WITHOUT FREEDOM OF SPEECH, DO THE OTHER FREEDOMS MATTER?

photo credit: Luis De Anda C. The American Dream via photopin (license)

In case you haven’t noticed, Donald Trump is president. In other words, pigs can fly. The unthinkable is suddenly thinkable, and word to the wise, it’s not an isolated incident. The college kids who shut down Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley and Charles Murray at Middlebury College seem to have missed the memo. The college students who protested Laura Kipnis at Wellesley—triggering a Title IX investigation into the controversial feminist—Charles Murray at Notre Dame, and Charles Murray at Villanova are also behind the curve. It’s so easy to wield the moral high ground when you have it (if moral high ground means unrighteous power), but today’s college students are blissfully unaware that, sooner or later, the moral high ground changes hands.

We’re so busy sheltering and coddling today’s college students that they seem completely unaware of something called “reality.” Reality by any other name is “what goes up must come down.” Rome fell, GM and Chrysler weren’t too big to fail, Brad and Angelina divorced. Change can happen. Change does happen. Change will happen.

The only guard against the vagaries of reality, weather, and human nature is solid Constitutional freedoms. It’s hard to rank order freedoms, but freedom of speech just might be the most critical. Without it, do the other freedoms matter? Freedom of the press only works if the press can write what they want. Freedom of religion only works if we can say we have religious objections to gay marriage without being driven out of business. Freedom of assembly… well … what’s the point of assembling if you aren’t free to rile up the crowd with incendiary speeches? (And wear pink pu**y hats, but that’s more like freedom of vulgarity.)

Don’t you want to scream when you hear someone say that the bedrock of our society—all views deserve to be heard—“ignores the fact that some views reinforce institutional and culturally dominant norms?” So what? They reinforce institutional and culturally dominant norms. Deal with it. That’s what James Madison was saying in 16th century vernacular when he wrote the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights protects all of us from egregious government power, but because James Madison was a white, cis, slave-owning male, he is not allowed to be respected (or studied, apparently). Institutional and culturally dominant norms and all that. Tsk tsk.

Back to President Trump, who exemplifies the truism “egregious government power is in the eye of the beholder.” Were we to teach James Madison and free speech, college students (and their professors!) would undoubtedly fiercely defend the need for all views to be heard. But our politically incorrect institutional and culturally dominant norms derive from Western civilization, and Western civ is the Ebola of progressive thought. It is better that 10 Western ideas go extinct than one student hear a view that is upsetting. (As an aside, Planned Parenthood seems much more like the 800lb gorilla these days, but what do I know?)

Because so many students suffer from a “skyrocketing sense of their own vulnerability”—and its twin, a plummeting aptitude for critical thinking—allow me to illustrate what’s coming. The “what goes us must come down” part. Right now, the left is up in civil discourse and attempts to control language like there’s no tomorrow; heck, you can’t even say “manmade” and “freshmen” at Princeton anymore because they’re not gender inclusive. Now it’s “artificial, manufactured” and “first year students” or off with their heads. “Forefathers” is now “ancestors,” which is really no big deal except that it’s Princeton, and one would hope they could reach for the more educated “forebearers” instead.

So Princeton is discouraging (code for shaming) “him,” “her,” “his,” and “hers.” Will they next be “discouraging” (code for eliminating) Spanish and French? After all, nouns and adjectives in the Romance Languages are either masculine or feminine. Ça n’est pas bon. The only drag on this linguistic madness is that Arabic also uses masculine and feminine nouns and adjectives. Whatever will the Left do? They can’t risk being “Islamophobic.” I feel for them. Not.

Sooner or later, the Left will be down, and the Right will be up in civil discourse. If today’s Millennials have become locked and loaded on the notion of banning offensive speech, when the pendulum swings back (and doesn’t it always?), words like “intersectionality,”
“white supremacy,” “abortion,” and “medical marijuana” may get someone fired.

If only there were mature adults on college campuses, like professors and administrators, who could model open dialog for the foolish students so utterly convinced they’re on the right side of history. Uh-oh. His-story. Maybe we need to say “their-story” now.

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