Harvard Writer So Passionate to Save Liberalism…

she is adamant that free speech must be crushed in order to preserve it.

The Leftist itch for tyranny is always so hilariously un-self-aware. Righties, when they go off the deep end into Dark Enlightment crap, know that they have to cloak their language in pseudo-scientific euphemism like “human biodiversity” to create a sufficient smokescreen to get a hearing.

But Lefties, when they go nuts, are so full of the sin of pride that they don’t even bother with euphemism. They just come right out and say stuff like “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice” (justice meaning the triumph of what the Lefty says is just).

Ironically, the example the editorial linked above uses to justify crushing free speech is precisely the racists who think that alleged differences in IQ between various ethnicities somehow mean something crucial about human dignity. I think this movement vile and pernicious. But I also think that the stupidest way in the world to oppose it is embrace the Leftist tyranny of crushing free speech.

The Thing That Used to Be Liberalism is as dangerous and antithetical to the Faith as the Thing that Used to Be Conservatism. The reason we go to the desert with Christ is to escape *all* the gods of Egypt, not just the ones we don’t happen to like.

  • CrustyNatsFan

    That Harvard writer certainly has some serious intellectual cobwebs that need to be cleaned out. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that this Harvard writer is an undergraduate. So while I agree that any ideology taken to its extreme leads to stupidity and sin, this particular example does not seem to a indicate any broader movement against free speech on college campuses. Whatever is shunned today, will be counter-cultural and cool tomorrow. I also know I would not want to be associated with many of the political views and opinions I put forth in my undergraduate paper, many of which I wrote just to piss liberals off and generate readership. I can’t help to think there might not be some of that going on here. Her article certainly has generated a lot of traffic. Regardless, I hope that student opens her mind and learns a thing or two about diversity.

    • Almario Javier

      Right. Professors, even the most liberal ones, tend to be more tolerant of dissenting opinion than undergrads. Undergrads (I was one once) seem to have this idealistic streak of letting everything go to hell if it means their narrow ideology (because it’s the right ideology) will win. It’s the same phenomenon which tends to make young people into some of the most fanatical soldiers (there’s a reason this age group is the one historically favored as cannon fodder, because they’re so willing to die for the Cause).

  • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

    Aaa, this just means what we’ve known all along: Classical Liberalism can only be a contingent attitude towards certain tolerable positions. It cannot be the metaphysical foundation of human society.

    The elites in our society (on the right and the left) have been pretending that you could make a society based on CL. Now everyone’s discovering that that’s just stupid.

  • Andy

    I listened to what some of the undergraduates I taught said when they were undergraduates and then see them later and their faces are red when I ask about their views. We all grow up in one way or another and I doubt that many, perhaps none of us, want to be seen as that same callow youth we once were. I moved from radical socialism to being a disciple of Rand to rediscovering my Catholic roots during my undergraduate career. I would be far more concerned if this youngster was still espousing the same views in five or six years.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      The hilarious thing is that she’s more intellectually coherent than the rest of us (19th century popes notwithstanding).

  • Silly Interloper

    Mark, I feel your pain, especially regarding the contradictions inherent to liberalism, but I don’t think you’ve recognized the hamster wheels that are empowering the insanity.

    Here’s the thing, Liberalism puts freedom and equality above all else–including family, justice, and God, among other things. But liberals don’t recognize that such a system is impossible, so they inevitably have to make exceptions for those issues that make them most feel happy about being a liberal. The insanity that drives these unprincipled and horrendous ideologues is undue homage to the superiority of freedom and equality.

    By objecting to any impediment to free speech, you are actually helping the hamsters along to keep those liberal wheels turning, and you are missing that she actually got something right–that is that justice*, in fact, should and must be held above freedom of speech. It is prudent and right (and not liberal) to squelch unjust and abhorrent things from entering into our universities and poisoning our civilization at all levels.

