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Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 23rd 2016, 09:29 AM

Is free speech in British universities under threat:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-GIVnpaSds

This does not just apply to the UK from what I know. It applies to America, Canada, perhaps Australia too (not sure). Other people here will know better than I do.

There's a lot to talk/write about. Too much, and I've said most of it before, and to be honest, getting a bit bored of it. To make my point of view clear on this though: I agree, free speech is under threat, and not just in universities. Because there comes a point when all these people graduate, and take jobs. Those are usually more influential jobs in our country, than those taken by people with no degree. This greatly shapes our society. These things do not need to be written in law, to have an impact. Culture is enough. Culture in fact, can be even stronger than law.

See? I can very easily spout off paragraphs like that, and it took me less than a minute. I type fast. And there's too much to talk/write about.

I wanted to put forward my attitude towards "triggering" content, safe spaces etc. Here it is:

Almost every person who has any humanity in them, will experience discomfort when confronted with certain topics. Most often, this probably is because those topics reflect on past experiences. This can even be very extreme discomfort, and I'm sure lots of people on this site know the feeling too well. I know the feeling too, but I think I handle it differently than most people I know. Most people I know prefer to avoid those topics. I get something out of confronting those topics directly. It has been incremental, and I like to think it has helped me grow a very thick skin, and helped me get over certain painful past experiences (although I still never speak of them directly with anyone, and I don't intend to, even if it sometimes alienates me).

The feeling can initially be like a rush of adrenaline. It probably is adrenaline (in my case anyway). A whole assortment of other physiological changes too. Faster breathing, muscle twitches, etc. That is what it is initially. But confronting these topics enough times, means that discomfort passes eventually. And when it does not pass, I certainly am able to control it far better now than before. It is probably comparable to taking drugs. Or drinking coffee. The more you do it, the less you feel the effect. From what I know, this is a very similar method to how people get over certain phobias too.

I certainly do think this method works for me. I can't speak for other people though. But trying it, and deliberately confronting incrementally more uncomfortable topics, perhaps might be the way to get over painful past experiences. As opposed to simply shying away from these things, and hiding in "safe spaces". I must emphasize the word incrementally, because going too far too soon obviously can cause more harm than good.

Does that mean "safe spaces" shouldn't exist, at all? I wouldn't say that. Everybody needs a break occasionally. But making this the norm would inflict damage on society. The bad guys "out there" won't stop being bad, simply because other people are too shy to confront them due to hiding in safe spaces the whole time. Quite the opposite. They are more likely to exploit such a weakness, because that is what it is to them: weakness. They only see potential victims. That's how they think. They don't think like normal people do. They are sociopaths.

Individuals surrendering their ability to confront and fight back by hiding in safe spaces, only means that responsibility falls on other people. Plenty can be said about that. Responsibility is power, and power often corrupts. This sounds perhaps corny, but it is true. This is where the political games surrounding things like "safe spaces" begin, and many other things associated with that. You cannot necessarily trust those "other" people to do what is right for you. Only you can do that. Do you want to be dependent on those "other" people? Or do you want to be able to take care of yourself instead?

.


"I don't care about politics"
Then politics doesn't care about you either. Truth. You've got to make your voice heard, if you want to be listened to. But that's too logical for some people, so let me go a step further. Not making your voice heard, leaves other people free to hijack it by speaking on your behalf, even if they don't actually give a shit about you. That's politics. So, make your voice heard. That's not a quote from anywhere. That's just me.



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Re: Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 23rd 2016, 12:23 PM

People need to grow up.
   
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Re: Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 23rd 2016, 04:26 PM

I'm going to start by saying I didn't really watch the video you posted because I don't have time and I'm mostly just responding to what you said. From what I've seen, the issue with things being "triggering" is that people tend to think that avoiding triggers entirely is the solution when it's really just a temporary bandage. I think people have a right to avoid their triggers, while they actively work on overcoming them, but I don't think anyone should bend over backwards to avoid certain things because it triggers someone else. I've expressed this before but I think "trigger warnings" are entirely overused. And I agree, everyone has things that trigger discomfort, negative feelings, thoughts, actions, etc. The problem, however, is not the triggers. The solution is not to avoid them, it's to deal with whatever it is that created the trigger. I don't really care how you "treat" them, therapy, anti-depressants, exposure, just as long as you're doing something to learn how to handle it.

