Fear not, this is not about the railways. Although today I did find the little battery-powered 00 gauge freelance tram/train I made about 25 years ago. It ran on an oval of track set into concrete on a rockery. The track might still be there, it was a pretty damn fine job. I also found the only 009 narrow gauge engine I made, using a plastic kit of a saddle tank engine and the (always overscale anyway) motor from a Lima N gauge Deltic. That’s a Class 55, for those who don’t recognise the term. I must test those tomorrow.
No, this is about the current trend of ‘no-platforming’ anyone students don’t agree with. It makes them feel big and important while making them look small-minded, weak and petty, but it’s not just students.
I’ve been blocked by a few people on Twitter. Well, okay, more than a few. Sometimes I’ll follow a link in a conversation and find I’ve been blocked by someone I didn’t know existed, much less ever interacted with. Does this trouble me? I shrug and move on. It’s only Twitter. Someone I never heard of doesn’t want me to read what they write. There’s too much crap out there anyway, if they want to spare me their additions to it, that’s fine with me.
I have blocked two, I think, and those were both done in a state of tipsy truculence. Not rage, not righteousness, I was a bit pissed and felt like going ‘nyah’ at them. That’s all there was to it.
Why would I want to block lots of people? Why go to all the bother of writing stuff then limiting who can read it? Blocking someone really does not affect them at all, they can babble away to their heart’s content. They just aren’t reading what you write any more. What they write is unaffected. Also, blocking people who have never interacted with you at all means only one thing. They will never see anything you write. No matter how cogent, how persuasive your argument, they will never see it. That really is all it means.
I might be blocked by hundreds of people I’ve never heard of. I’ll never know nor care. I’ll never read a word they write. I won’t even know they have written anything. It doesn’t stop me writing, it doesn’t affect me, and yet they think it is a triumph of some kind. Well okay, have your invisible victory. Enjoy it, crow about it, revel in it. I’ll never even know.
Much the same goes for the ‘mute’ facility on Twitter. I have muted a few. Persistent adverts with nothing real to say, the stupid photoshopped ‘diseases’, things like that, I mute them. Does that make them upset?
They don’t know they’ve been muted and the muting only applies to me. They can continue to tweet to their hearts’ content, untroubled and entirely unaffected by the fact that I don’t see those tweets. The only person I have deprived of information by using the mute button is me. I just don’t want that information so I ignore it in the same way I can drive past a hundred advertising billboards and not know what a single one was advertising. They are filtered out. Mentally muted. And yet they are still there, their messages intact. I just don’t see them. Same thing, really.
This is ‘no-platforming’. It’s ‘I’m not listening to you and I’m not speaking to you’, usually followed in its normal context by ‘nyah’ because it’s the attitude of a five year old or someone very, very drunk.
I have never used ‘mute’ to silence an argument. Only to filter out persistent ads and silly things. I only used ‘block’ twice and I was pissed both times. I would never block someone who disagrees with me because how can I persuade them they are wrong if I have no voice? It would be like going to a debating contest with a ball gag in your mouth.
And yet it is common on Twitter for people to block anyone who even so much as asks an awkward question. What does it achieve? The person asking the question never gets an answer, never sees another word you write and assumes you are an arse without an argument. Do you win in that scenario? I don’t see that as a win. I see that as running away. So does the person you blocked.
When students ‘no-platform’ a speaker, it means they don’t hear what that speaker has to say. It means they have no opportunity to challenge it, to argue against it. It does not stop that speaker saying what they have to say somewhere else. The speaker does not lose by not speaking at an event where they’d just be shouted down anyway, where they would be blocked and muted. They benefit by having more time to present their argument to someone who will listen.
So what do modern students have?
Safe spaces. Hiding places for the weak and the cowardly. Where you cannot be hurt by the words of the horrible speaky people. Those are the new thing. It used to be foxholes and trenches where you could shelter from bullets. Now it’s places where nobody can say hurty words. What a feeble species we have become. What a sad and worthless animal. You know, there are rabbits and squirrels who would be absolutely delighted if a fox just called them names.
Anyway. The shit had to end sometime. It is beginning.
All this bollocks is getting called out now. There will be a new overseer of universities with the power to fine them or even de-register them. It has teeth. It remains to be seen whether it will use them, or whether this overseer will be populated by whining saddos who will file those teeth to nothing.
The student activists will not care. That will get very interesting indeed when the first university is de-registered because that university can no longer award degrees. The students who worked hard to get degrees won’t get them. The student activists won’t care because degrees are elitist and they didn’t need them anyway – but the majority who do care are going to rip those idiots apart. Literally.
And the Leftie staff the activists relied on… will have been defunded and will not be welcome in any other university, so they will change sides faster than Italy.
I think it will take one de-registered university, two at most, before the governing bodies actually grow a fucking brain and realise they have been playing around in Narnia for years. No more silly degrees, no more pandering to the pansies who are scared of words. Back to some real, actual learning and proper studies again. And to degrees that are worth having and students worth employing.
It all hinges on this new overseer. Will it really do what it says on the tin?
Or is it just another veneer over the rotten wood?