4 Comments

  1. 9/27/2017
    Reply

    Yes, safe spaces taken to the extreme can be dangerous and do not allow for any disagreement or discomfort. But, I think “unsafe” spaces or actually the absence of safe spaces also do not allow for a lot of disagreement and discomfort. It is here that the status quo, the generally accepted opinion and the mainstream thrive and kill anything that gets their fervent defenders out of their comfort zone. I think the safe spaces debate is being discussed so much right now because safe spaces make precisely this group of people uncomfortable. Until now, their opinions were always endorsed. Now, they are even being shunned from some universities, to name an example. I’m not saying that this is good or justified, but neither is shunning minorities from having a voice and making a space safe for those with a mainstream opinion and unsafe for those without. I’m all for safe spaces, as long as it is defined somewhere along the lines of “a place where we respect each other, where everyone’s opinion is valued and taken seriously”. Therefore I don’t think we are actually disagreeing with one another: but I think saying that a safe space in itself is the problem is problematic.

    • 10/1/2017
      Reply

      True, we’re not actually disagreeing: To create a place of mutual respect for one another’s opinions is certainly not something I am against. To exaggerate the establishment of such a place to the extent that it mutes anything that would stimulate fruitful confrontation (and I don’t mean verbal violence here) – that I do find wrong.

    • 10/1/2017
      Reply

      I agree that I’m using a quite unspecified definition of safe spaces in this article, which creates problems in the way I argue. On the other hand, that points back at the very problem I’ve tried to highlight: the fact that ’safe space‘ has turned into an umbrella buzzword, the lack of specificity of which makes it so problematic. For as long as anything could be a safe space once declared so, it serves as a readily misused rhetoric tool of shutting up disagreement. What is needed is thus either some escape from this abstraction, or a counter-space (an ‚unsafe space‘) that encourages the confrontation, the sharp controversy to which one immediately relates. I make the case for the latter.

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