Whatever you think about the Safe Schools Coalition, the attacks on the program, fair and foul, have now become something else: an attack on co-founder Roz Ward personally, and the right to have a political view. That Ward would become a target of News Corp is par for the course of that thuggish outfit.

Now, however, the campaign has become a full bore McCarthyist attack on Ward personally. Two days ago, Ward was removed from a Victorian advisory body — after having described the Australian flag as “racist” and expressing an urge for the red flag to be flying over Parliament instead. The push for Ward’s removal was bizarre in itself — the fiendish childnapping Safe Schools program could continue, as long as Ward was removed. What mysterious powers they believe one person must have, by their very presence!

But getting dumped by a government is also the political breaks. Getting suspended by a university for your freely expressed views ain’t. La Trobe uni has suspended Ward for “embarrassing” the university — apparently for holding views that are taught as legitimate and arguable in half its humanities lectures. This is a gross betrayal of the spirit of a university, of free inquiry and free opinion, which should cover workers such as Ward, even if they don’t have a direct teaching role.

You could blame News Corp for this, but La Trobe should be willing and able to stand up to such garbage.

Presumably Freedom Boy and the IPA will leap into action at this state assault on free speech. Ha. Whatever one thinks of Safe Schools, and of some of Ward’s less-than-brilliant strategic choices, a university suspending someone for her beliefs is an outrage against free thought in an open society.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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