Community Engagement

Dangerous Ideas, Dangerous Times: What, if any, are the limits to free speech on campuses?

Discussion featuring Ronald Beiner, Leah Bradshaw and Clifford Orwin

On Wed., November 21 a public discussion was held in the St. Catharines Public Library featuring Ronald Beiner (University of Toronto), Leah Bradshaw (Brock University), and Clifford Orwin (University of Toronto). Paul Christopher Gray (Brock University) moderated.

With the return of fascist movements across the world, many people are now asking: How tolerant should we be of intolerant ideas? On campuses, many students and professors support banning public speaking platforms for fascists, white nationalists, and the “alt-right.” This strategy of “no platforming” is also influencing debates about whose ideas should be taught and how. Some scholars see the popularity of philosophers like Nietzsche and Heidegger for emerging fascist movements as threats to liberal democracy. And some liberal scholars, such as Steven Pinker, argue that curriculums should “no platform” Nietzsche. But would a liberal education that excludes illiberal ideas save liberalism by sacrificing everything that makes it worth saving? The controversy has intensified because the Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, has enacted legislation requiring colleges and universities to develop guarantees for free speech. For some advocates of queer, trans, and racialized people, free speech is being used as cover for hate speech, unsafe spaces and violence on campuses and beyond.

Read the Brock News article about this event here