Westminster's joint committee on human rights has found that while there isn't wholesale censorship of debate on university campuses, there are factors at work that do limit free speech, resulting in the marginalisation of the views of some groups. The committee which is headed up by Harriet Harman, found that safe-space policies, which were supposed to ensure that minority groups felt secure, were being used by some to prevent the free speech of others whose views they disagreed with. I would say that this was the real motivation behind safe spaces. It was never a policy designed to protect minorities or vulnerable students. It was always about suppressing the opinions and values of those deemed to be out of step with Progressive Cultural Marxism. And it has proved to be very successful.
We've reported on this extensively. Germaine Greer, Peter Tatchell, Julie Bindel, Peter Hitchens, Marine Le Pen and even Julian Assange have been "No Platformed" by student unions in recent times. Peter Hitchens quite rightly refused to provide Liverpool University Students Union with an advance copy of a speech on drugs that he'd been invited to deliver. The union was worried that peter might say something which might offend some students! Bloody snowflakes! Hitchens duly told them to sod off and gave his speech outside. Good for him. I remember some years ago, The Oxford Union debating society (which it might surprise you to learn, is not an affiliate of The Oxford University Students Union and is in fact self governing and totally independent) invited Nick Griffin, then British National party leader to come and speak to them. This didn't go down well. During the debate there were violent clashes between so called anti-fascist protesters and security. The anti-fascists just couldn't see the irony. While they were screaming and bawling outside, Nick Griffin was getting his arse handed to him in the debate. Students were engaging with him, listening to his views and then dismantling them.
A generation of teenagers and twenty-somethings have been programmed (and tis deliberate) to believe that they can experience life on their own terms and that they have a human right to traverse life and never be confronted with anything that offends or angers them. It's true and you can see it most clearly at universities which is pure madness, because these institutions purport to be places of learning, challenging ideas and robust debate. These days though we have theology students being issued with Trigger Warnings ahead of lectures dealing with the crucifixion of Christ, lest they become upset. Criminology students even get Trigger Warnings before crime scene pictures are displayed on the overhead projector during classes. The Trigger Warning allows the student exempt himself/herself from the lecture. It is totally fecking mad. It's life on their terms isn't it? It evokes images of people walking around with massive headphones on and wrapped in giant rolls of cotton wool. We're nearly there as it happens. Many young people do walk around with massive headphones on and I'm beginning to think that rather than listening to music, they are using the devices to avoid interacting with their fellow travellers on the highway of life.
Outside of the love and warmth of our family and friends, there are no safe spaces in life, nor should we expect there to be. It's an adventure, a wild roller-coaster ride with triumphs and disasters an absolute given. Don't teach your children that they have a right a) not to be offended and b) to melt down screaming and bawling when they are challenged or even insulted. You are ruining them. What chance do they have when they have families of their own, when they are working for a living and can't avoid conflict and confrontation and all the road blocks that we encounter in our lives? We are surrounded by people who don't agree with us and they are not the enemy. Teach your children that for a start.
By the way, I am aware of the fact that there is a great irony here. Parliamentary committees are championing free speech at universities on a day when Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is being hammered from all sides for supporting free speech and freedom of expression, but I didn't want to over-egg the pudding.