Campuses across the United States have become ground zero for silencing free speech. Universities founded to encourage diversity of thought and debate have become incubators of intolerance where non-sanctioned views are silenced through bullying, speech codes, “free speech zones,” and other illiberal means.
The quote above is from The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech, by Kirsten Powers. Several conservative and libertarian authors have written about the cancel culture, but I wanted to get her perspective because she’s a liberal who worked for Bill Clinton. She says exactly what I hoped she’d say: true liberals should be fighting this nonsense. Throughout the book, she refers to the postmodernists who want to stifle speech as the illiberal left.
At the end of our previous episode, we saw this quote from postmodernist bigwig Herbert Marcuse, describing the policies needed to (ahem) restore freedom of thought:
They would include the withdrawal of toleration of speech and assembly from groups and movements which promote aggressive policies, armament, chauvinism, discrimination on the grounds of race and religion, or which oppose the extension of public services, social security, medical care, etc. Moreover, the restoration of freedom of thought may necessitate new and rigid restrictions on teachings and practices in the educational institutions.
When Marcuse wrote those words in 1965, few people could imagine universities imposing “new and rigid restrictions on teachings” to somehow promote freedom of thought. After all, the first big campus protests in the 1960s weren’t about Vietnam; they were about the rights of students to engage in free speech.
Somewhere in hell, Marcuse is laughing himself silly. The big protests and riots on campuses today are certainly about speech, but the students are protesting and rioting because other people are saying things they don’t like — and the students want them to shut the hell up.
Perhaps you’ve heard about what happened to professor Bret Weinstein at Evergreen college in Washington state (bold emphasis mine):
Evergreen made headlines in May 2017 when biology professor Bret Weinstein drew student protests and threats of violence for refusing to leave campus on the “Day of Absence.” Weinstein had told the director of a campus multicultural office via an email that he was not leaving campus on a day when white students and faculty were asked to voluntarily leave campus.
He was surrounded by a student mob and yelled at for refusing to participate, with the crowd chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, Bret Weinstein’s got to go.”
Weinstein was forced to hold class off campus because he was told that campus police could not protect him.
Those quotes don’t capture just how triggered Weinstein’s students were. This video should do the trick:
A self-described “deeply progressive” professor was hounded, threatened and called a racist because he politely refused to (ahem) “voluntarily” segregate himself on the basis of his race. Let’s see if we can follow the logic here:
I will not be identified by my race = he’s a racist!
So decided the twenty-something mental midgets at Evergreen college. When Weinstein attempted a civil conversation, the students cursed him, shouted him down, and told him to JUST SHUT UP AND LISTEN!
In postmodern-speak, this is known as “engaging in a dialog.” Or as Powers puts in her book: The illiberal left doesn’t desire debate; it wants a monologue on one side and silence on the other.
The labels the students apply to Weinstein in the video are absurdly illogical. But remember, we’re talking about students whose minds have been polluted by postmodernists. As we learned from Professor Stephen Hicks in his book Explaining Postmodernism, the postmodernists believe that:
- Reason and logic are irrelevant.
- Language is not a tool we use to discern the truth; it’s a weapon to be wielded.
- It’s perfectly acceptable to label those who disagree with you as racists, sexists, etc. – the charges need not be true, merely effective.
- In the hands of the “bad” people, free speech can cause actual harm.
- To restore “true freedom,” freedom of speech must be withdrawn from those who support the oppressors, even unwittingly..
Add it all up, and you have the prescription for the cancel culture. The appeal among college students is understandable. Sure, you’re a twenty-something who’s never actually accomplished anything. Sure, you’ll probably end up working at a coffee bar and living in your mom’s basement after you receive that oh-so-useful degree in Gender Studies or Art History. But in the meantime …
YOU get to elevate yourself in the eyes of your peers by declaring other people to be racists, sexists, homophobes, or whatever – and best of all, you’re not even required to present actual evidence supporting the charge!
YOU get to decide which speech is allowed and which speech is harmful to the oppressed and must be shut down.
YOU get to decide who should be fired, shouted down, de-platformed, etc. – because of course, YOU are qualified to make those decisions.
If you succeed in getting someone fired or de-platformed, YOU are elevated again in the eyes of your peers as a brave warrior because you “took a scalp” – while risking absolutely no harm to yourself.
It’s all about YOU, YOU, YOU, YOU!
After absurdly targeting him as a racist, the students took Weinstein’s scalp, thus depriving themselves of the opportunity to learn from a professor who was, by all accounts, a brilliant and dedicated educator. The only upside to the incident is that the following year, freshman enrollment at Evergreen dropped by 50%. Good to know there are still some college-bound students who want to be educated instead of indoctrinated.
It’s symbolic that Weinstein taught science — evolutionary biology, to be specific — because if there’s one area of academics you’d expect to be immune to postmodernist nonsense, it’s the hard sciences. Try telling a true scientist that there’s no objective reality, that logic and evidence have no relevance, or that feelings are more important than reason. A true scientists would laugh out loud.
Well, that used to be the case. Nowadays, thanks to the cancel culture, the true scientist might just keep quiet to avoid committing career suicide. Here’s a recent tweet from Weinstein himself:
The facts of human biology at odds with the entire history and diversity of life on Earth asserted by postmodernists are part of what’s often called The Narrative – a set of beliefs you must not question. You are required to simply accept them as true:
- The only differences between males and females are the genitalia — all other observed differences are the result of social conditioning.
- Male and female are nothing more than artificial social constructs — there are actually 57 genders. Or 112 genders. Or no genders. It depends on who you ask.
