Freedom of Speech under Assault at Exeter University: A Report from Yaron Brook’s European Speaking Tour

In recent years, Yaron Brook, ARI chairman executive, has been invited to give talks at Exeter University in the UK.

In 2014, Brook gave his first Exeter talk on the morality of capitalism. The talk, which was organized with the help of a former ARI intern, was delivered to a lecture room filled to capacity. In 2015, Brook came back to talk about the inequality debate. Again, it was a packed room with more than 150 students attending live, and with over 30,000 views it is one of the most watched videos with Brook.

On October 24, 2016, Brook was returning to Exeter University to discuss the assault on free speech. Brook was looking forward to the event. “Exeter is always fun, they always have a good audience, they always ask good questions,” he said in anticipation of the event.

But this time, things did not exactly go as planned. In an attempt to prevent Brook from speaking, pro-Palestinian students showed up at the auditorium and began chanting. Eventually, security showed up and relocated everyone to another room where Brook could finally finish his talk.

Reflecting on what happened Brook said that “At Exeter, I experienced the rage of the Left; the unhinged Left that won’t let you speak, that yells, that considers anybody a racist who doesn’t agree with them.”

Various online media outlets reported on the attempt to silence Brook. One commentator writing for The Lab noted, for example, that “the protests only served to testify to the crux of Dr. Brook’s argument: free speech is under threat.”

The attempt to silence Brook at Exeter University shows that the attacks against free speech — in the form of demands for “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” — isn’t only plaguing the American college experience, but also the European. It also shows that ARI’s fight for the individual’s right to free speech is global.

For more news on ARI’s activities in the United States and abroad, subscribe to Impact Weekly.