My statement to Sarah Ditum about No Platforming and Censorship

You would, I trust, accept that such places as universities are supposed to be safe spaces that have a duty of care to their students. Hate speech is, almost by definition, something which cannot be allowed in a safe space. Many other places wish to define themselves as safe spaces for various groups – the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has generally aimed at being a safe space for all LGBT people. Denying people particular platforms is not censoring them, because they are free to find other places from which they can speak, unless their speech has been declared illegal.

There is thus no contradiction whatever between support for no-platforming people and opposition to censorship, especially when the person no-platformed has endless other platforms from which to express their views. Most hate speech aims to silence either directly or by denying access – hate speech censors.

I have no reason to hold you personally responsible for anything that has happened in the past, but protest against no-plaforming by groups that have regularly done their best actually to silence other groups when they have had the power to do so are hypocritical at best.


About rozkaveney

Middleaged, trans, novelist, poet, activist
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10 Responses to My statement to Sarah Ditum about No Platforming and Censorship

  1. cmcmck says:

    I’m out of touch on this. What’s been going on?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Censorship sucks

  3. jessie_c says:

    It’s the bigots’ weapon of choice. They claim to be the victims whenever their victims protest them.

  4. Anonymous says:

    No, the ideal of the “safe space” has no place in a secular university. Disagreement on this point is either a manipulative rhetorical tactic or lazy acceptance of authoritarian social dynamics.

    Like so many ongoing social debates, especially concerning race and gender, this is one that is largely dominated by costumed reactionaries who wish to impede social progress rather than encourage it. Anyone who sincerely questions this analysis needs to just merely try getting them to stick with a consistent definition for their terms – heck, even one of their own choosing – instead of continually swapping meanings back and forth like Harpo Marx trying to keep a running gag going. According to a lazy layman’s interpretation of the words….sure, universities should be spaces where people are safe. Who would disagree? But according to the specific meaning of the phrase “safe space” as used in the context of this discussion – i.e., the suppression of any Hegelian dialectics (yes, that’s precisely what it is by definition) – it’s a betrayal of the core principles of higher education and a cowardly retreat from the 21st century back into pre-enlightenment paradigms. You might as well bring back kings.

    • rozkaveney says:

      I note that you put this argument from a position of anonymity.

      In a society in which marginalized groups are threatened by discourses calling for their social exclusion and that both encourage and reinforce physical attacks on them, how then do you propose that members of such groups lead their lives? And indeed higher education?

      I don’t regard ‘no-platform’ as an ideal answer, but I am fucked if I know a better one currently available.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m with you on this. People have other ‘platforms’, it is not the same as censorship at all. It is about people providing a safe environment where they see fit to do so. Take Julie Bindel for example, she was on ‘Question Time’ the other day. Can’t say fairer than her being given time and space to expound her views on national television. Universities are communities and, as such, are entitled to look after their members.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know that it’s really about safe spaces is it?

        More like: “Fuck off from here with that hateful shit”.

    • tiferet says:

      I don’t actually think there is anything particularly principled about treating the position/opinion that some people are less than human because of their personal characteristics as worthy of protection, debate or discussion. I don’t propose that all such speech should be eliminated EVERYWHERE because I do feel safer when genocidal assholes expose themselves as such rather than hiding among us pretending they’re decent people, but I certainly don’t feel I should expect to be exposed to that sort of thing at any place of learning.

  5. natacha70 says:

    I have posted an extensive critique of Ditum’s position on my blog, explaining in detail why no-platforming is wrong. I have disabled comments because otherwise I get heaps of TERF abuse but no-one has come back in other arenas with any serious critique, just the usual ad hominem’s and irrelevent comments saying how nice Julie Bindel and Sarah Ditum are.

    The Great Debate: Should Sarah Ditum Exist?

    The actual arguments have not been challenged.

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