Students Keep "No Platforming" Contentious Speakers. Should They Stop?

Perspective Writers' Votes
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It is difficult to draw a clear line showing at which point an individual or organisation has proven to be too offensive to be allowed a platform to speak. This makes it very difficult to create an effective no-platforming policy that is not arbitrary.

Pros
Cons
  • It should not be up to social justice movements to decide whether or not a speaker is granted a platform, because social justice movements are inherently political and therefore lack the independence to judge whether or not certain speech is harmful enough to be banned from being granted a platform.

  • Because there are no clear standards for what should be no-platformed, the tactic can be co-opted and used against social justice movements to suppress their legitimate/meritorious speech.

  • No-platforming can happen solely because the speaker's views contradict the views of some students, in matters where different yet non-discriminatory views abound.

  • No-platforming can backfire by limiting the speech of moderate voices to the benefit of more extreme ones, if the no-platformers boycott or cede the event to the speaker they are protesting.

  • No platforming can happen because the speakers are judged "not inclusive enough," even though they have not directly perpetrated offense or harm.

  • No-platforming can be abused by the powerful to silence the speech of the minority.

  • The supposed "acceptable range" of ethical norms under which civil discourse "should" occur, is deeply ambiguous. The form of this range seems to depend almost entirely upon class, or on other social and cultural boundaries. In other words, once we refuse to communicate with those growing up in extremely different cultural circumstances, those outside of our bubble only grow more isolated and more extreme. One can't exorcize ideology by giving the cold shoulder. These views ARE norms for some.

  • The main problem with the justification of "no platforming" on grounds of racism, sexism, etc. is that these concepts themselves no longer have a set definition. By organizing protests to block speech from controversial speakers on the grounds of racism and sexism, the protesting group predetermines what sexism and racism is and no longer lets whoever hears the speech decide for themselves whether something is acceptable or not.

  • There are rules that define how the policy works.

  • This is basically a slippery slope argument, a common fallacy.

  • Ideas that purport damaging human dignity or the respect you owe others should be no-platformed. The way to determine this would be through analizing the principles of reason and freedom (as outlined, for example, by Kant) and whether a particular position damages the respect we owe to other humans

  • Even if some instances of no-platforming turn out to have been illegitimate, that does not delegitimise the entire tactic.

  • No-platforming is not used excessively. In 2015, none of the UK's 50 student unions exercised it. If they rarely use the policy, they are not using it abusively.