The perils of deplatforming in academia | Letter

Prof Grace Lavery insinuates that academics who have been deplatformed are merely “vapid provocateurs” who have no right to complain (Letters, 20 July). I guess I am one of them – I was deplatformed.

The lecture I was due to give at Essex University in December 2019 about trans rights in contemporary criminological research was cancelled. I was blacklisted by the department of sociology. All of this on the grounds of my alleged political views as anti-trans. For the record, I am not anti-trans, nor have I ever been. As an independent review established, the cancellation and blacklisting were unlawful.

I suspect that Lavery has never read any of my work, and so her accusation of being a vapid provocateur is offensive. More worrying though is her suggestion that traditional practices of peer review and good pedagogy are both routine forms by which academics deplatform each other. Peer review is about ensuring the robustness of academic output. Keeping book lists up to date for students is about being a good teacher. Deplatforming, though, is about political vetting. The only way that the two are synonymous is if one imposes their own politics on the academic and pedagogic process.

I, for one, prefer to act ethically by assessing the research put in front of me on its own merits and ensuring that my students are exposed to the full knowledge base.
Prof Jo Phoenix
The Open University

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