Lately, we have been hearing a lot from the mainstream press and their faux-radical echoes the ‘alt’ right, on the dangers of ‘safe spaces’. We hear how such places are dangerous restrictions on free speech, that lefties are being censorious, or behaving like ‘snowflakes’, insulating themselves from opposing viewpoints.
What you almost never hear a word of, is the thousands upon thousands of right-wing safe spaces and conservative censorship zones which exist up and down the country.
Most of the time, when the right complain about ‘censorship’, what has actually occurred is that they have said something – freely – and someone else has – freely – expressed their objections to their statement. So someone called you a bigot or a racist? Suck it up! It’s their freedom of speech to do so! Stop being such a triggered little snowflake. Challenging your views is not the same as censoring them. The swastika snowflakes are the worst, one minute, they complain about how liberals get too easily offended over small issues, the next, they are crying that “Waah, the new Ghostbusters film is all girls! Star Wars is promoting white genocide! Doctor Who is a lady. Feminists made my videogames all fluffy!”
The other thing about ‘safe spaces’ is how unwilling right-wing snowflakes are to recognise their own – nobody ever mentions how it works the other way round;
Imagine the most ‘patriotic’, pro-brexit pub – flags of st George, union flags, patriotic bunting on every surface – go and tell them they have to host a speech from a Europhile MEP, or else they are being ‘censorious’. . . or perhaps the local conservative or country club should be told they must host an event paying tribute to the trade union movement, or else they are ‘shutting down debate’. University, pub, country club – all are private institutions funded by their patrons – why is it only the liberal/left space which must be pressurised into using its own resources to give extra voice to groups whose outlook fundamentally clashes with the majority of their patrons?
Why is it that universities and left/liberal-leaning organisations are obliged to fund a platform for people their members disagree with, while there is no reverse obligation?
Why must a given institution be labelled ‘censorious’, and accused of ‘restricting free speech’ or ‘shutting down debate’ by refusing to host their enemies, when there is no way in hell a right wing safe space will ever open its doors to contrary viewpoints.
Is it a conservative club’s duty to freely loan its speakers, stage and space to a series of speeches by trade union activists? No. Is the flag-waving, pro-brexit pub obliged to not only host, but guarantee the safety of, a Remain campaign group? No! Are churches, mosques and synagogues to be ordered to make their buildings available to gay pride events? No!
Why are ‘safe spaces’ not a problem when the right creates them? ‘Flaggy’ pub = nationalist safe space. Golf club = capitalist safe space. Church = prude/homophobe safe space. Conservative club = conservative safe space (indeed, you have to take an oath not to challenge ‘conservative views’ to even visit most of them – disobey, and you will be forcefully evicted, or the police called).
Surely individual institutions have the obligation to consider the sensitivities of their paying patrons? 9 grand membership fee a year for most uk universities – does that buy you no say in the scheduling at all?!
Somehow, we have reached the stage where it is received wisdom that right-wingers can enjoy the safe spaces provided by thousands upon thousands of pubs, golf clubs, country clubs, churches and conservative clubs up and down the country, but when ‘the left’ or liberals want to do the same, they are ‘shutting down free speech’.
Go into a rough-n-ready, nationalist pub and it is widely accepted that if you started criticising the United Kingdom, to all and sundry, you’d probably get a kicking – and you’d be blamed for being stupid – for voicing obviously contrary views within a safe space!
I cannot simply walk into a church, shove the vicar from the pulpit, then use his mike and his speakers to preach about the joys of promiscuous sex and debauchery – why? Because the majority of attendees would wish their safe space to be protected – the elderly, conservative flock would be offended, and would want to be insulated from contrary views, to simply enjoy one area where they can be themselves and freely express their opinions among like-minded individuals without fear of being contradicted.
Run through that sentence again and ask yourself how this is any different to the safe spaces in some universities – it isn’t! Again, it is an example of something which it is taken as read that right wingers are entitled to, but if the left request the same, they are to be insulted and derided.
Pub, club, church, university – all are exclusive institutes funded by their members – why is it only left and centre safe spaces which are singled out for criticism?
Again, along with media bias and open-carry, we see ‘safe spaces’ as another example of something which is fine. . . . until a liberal/lefty/young person demands it!
These pubs, clubs, and conservative clubs ‘no platform’ whoever they want because (to put it kindly) they are entitled to a safe space where they can feel secure freely expressing their beliefs. . . Challenge the dominant paradigm in a conservative club or religious institution, and you will be asked to leave, and if you refuse, the police will be called. Do the same in certain pubs and you are liable for a beating.
To put it less kindly, however – in the right’s own terms – it is because the patrons of these pubs and clubs are mollycoddled, over-sensitive, censorious little snowflakes, who need somewhere they can feel safe insulating themselves from contrary viewpoints, afraid of ideas which run counter to their own!
But safe spaces in universities? How can they be justified? Well, for a start, we’ve actually paid for our university placements (unlike our ‘something-for-nothing’ parent’s generation!) – we got saddled with 40 grand of debt to keep these institutions going – I think we get a say in who visits the universities we’ve paid for!
But then comes the argument “Ah, but universities are places of learning, where a variety of viewpoints should be heard”. . . Not strictly true – it would be more accurate to say that a university is a place where a variety of outlooks are dispassionately and unbiasedly explained by an educated reader, where bare facts are explained without favour. . . something any professional lecturer would do, regardless of their opinions.
A university teaching a history degree has the duty to explain the rise of the third reich in dispassionate, purely factual terms – if they got a member of neo-nazi group Combat 18 to do so, it would in fact be the opposite of neutral, bipartisan and educational! A duty to inform does not mean any tom, dick and harry has the right to use a stage, speakers and venue paid for by members who do not support their views.
‘No platforming’ does not mean saying a person cannot speak, it means saying a person cannot speak within the confines, and using the resources, of a privately funded institution whose members do not want them to. Do I have to open my front door to ukip and allow them to preach their bile across my town using my balcony? No! Can I go to the conservative party conference and demand a placement on the bill, even though I openly come to criticise everything their party stands for? No!
Restricting free speech = Putting gaffer tape over someone’s mouth.
No platforming = Not paying for a megaphone and handing it to your enemies!
What recent trends have shown us is that right-wingers will fiercely and violently defend their own safe spaces, whilst also demanding access to centrist and leftist safe spaces under the banner of ‘free speech’.
“Safe spaces” – yet another example of something which is considered absolutely fine when the middle-aged or right wing do it, but if a young person, ‘liberal’ or ‘lefty’ demands the same, they are being “over-entitled” or “Censorious”