Originally published by Sian Norris at politics.co.uk
For each controversy about free speech – be it Germaine Greer or Peter Tatchell or Julie Bindel – there’s a predictable backlash from no-platform supporters. They claim that those of us with an interest in defending free speech don’t understand the power dynamic underpinning society – that we’re protecting the privileges of the establishment. After all, how can someone like Tatchell be censored when he’s telling us about it in the national press?
The argument is logically inconsistent. Free speech isn’t a zero-sum game. Publishing an interview with Tatchell in the Sunday Times doesn’t ‘cancel out’ the attempts to stop him speaking at Canterbury Christ Church. Silencing a speaker in one arena is not neutralised by providing them with a platform elsewhere.
But more importantly, it’s a lie that the no-platforming movement is only going after establishment voices. Their main targets are actually marginalised voices.