So I've been thinking...

One of the most common statements I see when discussing 'No Platforming', particularly at universities, is that it is an affront to the ideals that a university education should be instilling into their students.

Namely, the ability to distinguish between good and bad arguments.

The obvious issue with this argument is that 'No Platforming' is not an issue of Freedom of Speech, nor does it reduce the ability of students to be able to distinguish/debate them. Instead 'No Platforming' is a tool to encourage this discussion in formats that can actually be presented and reviewed fairly.

The grumpy "Freedom of Speech above all" advocate will immediately say that, "How can selectively stopping individuals be promoting fair debate? Explain that one Ms. Smartypants".

I ask you to consider this, Why is it that the people invited to talk, about the types of issue that raise this debate, are often big names or have some type of celebrity/infamous status?

So far we haven't talked about right/wrong or arguments that go against consensus. Mostly because I personally believe it has little/nothing to do with this particular discussion.

In academia, new ideas and theories are postulated, tested and the results reported. This is an extremely powerful mechanism which allows other people to independently review and improve upon these ideas until a theory is presented. Consensus takes a while and in many fields there will be competing theories presented in the literature. This is normal.

What would not be normal/typical is for the purveyors of one theory. To reintroduce the discussion about no platforming, it is like a researcher bypassing the traditional peer review process and engaging the wider public with their interpretation of what is 'correct'. You ask what the platform is in this instance? It could be Titular ("Ooh they have a Doctorate they must know what they are talking about"), Environmental ("The news wouldn't report this if it wasn't true") or any other number of reasons.

The use of a platform by any party, in my opinion, that doesn't expressly make reference to opposing views points is morally dubious/gray because it can obviously lead to social good (though emotive subjects are typically used to drive social bad for minority groups). My personal opinion is that it is morally wrong but I won't say that my view is right or that it'll never change.

Back to the earlier question then. Why is it that many of the individuals that have been 'No platformed' have been famous/infamous? Well from the discussion we have just had, it is because in most cases, their titular, environmental and legacy factors/platforms have become the primary source of interest rather than their ideas.

This feeds the trend toward popularism not evidence driven, reason based decision making.