Universities should rigorously protect free speech for academics and students, and the right to cause offence in an academic space should be defended. With the exception of speech that incites violence or harm-causing, no one should be subject to punishment, cancellation, firing, expulsion or anything else for saying things at a university that others do not like.
The speech of university academics has become a matter of hotly contested debate, not only in South Africa, but around the world. Adam Habib's use of the "n-word" in a recent SOAS webinar -- a matter on which I don't want to express a view here -- is a good example of the outrage academics' speech can induce.
The latest example of such a controversy is UCT academic Dr Lwazi Lushaba's claim in an online lecture -- shortly before Holocaust Memorial Day, no less -- that "Hitler committed no crime". "All Hitler did," the senior political studies lecturer continued, "was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people."
The Jewish community, unsurprisingly and justifiably, was outraged by the comments. Tzvi Brivik, chairperson of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, condemned Lushaba's remarks as "deplorable", saying that...