QotD: my concern is that free speech is increasingly defined as “letting someone you broadly agree with speak, until you feel like interrupting, because you’re special too”

A lot has been said and written about no-platforming, in particular regarding the more infamous (or bewildering) incidents (involving the likes of Germaine Greer and Julie Bindel). Some might claim these were not about freedom of speech, but about hate speech and oppression of minorities. Not my view, but my concern is that free speech is increasingly defined as “letting someone you broadly agree with speak, until you feel like interrupting, because you’re special too”. Clearly, this isn’t free speech. Even away from the notorious cases, no-platforming continues to give itself airs and graces as a form of liberal, civilised non-confrontational protest. In truth, however well intentioned it may be, it’s wrong headed and dangerous. Outside of legally defined hate speech, even if you find someone’s views offensive, they should still be allowed to speak.

Barbara Ellen

2 responses

  1. That’s a decent article in New Statesman and raises a number of issues that do concern women, some of whom may or may not be feminist. One of the difficulties in discussing trans issues, is that it cuts across three very different areas: gender identity (and whether we consider that to be a social construct or seated in the brain), sexual attraction, and biological sex. The three are not the same, but everything is being gloriously blurred.

    On hate speech in general, I’ve always been fascinated that one can be charged with a crime for using language likely to incite violence when referring to race or religion. Where’s the crime for hate speech against women? Because there’s certainly lots of hate speech around directed at us. I digress though, apologies.

    There is some flawed thinking floating in the air this century regarding no-platforming.

  2. I don’t quite agree. The reason it’s ‘difficult’ discussing trans issues is because a group of violent, entitled men (plus their female helpers) are using any means possible to control the discourse, including denying basic reality.

    You may find the following article interesting, it’s about hate crime, not specifically hate speech, but the principles are similar:

    http://www.internationalhatestudies.com/rape-hate-crime/

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