An email about Free Speech – Updated

An email I have just sent to the SU President, VP Communications, Union Chair, newspaper editor, general newspaper email address, and the National Union of Students.

Dear Sirs,

I am writing to express my discontent and incredulity at the  
treatment that my free speech has received on my own Students' Union  
web site. I posted on the forums about my discontent of the Union,  
backed up with examples of similar violations of free speech against  
the student newspaper in previous years (links below). A mere half an  
hour after I posted this information on the SU forums, the post was  
deleted (along with another post the contents of which I did not  
save, summary below) without explanation. I find this despicable.

Fortunately, I had planned for such an event to occur and posted the  
full text of the post on my own web site ( 
archives/2006/03/03/my-union-does-not-represent-me/) and another site  
( that I set up with a  
group of friends.

The second post asked some questions regarding the forums and the  
Union web site itself:

1. Why does the Union require my mobile phone number to sign up? This  
is private information and I do not wish to give it out to just anyone.

2. Why does the Union require my University email address to sign up?  
This automatically bars potential and ex-students from visiting  
certain interesting informational parts of the site. Not to mention  
ex-students who have paid for a lifetime membership of the Students'  

3. Why am I forced to agree to a draconian set of terms and  
conditions before I am even allowed to view the forums? A copy of  
these terms is included below.

> You agree, through your use of this forum, that you will not post  
> any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive,  
> vulgar, hateful, harassing, obscene, profane, sexually oriented,  
> threatening, invasive of a person's privacy, or otherwise in  
> violation of ANY law. This is not only humorous, but legal actions  
> can be taken against you. You also agree not to post any  
> copyrighted material unless the copyright is owned by you or you  
> have consent from the owner of the copyrighted material. Spam,  
> flooding, advertisements, chain letters, pyramid schemes, and  
> solicitations are also inappropriate to this forum.
> Note that it is impossible for us to confirm the validity of posts  
> on this forum. Please remember that we do not actively monitor the  
> posted messages and are not responsible for their content. We do  
> not warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any  
> information presented. The messages express the views of the  
> author, not necessarily the views of this forum and it should be  
> remembered that these are views and not always fact. Anyone who  
> feels that a posted message is objectionable is encouraged to  
> notify an administrator of this forum immediately. We have the  
> rights to remove objectionable content, within a reasonable time  
> frame, if we determine that removal is necessary. This is a manual  
> process, however, so please realise that we may not be able to  
> remove or edit particular messages immediately. This policy goes  
> for member profile information as well.
> You remain solely responsible for the content of your messages, and  
> you agree to indemnify and hold harmless this forum, and any  
> related websites to this forum. We at this forum also reserve the  
> right to reveal your identity (or any information we have about  
> you) in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from any  
> information posted by you.
> Registration to these forums is only granted to members of the main  
> web site. Through the acceptance of this disclaimer, you will  
> automatically be registered to the forums. The same username and  
> password can be used to gain access to the main site and the  
> forums. With this user account you are about to register, you agree  
> to never give your password out to another member, for your  
> protection and for validity reasons. You also agree to NEVER use  
> another member's account to post messages or browse this forum.
> After you register and log into this forum, you can fill out a  
> detailed profile. It is your responsibility to present clean and  
> accurate information. Any information we deem inaccurate or vulgar  
> will be removed.
> Please note that with each post, your IP address is recorded, in  
> the event that you need to be banned from this forum or your ISP  
> contacted. This will only happen in the event of a major violation  
> of this agreement.

One line I take particular offence to is "We at this forum also  
reserve the right to reveal your identity (or any information we have  
about you) in the event of a complaint or legal action arising from  
any information posted by you." At the slightest sign of any  
complaint, my details could be forwarded to the complainant.

Let me add that that part of the discussion about the recent  
(yesterday) elections at the Students' Union has devolved into a  
discussion about the virtues of Adolf Hitler, which included racist  
comments. I notice that these have not been deleted.

Best regards,
Chris Boot

Chris Boot

So far, I received an autoreply from the NUS, and delivery failure notifications from the President and Newspaper Editor. We shall see how events unroll.

Update: Since the worst of the “Vote” post has been deleted, and most of you can’t even read it, I’ve decided to mirror the post on my site. Aren’t I nice?