number of universities across the UK, software enabling students to report “micro aggressions” they experience are gaining ground. However, many critics view them as a clear threat to free speech.

“Microaggression” can be defined as a claim, use of words or an act that, although not necessarily intended to hurt (many times is not even noticed), contains elements of discrimination, and is therefore considered hostile or insulting. Asking, for example, an Asian-American about where they were born can be construed as such an act, for implying that they are not considered Americans.

Several universities in the UK have started to use software through which students can send anonymous complaints against staff or fellow students for committing microaggressions, Reclaim The Net pointed out.

The implementation of the software caused the biggest outcry at Cambridge University, where critics perceive the system as

a threat to the tradition of free speech and the fearless discussion of ideas.

As it turned out, many universities were using the Report + Support software, developed by a firm called Culture Shift. The company says the software makes it easier for students to report abuse and harassment, as the victims of such attacks often do not dare to ask for protection. It is easier for them to anonymously seek and to get help.

Helen Pluckrose, the founder of a counselling company, told The Times that the founders of Report + Support are “woke capitalists”. Ms Pluckrose said woke capitalists are mainly white, middle-class people who earn fortunes by making other white people believe that they are racist and that they need their help to tell them how to think and behave.

Founders of Report + Support, however, emphasise that their goal is not to restrict free speech, but rather, to break down barriers to reporting threats and harassment within institutions.

At the same time, critics say the tool allows students to report anonymously and without consequences, even if they have a trivial problem with a teacher. At Edinburgh University, a student reported their professor of social anthropology for criticising political correctness.


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