no platform or no democracy - no platform or no democracy?...

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no platform or no democracy? new statesman , 6 september 1996 Are black people less intelligent than whites? And should people be censored for saying they are? These were the twin themes of a discussion that should have taken place in Edinburgh last month, when the city's Cyberia Internet cafe invited Marek Kohn, author of The Race Gallery , and me to debate with the Edinburgh University psychologist Christopher Brand. Brand hit the headlines earlier this year when his book T he g-Factor was withdrawn by its publisher, John Wiley, after the author described himself as a 'scientific racist'. Brand considers himself a disciple of Francis Galton, the 19th-century eugenicist. For Brand, intelligence is a natural property, and different social and racial groups possess different amounts of the stuff. The debate, unfortunately, went the way of the book: after the local Anti-Nazi League threatened to disrupt the meeting, it was cancelled. According to the ANL, its actions had denied Brand a platform for his racist views. Otherwise, one of the protest organisers explained, people might have gone away believing what he said. This suggests a striking lack of confidence in the ANL's ability to persuade an audience to an alternative viewpoint, not to mention a certain contempt for people's capacity to consider the evidence rationally. It also illustrates the increasingly fraught nature of the debate about the limits of free speech in a pluralist society. The notion that there should be restrictions on what may be said about race is a specifically postwar idea. The experience of Nazism and the Holocaust persuaded western policy-makers that certain forms of racial argument were taboo. In most western nations the taboos were institutionalised through race relations or the civil rights legislation of the sixties and seventies. The radical equivalent of such legislation was the strategy of 'no platform for racists and fascists' which emerged in the late seventies. There has always been an ambiguity about policies which made an offence of incitement to racial hatred, or which tried to deny a
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This note was uploaded on 10/16/2011 for the course ENGLISH 101 taught by Professor Parkin during the Summer '11 term at Wilfred Laurier University .

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no platform or no democracy - no platform or no democracy?...

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