Australian University
© Jason Tong / Pixabay

Government launches probe into campus censorship

Australian universities have begun banning sarcasm by deeming it a "form of violence," according to a watchdog group.

Gideon Rozner, director of policy at the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a think tank "dedicated to preserving and strengthening the foundations of economic and political freedom," praised the Australian government's announcement that it is launching a probe into the suppression of free speech on campuses across the country.

Rozner explained to Sky News Australia the findings of a recent study conducted by IPA, which rated more than 80 percent of Australian universities as "hostile to free speech," while only one school earned a "green" rating for being supportive of free expression.

"At Federation University, 'bullying' in their code is 'hurting somebody's feelings,'" Rozner said, citing examples found in select university's conduct codes. "At La Trobe, bullying includes 'unintentional offense or emotional injury' - because as Dennis Miller says, we've raised a generation of emotional hemophiliacs."

"Here's the kicker: several Australian universities ban 'sarcasm' because it's a form of violence."

In the report referenced by Rozner, the IPA conducted a "systematic analysis of over 165 policies and actions at Australia's 42 universities," and rated each school's "support for free speech through analysis of policies and actions that limit the diversity of ideas on campus."

"Thirty-four of Australia's 42 universities (81 percent) received a Red rating for policies and actions that are hostile to free speech on campus, an increase from 33 in 2016," the report states. "Seven of Australia's universities (17 percent) received an Amber rating for policies and actions that threaten free speech on campus."

Only one school, the University of New England, received a "Green" rating.

Australian Education Minister Dan Tehan recently announced a probe of campus censorship policies which will be led by former Chief Justice of Australia Robert French.