Should extremists be banned from public discussion platforms?



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Should extremists be banned from public discussion platforms? 3

Calls to no-platform controversial figures have come to the fore in recent years, as the world experiences a rising tide of populism, theocratisation, and alt-right movements. Though many claim that refusing to host extremist speakers jeopardises freedom of speech, some media outlets, university unions, and debating organisations stand by their bans, especially with regard to Islamists who are often tied to anti-Semitism.

Those in favour of no-platforming argue that inviting representatives of extreme religious or socio-political views only ends up giving them mainstream legitimacy. In the wake of far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s highly controversial Remembrance Day appearance on the Andrew Marr Show in the UK, or the WikiLeaks revelations that the US Democratic Party sought to promote extremist Republican figures on the mistaken assumption they’d discredit themselves, there is a growing correlation between influential airtime and the rise once-fringe currents that have proven detrimental to harmonious communal relations - as shown by the spike in hate crimes. But the risk of no-platforming for liberals is that the banned figures gain traction and sympathy as “victims” or “outsider” figures, whose messages of truth are being censored by the establishment. Should opinions from every degree of the political spectrum be given equal and free airing? Are some views just too extreme? And how should democratic systems aspiring to political balance manage fringe entities?

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