    Sure she got it right for all the wrong reasons, and sure her idea of justice is no doubt warped and harmful, and sure she is being self-contradictory–but, yes, justice (and God and family and truth and morality and so on) should prevail over liberalism, and, if you think about it, you are arguing that justice should NOT prevail over liberalism.

    *I’m mimicking the use of “justice” here for consistency, but “morality” might be a better word in this context.

    • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

      This.

    • http://acatholicviewoftheworld.wordpress.com/ Roki

      The philosophical purpose of speech is to express truth, so it is indeed subject to justice – even justice properly speaking.

      However, our understanding and ability to express truth is limited (by our finite natures) and corrupt (by original and personal sin, as well as by cultural accommodations to sin). Therefore, people of good will can honestly hold different understandings of the same truths, and can sincerely disagree about those truths. Often, honest arguments will both highlight any errors and lead to a fuller understanding of the truth in question, whether it be a matter of physical science or moral action or artistic creation.

      This is the Christian basis of freedom of speech: that there are many areas in which we are not competent to judge someone’s error or injustice so absolutely that we can justly restrict their speech. Only God is final judge of hearts and even of deeds.

      So, freedom of speech is not ultimately absolute; but it is fundamental to fully human discourse, especially in a scholarly setting, so it is unjust to restrict it without dire necessity.

      • Silly Interloper

        This merely shows the modern tendency to grasp with every fiber of one’s being to save liberalism even as it is refuted. By saying it’s not absolute and by agreeing that there are exceptions (“dire necessity”), you are agreeing that it’s not “fundamental to fully human discourse” while contradicting yourself by asserting that it is “fundamental to fully human discourse.” That really just supports the insanity of unprincipled exceptions that Liberalism relies upon to stay alive.

        After all, there are plenty of despicable things in this world that none on this list would allow for serious discussion anywhere, let alone in a university. Once we agree that harmful speech should be curtailed, decisions should be made according to the common good, not by some murky “dire necessity” litmus test that you imagine is possible.

        • http://acatholicviewoftheworld.wordpress.com/ Roki

          I apologize for not being clear: by “dire” necessity, I mean grave necessity, that is, something along the lines of, “I interrupt this debate because the audience hall is on fire. Please evacuate now.”

          The problem with eliminating any topic from serious discussion is that none of us is competent to determine with absolute authority or justice which topics must be excluded. Anyone attempting to wield such authority therefore engages in an unjust act.

          This is why medieval disputationes were far more free and “liberal” than the so-called “liberalism” of the Enlightenment and modern ages which followed. The medieval scholars were perfectly willing to entertain and argue with any position, in the serene confidence that God gave us minds so that we could suss out the truth from the confusion of evidence and multiple points of view.

          • Silly Interloper

            “The problem with eliminating any topic from serious discussion is that none of us is competent to determine with absolute authority or justice which topics must be excluded. Anyone attempting to wield such authority therefore engages in an unjust act.”

            This is just a typical liberal argument against any authority whatsoever. Authority is necessary regardless of your rejection of it (even liberalism relies upon it), and no amount of trashing confidence in authority will change that. No earthly authority is perfect, but if there is no authority (or if there is the self-contradictory authority of liberalism that rejects all authority), then the open promotion of child pornography, for example, becomes fair game. Ultimately your position promotes a path to open child porn among other atrocities. I see no reason to take your irrational appeals to no confidence and your continued support of the liberal ideals to leave things open to child porn or any other intolerable thing in any context.

            The medievals would recognize the incoherence of your liberalism and laugh it out of the public square–and in the meantime they would reject plenty of things that were too evil to consider. By what poor excuse for erudition would you ever be persuaded they would entertain any topic whatsoever? You think they would tolerate the promotion of child pornography?

            • BillyT92679

              That’s the slippery slope fallacy.

              • Silly Interloper

                No it isn’t. Roki has made it clear that free speech must allow all topics. There is no slope to slip on–child porn is fair game by his argument.

