It was bound to happen sooner or later: a college banned “Blurred Lines” from campus for being too rapey-sounding.
The student union of University of Edinburgh banned the Robin Thicke song as part of a policy called “End Rape Culture & Lad Banter On Campus,” which is seeking to make the campus safer sexually. Students apparently became aware of the song after it was played by a school DJ last weekend, who was instructed by a campus employee to “fade” the song.
A student vice president told the music site NME in a statement:
“The decision to ban ‘Blurred Lines’ from our venues has been taken as it promotes an unhealthy attitude towards sex and consent. EUSA has a policy on zero tolerance towards sexual harrassment, a policy to end lad culture on campus and a safe space policy – all of which this song violates.”
This is totally going overboard. Intelligent people wildly disagree about the interpretation of “Blurred Lines”‘ lyrics, because the supposed “danger” of the song is unclear. It’s not as if Robin Thicke himself is making rape threats or other direct intentions of violence.
Generally speaking, the best way to counteract speech we don’t like is not to censor it, but to point out why we find it problematic (and perhaps restrict it to age-appropriate outlets, which I think college kids are in this case). I’m disappointed the students couldn’t be more thoughtful about this. Perhaps instead of banning “Blurred Lines” from campus, they could have held a debate about whether the song should be banned anywhere. This censorship just makes the whole student union at the University of Edinburgh look silly.
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