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Free Speech for Me But Not For Thee

 

My favorite liberal, Nat Hentoff, takes aim at the campus brownshirts seeking to eradicate free speech:

Hostility to the exercise of free speech on American college campuses is nothing new. But what happened at Yale University, the University of Missouri and other colleges over the past two weeks is something new and frightening. The suppression of speech in academia has begun to spiral out of control.

Nicholas Christakis is a professor at Yale who lives with his wife in a student residence hall on campus. An internationally renowned physician and sociologist, Dr. Christakis was surrounded by dozens of angry students who showered him with curses and threats. Dr. Christakis’ offense? He refused to publicly apologize for his wife’s email that defended free speech and urged tolerance of offensive Halloween costumes.

Greg Lukianoff, the President of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), was on the Yale campus to attend a free speech symposium and witnessed the incident. In the video Lukianoff posted on FIRE’s website, Christakis appears on the verge of being physically assaulted.

“Nicholas addressed the crowd for more than an hour, even after it became clear that nothing short of begging for forgiveness would satisfy them,” Lukianoff wrote in The Washington Post. “I’ve witnessed some intense campus disputes during my 14 years fighting for free speech, but nothing like this.”

The next evening — at a William F. Buckley, Jr. Program conference on free speech that had been planned months in advance — Greg Lukianoff’s speech was interrupted by a student who rushed the podium, shouting, before he was dragged out of the building by campus police. Attendees then braved a gauntlet of angry Yale students who cursed and ridiculed them. The Yale Daily News reported that “several attendees were spat on as they left.”

At the University of Missouri, a student photographer freelancing for ESPN was confronted by a mob of angry anti-racism protesters who tried to eject him from the public commons area where they had gathered. After he refused to leave, the students begin a coordinated effort to both psychologically and physically intimidate the reporter into leaving.

The protesters subjected him to intense ridicule, sometimes chanting in unison, as they gradually forced him backwards. They then began to falsely accuse the reporter of the very conduct that they themselves were directing against him.

MU’s student body vice president later tried to justify the students’ self-imposed restrictions on the press during an interview on MSNBC. She suggested that the First Amendment “creates a hostile and unsafe learning environment.”

Go here to read the rest.  Hentoff is a true liberal.  Over his long life he has always defended free speech, whether he loved what was being said or hated it.  Unfortunately he has become a rare bird on the portside of our politics.  The common response to criticism among leftists today in this country is to attempt to howl it down, ban it or criminalize it.  Among very young leftists a majority embrace this, even while they chant “tolerance”.  This country is headed for some very rough times if these budding red fascists continue down the very dark path they are treading.  However, even more troubling is the majority of people who see all this, shrug and stay silent as others are silenced.  Free speech dies when a majority of people are simply too foolish or lazy, or both, to recognize what a special right they are surrendering.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

32 Comments

  1. Soul disfigurement.

    The souls of these students are dark and unrecognizable. The venom spills out.
    Hatred is their opponents disorder, not thier’s.
    They are so engrossed with their own viewpoint being the ONLY correct one that they can not see the hatred they harbor and unleash on others.

    Frightening!

    I’m in the middle of the Miraculous Medal Novena. St. Kolbe used these “silver bullets,” as he called them, to cut through the stain of darkness and remedy the disordered soul by Mary’s pure hands. She will lead that soul back to the Sacraments.

    Have a handful of these sacramental’s, blessed of course, in your pocket or purse.
    The Holy Spirit will open the door to bring the bullet into the target.

  2. The notion of “Repressive tolerance” is not new. It goes back at least to Herbert Marcuse’s 1965 essay of that name and similar ideas were expressed by Felix Dzerzhinsky at the time of the Russian Revolution.
    Marcuse argues that tolerance which enlarges the range of freedom is an end in itself but it has always been partisan and intolerant toward the protagonists of the repressive status quo. For him, the issue is only the degree and extent of this intolerance.
    Hence, “Liberating tolerance, then, would mean intolerance against movements from the Right and toleration of movements from the Left. As to the scope of this tolerance and intolerance: … it would extend to the stage of action as well as of discussion and propaganda, of deed as well as of word.”
    Marcuse justifies this privileging and protection of radicalism on the Left on historical grounds: left leaning revolutionary movements are driven “from below’” by the masses in a fight against injustice while radical right movements are drive from above by the ruling classes and only result in further repression and control.
    This is what Alain Badiou, the Grand Old Man of the French Left means, with his ridicule of those who want a “decaffeinated revolution – 1789 without 1793” and his insistence that “if you say A – equality, human rights and freedoms – you should not shirk from its consequences and gather the courage to say B – the terror needed to really defend and assert the A.”

  3. Marcuse is an idiot. Mao, Stalin, and all the other dictators of the left laugh in his face. And the tens of millions of those from the people down below never drove anything but were driven to gulag, torture and execution.

