Davey the Fat Boy wrote: A lot of the speakers whose ideas generate controversy are given attention specifically because their ideas are controversial. They aren’t always the best ideas - sometimes they are simply the most divisive. Take all the fracas around Milo Yiannopoulos. Does anyone believe that he was possessed of an important perspective that college students truly needed to debate? I submit to you that everyone learned more from the debate around whether he should be heard than anyone ever learned from one of his speeches.
We live in a time in which it isn’t hard to be heard if one has something controversial to say. It’s no great victory for free speech to assure that the most novel opinions are always allowed to dominate the larger conversation. Ultimately these protests end up bringing more debate and awareness of the supposedly censored speaker anyhow. So what is the big fucking deal?
It's starting, oddly enough, to sound like we have common ground here. Yiannopoulo is a ridiculous idiot, no more than a silly, pompous and deeply unpleasant self-aggrandiser and bully. Anyone with a grain of sense can see that. However, there wouldn't have been a debate about his right to speak if he hadn't been invited to speak on campuses, and in some cases banned, in others protested against, I'll grant you that. My preference though would have been that he was allowed to speak, and then made to look foolish by someone debating him. His arguments are not difficult to challenge. It would have been far more effective in terms of embarrassing him and showing him up as the prick he is.
There's also the fact that banning or trying to ban people from speaking allows them to pose as free speech martyrs. Stop someone from speaking, and people will start to wonder why, what does this person have to say that is so dangerous? And your final point there seems to indicate that creating too much of a furore about controversial speakers simply allows them more time in the media spotlight - counterproductive, no?
Davey the Fat Boy wrote:Because we’d be denying our kids any meaningful engagement on the whole issue. How do they develop a sophisticated understanding of the issue without participating in these battles?
Wouldn’t you rather that a kid fall for all of the arguments you disagree with in a big battle over a college speaker and have to defend their actions when someone in the school paper accuses them of censorship, than to have them fall for those arguments as an adult when the stakes are a lot higher?
You seem to be making my point for me. How do students develop a sophisticated understanding of any issue without hearing all sides of the debate? Which rather reinforces my proposition that speakers should be allowed to be heard, and to be debated. A student unsure about what they think on the issues of trans identity and how it affects womens' issues would surely only benefit from being able to go and hear Greer and Bindel speak, and to be able to question them in person, no?
Despite the widespread fashionable cliché, I don't think most students or young people are delicate snowflakes. I suspect they're far more able to deal with rigorous debate and challenging ideas than many give them credit for. So let them.