Friday, March 14, 2014

The cowardice of the "safe space" and the courage of engagement

I recently tweeted,
If Rosa Parks had been a social justice warrior, she would've demanded a safe space for people of color at the back of the bus.
I didn't think I had much else to say about safe spaces, but I just saw this comment from Brad R. Torgerson:
...the only winning move (with Scalzi and Whatever) is not to play.

It might be different if Scalzi ever stepped beyond his “safe space” in order to defend himself and his invective in an environment where he isn’t lord of the manor. But because Scalzi has created a “safe space” in which he never has to be made to feel demonstrably wrong for any length of time longer than it takes him to ban/deride a critic, he is not what I’d call an honest participant in the larger cultural, political, and philosophical debate. He needs his “safe space” too much.

Which is probably why most people (on Scalzi’s side of this) make such a noise about “safe spaces”, in all kinds of different arenas. They have concluded that any forum for interactivity that does not immediately affirm them — and all of their many smelly little orthodoxies and prejudices — is not “safe”, and therefore they will go to great lengths to whine about, pester, or attack, anyone who does not enable them in their need to be “safe.”
The safe space is an echo chamber, and nothing more.

Well, it can be a place for segregation, of course. I've been amused for years that WisCon is so racist that people of color need a safe space there. I recently saw this (click to biggen):

http://i.imgur.com/LAtXYUa.jpg

If I was a white racist on a college campus, I would be creating "a space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege" and put this sign up:


The shared sensibilities of segregationists remind me of Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance addressing the Black Panthers:



He talks admiringly of Marcus Garvey and the Nation of Islam, and refers to the time the American Nazis spoke to NOI:


Call it a safe space if you want, but segregation is segregation. I pray I'll always choose dangerous spaces.