42 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. @J-D
    I was thinking of ‘no platform’. I acknowledge, however, that advocates of the ‘no platform’ approach take the view that it is not an interference with free speech. Despite that, I think it’s difficult to dispute that the approach does inhibit free speech on university campuses, even if not in society at large. My words ‘It is certainly true that’ might be construed as an overstatement. It is my opinion that ‘no-platforming’ is inimical to free speech. Advocates of the approach don’t share that view.

  2. Here’s a jolly-jape. Following the lashing of Qld & NSW by storms again I wonder which Australian city will be the first to be abandoned due to climate change? (by city, let’s say 10,000+ pop today)
    It’s all “we can rebuild”, “lets all muck in” etc., at the moment but there will come a time when one disaster too many will occur over a short interval and a place that seemed permanent will fade away. With the insurance industry correctly applying very large premiums to asset insurance in high risk areas the cost of rebuilding has to come from local pockets. Not sustainable.
    Candidates: Cities near rivers in high rainfall areas, low-lying cities near the coast, inland cities far from reliable food & water.

  3. @J-D
    The term refers to the practice, which I understand has been instituted by student unions on some university campuses in the UK, of refusing permission and/or denying access to speak on campuses to persons who are deemed objectionable. I believe the concept, and the term “no platform”, originated with a policy established by the British National Union of Students in the 1970s to prevent the far right from organising on university campuses and posing a threat to students. It has since been employed to prevent a wider range of people from speaking on campuses, on a variety of pretexts. I am not aware of any instances of “no platforming” having been used on campuses in Australia. I hope that is a sufficient explanation.

  4. Some theocratic apologists for religion and religionism seem to want to stop criticism of all religion(s) and especially their religion. They think certain beliefs are above criticism and should be “respected” no matter how much or how little empirical evidence supports these beliefs and no matter how much those beliefs themselves might promote bigotry, intolerance and even violence. Overall, beliefs as such (be they religious, ideological or other) are accorded far too much credence and respect by too many. Beliefs are just that. They are beliefs; apriori judgements or positions and/or positions held according to dogma and without supporting empirical evidence. I have made at least several such mistakes myself, holding priors (not necessarily religious priors) without evidence. I try to allow myself to be corrected by facts demonstrated or recorded in scientifically, reputable and trust-worthy sources.

    But certain levels of blind, dogmatic belief allow of no correction, allow no impact from empirical facts and often, at this level of dogmatism, seek to impose themselves on others by indoctrination and even force. Belief systems (religious, ideological or other) reaching this level of dogmatism, often shading into fanaticism and extremism, must be condemned and opposed in the strongest possible peaceable (so far as possible) and enlightened ways.

    To put the above in context, I have always called for, on this blog and elsewhere, a complete cessation of Western and Imperialist attacks on Middle Eastern, North African, Arabic, Islamic and other peoples. The West has massacred and provoked these people terribly. Provoke and you get a reaction. If the provocation is extreme the reaction is extreme. That is a plain fact. The modern extremism which has arisen in this context has been provoked, largely, by the West. The West should adopt a position of non-intervention, non-harm to all those peoples named above. What positive assistance policies are required above and beyond that fundamental requirement, I leave to others to outline if they wish.

  5. @Tim Macknay

    If that’s what you mean, I don’t understand what your problem with it is. It is not the case — surely you are not saying that it is the case — that everybody who wants to get an invitation from a student union to speak on a university campus should be given one. Surely a student union should have the liberty to invite the speakers it wants to invite and not to invite the speakers it doesn’t want to invite?

  6. @J-D
    I think the issue tends to arise more when a student union vetoes an invitation given by a student society that is affiliated with the union, rather than in the exercise of the union’s own discretion to issue invitations. It also depends, I think, on the extent to which one considers that universities should be places where discussion and debate is fostered, even of controversial topics, and how this goal is balanced against other concerns, such as student welfare. Personally, I think that universities should be places where discussion and debate occurs, and that student unions ought to support such discussion and debate by not applying too-censorious approaches to the kind of speakers and topics who are invited to campuses. Others may disagree with this view.

