Tuesday, June 26, 2018
A Thoughtful Article
Despite an overwhelming bias against those on the right, this article in the New Yorker, is quite good; long, but good. If you have the time, you should read it. If you can't, I'll try to take on the problem the author thinks he's discovered. It's generally about blocking right wing speakers from Free Speech Movement U Cal Berkeley. From the big finish of the article, otherwise pretty rich in common sense from the likes of Carol Christ and Erwin Chemerinsky:
But I don’t think it’s beyond us to say, on the one hand, that everyone has a right to express their views, and, on the other hand, that a political provocateur may not use a university campus as his personal playground, especially if it bankrupts the university. At some point, when some enormous amount of money has been spent, it has to be possible to say, O.K. Enough.The author is quoting Wendy Brown, about whom I know nothing.
The central take this article champions is a balancing test: The righteousness of allowing all to speak versus the harm some offensive speech, like the Westboro Baptist Church placards, will cause.
Most of us who have studied the Constitution, paying particular attention to the First Amendment, think that the righteousness of allowing all to speak completely overwhelms hurting someone's feelings. Indeed, that is precisely what the Supreme Court said in Snyder v. Phelps, a recent case upholding the right to make very offensive statements.
The author includes a quote from professor john powell (an ee cummings non-punctuation, non-capital use fan) that the psychological damage from offensive speech including "stereotype threat and trauma and P.T.S.D." is a much more major concerns than mere hurt feelings.
But that exaggeration of damage (PTSD from hearing Milo Yainnopouls? Please) is at the root of the left's desire to chip away at the First Amendment's protection in order to prevent hurt feelings. The left seem to ignore what good comes from hearing ideas outside your comfort zone, especially way outside it.
But back to Ms. Brown talking about Berkeley's having to pay so much money for protecting the right-wing speakers from violent protesters as a factor to be balanced against the good of free speech. Here's the question the article never covers and which never appears to have even been contemplated by anyone on the left quoted therein.
Why does the left feel it can violently stop the right from speaking? Doesn't that fascist thinking stem directly from lefty teaching, like what you no doubt get at Berkeley? Aren't the left leaning Berkeley types complaining about the current reality, having to pay the cost of physically defending right thinking speakers from lefty violence and the "hecklers' veto," which reality is a direct result of left leaning Berkeley types' advocated ideas? That's some non-Alanis Morissette type irony, right there.
I'll leave the last word for Candace Owens, whom I'm beginning to like a lot lately, responding to an unsuccessful attempt to silence her:
“Antifa, if you really take a look at their platform, they seem to be the ones that are the white supremacists,” Owens said. “They feel like their ideas are so supreme to everybody else’s that they have the right to boycott, to be violent.”