The defenders of so called "safe spaces" have reached a tedious impasse. So strident in their position that they should be spared being exposed to any views that they find mildly uncomfortable that some have gone so far as to threaten individuals who defy them with *actual* violence.
Not only do "safe spaces" render the whole point of Universities null and void but I doubt their effectiveness. I was brought up in the Middle East and in my early teens I was exposed to some very un-PC views in my mandatory Islamic Studies classes. I was a mild homophobe in my late teens and quite "small-c" conservative. Until University I had never met an openly gay person.
Yet as an adult I am neither a homophobe, a transphobe, a sexist, nor a racist. Being exposed to challenging view points and enlightenment values changed my mind. Until I was challenged I didn't know that I was wrong. It didn't take very long for that change to happen. Enlightenment values defeated the superstition and totalitarianism of feudalism and theocracy in Europe by consistently questioning the pre-existing orthodoxy.
To shut down the voices of those with un-PC views is a direct attack on Enlightenment principles. Enlightenment values are under sustained attack in overt ways all around the world. The fact that the "safe space" phenomenon is happening in supposed bastions of education and enlightenment, Universities and Schools, makes the situation even more disheartening.
What's more worrying, however, is that this phenomenom may mean we are weaker against more overt attacks on Enlightenment values. "Safe spaces" may result in creating a generation of people who are less apt at challenging and defeating bigoted views. Ergo, if your goal is to rid the world of intolerance, ignorance and bigotry, so called "safe spaces" may create the very world you have sought to eradicate.
Revenge porn is an issue the law has been slow to catch up with. In my opinion, the law should be changed to allow those convicted of distributing revenge porn to be put on the Sex Offender Register. This requires further clarification of the distinction between legal and illegal pornography.
If the individuals in explicit films or photographs do not consent to having the material published, even if he or she consented for the material to be made for another purpose, then it should be classified as illegal pornography. Illegal pornography should also include incidents where material has been accessed through devices without the explicit consent of the individual who owns the device and the participants in the explicit material.
To those of a more socially conservative leaning, all pornography is of the same ilk. These individuals must not be allowed to frame the debate. Revenge porn is by definition a form of pornography that lacks an element of consent. It is a very different thing from pornography that has been legally and consensually made. Until revenge porn is illegal it continues to demean the status of consenting pornographic performers.
Unless pornographic performers give their explicit consent for the material to be made and distributed then it should not be legal. In addition to the issue of consent, the mens rea behind revenge porn is to cause harm. There has been too much debate over which current laws apply to revenge porn but as someone who has followed this issue the only conclusion I can draw is that new laws should be made to deal with a new crime.
If you were to harm another individual sexually without their consent you would be put on the Sex Offender Register. Deliberately making and distributing pornography of individuals who can't consent, e.g. children, lands you on the Sex Offender Register. It is logically consistent to make creating and distributing pornography of people who don't consent an act worthy of being put on the Sex Offender Register as well.
Commentary originally written and published in 2014.