Sunday, March 12, 2017

Free Speech is for everybody or for nobody.

The worst policy is selective free speech.

Disability activists disrupt Peter Singer talk.

//A University of Victoria event last week featuring philosopher Peter Singer (Princeton), organized by the university’s Effective Altruism club, was disrupted by protestors objecting to Singer’s views about disability.

The Martlet, a University of Victoria Newspaper, reported about the event a few days ago but is down now (Google suggests the site was hacked, but it may just be down owing to unexpected site traffic).

The event included a screening of this TED Talk on effective altruism by Professor Singer, followed by a Skype session with him during which he was supposed to answer questions from the audience at the University of Victoria.

According to The Martlet, the protesters claimed that “giving Singer a platform was implicitly supporting the murder of disabled people, and that his views supported eugenics.” The paper provides the following account of what happened at the event:

Prior to the event, a candlelight vigil was set up in the main SUB hallway in honour of the the Disability Community Day of Mourning, which was coincidentally on the same day. A chalkboard with the names of disabled victims of filicide — murder by one’s caregiver or family member —stood on display for passersby to see.

As people slowly entered the auditorium, a small group of students stood on stage with a microphone and read out a list of names of disabled people killed throughout 2016 and 2017.

“People who were their caregivers, who were meant to provide stability and care and love, decided these people weren’t worthy of life,” said Tareem Sangha, one of the students on stage.//

Singer's views are, in my opinion, noxious and not really distinguishable from that of the Nazis on this subject.

But he is presenting arguments, and the arguments must and should be debated in the proper manner in the proper forum.

Expressing feelings of sadness is not a debate.

The only good thing that might come out of this is that Singer is supported by the academic left as one of their guys in tweaking the noses of conservatives.  It might be the case that the academic left might become cognizant of the fact that the game of disruptions and speech suppression is one that can be played by everyone.

The interest in self-preservation, more than an appeal to disinterested justice, may be more effective in protecting speech.

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