Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mizzou Cops: Be a Hero, Report Speech that Offends You

Don't like Christmas?

Sue your local town for their display. That'll teach them.

Don't like that Christian baker's stand on gay marriage?

Send a test couple in and have them try to order a gay wedding cake, then report their refusal to your local or state human rights commission. That'll teach them.

Don't like letters to your campus newspaper casting aspersions on the notion of "white privilege?"

Complain to your campus administration, see if you can get disciplinary action against a student that uses grade level appropriate vocabulary, writes in a style consistent with recognized rules of grammar, simply because of the idea he expresses, that "white privilege" is a fallacious narrative that dismisses the efforts of those who supposedly enjoy "white privilege" and ignores the failures of those who do not enjoy that same privilege to grapple with other causes of their underprivileged state (such as the fractured brokenness of families in certain ethnic groups).

This year does seem to be the climactic crescendo of butt-hurt gripery. 

And now, because nothing says "you've gone too far now" like calling out the goons, the campus doughnut gatherers at the University of Missouri are inviting students to report speech that is "hurtful" or "offensive."


Hey Captain Krispy Kreme, what about the First Amendment? 

What about its role in drawing lines between private speech and government actions responding to speech and speakers?

We may be witnessing one of those crystalizing moments in a culture, when it becomes clear that things cannot continue as they have been.

There are so many "disaffected" folks today. From those upset at the absence of decorations on cups to those upset when a false rape story is exposed as a false rape story to those upset when you white folk wonder just what the hell you're "white privilege" actually gets you, like if maybe you could use it to get a Frosty for free at Wendys.

The very popular meme, 2015, the year when everybody was offended by everything, pretty much tells the tale. Part of that reflects, I suspect, real instances of pain and hurt. I would think, for example, that joking about gas ovens would offend today's grand- and great-grandchildren of Holocaust victims and survivors, and intimidate them with the implication that the underlying Antisemitism of another era really went skin deep and not away. Still, in this country, the right to be unoffended is guaranteed by the right to move on down the road, use earplugs, avert your eyes, or stay away from offensive people. It is not protected by a right to have government agents and agencies threaten, coerce, or intimidate those who express offensive ideas.

You can get a perspective on why offensive speech is protected here. That's the ACLU's take on the subject. I think you're going to be hard-pressed to find "racists" in that lot. And their underlying point, that protecting offensive speech is necessary to the defense of all free speech, is, frankly, unimpeachable. A brief excerpt from that page is worth the read:
Where racist, sexist and homophobic speech is concerned, the ACLU believes that more speech -- not less -- is the best revenge. This is particularly true at universities, whose mission is to facilitate learning through open debate and study, and to enlighten. Speech codes are not the way to go on campuses, where all views are entitled to be heard, explored, supported or refuted. Besides, when hate is out in the open, people can see the problem. Then they can organize effectively to counter bad attitudes, possibly change them, and forge solidarity against the forces of intolerance. 
Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, in a fictional dialogue with a divinity student, said a thing that is startlingly true, as true now as when he wrote the words: "The very aim and end of our institutions is just this: that we may think what we like and say what we think."

Apparently not so, at least not so at the University of Missouri, or at least not so if the glazed crusaders of the campus succeed in settling a blanket of fear over the minds and mouths of students that otherwise ought to be engaging in lively exchanges of ideas and opinions on a public college campus.

This political correctness is more so a campus disease, although the pretenders to offense have been around for a long time and have, like Thomas Jefferson's "sappers and miners," been working away at the undermining of absolute liberty of speech and opinion. 

I suppose one explanation for the prevalence of such gripery on campus is the unfortunate convergence of the unformed minds of youth with the misformed minds of Prog-Libs. In any event, as this report from FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, demonstrates, the problem of coercive speech codes is real, and, unfortunately spreading. 

The tale of the abuse of Mike Adams, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington (my college alma mater, no less) illustrates how Prog-Libs work to eliminate competing voices and ideas. Here's a link where you can follow his story, one in which he ultimately prevailed over UNC-W. Professor Adams enjoys pretty good ratings from his students (as evidenced by his RateMyProfessor page here). And he's had a resurgence in news coverage due to an EPIC introductory lecture in which he questions the mental capacity of individuals that reach such conclusions as finding an Establishment Clause violation in the paraphrasing of the Declaration of Independence.
I admit entertaining a perverse hope that some sugar addled Campus Blart responds to a report of speech hurt by overstepping her boundaries and arresting some misguided Republican or Libertarian, some benighted soul suffering under a delusion that the public university of their State was set up for the education of all, rather than the education of preferred opinion-holders. And then, when that happens, I hope the poor student drops a dime on the cop and gets some quality legal representation to sue her jelly donut laden butt into the poor house.

In the meantime, it's time for folks to call these speech codes and their fans what they are: illiberal policies enforced by thin skinned tyrants.