I think I must have missed something.

At some point in the past couple of years – no doubt when I was so utterly self-absorbed that I stopped paying attention to the rest of the world – someone came up with the idea of a ‘Safe Space’.

Apparently this is a thing on university campuses (like the one where I work.)  A ‘Safe Space’ is supposedly a place where negative comments toward sexual identities are not tolerated. A place where no one’s ideas, opinions, beliefs, attitudes, or convictions should be challenged. In effect, a place where debate, education, and questioning are forbidden.

Look, I can understand declaring a place where taunting, uncivil, mocking, and bullying behaviors are considered unacceptable … but there are 3 big problems with this idea:

  1. Taunting, uncivil, mocking, and bullying behaviors should be considered unacceptable  everywhere! 
  2. In many cases, ‘Safe Places’ have begun to be declared as places where there’s no conversation, no disagreement, no questioning, allowed … in effect, it’s ok to have opinions, provided they’re substantially the same opinions as those held by the people whom the space has been declared ‘Safe’ for.
  3. While people should feel free to consider their sexuality as they see fit, declaring a place where no one disagrees ultimately does a disservice to the cause of achieving societal acceptance of all sexual identities.

In consideration of point 1), take a close look at what’s really being stated:  if this place is declared to be ‘Safe’ from incivility and bullying, the tacit assumption is that it’s considered normal and acceptable for everywhere else to be ‘Un-Safe’!

When it comes to point 2), the idea that other opinions – or at least the expression of other opinions – is outlawed, just claws at my soul! The First Amendment guarantees our Freedom of Expression – the very same Freedom of Expression which forms the basis of the argument that one person’s sexuality is no-one else’s damned business!  If you stand up for your right to express your sexuality, you are also standing up to someone else’s right to express opinions in opposition to that!  That’s entirely apart from the idea that it’s ok to determine what people are allowed to think, feel, or express in a given space – the term I’m trying hard to avoid is ‘Mind Control’!

Finally, let’s consider point 3) – and let’s use race relations as a comparison:  the idea of the Civil Rights Movement was that black people should have precisely the same rights as white people – not ‘Separate but Equal’:  the Supreme Court, in a series of major decisions, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education, basically ruled that Separation inherently prevented Equality!  When you declare this space as ‘safe’ for diverse sexual identities, you are, in effect, declaring that you don’t expect the same rights as people in all those other spaces.  Instead of insisting that your rights be honored identically to the rights of heterosexuals, you’re basically saying “well, we don’t like their attitudes – but as long as they respect this space, we’re ok with it …”

There’s a final point:  the implication that we aren’t equal to the debate – that we need to be able to cower behind the walls of a ‘Safe Space’, rather than forcing bullies, the ignorant, the intolerant, and the fanatics, to respect our rights.  I don’t identify with any of the sexual identities listed as ‘Safe in this Space’ – and I shouldn’t have to! My rights ought to be no different from the rights accorded to any of those other identities – and letting the intolerant get away with this bullshit cuts into my rights just as much as it cuts into yours! If they’re allowed to decide who gets rights, and who doesn’t, what’s to say they won’t, at some point, decide that I shouldn’t have the full rights of any citizen?

Instead of hemming yourselves up in ‘Safe Spaces’, maybe the idea ought to be to make the whole planet unfriendly to ignorant assholes!


~ by dourscot on January 4, 2017.

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