Don’t be so offensive
7 months ago Comments Off on Don’t be so offensive
STRIDENCY on campus is not only an American problem. Throughout the West it is the young who are most ambivalent about free speech. A recent survey found that two-thirds of British students endorsed the National Union of Students’ “no-platform” policy. Speakers “no-platformed” in Britain include Peter Tatchell, a gay-rights activist who was a hero on campuses in the 1990s but has upset some of today’s students by favouring free speech even for homophobes.
Academics who think education requires the free flow of ideas are appalled. “A university is not a ‘safe space’,” tweeted Richard Dawkins, a biologist at Oxford. “If you need a safe space, leave, go home, hug your teddy & suck your thumb until ready for university.”
According to a survey last year by the Pew Research Centre, 47% of British 18- to 29-year-olds think the government should be able to stop people from saying things that offend other people’s religious beliefs, compared with 32% of those over 50. Fully 55% of French youngsters think that the government should intervene to prevent people from saying offensive things about minority groups, compared with 43% of…