Universities Fuel Growing Clash Between Fascism and Free Speech

An unlikely player is eroding one of America’s crowning contributions to human freedom. In a perverse role reversal, American universities are laying the ground work to alter the meaning of the First Amendment and the protections it has afforded free speech and inquiry for generations. The irony that the institutions thought to symbolize human learning and exploration should be leading the movement to control and restrict those pursuits seems lost on the activists and academics pushing that direction.

Recent violent and threatening incidents that prevented conservative or anti-leftist or simply provocatively intellectual figures from speaking at Middlebury University, Berkeley, UCLA and elsewhere have highlighted growing opposition to speech Leftist don’t want to hear. It’s not a new phenomenon. Researcher Stanley Kurtz reminds that protests to silence conservative speakers reach back to disrupting figures from the Reagan administration in the 80s, and have continued intermittently for speakers identified with Israel or the second Bush administration.


What’s changed is that the frequency and variety of incidents of mob censorship seem to be accelerating, students and activists are becoming more brazen and unyielding in their demands, they are taking their mission from the campus out to the streets, and university faculties and administrators are increasingly siding with the students and providing intellectual cover for the suppression of unwelcome ideas.
Now, we have unruly mobs not only blocking events on campus, but violently disrupting rallies supporting Trump on public streets. Berkeley’s paper, the Daily Californian publishes an essay by unidentified members of antifa–anti-fascist as they style themselves–asserting that to protect free speech and community safety, they will don masks and “militantly” disrupt speech they oppose.
We have the student government of Middlebury College–where hooligans recently chased off campus the eminent sociologist and author Charles Murray and injured the neck of the liberal professor who dared to accompany him—adopt an extraordinary resolution rejecting punishment for the disruptors. The audacious document declares that protest is a legitimate avenue not only to be heard, but to “compel decisive actions” by institutions. (Nice of them to let us know who is in charge). It also rejects resort to law enforcement because “arrest and criminal charges are associated with police violence and the carceral [sic] state,” smack of “the new Jim Crow,” stigmatize the protesters, and chill their future opportunities.
If this strikes you as lunacy, don’t look for backup from the “adults” running the university. Ulrich Baer, a professor and dean at New York University recently penned an essay in the New York Times “What the Snowflakes Get Right About Free Speech” siding with the students: True “free speech” should be understood to protect marginalized and victimized segments of society from dehumanizing and oppressive ideas of more powerful segments.
This creeping unofficial amending of the First Amendment is not going unchallenged. Legal Rights organizations like the Foundation For Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have represented students and won many important cases against abusive campus actions. But, the victories can be Pyrrhic as universities are some of the wealthiest institutions in society. Litigation can drag on for years, recoveries are usually modest in amount, and school coffers barely feel a sting. Universities are either more fearful of, or likely more ideologically aligned with the leftist militants on campus than they are about an occasional legal setback.
Recognizing this dynamic, some commentators propose congressional action to reclaim liberty on campus. Legislation could change universities’ cost benefit analysis either by withholding federal funds from institutions that fail to protect free speech on campus, and allow mob veto to disrupt the rights of others, or awarding much higher levels of damages to students and faculty whose rights are trampled.
The debate is heating up. It’s not as if Congress has proposed a Constitutional Convention or study committee to reconsider the meaning of the First Amendment. But, leading harbingers of culture and education certainly have. The Convention is underway and the future of freedom is at stake.

The March For Science And Curing Cancer

Last week there was the ‘March For Science’ and as a result there are now endless internet memes to the effect of “You don’t believe in science” and “No – YOU don’t believe in science!”