Basically the OP said pretty much everything I think on the matter in way better wording than I can come up with.



"We all have battle scars, Finn. Suck it up and build a brace for yours."
   
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Re: Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 25th 2016, 08:21 PM

I don't think of "safe spaces" as trigger-free, that doesn't make any sense. To me, a safe space is a space that you can explore fears, danger, discomfort etc etc without you getting attacked. It is the best way to overcome your fears and talk about things. Therapy and support groups are examples of safe spaces. I've been to both and I would say I was really pushed and challenged to grow as a person. That's what safe space is-nurturing and facilitating growth.

When a child plays fantasy, they are in a safe space. They get to make mistakes, they get to act out different scenarios. It is safe because they the possibilities to pretend are endless and the child learns lessons from play that they can apply to real life.

This is similar in the classroom and what I see a safe space as. It is a place to explore triggering topics among peers that will (hopefully) not be judgemental, but challenging each other in discussions and raising questions to each other. This is the place where the courage to speak about what everyone is too afraid to say out loud begins.

Another safe place is the arts. Theatrical performances for instance allows audience members to explore different problems of the human experience in the safety of an auditoium. The play can disorient you, make you feel uncomfortable, bring out your fears but ultimately it has the potential to move you and transform you to take action in your life whether your personal life or on a societal issue.

If you ask me, that's what safe space is at university that's what I think about . It prepares you for what's out there not pretending it doesn't exist.

Now as for triggering labels-not everyone is ready to make the changes and not everyone is at the same pace. it depends on the purpose of bringing something up. I don't think others should shock someone into accepting triggers. That's just cruel. Let each person decide for themself. That's nothing to do with not being able to grow up. It has to do with a lack of compassion for those who often have mental health issues and have so much on their plate.
   
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Re: Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 26th 2016, 08:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
I don't think of "safe spaces" as trigger-free, that doesn't make any sense. To me, a safe space is a space that you can explore fears, danger, discomfort etc etc without you getting attacked. It is the best way to overcome your fears and talk about things. Therapy and support groups are examples of safe spaces. I've been to both and I would say I was really pushed and challenged to grow as a person. That's what safe space is-nurturing and facilitating growth.

When a child plays fantasy, they are in a safe space. They get to make mistakes, they get to act out different scenarios. It is safe because they the possibilities to pretend are endless and the child learns lessons from play that they can apply to real life.

This is similar in the classroom and what I see a safe space as. It is a place to explore triggering topics among peers that will (hopefully) not be judgemental, but challenging each other in discussions and raising questions to each other. This is the place where the courage to speak about what everyone is too afraid to say out loud begins.

Another safe place is the arts. Theatrical performances for instance allows audience members to explore different problems of the human experience in the safety of an auditoium. The play can disorient you, make you feel uncomfortable, bring out your fears but ultimately it has the potential to move you and transform you to take action in your life whether your personal life or on a societal issue.

If you ask me, that's what safe space is at university that's what I think about . It prepares you for what's out there not pretending it doesn't exist.

Now as for triggering labels-not everyone is ready to make the changes and not everyone is at the same pace. it depends on the purpose of bringing something up. I don't think others should shock someone into accepting triggers. That's just cruel. Let each person decide for themself. That's nothing to do with not being able to grow up. It has to do with a lack of compassion for those who often have mental health issues and have so much on their plate.
I think I like most of that.

But do you think that the policy/ideas of safe spaces, and trigger warnings are being taken too far? (I am not talking about this website).

For example, you saying that arts are a "safe space". I am not sure how to interpret that. Does that mean that arts should be immune to criticizm? Maybe I'm understanding you wrong... but that is how "safe spaces" are are being understood by many people. Now, take that out of the "arts" context... and apply it to university speech events (because that's what the video was about), or I think in some cases even entire campuses. Is that going too far?

