If the elected leadership of the Oxford Union wish to invite a pair of controversial figures to argue with, then they are entirely within their rights to do so. It cuts to the very essence of a debating society to have polarising figures speaking, to challenge and refute their arguments. In the past decade, however, the consensus on who is or who isn’t acceptable in polite society has disintegrated. In 1998, a debate involving British National Party founder John Tyndall was cancelled, after both student opposition and a series of racially motivated nail bombings in London. Similarly, a debate invitation sent to David Irving in 2001 was met with bitter protests after OUSU launched an interfering campaign to rescind it. This is not to say that Irving is an admirable martyr figure: although he has since recanted and changed his views, and is now absolutely without doubt that the Holocaust took place, Mr Justice Gray told him following the loss of his libel suit in November 1996, that he was “an active Holocaust denier…anti-Semitic and racist…he associates with right-wing extremists who promote neo-Nazism”. All men and women of sense, and Irving is one of them, know that far-right causes are, and always will be, the preserve of a misguided minority. Tryl is not ignorant of what effect his invitation will have on the Oxford and national community, but neither is he a right-wing sympathiser. His intention is to make good Harold Macmillan’s frequently quoted declaration that the Union is “the last bastion of free speech in the Western world”. In his annual Oration, University Vice Chancellor John Hood made a stand for academic freedom, and he is to be congratulated; it is a braver stand than he was prepared to take in the governance reform debate. He made a number of admirable points, particularly by calling for students to be exposed to powerful ideas as “a fundamental and important part of the educational process.” There is no doubt that extremism on university campuses is a problem, but fear, misunderstanding and McCarthyism will not solve it; rather, they will set uncomfortable precedents in years to come. Rejecting fear extends to inviting the views of those we disagree strongly with, such as David Irving. That the invitation is so eminently justifiable suggests we have been asking the wrong questions. The necessity of intellectual freedom is already quite obvious to Oxford’s philosophers, and the silencing of opposition quite obviously wrong to its historians. If we really believe in those things that are important to us, we must be prepared to defend them in free and open debate. Flatly refusing to listen to an argument on principle is a foolish thing to do. Debates can never be won that way, and truth never prospers in an environment in which academics are afraid of being ostracised for expressing controversial opinions. The best way to confront hate and prejudice is to expose the lies that underpin them, not to plead ignorance and hope they go away. That’s been tried before, and it doesn’t work. We may not like what some people tell us, but if the students of a university as intellectually robust as Oxford can no longer tolerate potentially offensive ideas, then academia itself is in trouble. Abolition of no platform policies is a first step towards engaging with and finally defeating dangerous ideas.
Unlike most professional athletes, Alison Gannett was an environmentalist before she became a world champion freeskier. Gannett has been researching global warming ever since she graduated from the University of Vermont with an environmental science degree 20 years ago. In the 90s she provided the action shots in Warren Miller films and won multiple World Cup Freeskiing Titles. She has since formed three nonprofits to fight climate change, including the Save Our Snow Foundation and the Office for Resource Efficiency, which offers free consultation for reducing carbon emissions in Colorado’s Gunnison Valley. A trainer for Al Gore’s Climate Project, Gannett also walks the talk. She lives in a straw bale house she built in Crested Butte, and on her Global Cooling tours, she drives around in the world’s first solar-powered SUV that gets over 100 miles per gallon.Has climate change accelerated faster than you anticipated?Every year the situation has become a little bit scarier. I call it global weirding, instead of global warming, because we really get such extremes. A common misconception is that we’re going to just get more floods or more droughts or less snow. The answer is we’re going to get it all. We’re going to have less precipitation when we need it and more when we don’t.How have you taken action?I’ve come up with a four-step framework to make solutions to climate change easier for people called C.R.O.P. It means calculating, reducing, and offsetting your carbon footprint, and producing your own power. It’s a simple framework that can be found on my website (alisongannett.com) that works on a personal level or on a larger scale for businesses or governments.How did you get into extreme free skiing?It was kind of by accident. I was skiing in Crested Butte on the Headwall when a Warren Miller crew saw me. They came up to me and said, “You should be in our movie. How’s next week?” I was a dedicated environmental scientist first. I never imagined I would be a professional extreme skier.With all of these projects, how do you balance your time?I do presentations for elementary schools and governments of entire countries. But I also get in a good amount of skiing, yoga, and riding my bike to recharge my batteries.Next adventure?I have a big expedition planned in Greenland. There’s serious melting going on there—if half of Greenland melted, the sea level would rise 10 feet, putting the Southeast coast in serious jeopardy. I’m torn, because my traveling emits carbon. I have to balance my low-carbon lifestyle at home with my desire to get out and advocate for solutions to global warming.
For the second consecutive year, a record number of teams (379) – one better than 2017 ‐ were drawn and placed into brackets this evening to set the stage for the 34th Annual IHSAA Softball State Tournament Series.Sectional action runs May 21‐26 with the 64 survivors moving into a one‐game regional round on Tuesday, May 29. From there, 32 teams will square off in four‐team semi‐states on Saturday, June 2, with the four state championship games scheduled for Saturday, June 9, to be played for the first time at Purdue University’s Bittinger Stadium in West Lafayette.Area Sectional Pairings.Class 1A-Sectional 60 @ Rising SunG1: Rising Sun vs. North Decatur.G2: Hauser vs. Oldenburg Academy.G3: Winner of G1 vs. Winner of G2.G4: Jac‐Cen‐Del vs. South Decatur.Championship: Winner of G3 vs. Winner of G4.Class 2A-Sectional 45 @ MilanG1: Austin vs. Milan.G2: Switzerland County vs. Southwestern (Hanover).G3: South Ripley vs. Winner of G1.Championship: Winner of G2 vs. Winner of G3.Class 3A-Sectional 29 @ Franklin CountyG1: Franklin County vs. Greensburg.G2: Lawrenceburg vs. Batesville.G3: Winner of G1 vs. Winner of G2.G4: Madison Consolidated vs. South Dearborn.Championship: Winner of G3 vs. Winner of G4.Class 4A-Sectional 14 @ East CentralG1: Columbus North vs. Bloomington North.G2: Columbus East vs. Shelbyville.G3: Winner of G1 vs. Winner of G2.G4: East Central vs. Bloomington South.Championship: Winner of G3 vs. Winner of G4.