Protest rallies are already in the works against the new legislation being introduced by the recently elected center-right government to abolish a ban on law enforcement authorities from entering university and technical college campuses. The question we should be interested in, however, is not whether these protests will be big and dynamic, but whether the people who take part in them are capable of acknowledging that others may hold a different point of view and of accepting the latter’s right to disagree with their position.
People who invoke the need to defend freedom and speech and the dissemination of ideas in order to oppose the changes being introduced to the university asylum law would be better off pondering whether the situation that has developed at many of the country’s universities as a result of the tolerance and even complicity of the former administration is consistent with this need.
For example, would a group of people who are in favor of abolishing the asylum law be allowed to gather on the campus of a university and hold a demonstration in order to express their support for this move?
The answer is pretty obvious. The self-proclaimed defenders of freedom of speech and ideas would never allow a campus to be infected by such an “undemocratic” virus, for the simple reason that they do not like being opposed. They wouldn’t hesitate to use verbal or even physical violence, not to mention a Molotov cocktail or two, to make their disapproval known.
Violent elements have resorted to such attacks on previous occasions without any of the so-called defenders of free speech turning a hair and even though academic liberties are being consistently violated in the name of university asylum.
What actually goes on inside Greece’s campuses on a day-to-day basis has resulted in a complete distortion of the concept, as the people who need protection from persecution today are the people who want to express their support for the abolition of the ban. If the freedom to disseminate ideas is being violated anywhere, it is inside the halls of certain university faculties.
The asylum law was passed in 1982 in order to prevent a repetition of the bloody repression of a student uprising by the colonels’ junta in 1973. It has hardly ever been applied to protect freedom of speech since then. Instead, it became a shield for sundry groups that espouse violent tactics and allowed campuses to be overrun – all under a progressive mantle, no less.