Don’t Fight Ignorance with Ignorance

Imogen Clarke recommends keeping an open mind in times of crisis.

The phrase “ignorance is bliss” is arguably one of the most moronic and dangerous expressions on this planet. Ignorance is primarily what led to Brexit. Ignorance is what has left us with an imminent Trump leadership. Ignorance sunk the world economy in 2008. This ignorance, and our willingness to be ignorant, is why the human race apparently can’t seem to stop fucking up recently.

But what do we do about this ignorance?

Well, the students at the City University of London have decided to tackle the ignorance problem by banning The Sun, The Daily Mail and The Express from its campus due to the xenophobic and sexist content they allegedly print and promote. An admirable gesture, but a complete mistake.

What is this ban really going to accomplish? Students have laptops and smartphones and ready access to the internet (assuming eduroam is functioning) and these articles are readily available online. The mere idea of a “ban” itself is enough to make people want to read more. We like what’s forbidden and we can’t help it. By banning these newspapers, the university has probably just increased their readership.

Photo: City University
Photo: City University

You see, the major problem with this whole ignorance problem is education. I don’t mean education as in that thing that occurs in a classroom or a lecture hall; education occurs everywhere at every moment in everyone’s lives. It’s what we hear on the radio, see on the TV and yes, even read in an article. It’s the conversations at bars or at bus stops. It’s those people standing up against the prejudices and bigotry we see around us every day. How can we be educated if things are hidden from us? We need to read and witness these things to know what we’re up against, to know the arguments and the gaping flaws within them. As they say, know your enemy.

Understandably there has been outcry at this university over the decision, but less than 200 of the 19,500 students turned up to vote in the meeting where the motion was passed. For a university with a very respected school of journalism, which also sends many graduates to work for the banned publications in some capacity, this is pretty damn shocking. Yet another case, much like Brexit, where people have buried their heads until it’s too late, and then complain when they can no longer do anything about it.

So, consider this a warning. To all of you who bury your heads and ignore any issues outside of your own personal bubble, to any of you who refuse to read or watch ‘lower class’ material just because you disagree with it, and most of all to any of you who do and say nothing when you see or hear prejudice, EDUCATE YOURSELVES. If you know both sides of the argument, you might be able to help educate others who don’t, and show them that the xenophobia / homophobia / sexism they cling to is truly, utterly wrong.

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