Column: Costas Mourselas

I'm declaring war on no-platforming 

Gather round children. It’s time for papa Costas to shout into your ear for the third time this term. And while I refer to you as children in jest, it does seem like some of you do exhibit the qualities of entitled and whiny prepubescents.Column Cartoon Panopticon

Yes this is going to be one of ‘those’ columns; the ones where I actually take a stance I’m passionate about and try to convince you, my beloved readers, to rally by my side and together, crash on the gates of irrationality and illogic. I’m like King Aragorn from Lord of the Rings and you’re like…erm, the army of initially indifferent conscripts that died in his name. I think that relationship suits my purposes very nicely. But before you seize arms and prepare to submit yourselves to my command unquestionably (as I am a nobleman and you’re a lowly pleb) allow me to make a rousing speech to move you to action.

"People of Heslington! While you may not know it yet, the armies of darkness are amassing once again. No, it isn’t the forces of Mordor, friends, stirring after a period of unbroken slumber. It is an evil far more insidious, more covert and more authoritarian. I am of course referring to the progressive left.

“‘But King Costas,’ you say. ‘Since when have a bunch of fringe left wingers managed to influence policy in the United Kingdom.’ A most astute observation, lowly subject. Given the labour party's prospects, even I must admit that even I did not see this evil coming. But on the advice of the White Council of Wizards, *cough* my parents *cough*, I decided to travel to University and see the evil myself. And sure enough, all I hear are stories about prominent social egalitarians like Peter Tatchell and Germaine Greer going missing in Mordor, no-platformed and whisked away for holding ‘unacceptable views.’

“Now, there is no doubt that the most intelligent and witty of you could see logical inconsistencies and poorly reasoned premises in their arguments and defeat them in a public showdown of sharp wit and good humour; also known as an open debate. But there are also those among you who claim moral superiority in your arguments. You think that protecting the feelings of individuals affords you a certain moral high ground, and, as such, the ability to shut down debate when you see fit.

“Some of you even claim that words in themselves are enough to cause distress and thus should be banned. But surely, the context, intent and moral force of the word should be taken into consideration first. After all, banning words wholesale shows the same black and white approach to the world that Sauron imposed on Heslington all those years ago. We fought to defend nuance and gradation, not to ban it!

“Why, only recently at the York Union, an impassioned debate regarding free speech on university campuses revealed sympathy to the idea that controversial speakers should be no-platformed in the name of minorities who feel oppressed. But surely, if these advocates are in fact in favour of free speech (as they claim), actively censoring a minority of controversial speakers and students to guarantee the free speech of those that are only passively being censored makes little sense.

“I want to make something absolutely clear to those of you that think that caring for others necessarily constitutes being on the ‘right side of history.’ Your arguments are subject to criticism just like everyone else’s. The arrogance and veneer of infallibility you possess is nothing more than a facade, a cover for your inability to participate in open debate with your peers. Get of your moral high ground and justify your beliefs in open debate like everybody else.

“Oh and on a side note, as your self-appointed king, I have unilaterally decided to assume direct control over the York student union. After witnessing the shameful popularity contest that occurred two weeks ago, also known as the YUSU elections, I have decided that democracy is too good for you, the people of Heslington.

As such, I intend to abolish the position of Union President (sorry Millie) and replace it with the position of Supreme Overlord of Heslington which I, will of course occupy. I will also no-platform any speaker that wishes to come to the university to argue in favour of no platforming. My points are evidently irrefutable and as such, not up for debate. This might be a good time to look up the difference between irony and sarcasm.''

Have I convinced you to rally against the forces of the progressive left? If so, pledge your support to me and join my army by signing this column in your blood and following me on Twitter.


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Columnist at York Vision and Chat Politics.