No Safe Spaces, a documentary from Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla, opened in Phoenix last Friday, bringing in over $45,000 while showing on one screen. That’s the second-highest box office total for a documentary playing at one theater.
Prager and Carolla make an unlikely pairing, which the documentary spends some time showing who they are and events from their early lives. Prager is a conservative radio host and author of books such as The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism and The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Path to Follow. He also founded PragerU, which produces five-minute videos about social, political and moral issues, and works to advance Judeo-Christian values.
Carolla, on the other hand, is a comedian, actor and radio and podcast host who comes from a more rough-and-tumble background, growing up with a single mom on food stamps and welfare. But they both oppose the attacks on free thought and free speech that they see happening across America. They warn that such intolerance of opposing ideas is spreading.
No Safe Spaces exposes this loss of intellectual freedom and open dialogue by focusing first on examples from college campuses. “Safe spaces,” from the title, is a term given to show that a group or place is “safe” – especially for individuals who consider themselves marginalized and in need of extra care and protection.
The concept is very important to many students today, and it’s morphed into the idea that a person who introduces challenging concepts or ideas is making a campus “unsafe.” As a result, some students refuse to consider or even listen to ideas that are contrary to what they’ve learned from the media, educators and their surrounding environment. Keeping themselves safe on campus means shutting down others’ free speech.
Ironically, the students sometimes turn violent in order to keep their campus free and safe from differing viewpoints. Conservative and Christian speakers are often targeted as unsafe. Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson, who speak at colleges despite violent demonstrations, are both featured in the film. By way of example, the documentary shows the University of California-Berkeley spending an estimated $600,000 on police and concrete barriers for a speech Shapiro gave where opponents threatened violence.
Isabella Chow’s story is also depicted in the documentary. She’s the Christian student from Berkeley who abstained from voting on a student senate resolution that violated her beliefs. The Department of Health and Human Services had restored the legal definition of “sex” in Title IX to mean biological sex, being male or female. Students opposed this and wanted the definition to include a variety of “genders,” such as transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals.
Despite responding graciously and kindly to the resolution, Chow endured anger, calls for her resignation and vicious comments from other students who were aggressively promoting transgender ideology. In a recent interview, Chow said she was kicked out of campus organizations and shunned by fellow students for articulating her biblical views on marriage and sexuality.
The film explores other examples of campuses shutting down free speech and interviews a variety of academics, actors, comedians and members of the media about the assault on the free exchange of ideas in America. Prager and Carolla also have published a book with the same title.
In addition to Phoenix, No Safe Spaces will show in San Diego and Denver November 1, and will broaden to more screens around the country November 8.
Photo from No Safe Spaces