ADVERTISING
 
Friday, September 21   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
Faith and political views
In my church...




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
 
Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church 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.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow Sharing Jesus with World Cup fans in Moscow

A team of Steiger mission is starting conversations about the gospel in the middst of the football celebration in Russia.

 
Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible Analysing current issues in the light of the Bible

At the 2018 Apologetics Forum in Comarruga (Spain), Michael Ramsden, Pablo Martinez, Ruth Valerio and José de Segovia analysed how society and the Bible approach the issues of personal identity, integrity, sexuality, pop culture, and environmental care.

 
European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga European “Bridges to Inclusion” gathering 2018, in Riga

The network of Christian ministries working for the inclusion of people with disabilities, celebrated its tenth continental meeting in Latvia with the participation of 12 countries.

 

 
VIDEO Video
 
How does romantic love change over time? How does romantic love change over time?

Psychatrist Pablo Martínez uses a metaphor to explain how romantic love evolves.

 
‘Mediterráneo’ ‘Mediterráneo’

“Something will change if you have hunger and thirst for justice”, sings Spanish artist Eva Betoret in a song about the refugee crisis.

 
How the loss of universal values led to a loss of civility How the loss of universal values led to a loss of civility

Author Bruce Little: “We have moved from a sense of responsibility to ‘my personal rights’”.

 
Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’ Reaching non-Christian ‘Christians’

How can we reach those who call themselves ‘Christians’ but have not experienced a conversion to Christ? Forty missiologists and mission practitioners came together for a Lausanne Movement global consultation in Rome.

 
 
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.