CELEBRITY journalist Piers Morgan has described the University of Portsmouth Student Union’s decision to postpone the visit of a prominent right-wing journalist as ‘self-righteous’.
Peter Hitchens, who writes for the Mail On Sunday, was due to be coming to Portsmouth for a talk on February 12 – during the university’s celebration of LGBT+ History month.
But following a backlash from LGBT+ students, the university has postponed Mr Hitchens' talk – much to his dismay.
Mr Hitchens grew up in Alverstoke, Gosport, and says that he spent ‘a lot of my growing up’ in Portsmouth.
Posting on Twitter about the decision, Piers Morgan said: ‘You pathetic, spineless little snowflakes.
‘Here’s a tip for you; in the real world, not everyone will agree with you or let you cower in your self-righteous ‘safe space’.’
The Student Union president, Violet Karapaseva, said: ‘We are committed to ensuring freedom of speech on the University of Portsmouth campus, however recognise that the timing of the scheduled event and the speaker’s previously published views do not align with our current celebration of the LGBT+ community.’
Peter Hitchens has written about and argued on television about his stance on gay marriage – before writing for The Spectator in 2012 that it was ‘pointless to be reasonable’
But Mr Hitchens has criticised the university student union for surrendering ‘the principle of free speech’.
He said: ‘You used your powers to prevent the meeting from taking place because you, or the people you surrendered to, didn't approve of my expressed opinions.
‘Once you have surrendered the principle of free speech once, you can never be relied upon to defend it again. Why would anyone accept any invitation from you, ever again? You could 'postpone' it in seconds, because someone got up a petition.
‘Stop pretending to yourselves that this was anything other than a clumsy, cowardly thought-police action.
‘The longer you lie to yourselves about what you did, the less you will learn from the experience.’
A student from the university, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘People were confused and disappointed when the event was announced, because the Student Union told us a lot of work had gone into LGBT+ History Month.
‘It looks a bit fake of them to tell us that and then invite someone who is vocally anti-gay marriage to come in for a talk.
‘I think if the talk had been arranged for any other time it would have been fine – I’m all for free speech and challenging each other's opinions but this just seemed insensitive.’