EDINBURGH University is becoming an embarrassment to Scotland. Having renamed the David Hume Tower after woke protests they have now suspended and shamed a liberal anthropology lecturer for daring to say things that most people think.

I’d say, you’ll all know the case of Dr Neil Thin by now, but the coverage of the case has been sparse to say the least.

Search his name on the BBC website and you’ll find, with irony, that the great British Broadcasting Corporation were more than happy to have Dr Thin on their Radical Thinking programme in 2016. Today, in contrast, as 60-year-old Thin is cancelled and humiliated by the university, the BBC, in their wisdom, see no story.

After 34 years of teaching, Dr Thin has been suspended from teaching while he is investigated for his outrageous views.

Shamefully, this academic believes in freedom of speech and thought. Worse still he thinks JK Rowling might have a point about transgender people, and he has dared to suggest that having an anti-racist conference at Edinburgh University that excludes all white people may not be the best way to fight racism.

READ MORE STUART WAITON: 'Trigger warnings' for students are a threat to tough realities of learning

You can find Thin’s “offensive” opinions online. His views on race are very similar to those of Martin Luther King. He is a universalist, he believes that the best society is a colour-blind society where everyone is treated equally and he opposes the cancelling of historical figures like David Hume. Shame on him!

Our politically and emotionally correct university administrators, no doubt helped by In-Human Resources have, I’m sure, acted appropriately, followed the correct procedures, and are only interested in the “wellbeing” of students.

But when did the wellbeing of students mean trampling upon the principle of academic freedom and freedom of thought and debate? And when did this “wellbeing” issue mean that you follow the lead of the 0.1 percent of complaining students to the detriment of the rest?

Online comments accuse Dr Thin of having offensive, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, transphobic views that “trigger” students. As usual our young activists have called for Neil Thin to receive all sorts of “training” so that this Doctor of Anthropology can be reprogrammed, Salem-like, to appreciate that David Hume and the rest really are witches that need to be burned from our memory.

One of the great tragedies of recent times is that universities are becoming, perhaps for the first time in their history, less liberal that the rest of society.

Having, in principle at least, been the place and space to develop new ideas and challenge orthodoxies of all kinds, universities are becoming illiberal dogmatic institutions. And once a dogma is accepted the witch-hunting will inevitably follow.

University UK, the body that represents university heads, for example, last year published their report, Tackling Racial Harassment in Higher Education. In it, they endorsed the highly contested views of critical race theorists regarding decolonisation of the curriculum, the idea of microaggressions and the existence of white privilege.

READ MORE STUART WAITON: Cancel culture: We should all be concerned about the disappearance of history

Elsewhere we find that Middlesex University has announced that it formally rejects the government’s race report and acknowledges the “existence of systemic and institutional racism”.

What other contested opinions, I wonder, will our universities, “formally reject” so that only certain opinions and academics are given the rubber stamp of approval. Perhaps we could start tattooing a big letter “R” on the heads of “racist” academics like Dr Thin as a new form of trigger warning for students?

What has happened to Neil Thin is happening all over the university sector. Here you will find both academics and perhaps more worryingly, students, facing our cancel culture for expressing certain opinions. Few make the press, and in many cases, people simply keep their heads down and avoid saying, teaching, or writing about certain issues.

Make no mistake, what we are witnessing is a modern form of witch-hunting by the very institutions that should be at the forefront of promoting an open, liberal education.

A spokesman for the University of Edinburgh said: "We are strongly committed to upholding the principles of freedom of expression and academic freedom and facilitating an environment where staff and students are able to inquire, study and debate.  

“We have developed a statement around freedom of speech that reaffirms this. In addition, Edinburgh helped draft the recently agreed statement by the Russell Group, representing the UK’s leading universities, in which all 24 members reiterated their determination to protect free speech.

“When a complaint is received, the University may agree temporary arrangements, to support all involved, while any investigation takes place. In this case, Dr Thin and his Head of School discussed what the most suitable arrangement will be, temporarily, while complaints raised are investigated. Dr Thin has not been suspended from his duties by the University but we understand he has decided of his own accord to step back temporarily."

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