09 February 2018

Too many students

● Brendan O’Neill, in a column in The Sun, draws attention to what he calls the “Stasi” student unions. Mr O’Neill says the joke isn’t funny any more. It never was, for those on the inside. E.g. the editor of Oxford student magazine No Offence, who was threatened with police action and feared he might be arrested.

A 2016 survey suggested that more than half of university students think it is correct to ban from campus anyone who “could be found intimidating”. By means of relentless propaganda over past decades, the il-liberal elite have managed to shift sensitivities, so that now anything deviating from radical egalitarianism may be labelled offensive or intimidating. A whole range of topics in politics, sociology and psychology have effectively become taboo.

Relatively few people are interested in knowledge and truth for their own sake. Learning to apply an ideology, on the other hand, seems to have greater popular appeal (judging by the history of religion). By massively expanding the student population, the priorities of campus have been shifted away from objectivity and neutrality, towards morality and politics. That may conceivably be good in some ways, but for the quality of debate and research it is disastrous.

● Either my standards are dropping, or BBC drama really is getting better. The Beeb have already demonstrated they can adapt classics in a way that gives priority to art and entertainment over sociology lectures. They have now shown the same for original drama. Six-part series Requiem does an excellent job at keeping high-pitched atmosphere and visuals in balance with strong narrative and characterisation. The supernatural provides a fruitful theme in fiction, but many are put off by the level of grimness which usually accompanies it these days. Requiem is gritty but not brutal.

Key talents behind the camera are Australian writer Kris Mrksa and British director Mahalia Belo.