“Mandated free speech” was supposed to be a joke


The proponents of frozen peaches have seldom grappled with the irony of some of their proposed solutions, including a ban on no-platforming or refusing to invite someone to speak. By such a solution, the New York Times would need to be penalized for all the pitches I’ve sent them that they’ve never published. It’s completely ridiculous. It is entirely ordinary for those who run platforms to schedule those platforms to the specifications of their own programs.

I didn’t think anyone would be daft enough to attempt a no-platform ban, but I forget that I can count on Conservatives to pursue the worst ideas possible.

There is something exceedingly rum about this Government’s sudden conversion to the merits of free speech. Damascene, almost. Though others may have a different word for it: hypocrisy?

Still, if the Government is going to legislate, I hope politicians pay some attention to the ponderings of the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. The Committee is looking into the vexed topic of no-platforming in universities and, to my great surprise, I was recently invited to appear and give evidence.

It was a cheering experience. Absent were the soundbites of politicians in a hurry, like Conservative minister Jo Johnson. Instead, I found a willingness to listen and an appreciation that some things are complex. The idea that anyone was signed up to absolute free speech was, I argued, a myth. In fact almost everyone would like to ban someone or something, with right-wing banners well to the fore.

You don’t believe me? Just attend your local Armistice Day celebrations next November wearing a white poppy and count the purple faces! The fact that everyone is against absolute free speech, though, was a relatively easy point to make, given that I was appearing just one week after UK parliamentarians had advocated the ultimate no-platform of the Big Sleaze himself, President Trump.

Read more here. I look forward to seeing how this will supposedly work. Is everyone guaranteed the microphone as long as we ask for it? After all, every minute I go outside of a talk show is a minute I am being personally censored. Maybe I can make a living peddling conspiracy theories and suing every time I am denied a platform.

-Shiv

 

Comments

  1. says

    As the trans community has often pointed out, the presence of a speaker such as Germaine Greer seems to guarantee no more than a rehash of arguments made and answered decades back. Which makes one wonder, if debate really is so vital to the advancement of learning, why Greer has learnt so little from it.

    I bow down in awe to that level of intelligent snark.

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