Free Speech or Public Harm?

One thing you have to give Steve Bannon: he knows how to get people yelling at each other. The former Trump chief strategist and Breitbart editor may be greatly reduced on paper, but he continues to exert a disturbing influence on global affairs – and start fights just by turning up, and sometimes not even that.

Just in the last couple of weeks, he managed to cause upset simply by accepting invitations: in Australia, giving a one-on-one interview on the ABC’s ‘Four Corners’ program, and in the US by being invited and then disinvited to an on-stage session at the ‘New Yorker’ magazine’s ideas festival, after several other speakers pulled out in protest.

These events feed into a larger, ongoing contested narrative about free speech and harm. On the one hand, there’s a liberal charge that the “censorious” left is silencing right-of-centre voices via “no-platforming,” and thereby repressing speech rights and stifling debate. On the other, there’s the view that inviting those whose views serve and entrench various forms of oppression to speak in public fora causes real harm to the marginalised, by treating those views, even if only implicitly, as somehow worth discussing.

Read the rest of this article at Deakin’s Invenio