Safe space… or ethical space?

Safe space. Brave space. Positive space. I’m wondering: what is an ethical space? Would an ethical space be synonymous with a safe space? Why or why not?

Willie Ermine proposes that the “idea of an ethical space, produced by contrasting perspectives of the world…triggers a dialogue that begins to set the parameters for an agreement to interact modeled on appropriate, ethical and human principles.”

The resentment levied at the safe space movement is often characterized by criticisms about protecting a narrow limit of perspectives to the exclusion of counter or divergent ideas. Safe spaces, the argument goes, curtail the free speech of opposing views, infantilizes those in the space, and turns the rest of the world into a trigger-filled danger zone.

Advocates of safe space retort by arguing that the world is structurally, systemically, and physically more dangerous for some populations than it is for others. Carving out broader places in society to acknowledge each other’s experiences and openly express one’s identity without facing a barrage of anger, insults, and assaults is a right protected by the freedom of association, no less than the freedom of expression.

So what would an ethical space look like to you? Would an ethical space shut its inhabitants out to every variant viewpoint? Would an ethical space allow its inhabitants to be ridiculed for acknowledging or declaring partial or unequal treatment? Do you think a debate about the ethical landscape and properties of a space help refocus the broader safe space debate?

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