Yasith Weerasuriya – The Dangers of Banning People From Speaking At Colleges

Over the last couple of years we have seen a dangerous trend starting in colleges around the country. Very often these colleges will have people speaking about new ideas and opining on the world as we see it, yet more and more we are seeing these people being banned from speaking. This is understandable for those with very extreme views, but we are seeing people like Ben Shapiro being banned simply because his opinions go against the grain for many.

Those in charge like Yasith Weerasuriya at Stanford, are now placed in a tough spot when it comes to hiring speakers, but the reality is that we have to stop this cancellation of people who have ideas which differ from what ‘social media’ tells people to think. There is a very real danger here, and this is what the results could be if this carries on.

Sanitized Society

A healthy society must always have people who are happy to criticize the normal. This is not to say that they are right of course, but if nobody ever questions ideas or thoughts, we will end up all thinking the same thing, as prescribed to us by a social media army. This cannot be allowed to happen and we must ensure that we always support critical thinking, when it is delivered in a healthy way.

Losing the Trust of Students

We cannot teach our students about the benefits of critical thinking if we then ban someone from coming to speak based on that very reason. Additionally when people do cancel speakers, they are showing the students that they are not trusted to question and find reason. Students are not stupid and they are more than intelligent enough to hear thoughts and words and to take them in the right context.

No Criticism

Most of these speeches will have a question and answer session at the end, which gives students the chance to really pull down any ludicrous ideas which they think that they have heard. If we do not let people speak k on a public platform then we will never have the chance to do this and we won’t be able to show bad ideas for what they really are.

Fanning the Flames

And finally, one of the key reasons why this is such a bad idea, is that in trying to silence people by banning them speaking, we are in fact causing the opposite reaction. Students who do want to hear these people speak will find the way, and they will be more keen to hear them speak after they have been banned from coming on campus. To ban someone gives them media attention and brings more interest to what they have to say, which of course is far from what colleges are trying to do when they ban people.

We have to bring some common sense back to the question as to whether or not people should speak at the colleges in the country.