A Sci-Fi Story About Speech Safety, Only It’s True

Over in England, there’s this comedic television host named Jonathan Ross. Apparently, he’s a polarizing figure because he has at times made humorous quips about women and their amble frames. After being named the host of this year’s Hugo Awards which honor science-fiction writing, the sci-fi world was up in arms with concerns about…”safety.”

Novelist Charles Stross wrote:

“Worldcon should be safe space for fans, and inviting a high profile media personality who has been targeted by the tabloids is going to cause collateral damage, even if nothing happens, simply by making many fans feel less safe,” wrote Stross. “If Ross is toastmaster, I can predict that at least one major Hugo nominee/past winner [McGuire] who was planning to be there won’t be present at the ceremony, because Ross has past form for using women with weight issues as the butt [Ed. – irony anyone?] of his humour. She says she doesn’t feel safe, and I believe her: I wouldn’t want to be there in her shoes … I don’t like seeing my friends mocked, so I probably won’t be there either.”

It’s the use of this word “safe” that drew my interest. While this isn’t necessarily a new argument in the realm of free speech when we’re talking about so-called “hate speech” or speech that supposedly “incites violence,” I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the new buzzword for the progressive left as they try to, as John Dingell puts it, “control the people.” We’ll hear soon that people don’t “feel safe” when Rush Limbaugh is playing on the radio or when Glenn Beck is speaking at a rally in their town or what have you. Take it to the bank.

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