Brendan O’Neill’s latest article in The Spectator provides a chilling insight into the effect of political correctness, moral relativism and speech codes in modern universities:
During my speech, students had hollered ‘Shame! Shame!’ when I suggested that Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ should not be banned on campuses. And yet they listened intently, with soft, understanding, patronising liberal smiles on their faces, as [Agshar] Bukhari [of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee] implied that Charlie Hebdo brought its massacre on itself. This is how screwed-up the culture on Western campuses has become
The slow march of universities towards an enforced conformity of views and censored speech has been going on for quite some time. Nowhere is this pathology more evident than in the concept of the “safe space”.
Safe spaces are designated places within university campuses where students can gather and not be exposed to ideas or expressions that they may find hurtful, distasteful or objectionable. In recent years, these spaces have been rolled out in universities across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, while Australian universities have also toyed with the idea.
There is something particularly perverse about a culture which deems fully functioning and legally responsible adults as too fragile to be exposed to ideas that may confront, challenge or even, heaven forbid, offend them. The freedom to challenge the consensus and subject a statement to the rigours of a free market of ideas lies at the very heart of Western Civilisation. To prevent university students from engaging in this process is to deny them participation in one of the essential aspects of free society.
University students have a choice. They can be safe from words they don’t like. Or they can be free. But they can’t be both.