Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Give Peace A Chance

Internet mag Spiked! has, with its characteristic tact and nuance, launched a campaign against "campus censorship", by which they mean recent bannings of speakers and events by university students.

I've written about this issue before, predictably coming down hard on my usual position of: "Most of this is basically inconsequential nonsense that no sane person would devote serious time or worry to, and the events that actually are worth paying attention to aren't going to be resolved by everybody losing their shit and hurling insults at each other".  

Suffice to say, I think that there is blame - and tiresome busybodies - on both sides.

Nonetheless, I have a proposition that might resolve the escalating tensions between the tiny number of thin-skinned students and seething opinion columnists who actually give a damn about such things.

I propose a series of "Campus Free-Speech Days", in which the nation's whingeing hacks will be permitted to parade through the grounds of any university that catches their ire.  The opinion journalists would then be free to march up and down shouting about their tremendously controversial beliefs, while waving flags and banners depicting the heroes and martyrs of the free-speech cause. 

The hacks should dress smartly to show respect although, in the interests of health and safety, it would probably be best if they all wore colourful high-visibility clothing - bright orange sashes would be perfect.

They'd also be free to draw attention to their cause in any manner that they saw fit - perhaps by shouting that "Britain says NO! to censorship", or by banging drums or playing instruments such as flutes and accordions.

All of this would need to be meticulously planned with the local police of course, who would ensure security along the route of the march. 

This would also give the tiny number of students who actually give a shit about safe spaces and micro-aggressions more than enough warning to allow them to barricade themselves into their dorms and meeting rooms, where they'll remain inviolate from triggering opinions and exposure to Telegraph columnists.

I think that this could work and that, given a couple of hundred years, it could eventually lead to some kind of peace process that will foster accommodation between prissy 20-year-olds and pissy, middle-aged journalists.

As a secondary consequence, it'd also keep these interminable squabbles far away from reasonable humans.

7 comments:

ejh said...

Also, as the marches are noted for the enthusiastic consumption of alcohol, the hacks....

gregorach said...

I'm moderately willing to engage with "inconsequential nonsense that no sane person would devote serious time or worry to", but I draw the fucking line at anything written in Spiked!...

sloppy said...

As a young early 20s man who was until 2014 at university I do think that this is a particularly pervasive modern phenomenon, that as much speaks about today's youths sheer indignance as much as it does their political views.

Young people today, me excluded obviously, but they are so indignant. All the time, nothings ever their fault. I think that's really the cultural core of this - people born in the 90s like me are in a state of, if you will, arrested development. We can't leave home, we can't get careers, we can't get married, etc so we haven't really grown up and still have that kind of childhood indignance. That's ny theory, anyway. I don't think the vast majority of youths give a toss about politics in any way shape or form.
But as you say rodent, it's barely even worth commenting on.

sloppy said...

As a young early 20s man who was until 2014 at university I do think that this is a particularly pervasive modern phenomenon, that as much speaks about today's youths sheer indignance as much as it does their political views.

Young people today, me excluded obviously, but they are so indignant. All the time, nothings ever their fault. I think that's really the cultural core of this - people born in the 90s like me are in a state of, if you will, arrested development. We can't leave home, we can't get careers, we can't get married, etc so we haven't really grown up and still have that kind of childhood indignance. That's ny theory, anyway. I don't think the vast majority of youths give a toss about politics in any way shape or form.
But as you say rodent, it's barely even worth commenting on.

gregorach said...

sloppy - that sounds like a perfect description of my university days too. Of course, those were in the early '90s... ;)

organic cheeseboard said...

And mine in the late 90s. 'Students focus on niche issue which doesn't concern them directly, with hearts in right place, but go a bit OTT' is up there with 'steal traffic cones'.

Anonymous said...

I've just come across this article a couple of months after its posting. Is the question of free speech in universities the burning question of the day? I can think of whole loads of questions affecting people that are as important, or even more so.

I see a clue to this in Spiked's parentage in the Revolutionary Communist Party. The RCP never managed to make any inroads into the labour movement, and it remained a student-oriented outfit; indeed, after the mid-1980s and the setting in of the decline of the labour movement it returned to its college-based roots. And now, two decades after giving up the ghost as a political group, Spiked is mostly concerned with... student politics. It's as if they never left the junior common-room.

Dr Paul