  7. @Tim Macknay
    I think we are in agreement that student unions should not apply ‘too-censorious approaches to the kind of speakers and topics who are invited to campuses’, but the role there of the modifier ‘too’ is critical and leads inescapably to the question ‘How censorious is too censorious?’ For example, if a student union has a policy that it will not invite any advocates of genocide to give speeches, and that no societies affiliated to the union will be allowed to invite any advocates of genocide to give speeches, I don’t think that’s too censorious. Do you think that’s too censorious? What examples do you have in mind of invitations to speak being refused which you consider too censorious?

  8. There are many things I have no time for, but one of them is the idea that it’s useful to consider the impact of barriers to speech without regard to the content or the impact of the speech under consideration.

  9. hc can you elaborate on how the left reveals its totalitarian backbone and the general attempt by the left to limit Ali’s freedom of speech? Do you have any links to these leftist?

    As far as I can tell, the general threats to her safety come from radical Islamists who are surely not leftists? And according to the RN program The Religion and Ethics Report broadcast last night, the specific incident that motivated her to cancel this particular visit was a petition by Muslim women.

    “About 400 Muslim women signed an online petition opposing her visit. They said their views reflected, “the huge diversity of opinion among Australian Muslim women.”

    “The spokesperson for the group is Melbourne businesswoman Hanna Assafiri” She gave a rather ’emotional’ and difficult to listen to interview about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and if she was happy that she had called off her tour in this program.

    I didn’t get the idea that this person was particularly leftist either.

  10. @J-D
    Yes, I agree that the modifier ‘too’ is significant and I confess I find it difficult to identify a formula or heuristic that could be applied consistently to determine when a decision is ‘too’ censorious.

    In thinking of examples I regard as ‘too censorious’, I thought it would be appropriate to re-examine the examples and confirm that my recollection of them was accurate. The result of this was interesting, as it turns out that the examples that sprang to mind were actually examples where a ‘no platform’ approach was not successfully applied. This leads me to think that the ‘no platform’ approach has less impact on freedom of speech on university campuses than my earlier impression of it.

    The examples I was thinking of were, first, a decision by the student union of the University of Sheffield to prevent Julian Assange from speaking on campus (by teleconference). The basis for the refusal, as I understand it, was that, as Assange was (and remains) under suspicion for sexual offences in Sweden, allowing him to speak might be construed as endorsement of sexual offending.

    The other example that occurred to me was a decision by the student union of Warwick University to prevent Maryam Namazie from speaking, on the grounds that she was too inflammatory. Namazie is a former Muslim and a campaigner for secularism.

    In both cases, however, the student union’s initial decision was later reversed, and the speakers did end up addressing an audience on campus.

    I agree that a policy preventing advocates of genocide from speaking on campus would not be too censorious.

  11. @Julie Thomas
    Yes, there seems to be no evidence at all that “the left” was involved in the petition against Hirsi Ali, or the security concerns that apparently led her to cancel the visit.

  12. Having heard more about the things that Hirsi Ali has said, I think she may have some problems thinking rationally about issues and perhaps has some difficulty restraining herself from saying silly, ignorant and irrational things. Given her experiences this is not surprising.

    I read that she has said that white feminists seem to think that only white men are capable of evil and refuse to see what is done in other cultures. I’m not offended by this mis-characterisation of the way that white feminists think about ‘evil’ but it seems clear that what she says needs to be taken with some degree of caution and it would be a good idea for her to make some effort to understand what ‘white feminists’ do think.

    I can see why right wing people choose to ‘like’ and defend some of the things she says and are able to ignore the other things she says she stands for that would not be to their liking.

  13. @Julie Thomas She seems to have become a symbol of the right and seems to be able to command their fury at will. The comments on her cancelled Australia trip seem to support my uneasiness that The Crusades and Christian Holy War is entering yet another phase.

  14. I don’t know about another religious war but it’s a bit sad and reassuring in a way, how willing right wing people – conservatives and libertarians – are to be so indiscriminate in the people they lionise.
    Mark Latham is another of these people who really don’t seem capable of understanding how lacking in integrity and coherence their behaviour is, and are able to say things that are incredibly stupid without any sense of how ludicrous they are. Latham is actually claiming to be a social democrat!!

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