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To achieve social change, we must engage in a discussion, not exclude our opponents, especially if our rival has substantial political power to influence social affairs, or if—as in the case of contemporary American politics—the “offensive” ideas are held by a majority of the public.Finger-pointing, name-calling and vilifying controversial speakers and their supporters is futile.
For others—younger people and those unfamiliar with the issues at stake—such strategies fail to educate or demonstrate the rigour of thinking that leads to certain ideological conclusions.
Censorship is not only likely to be ineffective in confronting problems of inequality and prejudice, but it may be achieving the very opposite of what it intends.
Not only does it antagonise potential allies in the fight for justice, but it also fails to acknowledge the reasons why controversial views exist in the first place, or to address any logical, moral or ethical problems inherent in them.
For those who hold those views, strategies of censure and reproach are unlikely to eradicate those convictions and actually risk leading instead to confirmation bias, strengthening the original prejudice.
I was going to the most liberal part of America, carrying with me a deep love of freedom, born from the painful history of a country where censorship used to be a powerful tool for oppression.
In my first week on campus, a classmate questioned the premise of affirmative action in tech.
Always, it was the goal of protecting community values that motivated oppression.
Perhaps the toxic consequences of censorship—a history, where abridging the freedom of expression has been related to the political suppression of important ideological perspectives, especially those of political minorities—are not as salient to our generation, to which free speech is a rather abstract ideal.
As much as I agree with the motives, I disagree with the method.
Of course, speech that constitutes targeted harassment or threat, or instigates violence, has no place on university campuses.