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

Perspective Writers' Votes
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No-platforming is a valid way to exercise free speech and counterbalance power asymmetries.

Pros
Cons
  • No-platformed speakers usually are well established in their field. If they get a platform, those who feel attacked by their speech may not have a platform as 'loud' to propose alternative points of view.

  • No-platforming champions the right to exist free from harm.

  • Abandoning no-platforming leads to a false balance in university debates in which unfounded ideas are given the same validity as ideas substantiated by scientific consensus.

  • In ethical debates, the power dynamics between different societal groups (men/women, binary/non binary, heterosexual/queer, white/non-white…) cannot be omitted, especially when certain groups have always had a platform to speak and act, and others have been oppressed.

  • Groups supporting no-platforming, for example the NUS, argue that choosing whether or not to invite a speaker is an exercise of free speech in the first place.

  • People who object to being no-platformed themselves, would no-platform other speakers who they don't agree with. If they don't see that when other people's speech is limited as a threat to freedom of speech, they should accept when it happens to them.

  • True freedom of speech requires multiple parties to have equal access to audiences and equal power to express themselves. No-platforming can be used by students to help redress inequalities in access as well as power imbalances.

  • Free speech does not entail being entitled to a pulpit. Thus, denial of a platform is not a violation of free speech.

  • There are no power asymmetries given the influence students have in creating campus and community norms, opinions, and beliefs.

  • Power asymmetries do not exist in a free marketplace of ideas. "No-platforming" is an example of power asymmetry where a more powerful syndicate can usurp another's liberty to speak freely.

  • University speaker no platforming appears to come primarily from popular protest aimed at organising bodies, suggesting it will reinforce normative values (thus reinforcing power asymmetries) and make university speaking more of a popularity contest for parroting already accepted ideas than a way to freely give, receive and challenge ideas.

  • No-platforming is outside the bounds of free speech. While one can certainly decide to deny their own platform and be considered in the realm of "exercising free speech", the same does not apply to the denial of a platform that is not one's own.

  • Free speech means you use words to express your ideas. No-platforming is physically acting in order to force compliance with your illegitimate demands. Your demands are illegitimate because you have no justification for appointing yourself arbiter of what other people get to hear. There is no equivalence here.

  • It is unclear why free speech platforms should necessarily address power imbalances. Not to say there shouldn't be other platforms which do.

  • It depends whether or not one believe free speech and power should be mutually exclusive. If someone beIieves they shouldn't, it might be more of a semantic issue.

  • Shouting down opposing views or preventing them from being presented is a form of censorship. To call silencing others free speech is cynical at best.

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