  4. Prof. Alan Charles Kors (emiritus at Penn) had this to say: “I confess to Schadenfreude. I’m watching the Red Guards go after the zealots and apparatchiks who taught them.”. Dr. Kors put in considerable time in largely fruitless efforts to improve campus climates regarding discussions of public affairs (among other things, helping found the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education).

    The problem we face is that the Bourbons who run academe are perfectly satisfied with their performance and fancy that the role of the rest of society is to keep the money flowing without any annoying oversight. The legal profession manifest in our repulsive judiciary is commonly willing to run interference for them. The state legislatures are usually otiose and the trustees lickspittles of the Bourbons and concerned only with edifices, sports, budgetry, and public relations. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it is.

  5. One thing that gets you is the complete failure of adult authority. The yo-yos who run these places are emotionally incapable of impartial administration of behavioral norms (see the recent mess at Dartmouth). The adults at all these institutions are failing to do the one thing the rest of us can reliably do for the young: to help them put their problems and discontents into perspective,. In fact, a critical mass of those adults are encouraging these youths to play the self-centered, histrionic, borderline nightmare. These youths have an artificial language to describe the artificial feelings with which these adults have equipped them. It is a scandal.

  6. The common response to criticism among leftists today in this country is to attempt to howl it down, ban it or criminalize it.

    That’s the rabble’s job. The faculty and administration traffick in sophistry, evasion, and pretense.

    Maybe some of the lawyers here adept at rapidly parsing other lawyers’ canny verbiage might have some spare time to put their skills to work on a distillation of this man’s prolix intervention: https://blogs.swarthmore.edu/burke/ . My eyes glazed over pretty quickly.

  7. Scratch the thin veneer of schmooze and liberal swear-words (unjust, unfair, racist, homophobe, climate change, polluter, fundamentalist, Christian) and you will find a fascist. Treat them accordingly. The only logical response is “Screw you.”
    .

    “At the core of liberalism is the spoiled child — miserable, as all spoiled children are, unsatisfied, demanding, ill-disciplined, despotic and useless. Liberalism is a philosophy of sniveling brats.”

    P. J O’Rourke
    .

    “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
    George Orwell

    .

  8. Hold on a second. Let’s not pretend that the email incident was the sole catalyst for this outrage. A Yale fraternity hosted a “White Girls Only” party and a woman of color entry into said party. Also, cultural appropriation in the form of Halloween costumes is actually ubiquitous in college campuses. These are problems that shouldn’t be silenced in the name of free speech. I agree that Yale and Mizzou students are going too far with their demands. But a lot of colleges, such as my own, are engaging in dialogue with one another to fix these racial issues.

  9. Kids no longer hear there old phrase “Stick and stones may break by bones, but words will never hurt me.” Of course words can hurt, but we should teach our kids to have thicker skins and not gain all their self worth from what others say or think about them. The source of some of this crazy is that this idea is now passé. We teach our delicate snowflakes that authority figures are there to protect them from any kind of pain or discomfort, mild insults and unintended slights included.

  10. Chairman Mao would be proud of the Cultural Revolution 2.0 ….actually quite funny. The monsters that left wing academia has created over the last few generations are finally going to turn on them and devour them. Like Kerensky and the Bolsheviks . A little justice maybe ?

  11. T Shaw quoted George Orwell, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”
    This called to mind an anecdote of Wittgenstein, recounted to me by Miss Anscombe. Wittgenstein reflected on the shrewdness of Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, in replacing the traditional Arabic script with the Roman alphabet and also the elimination of Arabic and Persian loan-words. This reform, introduced in 1928 for school text-books and all official and public communications, including the press, was backed up by the 1934 law on copyright.
    Wittgenstein remarked that within a generation, the population would be completely severed from its past; for them, their national story, its religion, literature and culture would exist only in officially approved text-books; a propaganda coup far beyond anything attempted by the Bolsheviks or the Nazis.
    Newspeak indeed.

  12. “We teach our delicate snowflakes that authority figures are there to protect them….”

    The idea is to give them a pat on the head, and a puppy biscuit when they are being obedient. And, never forget–the single goal is to establish obedience.

  13. @Ernst Schreiber Sorry, not trying to sound condescending or uninformed. I just know students of color who legitimately don’t feel safe on our campus through no fault of their own. Most of these kids aren’t loudmouths or bullies at all, despite what the media would have you believe.

  14. @Ernst Schreiber No, they aren’t the ones who need to grow up. It’s the white kids throwing “Around the World” parties drinking themselves into a stupor and and captioning the photos they take of themselves with immature jokes about green cards. That’s just one example from my college. Why should they get a repreive? Why criticize minority students who just want to expose these issues, and why ignore the ones actually causing them? Because the ones getting the most media attention are too radical? I don’t understand why all social activist students of color deserve your scorn.