I suppose the discussion comes down (for me) to the age old problem of establishing boundaries for definitions of certain words, which coincidentally happen to have a big impact in politics... which is precisely what muddles the definitions. Like "racism". Some people could even argue that entire countries are "safe spaces" simply because there are laws which govern and prevent people from killing, stealing, and abusing each other. That is going a bit far, but what I am saying is it's a matter of perspective, so I want to be more less sure that we're talking about the same thing. Your post above gave plenty of useful insight.

.


"I don't care about politics"
Then politics doesn't care about you either. Truth. You've got to make your voice heard, if you want to be listened to. But that's too logical for some people, so let me go a step further. Not making your voice heard, leaves other people free to hijack it by speaking on your behalf, even if they don't actually give a shit about you. That's politics. So, make your voice heard. That's not a quote from anywhere. That's just me.


   
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Re: Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 26th 2016, 02:12 PM

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Originally Posted by BDF View Post
I think I like most of that.

But do you think that the policy/ideas of safe spaces, and trigger warnings are being taken too far? (I am not talking about this website).

For example, you saying that arts are a "safe space". I am not sure how to interpret that. Does that mean that arts should be immune to criticizm? Maybe I'm understanding you wrong... but that is how "safe spaces" are are being understood by many people. Now, take that out of the "arts" context... and apply it to university speech events (because that's what the video was about), or I think in some cases even entire campuses. Is that going too far?

I suppose the discussion comes down (for me) to the age old problem of establishing boundaries for definitions of certain words, which coincidentally happen to have a big impact in politics... which is precisely what muddles the definitions. Like "racism". Some people could even argue that entire countries are "safe spaces" simply because there are laws which govern and prevent people from killing, stealing, and abusing each other. That is going a bit far, but what I am saying is it's a matter of perspective, so I want to be more less sure that we're talking about the same thing. Your post above gave plenty of useful insight.

.

Okay I think I see what you're saying. Art shouldn't be immune to criticism. I was saying art should be able to challenge viewpoints such as in the instance of political art even if that's offensive to some people. It should be allowed to be displayed.

I was in an Art History class called Contemporary Art History. One piece comes to mind called "Mining the Museum". The artist would bring attention to the voices that have been left out in history.

I also took the time to watch the video this morning. i watched about half of it and I think I agree with the guy with the green shirt (I think his name is Peter?) I think the banning has been taken too far.

But I am on the fence a little. For example there are two instances that free speech would come into question.

1)When a group that historically was violent and still is up to today poses a threat. I found out that a university in my state has a KKK group on campus. To me that's frightening. The KKK is a hate group in the United States-for those who don't know. I am glad I didn't go to that university but there are about 5 people of color who attend that university and all of them plan to transfer next year to a different school. I can see why. The people of color are not being heard. The popular opinion there is to support KKK over these 5 students. Should the KKK group be removed? It should be challenged but is removing it forcefully even have a point? A new group will emerge called something else but still have KKK ideals. The ideas were never challenged, minds were never changed to be more accepting towards others. A small group was removed and that did not help anyone. The KKK still thrives across the country and students will find a way around it.

2) When a non-violent protest group poses a threat. Like in the artwork example I mentioned above-there are minority groups who are being silenced. There are people who will call another muslim group islamophobic. Or they would call Judy who is a feminist-as Hitler. That doesn't make any sense. Judy has an unpopular opinion but she does not promote violence. She never said they deserve to die, they deserve to be assaulted. The KKK goes out and assaults people. That's what they're known for. I think there should be some kind of regulation involved but not on the basis of it being offensive or not what "consumers want".

At my university, the Palestinian groups are silenced. They are pro-social justice and yet silenced by other "social justice" groups. I believe in having a wide variety of speakers with all kinds of views. I've been going to the Human Rights conferences a lot over the years. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more biased. I am only seeing conservative Pro-Israel speakers now and I also know that my school has a favor towards certain political ideologies. When Palestinian groups are at protests, there are Israeli groups who shout racial slurs and tell them "go back to your country" and other hateful things. There also been assaults on muslim students by a PROFESSOR and he got away with it. Meanwhile the Palestinian group was targeted as promoting racism.

I don't think the solution is to ban either group. But when I'm in my course called "War and Society" and the professor says that we are not allowed to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Well that's just a little ironic. I know students at my school end up in circles with this topic but that's the point-to keep trying right? To work through all these scary feelings.

