The Ignorant Do Not Have a Right to an Audience

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>What just access means in terms of positive policy is that institutions that are the gatekeepers to the public have a fiduciary responsibility to award access based on the merit of ideas and thinkers. I would agree that free speech does not mean free speech in my house etc., but this bit of narcissism is problematic. Who gets to be the one deciding what is a meritorious idea or not? What standard is to be used to judge that? What qualifications must one have? If twitter or fox only want their type of opinion on there, fine. That is their right. But any publicly funded institution should be open to every view point, otherwise it is state sponsored censorship.


Van Norden is making this argument because of a couple of reasons, in my analysis: 1. He believes people are generally uneducated, or that there is simply an unacceptable percentage of educated people; 2. He believes the media is more interested in getting the largest audience possible. Because of these perceived flaws in our society, it’s better (in his view) to not allow the ignorant to present their opinion using (his words again) the finite resources of the media, including university lectures. In other words, it’s not that he’s saying “eliminate free speech”– he’s saying “don’t give an audience to these people”. I think this is dangerous territory, and wholeheartedly disagree with his opinion. Who defines who is ignorant? As u/Tinac4 wisely put it: *The ability to deny a platform to someone is a symmetric weapon: it can be used equally well by anyone regardless of the correctness of their views.* **…** *I doubt the author would be making this argument if they lived in, say, a dictatorship*


Wow I hate this article so much. I couldn’t disagree harder with this dude. I don’t have the time or energy to really tackle this thing but I must at least display my displeasure. At one point he says: “The problem, though, is that humans are not rational in the way Mill assumes. I wish it were self-evident to everyone that we should not discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation, but the current vice president of the United States does not agree. I wish everyone knew that it is irrational to deny the evidence that there was a mass shooting in Sandy Hook, but a syndicated radio talk show host can make a career out of arguing for the contrary.” What, is this supposed to be evidence for his “humans are not rational”? Oh the VP has views that you’ve determined are discriminatory and therefore humans aren’t rational? Ok, I agree we shouldn’t discriminate against people for whatever sexual orientation but even that is a loaded phrase. We already discriminate against sexual orientations such as with pedophilia and beastiality insofar as those are sexual orientations. But anyway I know he means we shouldn’t discriminate against gay people which sure I agree with but to simply declare that as self-evident needs support. How is it self-evident? He’s arguing rationality isn’t ahistorical but then wants us to subscribe to knowing what is self-evident. Ok so it’s historically contingent self-evidence. And it’s not self-evident to all but there is a correct and rational position? I’m starting to ramble and maybe I’m having issues where no one else is but I just feel this paragraph is flawed or I’m not getting it. What are these examples saying? So what if there is a small but dedicated conspiracy theory audience. On the whole, most people do not discriminate against gay people and most people reject Sandy Hook conspiracy theories. Also isn’t he just displacing the responsibility of engaging and assessing information away from the individual and on to the gatekeepers of information, whoever they are? Institutions are supposed to decide who to provide or not provide a platform to? Of course he frames it as though ignorant opinions do “not have a right to platform” but that’s not really the correct way to look it. It’s more do the ignorant consumers have the right to hear those ignorant opinions. In recent examples of deplatforming, there was a demand and interest to hear the deplatformed. And then when activists get an event shut down by decrying the discriminatory nature of the content, even while alluding to potential physical harm to people from the ideas, they assert racist or prejudiced views do not have a right to the platform, framing it as though the malevolent, irrational ideas were seeking an undeserved space to be heard and not responding to a demand for the content. Of course, these gatekeepers and activists, thankfully so might I add, are able to tell what ideas deserve the space. All you stupid ignorant people that want to hear Milo or whatever sorry your desires must be mediated by those with the wisdom and knowledge to protect you from what will hurt you. I hate it. The truth is, just as Mill saw, you let everyone express and have their stupid ideas be heard and believe it or not, overall humans figure it out ok. Letting Milo talk to his small and dedicated followers isn’t gonna turn the country into white nationalists. On the whole, there is a fairly ahistorical rationality that humans are able to use in figuring out equitable arrangements. The existence of VP Pence and Alex Jones doesn’t mean in far greater numbers there are the anti Pences and anti-Joneses. Fuck this is getting long what am I even doing sorry guys. I hope what I wrote made some sense I’m kinda just rambling here. Tl;dr- authoritarianism disguised as social justice


Forcing foolish speech out of the public square removes its ability to be inspected in light of reality and opposing logic. Rather it gets driven underground and shared among people in private, removed from cross examination. This is the exact formula for radicalization. Only by allowing foolish ideas into the public square can they be seen for what they really are and dismantled.


No one but the omniscient have rights to an audience?