                • BillyT92679

                  No, that’s a logic leap.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    “Slippery slope,” “logic leap” — what alliteration will you come up with next in lieu of, you know, actual argument.

            • BillyT92679

              Plus it’s ignoratio elenchi. No one now (outside of the most radical nutjobs, many of whom are actually libertarian rather than liberal, you can use left-libertarian if you wish) is advocating for such an extreme degradation of morality as to allow child pornography.

              Liberalism is ultimately weak because it’s teleological in a secular sense… utopian, which just cannot happen. The Lockean state of nature doesn’t exist. But we shouldn’t necessarily believe a Hobbesian state of nature will, wherein we need a soft authoritarianism to prevent it.

              • Silly Interloper

                Again, no it’s not. Roki is arguing that no arguments should be restricted from free speech (all arguments should be allowed). Arguing for child pornography clearly fits into the set of “all arguments” and is thus one of the things he is arguing for. He may want to adjust his argument to exclude it, but that would just prove my argument. Either way, I did not commit ignoratio elenchi. Continued claims of logical fallacy where there is none is a bit annoying, so I would request that you give the matters more careful scrutiny before throwing them out there.

                • BillyT92679

                  No, you’re arguing horribly.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    If you say so, it must be true. I must spend some time now doing yoga and steeping in introspection about this revelation you have given me. I just hope I haven’t shamed my mother.

                • BillyT92679

                  Roki in NO WAY is opening up an entry point for child pornography, and to even imply it is ridiculous.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    So from your three latest replies I see you have given up on arguing and have resorted to gratuitously asserting the contrary without supporting it. Good luck with that.

            • BillyT92679

              plus who thinks liberals are anti-authoritarian? They’re anti-traditionalists, but they supplement government for religion and other groupings. Anti-authoritarianism is platitudinous liberal-speak against traditional Judeo-Christian norms, it doesn’t mean they don’t love authority.

              Now libertarians are pretty anti-authoritarian, and they present an even bigger concern.

              • Silly Interloper

                In one phrase you plead ignorance about liberals being anti-authority, and a few phrases later you declare that they undermine authority.

                I already stated above that liberals are self-contradictory in that they both rely upon authority and rebel against it, but you are now seem to be saying that they are not self-contradictory when they have authority, but rebel against it too. Very strange.

                • http://acatholicviewoftheworld.wordpress.com/ Roki

                  Wow, step away from the internet for a few hours and see what happens!

                  First, we have to distinguish between speech, particularly public debate, and action. Now, I’m aware that speech is a kind of action; but it is an action with the sole effect of communicating an idea. It is perhaps the most purely intellectual action we commit apart from thought itself.

                  So speech is by its nature a limited action, and this limitation is often recognized and highlighted by conventions such as debate formats or poetic forms.

                  Now, actions other than speech have many practical effects on the world which are inevitable physical effects. Motivation and meaning do not matter in terms of the effect of practical actions, and so they must be regulated by practical means. Indeed, although human authority is not perfect, it is sufficient to keep human society more or less safe and prosperous on a practical level.

                  But the effect of speech is entirely in its meaning, interpretation, motivation, and the logical chain of reasoning. It requires an interpretation from the listener. It requires relationship between persons. Any limitation on speech is, by its very nature, a limitation on relationship between persons. It is, by its very nature, an undermining of the bonds of society – and, ironically enough, of the basis of authority.

                  So, to take up your example, I am in favor of discussing child pornography, including its merits and detriments. I am confident that reasonable people will agree very quickly that its merits are illusory and its detriments severe.

                  I am not in favor of engaging in, or viewing, or distributing, or allowing the distribution of child pornography, exactly because I am convinced that it is a horrific and dehumanizing act.

                  But if we could not talk about child pornography, how could we successfully legislate against it? How could we stop its spread? How could we warn those not well formed in virtue of its dangers?

