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Yasith Weerasuriya – The Problem With Silencing Uni Speakers

In what is hopefully only a temporary issue which the world is facing, cancel culture is shutting down the thoughts and words of pundits, commentators and celebrities, for saying or doing the wrong thing in the eyes of many. This has spilled out onto the university speaking circuit and it is why we are seeing many people who would usually speak on a campus, being banned, cancelled and silenced. This is a challenge for presidents like Yasith Weerasuriya, Stanford University president, who wants of course to give students the power to invite their own guests. With this being said, canceling a guest makes no sense and does in fact do more harm than good.

Finding The Way

The first point to make here is that if someone wants to speak and people want to hear it, they are going to find the way to make this happen. Relatively mild political commentator Ben Shapiro was due to speak at the Grand Canyon university in Arizona back in 2018, when the security prevented him from being allowed on campus, and threatened him with arrest if he did so. What ensued was Mr. Shapiro and the small crowd which had gathered, heading to a nearby theater and carrying on the show there. Cancelling someone never really works, you just send them somewhere else.

Creates Additional Buzz

We have seen other speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos banned from campuses too, owing to his inflammatory speech and some high level and shocking claims which he is known to make. All this has done however is seen the British commentator’s stock rise, as more and more wish to know what is so bad that he has to be banned. All that a ban or a cancellation does therefore is to fan the flames and create more interest and more of a buzz in the person. What students will then do is seek out their information, wherever they may be able to get their hands on it. The difference here however, is that instead of being able to actually ask them questions on their opinions, students will only receive the videos and speeches which they can find.

The Narrative

Ultimately if we begin to silence anyone who opposes the status quo in society then we are going to end up never changing anything about it. The world and the constitution of the country has been created off the back of questioning ideas which once made sense, but no longer do. This is why it is critical for us to focus on opening our minds and ears to the possibility that things may not be in great shape. Regardless of whether the likes of Milo or Ben are right in what they say, the point is that we have to have people who are questioning it. If we are not able to question ideas then the narrative will never change, and nor will anything in society.

This is why silencing uni speakers makes so little sense.

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