Zafe zpace

Paul reports that the panel discussion on free speech and safe spaces was…lively.

Thoroughly opposing the notion of safe spaces was Maryam Namazie, forcefully declaring that the rise of safe spaces is due almost entirely to identity politics, and that they are really a form of censorship. “Universities should be unsafe spaces for ideas you might not be comfortable with,” she said, arguing that identity politics have a homogenizing effect in marginalized communities, stifling dissent from within.

Twitter featured a lot of strong feeling on this one.

More clarity about the lines of disagreement emerged when the discussion addressed the dis-invitation of certain speakers, something Namazie has had first hand experience with. Namazie and Haider advocated for protest as a way to express opposition for unwanted speakers, though Brewster wondered aloud whether students’ demands for dis-invitations are not themselves an example of free speech. And there seemed to be an agreement that students have the right to ask. (Or, as Ashley Miller the moderator put it, “Isn’t telling someone to shut up speech?”) Burkholder raised the point that protest isn’t a blanket solution, particularly when it comes to black protests on campus, which are often met with hostility.

Everyone seemed to agree that universities are places where debate needs to happen, where protest and argument and challenging ideas are vital, but the clash comes when the discussion turns to where or whether partitions can go up to contain and protect certain identities and/or ideas. At what point does speech morph into, well, something else that warrants cordoning off? And who decides?

How about Gordon Ramsay?

4 Responses to “Zafe zpace”