No Platforming isn’t censorship – it’s common sense

Nobody has the right to be a sexist or a racist


Last night, a panel of Leeds students voted to uphold LUU’s No Platform Policy by a majority of 12:1.  Here, Emma Healey argues in favour of the decision…

Let’s be clear here – this isn’t censorship. Nobody’s rights are being curtailed here.

You will not be kicked out of Uni for bringing a copy of The Sun onto campus or listening to Blurred Lines on your phone. All that is happening is that the Union has chosen not to sell that paper or play that song. And why should they?

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You won’t find either of these in LUU

Yes, University is a place where we should be challenged. We should have to think critically about our views, opinions, and actions, and sometimes this challenge will come from reading or listening to someone or something we don’t agree with. In my opinion that is a good thing, debate is healthy and knowing and listening to the other side of the argument is key to formulating your own views.

However, there has to be a line. We should be challenged, but we also have a right to feel safe and accepted in our Union and at our University. By preventing offensive or extreme speakers speaking, students are being put first.

A lot of the arguments claiming that free speech has been banned or that they are being censored are not coming from the people who will actually be the targets of these speakers. It is rarely trans* people arguing that Germaine Greer is being silenced for example – this arguments come from people who will not be the targets of their vitriol. To be able to truly discuss the idea of free speech, we have to keep the most marginalised in mind. They are the targets, not middle-class, white men.

We do have a right to free speech, but we also have a right to exist free from fear. We have a right to be able to go clubbing and not have to listen to a song about sexual assault. We have a right to not have to encounter sexism when we go to buy birthday cards in the union.

It is absolutely ridiculous that zero tolerance is counted as a limit on free speech – the fact that our Union takes a stand against sexual harassment and challenges racist, sexist, and homophobic language should be seen as an asset. It might restrict the freedom of some, but chances are if they see opposing sexual harassment as a limit on their rights, chances are they’re a twat. I will always value the right to live free from fear over freedom of speech.

I’ve heard people say if you don’t agree with it, don’t go see it – and, yes, that does make sense. But it ignores the fact that when the University or the Union hosts a speaker, they endorse their views.

The whole “if you don’t like it, don’t go” argument works when it is a theatre or an event hosted at a pub. You have the option to not go to that institution. However, the union belongs to us – and our safety and our welfare should be put first.

I have no issue with people wanting to go see these “banned” speakers. I just don’t agree that our University is the place for it.

Most of these speakers that have been “censored” already have such a large platform that to argue they are being silenced is absolutely ridiculous. They tour the country speaking at different venues, most of them have newspaper columns, in the age of the internet you can find a place to express any view. The truth is, there are some that don’t belong in our university.

You do have the right to free speech. But why should that also be the right to sexist, racist or transphobic?