Tyro asks Leeds: When does a view lose its right to a platform?


Free speech, safe spaces, trigger warnings – universities are hotbeds for discussion and not least the discussion of those issues. With a huge mix of views, I asked my friends for their opinions on freedom of speech and where they think the limit is.

Sadie, 2nd year

“I like to think I believe in freedom of speech. I don’t really believe in safe spaces per se - as in, you’re at uni, you should be open-minded and mature and ‘strong’ enough to debate important issues. Trigger warnings are different though, I feel – that’s giving people the choice to opt in or out. And it’s freedom of speech – not freedom to be a d*ck. If their views are degrading to someone else’s humanity, it makes me wonder if their right to voice them should be removed, or at least challenged.”

Rory, 2nd year

“I believe in freedom of speech. I find it grating when people say ‘I believe in freedom of speech, BUT...’. It should be ‘but’ nothing. You either totally agree with it, or you don’t. So, yeah, I think safe spaces and things are really silly. That said – I hear loads of talk about that kind of stuff, but I never really see it in action, so I’m not complaining really. But I think if you believe in freedom of speech, you should allow people to voice their views – no matter how perverse – and then debate them. Show them why they’re wrong rather than banning their voices outright.”

Sally, 1st year

“To be honest, a lot of people say this kind of stuff is an issue in universities, but I never really think about it, nor do my friends. We’re usually just discussing whether we want to go to Fruity or not. Between students – or me and my friends, at least – we’re always very open but tolerant, so maybe that’s why I don’t see any issue. I’d say I’m in favour of free speech but just don’t be a tw*t. That’s worked for me so far!”

Ruby, 2nd year

“I think it’s all bollocks – say what you want, even if it’s controversial. You should be able to express yourself without fear of offending anyone. I always try to be open-minded and question everything, but you can’t really do that if anything contrarian is seen as ‘wrong’.”

Callum, 2nd year

“I think I stand with most people when I say I agree you should be free to say what you want, but that doesn’t mean you can be racist or homophobic or sexist. Speaking in such a way essentially abuses and neglects minorities’ human rights, so why should yours still be valid? Thankfully, though, I don’t think this is as big an issue as some journalists make it out to be – in my seminars and lectures at least I’ve never been told I can’t say or do anything.”

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!

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