                  No, we need the freedom to speak and discuss any and all issues, exactly because we require authority to regulate our public actions.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    I hope it isn’t deliberate, but you seem to be willfully avoiding the free speech example that I gave you. The example is not about merely discussing how to deal with child pornography. It is about using “free speech” to publicly and deliberately persuade and promote the creation and use of child pornography. Since you say “we need freedom to speak and discuss any and all issues,” does that include persuasion and promotion to make and use child porn or not?

                    If it does, it is a stark demonstration of what is wrong with your radical liberalism as applied to “freedom of speech,” and there is no way such radicalism should be allowed to completely corrupt our world.

                    If it doesn’t, then you prove my point that there are certain areas of freedom of speech that cannot be tolerated and should be forbidden. Once you’ve proved that point, it’s just a matter of what is reasonable to forbid and what is not reasonable.

                    • http://acatholicviewoftheworld.wordpress.com/ Roki

                      And you seem to be willfully avoiding actually reading what I (or other commenters) write. If you would re-read my comment, you will find that I answer exactly your question.

                      If you want to argue a point, please do yourself a favor: take the effort to understand those you are arguing with.

                    • Silly Interloper

                      I was obviously giving you the benefit of a doubt and, in fact, “taking the effort to understand those I am arguing with” rather than assuming you meant more than you said, so I’m not willfully avoiding anything, and your patronizing comes off as silly snippiness. Misunderstandings are common in blogspace, so I gave you the opportunity to respond to the clarified statement, whether you intended to answer it with the less clear statements you had already made, or not. Your reluctance to say it directly is curious.

                      That being said, I take this last entry of yours as a “yes” — you do, in fact, believe that deliberate persuasion and promotion to create and use child pornography should not be forbidden.

                      And that, my friends, is radically outrageous and abhorrent, not to mention a recipe for destruction.

                      Mark–do you see the fruits of this position you have taken?

    • kenofken

      This country neither needs nor will ever accept thought and speech police. Those who would like to live under systems of government enforced virtue of speech are invited to check out one of our planet’s many fine alternatives such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, China or on special this week: Russia!

      • SteveP

        You are very wrong given the recent SB 1062 in AZ: there can be no talk of religious freedom because that is anti-gay, right? Hate crime statutes indeed criminalize thoughts: the same harm is judged more grievous if the assailant thinks bad thoughts and verbalizes those thoughts while committing the act. Have you any sense whatsoever of the hypocrisy you spout?

        • kenofken

          SB 1062 involved action, not speech or thought. It demanded, for religious people only, an absolute immunity from any law they felt offended their religious sensibilities. It sought to literally suspend the Fourteenth Amendment and 50 years of civil rights laws in Arizona. Religious freedom, as with any others, has never been construed to be absolute. You can believe whatever you want, and worship how you want and express it. When it translates to actions out in the real world, religious expression gets a big presumption of legality in law, but not an unlimited one. The whole swinging of fist and other noses calculation comes into play. For half a century at least, we have concluded that religion is not a good enough reason to refuse public accommodation civil rights laws. There was no new restriction in the death of SB 1062. It was just a reaffirmation of 1965.

          Hate crimes? Again, that’s an area where there is no penalty for expression of thoughts and ideas – even repugnant ones, until it causes physical real world harm to someone else. Unlike almost any other country in the world, we have the freedom to be, say, straight-up unwatered neo-Nazis if we want. We can pass out tracts, hold rallies. We can paint giant swastikas…on OUR own buildings. That’s the key.

          When someone paints them on a synagogues window at 3 a.m., it pretty much ceases to be a First Amendment activity and becomes a crime. We treat it as something more than petty vandalism because It is. It is a calculated act of terror and intimidation and an implied threat of worse to come. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any Christian minister in the Middle East who would agree with the idea that “it’s just broken glass, what does it matter if some drunk kid did it or if they had jihad in their heart?”

      • Silly Interloper

        So, correct me if I’m wrong, kenofken–you are saying that when anyone promotes the making and distribution of child pornography (there are many other horrendous things, but I’ll stick to this one for focus), you would object to any kind of enforcement against it?


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