Donald Trump has inspired a lot of hate too. There have been many incidents that don't make it to then news of Mexican people getting beaten up. I happen to have been near an incident. The teenagers ran away before the police came.

I think the views themselves need to be challenged but we can't get there until we let them speak. Maybe Donald Trump had got so much popularity is because there's finally someone who understands the frustration that had been built up for years.


I still don't think these things should not be talked about though. I think it would be an interesting class session if every student brought an offensive article and they presented it and then made it into a debate. But we can't deeply understand our own viewpoints if we don't understand other viewpoints.

If you decide homeschoolers suck for instance. You've seen on the news how many parents abuse their kids and call it homeschooling. Then you decide homeschooling shouldn't exist. Well you've never met a homeschooling family because you're too afraid of them. Maybe if you have, you'll learn that many homeschooling parents are not violent to their kids.

Same goes with activists. Remember Occupy Wall Street back in 2011? Many people heard on the news that they were violent protests. But there were actual activists who've had firsthand experiences and can say for themselves that the majority of protesters were not violent. That "opinion" if you can call it that, is unpopular and not heard of in the news.

Sometimes it is the minorities who are silenced by the media, by universities, by the government, etc
Sometimes minorities silence other minorities which to me is sad to me because they miss out on working together and becoming stronger. But then again this has to do with both minority groups being oppressed for so long and blaming each other for it and promoting stereotypes.

And sometimes the hate groups are silenced. As for that, I think the USA was built on violence and it is deeply rooted in its culture. And assault, harassment, violence should be prevented. But viewpoints should be worked through. That's what university is about right? Professors can help facilitate that by bringing in a variety of viewpoints and let everyone in the classroom have a chance to speak should they want to.
   
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Re: Safe spaces & Trigger warnings - Is free speech in British universities under threat? - June 27th 2016, 05:50 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
1)When a group that historically was violent and still is up to today poses a threat. I found out that a university in my state has a KKK group on campus. To me that's frightening. The KKK is a hate group in the United States-for those who don't know. I am glad I didn't go to that university but there are about 5 people of color who attend that university and all of them plan to transfer next year to a different school. I can see why. The people of color are not being heard. The popular opinion there is to support KKK over these 5 students. Should the KKK group be removed? It should be challenged but is removing it forcefully even have a point? A new group will emerge called something else but still have KKK ideals. The ideas were never challenged, minds were never changed to be more accepting towards others. A small group was removed and that did not help anyone. The KKK still thrives across the country and students will find a way around it.
I thought the KKK was classified as a terrorist organization, along with Peta. I might be wrong, but if I'm not, then I would assume that's enough grounds to ban them altogether, from everywhere, not just campuses.

I trust government authorities (whichever are in charge of these things) to decide more objectively which of these organizations are genuinely harmful, than the NUS in the UK, and probably equivalent organizations in America. In the NUS, it appears to happen more on the whim of a few students privileged enough to have influence over such decisions, and a few relatively vague "guidelines" and perhaps regulations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
2) When a non-violent protest group poses a threat. Like in the artwork example I mentioned above-there are minority groups who are being silenced. There are people who will call another muslim group islamophobic. Or they would call Judy who is a feminist-as Hitler. That doesn't make any sense. Judy has an unpopular opinion but she does not promote violence. She never said they deserve to die, they deserve to be assaulted. The KKK goes out and assaults people. That's what they're known for. I think there should be some kind of regulation involved but not on the basis of it being offensive or not what "consumers want".
I'm a little bit lost in what you're saying here. Regulations surrounding these kinds of things, or laws rather... already exist. Death threats, verbal abuse, physical abuse, assault, slander, stalking... these kinds of things are all against the law. I think someone in the video mentioned that, although it's been weeks since I last watched it. If those laws aren't implemented adequately, then that's a slightly different problem, and one which is pretty much universal to any legislation.

Making laws and pushing paperwork, is different from educating people on their rights and how they should defend themselves, and training law enforcement to be able to enforce such laws.

