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

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Social justice movements should abandon the use of no-platforming at universities

  • As a political tactic, no-platforming is ineffective.

  • No-platforming shields students from reality. This makes them poorly equipped to deal with oppressive ideas that are publicly expressed outside of university grounds.

  • University campuses should be spaces that are neutral with respect to ideas.

  • 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.

  • No-platforming should be abandoned because it is an assault on free speech.

  • No-platforming exacerbates divisions among students because those who support the visiting speaker will feel as if their viewpoints are being shut out by the majority.

  • No-platforming hinders productive discourse.

  • 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.

  • No-platforming is a valid way to exercise free speech and counterbalance power asymmetries.

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

  • Universities are places of diversity. Promoting speakers that undermine the equality of rights for all with racist or sexist comments contradicts this enacted principle of diversity.

  • Students are the ones most impacted by what happens at their universities. Thus, they should have significant say over what happens at their school.

  • Providing the resources (and very often honoraria or speaking fees) to people who promote e.g. racism is a tacit legitimization of their views.