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One of the most beautiful things about free speech is not that it merely allows to express good ideas, it also allows us to hear bad ideas. When the public is exposed to bad ideas, the public will bring their judgement in full force. Bad ideas are criticised, ridiculous ideas are ridiculed and through this process, society improves. When it comes to speech, sunlight is, indeed, the best disinfectant.

My home city of Cape Town has hosted a wonderful example of this.

An event advertised on Facebook has recently gone viral due to its exclusion of ‘CisHet men’ (see Martin van Staden’s article for the full description). The event was subject to enormous trolling and the concept, name and rules were mocked mercilessly. The event was shared by multiple people and has now become well-known in some South African online circles.  It is not famous, it is infamous.

I will not speak of my own views regarding this event, however, I do think that it is a wonderful example of what happens when an idea, which the public sees as being bad, is well and truly exposed. In order for the event owners to be successful, they needed to advertise the event and they did so in this case by having a Facebook event page which was open to the public. The public saw this as a result, and merciless mockery and trolling followed.

As mentioned above, this is how society improves: Good ideas are praised and bad ones are shunned and ideas which are just ridiculous are subject to ridicule. It should come as little surprise that in a society which is against discrimination, discrimination or exclusion will be criticised. The same could go for anything else on the event page, from the original title ‘Men are Trash’ to the absurd spelling of the word ‘womxn.’ No bad idea is safe from indignation, criticism, or ridicule.

SEE ALSO: Good and bad ideas by Nicholas Woode-Smith

This is one of the greatest reasons why it’s important to protect freedom of expression, which includes expression of bad, bigoted or otherwise unpleasant ideas. When these ideas are made illegal, they are driven underground, away from the light of public. These ideas are then effectively ‘protected’ against their own fate as the public simply cannot lay judgement on them. For this reason, it’s as important to protect the ability to express bad ideas, as it is to express good ideas. More speech is almost always better than less speech, and this event is a prime example.

It’s for these reasons that I support the organisers of this event to have any exclusionary policy they like. They will do so at their own intellectual peril.

  • Harald Sitta

    10 years ago a satire ..today a reality! ga-ga they go!!

  • CapeCol

    This article is nothing but a cis het white male who is telling readers, without any effort to engage the issues, that other cis het white men being offended is somehow sufficient evidence that an event for womxn is a bad idea. That is not sufficient evidence, its confirmation bias.

    You just prove the point, as do all the men who were offended, that so fragile is the male ego, so entrenched is patriarchy, that we all think we own and set the terms for what is good, bad, reasonable and unreasonable. This article is not “rational”, it is just a gross display of white male privilege and fragility, not to mention ignorance of issues faced by womxn. It is a poorly disguised attempt at setting the terms on which womxn can engage amongst themselves.

    On “womxn”: again, you offer no rational argument, no deconstruction of the reasons behind this terms existence and use, you just offer a sweeping statement dismissing the term as absurd. What a luxury to believe that you hold such a high standard of rational thought that you don’t even need to offer explanations of your forgone conclusions.

    As a fellow Rondebosch graduate, I am disgusted that this is the quality of thinking and self-reflection being produced by the school. Check your privilege, mate.

    • Seikilon

      The idea’s absurdity is enough that it really shouldn’t need explaining. Still, what would you think of an event exclusively for white men? Would outrage over that be because of “fragility” and a desire to oppress?
      This ideology which disguises itself with Feminism’s name is sexist and regressive because it obsesses over gender and sex instead of moving past it.