Feeling "intellectually threatened" by opposing ideologies however, does not violate any laws from what I know. It may be against some policies, in some places/universities, because some ideologies appear to be more "protected" than others... but in my opinion, this is wrong. It is wrong, because it is entirely subjective, therefore it can easily spiral out of control... as I think it has done.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
At my university, the Palestinian groups are silenced. They are pro-social justice and yet silenced by other "social justice" groups. I believe in having a wide variety of speakers with all kinds of views. I've been going to the Human Rights conferences a lot over the years. Unfortunately it is becoming more and more biased. I am only seeing conservative Pro-Israel speakers now and I also know that my school has a favor towards certain political ideologies. When Palestinian groups are at protests, there are Israeli groups who shout racial slurs and tell them "go back to your country" and other hateful things. There also been assaults on muslim students by a PROFESSOR and he got away with it. Meanwhile the Palestinian group was targeted as promoting racism.

I don't think the solution is to ban either group. But when I'm in my course called "War and Society" and the professor says that we are not allowed to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Well that's just a little ironic. I know students at my school end up in circles with this topic but that's the point-to keep trying right? To work through all these scary feelings.
Doesn't surprise me at all that this happens on the conservative side of the debate too. In fact, conservatives can be far more aggressive... although I would not call them conservatives then, but right-wing, bordering on far-right-wing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
Donald Trump has inspired a lot of hate too. There have been many incidents that don't make it to then news of Mexican people getting beaten up. I happen to have been near an incident. The teenagers ran away before the police came.
If you have links to articles describing that, I'd be grateful. Like you said, it isn't being reported on much, and the way I see it there is a scarcity of evidence showing that sort of behavior. I want to be able to show this stuff to other people.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
I think the views themselves need to be challenged but we can't get there until we let them speak. Maybe Donald Trump had got so much popularity is because there's finally someone who understands the frustration that had been built up for years.
I have often said how I think some liberal politicians have hijacked popular topics like "gay rights", "feminism", or "sustainable development"... and used them to gain momentum/power (which is what they are ultimately after).

I see Trump doing precisely the same thing, although I can't be sure of his motives. I'm torn between whether he is actually inspiring hatred in people, or if that hatred has been growing for years already due to too much liberalism (P.S... anyone else reading, too much of anything is a bad thing). It's most likely a combination of both, but I'm guessing more of the latter. I've got my reasons for thinking that, but I won't digress so much.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
But we can't deeply understand our own viewpoints if we don't understand other viewpoints.
That's right. Understanding other viewpoints is what inspires people to challenge their own viewpoints, modify them if necessary, and make them more robust and impervious to toxic influences/propaganda.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Three_Blind_Mice View Post
And sometimes the hate groups are silenced. As for that, I think the USA was built on violence and it is deeply rooted in its culture.
Perhaps. It is relative of course. I challenge you to name me one country which does not have a violent history though.

What I'm trying to say here, is that these kinds of opinions are sometimes taken a bit too far by people, giving rise to things like so called "white guilt" in America. In modern-day Germany, citizens still experience what may be called "NAZI-guilt" (I'm not sure of the name)... where they feel an cultural obligation to make good for crimes committed by people whom 99.9% of are dead now. And this obligation falls on the new generations, which have been getting pissed off over it. This is not just in Germany. This is has spread across Europe, which I attribute to Germany's powerful geopolitical influence.

Most countries have violent pasts, which they could be ashamed of. China. Russia. America. UK. Germany. France. Brazil. Portugal. Most of Africa. Most of Asia. Most of the planet. We can focus on the negative, or we can focus on the positive. Such as that it is America, among many other Western countries which predominantly abolished slavery before most other cultures did in modern history.

It's these kinds of guilt-trips have been pushed forward by liberal politics at little too much, and inspired a lot of dislike... which people like Trump are now exploiting.

There's a healthy balance of both. Forgetting that Germany executed some 6 million Jews... certainly isn't the right thing to do. And neither is forgetting the slave trade in America.

.


"I don't care about politics"
Then politics doesn't care about you either. Truth. You've got to make your voice heard, if you want to be listened to. But that's too logical for some people, so let me go a step further. Not making your voice heard, leaves other people free to hijack it by speaking on your behalf, even if they don't actually give a shit about you. That's politics. So, make your voice heard. That's not a quote from anywhere. That's just me.


   
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