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

Perspective Writers' Votes
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The 'no platform' policy operates to protect students from vilification, hatred and radicalization.

  • No-platforming ensures that university spaces are free of violence and hatred against the student population that may be the victim of hate speech or actions, whether by race, sexual, economic, racial, religious or political condition.

  • Karl Popper describes so called paradox of tolerance in The Open Society and Its Enemies like so: "If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, [...] then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them.  [...] We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant". This explains why no-platforming might be intolerant, but is the kind of intolerance towards the intolerant needed to preserve tolerance and open society.

  • In many instances, people who have been "no-platformed" have been no-platformed to prevent hate speech.

  • Universities and student organisations have a duty to protect students from harm.

  • Racist or fascist commentary directly impacts students by giving air time to opinions that are extreme and encourage violence against minorities.

  • Due to the threat posed by extremists seeking to use campuses to radicalize students, the UK government issued 'The Prevent Duty', a group of procedures and advice to prevent people from 'being drawn to terrorism'.

  • Hate speech may further marginalise under-represented groups.

  • Students navigate university in a disadvantaged position relative to other members of the academic community. Their safety should be protected by giving them the power to "no-platform" facist and hate speech.

  • Universities should educate students on how to productively protest, no-platform, and otherwise take social action against hate speech. There is no demonstrated need to abandon no-platforming writ large, but rather to apply it only in the right situations.

  • No-platforming protects students from harm against them from groups that promote hate against their gender, race, or ethnic backgrounds. Many of the groups that no-platforming targets have perpetrated violent discourse in public in the past against many groups.

  • This may be the goal of no-platforming, but the consequence will be more of what they are trying to prevent: vilification of students who support controversial speakers, hatred of conservatives and libertarians, and empowerment of radical left groups to define the conversation.

  • "No platforming" does not protect students, and results in a net harm, because the same messages will appear in other media, off-campus, in political campaigns, etc. Unlike the typical university talk, in other venues (e.g., TV), there is often limited means of addressing the speaker, his or her supporters, or people who may be persuadable. No-platforming effectively trades a good venue for getting your argument across in exchange for venues where this is more difficult.

  • The majority of students at universities are adults. Therefore students do not need to be protected and universities should not take a paternalistic approach in fostering education.

  • No-platform does not necessarily protect students: trolls see the wall of protection and are even more motivated to make people's lives miserable as a result.

  • Hatred is not necessarily bad if the thing receiving hate is genuinely bad, for example if one hates something causing suffering in some way not considered. No-platforming hateful speech removes any chance of such unconsidered harm being uncovered and dealt with. At least some criteria for no-platforming a speaker is needed other than hatefulness of speech.

  • Radicalisation can be caused by very rational seeming arguments, in which the extremism is not initially apparent. One is better led in a direction (bad or good) by a string of seemingly reasonable statements than a single drastic claim containing intense hatred, as subtler claims generate less objection, stigma and hesitation to accept.

  • Some students reject no-platforming and advocate to work with the event’s organizers to be able to control its format and make sure there is actual debate, as well as organising parallel events. These methods prevent controversial speakers from gaining support.

  • No-platformers do not speak for all members of their social group but act as if they were entitled to do so.

  • On the contrary, it insulates students from being able to clearly observe the differences between extreme points of view. It muddies discourse and reality into less-defined choices that suit the nature and survival of vilifaction, hatred, and radicalization.

  • It is futile to blind students to vilification and hatred, which exist whether or not they are seen on campus. There is no evidence that no-platforming prevents radicalization.