Open University student 'silenced' over support for JK Rowling

: Fury as Open University censors leading academic just for mentioning JK Rowling during free speech debate following ‘woke’ backlash she faced over trans views

  • Alistair Bonnington, 68, has angered trans rights activists at the Open University
  • In a discussion about Voltaire’s exile, he cited author JK Rowling’s experience 
  • He referenced Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill which allows men to identify as women
  • His post was deleted while ‘trans women are women’ comments were permitted

A leading law lecturer has criticised Britain’s largest university after his comments on trans rights during an online debate on free speech were censored and he was warned not to repeat them.

Alistair Bonnington, an ex-BBC legal adviser and former honorary law professor who taught Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her student days, posted his views on an Open University forum during a discussion about the 18th Century French writer Voltaire – an advocate for freedom of speech.

But his comments, referring to Scotland’s Hate Crime Bill, which will allow men to self-identify as women, and the ‘woke’ backlash faced by Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling earlier this year over her trans views, were deleted. Ms Rowling faced overwhelming abuse on social media and an onslaught from the so-called ‘cancel culture’ – in which Left-wing activists attempt to eradicate their victim’s views from being aired publicly.

Alistair Bonnington, pictured, was warned against repeating comments he made during a discussion about freedom of speech comparing JK Rowling with French philosopher Voltaire who was forced into exile 

In his post, Mr Bonnington, 68, who is now an English Literature student at the OU, argued the SNP plans ‘would make it a crime for anybody to deny that a “trans” woman (ie a man) was a real woman’, adding: ‘It looks like feminists in Scotland can look forward to incarceration. Poor J.K. Rowling may need to become an exile like Voltaire!!!’

To his horror, Mr Bonnington has now received a warning letter from the university stating that he was in breach of forum rules.

Accusing the OU of ‘infantile and anti-intellectual behaviour’, Mr Bonnington last night said: ‘Bear in mind this was in a debate about free speech. For the university to do what it did is an absolute joke.

‘Universities should be places where free debate can be had between people who hold different views. If we’re not allowed to debate things in universities, then things have got into a bit of a mess.

‘That’s just Stalinism, basically, and I find it quite shocking for free speech to be treated as an expendable commodity by a university.’

JK Rowling has faced major criticism over her views concerning trans people

Mr Bonnington, who is a student at The Open University saw his comment deleted while a response from a female student which said ‘trans women are women’ was not removed

Following Mr Bonnington’s post on his class forum, one female student responded with ‘trans women are women’. While his comment was deleted by the forum moderator, the reply remained, prompting another student to ask: ‘Surely you can’t just take down one point and leave another standing?’

Mr Bonnington added: ‘I’ve taught in universities for over 25 years, but it seemed to me extraordinary that a university would be basically enforcing a particular viewpoint. It’s an incredibly infantile approach and anti-intellectual.’

Last night, an OU spokesman said: ‘We will not allow views to be presented in a way that is hostile or degrading to others. This does not infringe our statement on academic freedom, which supports opinions and arguments, including those that could cause offence to some people, to be openly and freely expressed.’

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