ADVERTISING
 
Saturday, June 15   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
30 years of internet...
Will digital natives and the "Gen Z" use new technologies with a better ethical/values reflection than the previous generation?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Mark Stirling
 

Claire Fox’s ‘I Find That Offensive’

A generation that accepts uncritically that ‘you can’t say that’ will slide from unwillingness to inability to disagree with or critique the propaganda it is relentlessly fed.

SOLAS MAGAZINE AUTHOR Mark Stirling 11 JANUARY 2018 18:00 h GMT+1
Detail of the cover of Claire Fox's book.

‘I Find That Offensive!’



Claire Fox



Biteback Publishing



Does the progressive erosion of freedom of speech signal the twilight of Western civilisation? Becoming aware of my own reluctance to say certain things and hearing for the umpteenth time the mantra, “You can’t say that”, I started doing some reading on the subject.



We live in a cultural moment when many are waking up to the dangers of the loss of freedom of speech, with widespread discussion of university ‘safe-space’ policies, ‘deplatforming’ of ‘unacceptable’ speakers and ‘trigger warnings’ attached to potentially offensive material. Does this represent compassion for the more vulnerable and marginalised in society, or is it the privileging of the status of victimhood as the ultimate ‘trump card’ that shuts down further discussion? These are important questions.



Claire Fox describes herself as a libertarian who founded and directs the Institute of Ideas, an organisation whose aim is “to create a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint”. She was alarmed by two incidents in which high school audiences were deeply offended, hurt and threatened by ideas they disagreed with. As a result, she wrote the short book ‘I find that offensive!’.



Fox cites several examples in contemporary culture where freedom of speech (and hence opinion) is restricted by the subjective perception that someone is offended and is therefore a victim. With 90 per cent of universities and students’ unions now censoring speech, Fox worries that “the young are becoming too mollycoddled and infantilised for the rough and tumble of real life”. However, she does not blame them for this. Rather, she is critical of the previous generation who passed on a message of a world from whose dangers adult protection was required. This, she points out, does not respect the young, but treats them as “childlike, vulnerable and in need of adult protection”. It is “an insulting brand of paternalism”.



 



I find that offensive, by Claire Fox.

She further argues that the problem of restriction of free speech is “caused by the retreat from reason by the older generation” together with an educational philosophy more focused on self-expression than knowledge transmission. It seems to me that if there is no Truth outside of ourselves and no ultimate arbiter to which to appeal, then authority is located in the individual.



If ‘personal choices’ of opinions and beliefs define our identity, then any questioning of beliefs that undergird that identity becomes an attack on the person and is perceived as hurtful or even hateful. So-called ‘generation snowflake’ represents the inevitable result of the rejection of external epistemic authority.



It is hard to resist the force of Fox’s provocative critique. Though she appeals to ‘Enlightenment Ideals’, I hope that most Christians reading her book will realise that confidence there is such a thing as Truth and that God has definitively spoken in Jesus, is the real foundation for a security that would allow a ‘safe’ public space for a ‘diversity’ of opinion. Bad arguments must be shown to be bad arguments, not simply dismissed ad hominem. The alternative involves policing ‘safe space’ by increasingly powerful state authorities who decide what can and cannot be said. And we ought to be concerned about that.



Seventy years ago, Dorothy Sayers commented that if we teach people to read but not to think critically (which, of course, requires debate and discussion of alternate views), then they would be “slaves to words in their emotions instead of masters of them in their intellects”.



A generation that accepts uncritically that “you can’t say that” will slide from unwillingness to inability to disagree with or critique the propaganda it is relentlessly fed through news and entertainment media. It will be endlessly manipulable by those who have the loudest voices, the best funded PR campaigns and who flatter them to think that in shutting down rational debate, they are showing compassion to all their fellow victims. That is not compassion; it is cultural suicide.



Mark Stirling. This article was published with permission of Solas magazine.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Claire Fox’s ‘I Find That Offensive’
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Testimony: Wildfires near Athens Testimony: Wildfires near Athens

Nico Spies, a Christian worker in Athens, gives details about the wildfires in Greece.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference Glimpses of the ELF 2019 conference

Evangelical leaders from across Europe meet in Wisla (Poland) to network for mission in a range of fields. The vision is to renew the biblical church and evangelise Europe.

 
AEA Plaza opens to serve African evangelicals AEA Plaza opens to serve African evangelicals

After many years of labour, the Association of Evangelicals in Africa officially opened its new centre in Nairobi, Kenya. “Africa, your time has come!”, said the World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General Efraim Tendero.

 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Mercy Ships volunteers perform 100,000th free surgical procedure Mercy Ships volunteers perform 100,000th free surgical procedure

The milestone represents an important point in the nonprofit’s 40-year legacy.

 
What are the most important truths that Christians should seek to convey in a secular context? What are the most important truths that Christians should seek to convey in a secular context?

Espen Ottosen talks about the truths Christians should share with people who have little knowledge and/or many prejudices about Christian belief.  

 
A 50-metre high monument will encourage Britons to pray A 50-metre high monument will encourage Britons to pray

Thousands of visitors will have the chance to discover “the God who is alive who listens and answers prayers”.

 
John Lennox on Acts John Lennox on Acts

Professor John Lennox  examines the three supernatural events in the first three chapters of Acts: Jesus' ascension, the Holy Spirit's descent at Pentecost, and the healing of a lame man by the Apostles.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.