Saturday, 5 December 2015

Why so-called 'safe spaces' are not necessary and can actually be very unsafe

Much in the news recently outside of politics: the creeping danger of so-called 'safe spaces', a phenomenon that has spread across many US universities and is creeping into more prestigious UK universities, unfortunately, and spreading to areas it does not need to be in.

These 'safe spaces', designed supposedly to protect people from oppression, can actually be dangerous to many. Here are some main reasons why:

1. They are out of touch with real life.

The real world (and real life politics, for that matter) is not a safe space, and can never be made a safe space. In order to tackle the oppression and inequality that exists in our world, we need to face it, counter it, and speak out for a better world for everyone, not just for particular groups or individuals. Creating division using safe spaces is not a useful long-term solution to these problems and actually makes them worse in some cases.

2. They are overly intolerant of even minor mistakes or faux pas.

As a person with autism, who has personally felt how badly safe spaces can be misused, and who has had problems with social understanding as a result of my condition, I know how intolerant and aggressive 'safe spaces' can be to people like myself. Even accidentally saying the wrong thing (which you may think is just normal from your perspective and not even supposed to offend) can invite abuse and aggression from others in such a space without good cause, which proponents of safe spaces claim to be preventing.

3. They are overly restrictive of free speech, which is important in a democratic society.

I am not talking about hate speech or shouting 'fire!' in a crowded theatre-I am talking about constructive arguments that advocate a different point of view within a topic, particularly a controversial one. Having a controversial but not intentionally offensive view about something is not an excuse to 'no-platform' someone (who is not advocating hate speech of any type) especially when some people would like to hear them speak even if others do not.  Free speech is a human right-you might not want to come to a particular debate but that is no excuse to shut it down for the people do want to come to it and hear dissenting thoughts.

4. University students and others can get along just fine without them.

When I was studying at the University of Hertfordshire during my undergraduate years, not only was there no 'safe space' policy, but no-one, including myself, even talked about safe spaces. We were a very diverse group of people, taking in all nationalities and cultures (with a wide array of societies to match) and we all interacted well with each other and respected each others' differences remembering that we are all human beings.

1 comment:

  1. Hear Hear... They just give bullies a place to hide,