The libertarians are at it again. Frank Bruni wrote an NYT op-ed entitled The Dangerous Safety of College, in response to a campus that no-platformed “controversial” social scientist Charles Murray. Bruni suggests a worrying trend of “safe spaces” shutting down dialogue on college campuses.
First, let’s get the obvious out of the way. The “right to free speech” doesn’t mean people have to listen to you. It is the right of a community to deny you access to a community platform. Nobody owes you space to talk.
No-platformed? The power of “dialogue”
For Bruni, presumably the Middlebury College student body can benefit from “dialogue” with Charles Murray. But Murray is a white nationalist, who literally argues the genetic superiority of white men. It is a special white male privilege not to understand the link between racist or sexist rhetoric and the real threat of losing physical safety, civil and human rights.
It is telling that white men always show up to shout about civil liberties and constructive dialogue whenever a white man gets no-platformed. Where are these people when it comes to voter suppression and the prison industrial complex? Or all the other ways the poor and women and people of color are silenced daily?
You might call me out for a double-standard about no-platformed feminist speakers. Here, thanks to liberal politics, the framework is backwards. When Julie Bindel can’t speak publicly, it is the male sex class (and those advocating on their behalf) acting to oppress a woman who holds a dissenting viewpoint. In other words, the direction of oppression matters: one is speaking truth to power, the other reinforces an existing power imbalance.
I don’t put much stock in whiny librotarians claiming the right to spout half-baked, mediocre ideas in public. Especially not when those ideas espouse white male supremacist ideology.
All of modern society is a “safe space” if you are a heterosexual white man. Let the rest of us define our own boundaries, thank you.