  15. That’s just one example from my college. Why should they get a repreive? Why criticize minority students who just want to expose these issues,

    Because the ‘issues’ are unimportant and do not implicate public officials.

  16. Unimportant, eh? My mistake then, how foolish of me, I’m so naive, etc. I feel like I’m shouting in a vacuum here. The kids I know don’t want to implicate public officials. They see it as a student body issue. They want to work with the administrative resources at their disposal, not oppose them. I agree with you all that the Yale and Mizzou activists were in the wrong. But their behavior shouldn’t be representative of the norm on college campuses.

  17. I dunno. I put three young men through university. They never had any issue such as this.
    .
    There is a Constitutional right to free speech and association. That right is operative to the point of inciting violence or property destruction.
    .
    There is no Constitutional right to outrage at another’s free speech.
    .

    Similar to gay privilege nonsense, I don’t care what the campus party crowd does or says in their 3AM drunken bacchanals, and over-sensitive minority students shouldn’t, either.
    .
    They should concentrate on their studies because aren’t as qualified as the rest of the student body. I were a voterin Missouri, I would write my elected representative and habve the state U system defunded.
    .

  18. To reiterate, I am as much in favor of free speech rights as all of you. “Overly sensitive” or not, however, there are students who feel ostracized and can only find solace in their respective racial communities. Many young black women have to ask other students not to touch their hair multiple times. A certain portion of our dining hall has been called “Cafrica.” I have been in a room, during an enlightening discussion open to the public, where all minority students could do while talking about their problems with race is cry. And you would argue that they should just focus on their studies? I know a Latina student who has reduced others to tears with her powerful rhetoric. She is a talented spoken word poet. This same student is incredibly shy and reserved, doesn’t party like crazy, and has been recognized by our college for her academic work. Yet she still feels unsafe on campus. Should I just go up to her, tell her her problems are unimportant, accuse her of being too sensitive, and remind her of those privileged drunks’ First Amendment rights? She doesn’t want to silent dissenters. She just wants to stand up to these bullies. I’m confused by the lack of sympathy on this forum.

  19. Unimportant, eh? My mistake then, how foolish of me, I’m so naive, etc. I feel like I’m shouting in a vacuum here. The kids I know don’t want to implicate public officials. They see it as a student body issue. They want to work with the administrative resources at their disposal, not oppose them. I agree with you all that the Yale and Mizzou activists were in the wrong. But their behavior shouldn’t be representative of the norm on college campuses.

    Yes, unimportant. No society is so carefully policed that it can protect you from insults and banal social friction. The effort to do so will have costs out the back end. The three complaints at the University of Missouri concerned trivia. The complaints about ‘microaggression’ are offered because there are no macroaggressions (or any aggressions at all to someone not a social ideologue).

    This may come as a surpirse to you, but about 55% of the personnel at baccalaureate granting institutions in this country are public employees. At associate’s granting institutions, it’s north of 95%. That aside, it’s not the job of the dean of students to save you from petty interpersonal conflicts or personal embarrassment. You’re going to have to handle that yourself, as you will and you must the rest of your life.

  20. there are students who feel ostracized and can only find solace in their respective racial communities.

    ‘Feelings’ are not necessarily reasonable and are not their own justification. People around you should reflect reality back at you and give you some toughlove when you might benefit from it.

    You haven’t called attention to the simplest explanation for all this: reversal of fortune. Here you have moderately competent high school students thrown into a situation where they’re having academic problems because they did not have the preparation for the pacing, and they did not have the preparation because they were given mulligans in the admissions process. Why do you suppose a mess of black militants invaded the college library at Dartmouth and made a godawful nuisance of themselves to people who were doing nothing other than studying? Why mightn’t the library be a poignant locus?

    And you haven’t called attention to another source of this: adolescent narcissism harbored by youths who’ve been lied to and told they’re Special when they are ordinary. So, when they’re treated like they’re ordinary, they’re disoriented. The sheer effrontery of a mess of these complaints suggests this. Prudent men do not throw rubbing alcohol on open flames.

  21. Fair enough. You’re right. College kids shouldn’t be coddled and have to learn to deal with adversity. All I’m saying is the rhetoric that black student activists are militant leftists isn’t what I’ve been observing on my campus.

  22. A recent poll by pew said 40% of my fellow 18-34 year olds favor government censorship of offensive speech. This is bad…REALLY BAD. I mean, I suppose I should be glad that’s not technically a majority. But it should NOT be that high!

  23. In his “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”, Robert Bork warned that America would be taken over by barbarians and that these would be our own children.

  24. I don’t understand why all social activist students of color deserve your scorn.

    I scorn the white ones too, when their activism revolves around juvenalia, like playing dress-up on halloween, or wallowing in hurt feewings.

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