"Safe Spaces" and "check your privilege"

I have often maligned political correctness, and I have been especially critical of the concept of “safe spaces” from ideas and opinions one does not like. I also have little use for the “check your privilege” meme. That said, I am going to defend the concept of both “safe spaces” and “check your privilege” here, while disagreeing with the way they are implemented by Leftists.

First, “safe spaces” is one that is easy to defend as a general concept. Everyone has a “safe space” in his life. For example, my home is a safe space. I expect to take a great deal of criticism out in the world for my political activism, and in fact I often thrive on it. But if someone is in my home and insults me, they will be expected to be respectful or they will be asked to leave. Even conservatives who attack “safe spaces” most harshly will demand respect in their own homes. If we attend a Bible-believing church, we expect that church will be a “safe space” from heresy and false religions.

Obviously, the way Leftists on college campuses implement “safe spaces” is absurd. I am not defending the implementation of that concept by the Left. I am merely pointing out that we all have “safe spaces.”

“Check your privilege” is problematic, but there is some merit to the concept. Growing up as a middle class white man, I may not fully understand the perspective of someone who has a vastly different background. It is often useful to consider why someone who has a vastly different life experience has a different perspective. It may not change the way I think about something, but it never hurts to have more information or to consider other world views when forming your opinion on an issue.

Where “check your privilege” fails, obviously, is when it is used to justify moral relativism or to engage in utterly silly forms of censorship. There are certain moral standards that should be universal no matter someone’s background, and “privilege” does not change the applicability of that standard. Furthermore, the value of free speech does not change because one person has “privilege” that another person does not have.

So what is the point? The point is that there are many times we need to re-examine what we think, and we may find we have more common ground than we thought we did.

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