Those who marched were by all appearances not marching for ‘science’ but marching for the continued government interference in science. Those ridiculing the march are not ridiculing science but are opposed to the continued government interference in science. I suppose calling this event the “March For The Continued Interference Of Government In Science” was just not catchy? This is symptomatic of our entire society – we have politicized everything and the contamination of politics is so pervasive that we simply cannot imagine returning to the days where science could be science and not an ideological football.
Yesterday an article was published claiming that Fred Hutch had made very significant progress in curing cancer. I doubt there is a human being alive who does not want cancer cured and want it cured today. Curing cancer has to be one of those very rare items left on the agenda which can unite us. I am by no means qualified to validate the scientific merit of any news concerning the curing of cancer but reputable people and institutions and publications indicate that progress is being made which brings us much closer to a cure.
It would appear that a cure for cancer is now a matter of when and not if.
When that cure for cancer arrives will it also be politicized? Have we become such a vile people that we would engage in such abhorrent behavior as politicizing the cure for cancer? Of course we will!
No society in the history of this planet which has politicized everyday life as we are striving to do has ever achieved anything but abject misery. The obviousness of that statement paired with the equally obvious fact that what Taleb called the ‘stubborn minority’ is intent on politicizing every single thing in life leads to the obvious conclusion. There is a subset of American society intent on making each and every other American as miserable as they are and they will not stop until they have fulfilled that mission.
We get what we deserve…

Latest From Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The latest post from Nassim Nicholas Taleb is out addressing ‘The Dictatorship of the Small Minority’ and I guarantee something in it will offend you but you will be smarter for having read it.

A taste
“This large payoff from stubborn courage is not just in the military. The entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people. So we close this chapter with a remark about the role of skin in the game in the condition of society. Society doesn’t evolve by consensus, voting, majority, committees, verbose meeting, academic conferences, and polling; only a few people suffice to disproportionately move the needle. All one needs is an asymmetric rule somewhere. And asymmetry is present in about everything.”
“Outcomes are paradoxically more stable under the minority rule — the variance of the results is lower and the rule is more likely to be emerge independently across populations.
What emerges from the minority rule is more likely to be be black-and-white.”
“Let us conjecture that the formation of moral values in society doesn’t come from the evolution of the consensus. No, it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance.”

Let Them Eat Cake

Peruse the news this morning: just five companies are responsible for 28% of the S&P’s 2017 returnsSynchrony, Capital One, and Discover have increased their provisions for bad loans by 36% already this year, 40% of Americans spend half of their income servicing debt, Bernanke says even a meager 3% growth in GDP is unlikely, and Mish Shedlock adds the capstone to the morning news by pointing out half of the country is living paycheck to paycheck.

As much as I rather despise Donald Trump I get it. The dynamic has to change. People – everywhere – demand a chance. Those chances cannot be limited to a select few geographical areas and the select few occupations that are the recipients of the largesse generated by Federal policy. We cannot continue with a political model that generates only 2% (or less) of economic growth but every single dollar of that small amount of growth ends up in the wallets of less than 10% of the population.
We cannot continue a political model where there are more people of working age not working than there are people employed in private-sector full-time jobs – yet that is the situation that for the last eight years we have been induced into believing is good and ‘Progressive’. The unthinking response of the automatons that by raising the minimum wage and bestowing further benefits on those who are unemployed and underemployed will quell this tidal wave of discontent is delusional. We tend to look back on Marie Antoinette allegedly saying, “Let them eat cake” and we wonder how someone could be so thoroughly obtuse. We then look at DC and state governments and the media and some of our neighbors and we fully understand Marie Antoinette.
“Let them eat cake” is the battle cry of half the country at the moment. Raise the minimum wage, give them more benefits but do not do anything to change the dynamic of the largesse flowing into the hands of the few – in other words let them eat cake.
People are demanding that the dynamic change – not for the dynamic to be accelerated.
Half the country has become invisible to the other half. They don’t exist, they don’t count and they most certainly are not to be listened to. One half of the country labels the other half as racist and homophobic and xenophobic and whatever rude things they can think of in order to satiate their conscience at being able to ignore and dismiss their plight. One half of the country believes that if they just supply the other half with more government cake then the other half will be grateful – and if they are not grateful it just goes to show why it was socially acceptable to ignore them in the first place.
Marie Antoinette indeed.
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