Free speech advocates need to acknowledge that our approach asks people to lay their identities on the table for dissection. If people balk at that suggestion, our response should not be to call them ‘thin skinned special snowflakes’
This is an edited transcript of my speech to the Leeds Beckett Festival of Politics and International Relations Festival, delivered on 15th November 2016. This first appeared on the Leeds Beckett University Politics and Applied Global Ethics (PAGE) blog. You can listen to the unalloyed version of the speech on SoundCloud or via the player below.
Very interesting talk by @robertsharp59 on "safe spaces" with some nuanced and helpful views on an extremely polarised debate
I want to first set out my views on No Platform policies. In short, I think they’re bad for free speech and they’re bad for the people they seek to protect.
The idea of No Platform is that it seeks to avoid giving someone the credibility of speaking at a prestigious institution. Those who call for No Platform claim it is not a form of censorship, because the person is subjected to the No Platform rule can always take their words elsewhere. Moreover (they say), legal protections for free speech relate to the government, and since the government is not involved in choosing who speaks at a university there is no real issue. Why can’t we choose who does and does not speak on our campus? Continue reading “A Better Debate About No Platform? My Speech At the Leeds Beckett Festival of Politics and International Relations”
What, I wonder, does true Red State literature look like?
On 9th November, the morning after the U.S. Presidential election, my friend Mark posted this to Facebook.
This morning makes me understand what it must feel like for those people who look at the political landscape, look at the establishment, look at the leader and say, ‘I don’t recognise this; it doesn’t speak to me; it doesn’t represent my situation. It doesn’t represent anyone I know.’ It’s a feeling of despair and dislocation. It’s the same feeling that makes people crave something different. Choose anything that’s different. Even a man like Donald Trump.
In the week since the election there have been thousands of op-eds and ‘hot-takes’ published on why Trump won the electoral college and the mindset of his voters. But surprisingly, I have not seen this particular sentiment—empathising directly with how such people are feeling—anywhere else. At least, not expressed so clearly. Continue reading “Empathising With Trump Voters”
The incredible gravity of the U.S. Presidential election pulled all of our attention towards Donald Trump and his scandalous behaviour. His unexpected victory will have us reeling for weeks to come. His forthcoming presidency will probably be a permenant distraction. Just as his presidential primary rivals failed to get their message across, so other pressing issues will surely be crowded out by a general obsession and fascination with Mr Trump.
This morning I’ve kept my eye on a particular part of a particular web page: the New York Times popular voite forecast. As I type, it is showing a narrow win for Hillary Clinton, and she is ahead in actual reported votes by 0.1%, which is about 135,000 votes out of 118 million cast.
Recent events elsewhere in the world have made me particularly appreciate the American system.
The 2016 US Election has been, as they would say, a ‘dumpster fire’. The media have graded one candidate on a curve, and the discussion has been almost entirely about personalities. There does not appear to have been any sustained news cycle dedicated to policy. Indeed, even the discussion of actual policies in the debates was atrocious.
It’s clear that the country is incredibly polarised. Nevertheless, I still admire the American political system.
One silver-lining of the Trump candidacy is that there has been plenty of discussion about the US system. I don’t mean admiration for the electoral college (although I’ve heard some good arguments for its retention recently) but more simply and fundamentally, the fact that everything is subordinate to the Rule of Law, and a Constitution which places and incredibly strong emphasis of individual rights and protections against government over-reach.
If a religious tradition wants to evolve, it may also need to forget
Kwame Anthony Appiah’s series of Reith Lectures is called ‘Mistaken Identities‘. I really enjoyed listening to the first lecture on ‘Creed‘ and am looking forward to the rest: ‘Country’, ‘Colour’ and ‘Culture’.
In the first lecture, Appiah walked us through the idea that religious practices and doctrines are far more fluid and open to interpretation and change, than the fundamentalists would have us believe. This is a good thing in my view, as it offers hope that illiberal ideas spread under the guise of religion can eventually be abandoned.
What to do when people engage in incitement and hate speech? This is surely the toughest challenge facing free speech defenders
I’m bookmarking this Washington Post profile of Professor Susan Benesch, whose research looks at ‘dangerous speech’—that is, speech that can incite mass violence.
For Benesch, it’s important that people understand that the type of speech she wants to counter is different from hate speech, which she says is a broad category for which there is no agreed-upon definition. An advocate for free speech, she does not believe that hate speech can or should be silenced. In fact, it’s one of the central reasons she sought to differentiate dangerous speech.
There is an implication that Clinton is not winning on her own merits but because The Donald has thrown the election. Even as she prepares to become the first woman president, Hillary Clinton is still the victim of sexism
Despite having written very little on this blog about the United States Presidential election, I’ve been following it closely. My main source of news and commentary has been podcasts: The FiveThirtyEight weekly round-up in particular. But I’ve been reading mainstream news sites and blog commentary too.
Even as she makes history as the first woman to run for president, and even as she prepares to become the first woman to take the office, Hillary Clinton is still the victim of sexism. Most analyses attribute her lead to the to the failings of her opponent: Donald Trump is egotistical, misogynist, racist. He is under-prepared and has led a shambolic campaign. There is an implication that Clinton—a historically unpopular candidate—is not winning on her own merits but because The Donald has thrown the election to her. In another year (so goes the argument), against another candidate, she would lose. Continue reading “Why Hillary Clinton Will Win”