Thursday, January 28, 2016

Safe and Not-Safe

In relation to my Dharma Talk "Safe Way" (1-16-16)
I found the following blog post exploring the notions and consequences of seeking "Safe Spaces" timely. There are several significant points in relation to my earlier Freedom of Thought, Freedom from Thought   5/22/15 and Freedom of Thought, Freedom from Thought Part 2   5/23/15.

Here are a few excerpts and a link to the author's blog:

"The most striking thing about Safe Spaces on campus is how unsafe they are. How hostile and even violent they are towards anyone who has unpopular views, or who simply believes people should have the right to express unpopular views....

As one student union in Britain puts it, they’re spaces in which students must be “free from intimidation or judgement” and should always “feel comfortable”. These spaces are justified in inoffensive, Oprah-like language: it’s all about providing a space in which people can be themselves without fear of ridicule.

But in practice, Safe Spaces are ugly, authoritarian places. They’re propped up by menace. They’re fortified by a simmering threat of force against any transgressors of the new cult of psychic safety and moral conformism....

That Safe Spaces can generate so much unsafety is revealing. It exposes the iron fist of authoritarianism that lurks within the velvet glove of the self-esteem movement. It exposes the dark side to the cult of therapy and the idea that an individual’s feeling of self-worth should override other people’s right to express themselves as they see fit.

The motor of campus censorship is a profound feeling of psychic vulnerability among students. They see everything as a threat to their mental security. Statues of old dead white men, novels that feature sexual violence, pop songs… everything is considered potentially wounding.

This is best summed up in the idea of microaggressions, where even innocent, everyday conversation is reframed as a peril....

Yes, we should mock these little tyrants who fantasise that their feelings should trump other people’s freedom. But we must go further than that. We must remake the case for robust individualism and the virtue of moral autonomy against the fashion for fragility; against the misanthropic view of people as objects shaped and damaged by speech rather than as active subjects who can independently imbibe, judge and make decisions about the speech they hear.

The Safe Space is a terrible trap. It grants you temporary relief from ideas you don’t like, but at the expense of your individuality, your soul even. If you try to silence unpopular ideas, you do an injustice both to those who hold those unpopular views, and also to yourself, through depriving yourself of the right and the joy of arguing back, taking on your opponents, and in the process strengthening your own mental and moral muscles. Liberate yourself — destroy the Safe Space."