It is often those who are on the regressive left of the political spectrum that talk about the need to not engage in “hate” or violence-encouraging speech. Indeed, many of them defend safe spaces religiously to ensure that people will not be triggered when certain concepts get mentioned in either academic debate or casual conversation.
Anyone who is at the University of Manchester should be aware that once you are within the walls of the Students’ Union building, the Safe Space policy applies. One might imagine that those on the left would be tolerant towards all, irrespective of who they are, right? After all, they often campaign for diversity and the respect of people’s differences…
Wrong. It seems that those who are on the right of the political spectrum are fair game. I, personally, would say that our current Tory government is on the centre-right and is in the process of liberalising. But this did not stop Freya Blake, protesting outside the venue where this year’s Conservative Party Conference was held with a placard explicitly stating that Conservatives should have their heads sliced off.
Perhaps it is a bad pun on her part, but I would wonder how people of her political views would react if those on the right called for those on the left to be executed. I presume that they would not be all too happy about it.
In case you missed the recent news, Blake (alongside her friend and accomplice Lauren McCourt) ripped off the head out of a cardboard cut-out of the deceased ex-Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. Both clearly have an anti-Tory vendetta, which is absolutely fine—I believe that people are entitled to have their own political views. But I do not appreciate the destruction of people’s property, even if it is just a cardboard cut-out. More importantly, this action does not actually help to stop the policies, which Ms Blake is so against, from being enacted.
I do, however, defend Ms Blake’s right for her freedom of speech. I do not believe that she sincerely wishes to go around killing all those of a Conservative persuasion. One can simply write her billboard off as being a cheap pun. What I am more concerned about is the leftist intolerance and hypocrisy that permeates many university campuses in the United Kingdom. It seems fair game for those on the left to come out with these kind of statements, yet those on the right feel unable to so much as voice what they stand for—depending on what circles they find themselves in.
Perhaps it may be suggested that people should keep within circles of those similar to themselves to avoid confrontation. However, a university should be a place where people can explore different ideas and viewpoints without the threat—sincere or otherwise—of murder. There is a lot of chat about diversity, but often those who preach about diversity do not advocate diversity of opinions.
We all come from a range of backgrounds and each have a unique range of experiences. I wish that Ms Blake and others to stop, think for a second, and understand that many people vote Conservative with good and honest intentions. People should not define others solely by which party they vote for. If we recognise people as individuals, we would see that often we have a lot more in common than first impressions might suggest.
Thankfully, Ms Blake does not represent all those on the left. In addition, I admit that it would be unfair for me to judge her based solely on a couple of acts. I am sure that she has her reasons for being anti-Conservative, which I respect, of course.
The question is whether those who have views contrary to her will be able to engage in thoughtful and intellectual discussion. I will give her the benefit of the doubt, but it is my opinion that—whilst I do not believe any law should prevent her from making such a horrid placard—I think Ms Blake should reconsider how she acts. The way she has behaved has, through unfortunate comedy, made her views less accessible for debate.
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