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

Perspective Writers' Votes
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Universities should function as models for civic and civil discourse. Ideas which fall outside of the norms of proper civil discourse should be excluded from it.

Pros
Cons
  • The norms of civil discourse still provide a broad range within which reasonable differences of opinion and perspective can be debated, serving the goals of critical thinking and self expression. Extremism is not required for dialogue.

  • Not allowing a hateful group to organize and speak is different than listening to opposing views - no-platforming shows what kind of community the university will support.

  • It is the responsibility of a democratic public sphere not to promote fallacious, hateful views as if they have the same inherent weight as any other perspective. White supremacists, for instance, speak from a position that is both ethically and intellectually untenable. Public institutions should not pretend otherwise by giving such views air-time.

  • No-platforming needs to be studied, not abandoned. Universities are a breeding grounds for both healthy and unhealthy ideas for society. Identifying patterns across universities for which issues warrant no-platforming would illuminate which specific ideas are considered too hateful for wide dissemination.

  • No-platforming should always be an option, just as asking an unpleasant guest to leave your house is an option. However, it should only be done to make room for opportunities of more productive dialogue, not to make our own perspectives the only ones platformed.

  • As such models, universities should promote pluralism and inclusion. As gatekeepers, they can actively set and enforce the norms of proper civil discourse that all speakers need to abide to, without being excluded.

  • A university may function as a model for civic/civil discourse, while still allowing the discussion of ideas which fall outside civil norms. People's views on things change. Things that were once thought to be uncivil have become acceptable, and we call this progress. When a university bans discussion of uncivil ideas, this progress is stifled.

  • If a speaker puts forward an idea which is racist or otherwise extreme, students will be able to challenge the ideas and engage directly with the discourse.

  • Critical thinking is one of the goals of modern education. Thus universities aim to create critical thinkers with curricular and extra-curricular activities. If students do not have the opportunity to challenge their views, they will not develop critical and analytical skills, necessary to rebut those ideas once they have left university.

  • Understandings of what constitutes "norms of proper civil discourse" or "acceptable discourse" vary among people depending on their worldviews. There is not one definite or absolute way of defining such a discourse.

  • The academic realm relying on exclusion as an operating principle may be a powerful fuel for the kind of isolation and anger that has been gestating in these distinctive subcultures which already view the realm of intellectualism as exclusive and elitist. The rural anti-intellectual feels as if their very existence is de-legitimized when the views they actually truly hold are dismissed outright, without being engaged or deconstructed.