- If people belonging to officially recognized victim groups are underrepresented in certain academic or professional fields, the only possible explanation is deep-seated bias by the oppressors.
- Humans are causing the planet to become dangerously warm … uh, or if the planet isn’t exactly warming, the climate is still changing in some kind of bad way … and this has only been happening recently and is the result of capitalism.
If you are foolish or brave enough question any of these beliefs, the postmodernists will do everything in their power to destroy your reputation, your career and your life. As exhibit A, I present Lawrence Summers, the former president of Harvard. When asked why there are fewer women professors in fields like mathematics and astrophysics, Summers listed several possibilities … but made the ginormous mistake of suggesting that gender differences in aptitude may play a role. For this offense against The Narrative, he was forced to resign.
It didn’t matter that Summers was merely speculating that a known fact may be involved. IQ researchers have known for decades that while males and females have the same average IQ (100), there are far more males at both extremes of the bell curve. In other words, compared to females, males are several times more likely to be dunces or geniuses. Given this known fact, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are more males in fields requiring a genius IQ.
But according to The Narrative, if fewer women choose a career in astrophysics, the only acceptable explanation is bias. So they took Summers’ scalp.
You’ve probably heard the statistic that 97 percent of scientists agree that humans are warming the planet. What you probably haven’t heard is that 1) the vast majority of those scientists aren’t climate scientists, and 2) the 97 percent figure is drawn from the scientists willing to express an opinion. Two-thirds of the scientists (including climate scientists) declined to offer an opinion.
Hmmm, now why might that be the case? Perhaps because scientists know if they dispute The Narrative, they’ll find themselves out of work? (Kind of like what happened to the scientists who publicly disputed the Lipid Hypothesis.)
What a great technique for manufacturing a consensus. First, you make it clear that any scientist who dares to disagree will be targeted for extinction. Then you ask scientists to offer an opinion. Lo and behold, almost all the scientists who offer an opinion agree with you! Ladies and gentlemen, we have a consensus, so that proves we’re right!
I don’t care whether you buy into the man-made-global-warming theory or not. If you care about science, you shouldn’t want dissenters (or DENIERS!) silenced. You shouldn’t want we have a consensus! to put a stop to inquiry and debate. (By the way, we have a consensus was one of McGovern’s justifications for pushing the dietary guidelines on the public.)
But surely scientists are still scientists, and even if they keep quiet about their findings, they still respect the scientific method, right? Well, that depends on whether the (ahem) “scientist” is a postmodernist or not. Back in this post, I wrote about the nonsense coming from fields like gender studies. Academics in these departments write papers declaring (in tortured English) that all differences between males and females are socially constructed. Amazingly, people buy into that nonsense.
Years ago, I mentioned to a female co-worker that when my sister was an adolescent, she was unusually strong for a girl. (A couple of boys who picked on her learned that the hard way.) Thanks to my co-worker’s postmodernist college education, she took offense and demanded, “What do you mean FOR A GIRL?!”
“I mean she was unusually strong for a girl. You do realize males are much stronger on average than females, don’t you?”
“That’s because men are encouraged to exercise their bodies and women aren’t.”
Yes, she actually believed that. It’s as logical as saying men are taller on average because they’re encouraged to grow taller, or that men have deeper voices on average because they’re encouraged to have deeper voices. It’s also as logical as saying our roosters and our hens behave differently because of social conditioning.
True scientists can point to many reasons (higher testosterone, to name just one) that males are stronger, faster and more aggressive on average than females. So how to the postmodernists deal with these proven biological differences?
Simple. They just just declare that 1) reason, logic and the scientific method are sexist and can therefore be dismissed, and 2) they have discovered “different ways of knowing.” Thanks to these “different ways of knowing,” the postmodernists can declare that male and female are simply social constructs, not biological realities, and that if a biological male declares himself to be a female, well by gosh, he IS a female — and anyone who says otherwise is a hateful bigot who must be silenced.
This has created the absurd situation where biological males are competing in women’s track events, setting all kinds of new records, and going home with all the medals … because to admit that biological males have an inborn advantage would violate The Narrative.
For an even more absurd example, here are some quotes from an article in the American Wire:
Biological males who identify as transgender women are wreaking havoc in women’s rugby in Great Britain.
Women’s rugby referees in England are quitting their jobs over the inclusion of the male athletes, according to a report in The Sunday Times this weekend.
“Being forced to prioritize hurt feelings over broken bones exposes me to personal litigation from female players who have been damaged by players who are biologically male. This is driving female players and referees out of the game,” one referee told the British paper under the condition of anonymity.
Of course the referee would only speak under the condition of anonymity. If she expressed her concern for women getting bashed by biological males without being anonymous, the postmodernist outrage mob would be all over social media, calling her a bigot, a hater, a transphobe, etc., etc., and demanding her head on a platter.
Ironic, isn’t it? Because they will never, ever allow mere facts to get in the way of The Narrative, feminist gender-studies professors have created situations where biological males are kicking the crap out of females.
Perhaps you don’t care about any of this stuff. Perhaps you don’t care if biological males are allowed to compete as females, or if scientists who dispute the man-made-global-warming theory lose their livelihoods.
You should care. Because sooner or later, the postmodernist cancel culture will pick a target that matters to you. The Narrative keeps growing and expanding into ever-more-ridiculous arenas. It will soon include (if it doesn’t already) no-questions-allowed beliefs such as:
- Raising animals for meat causes global warming
- The amount of meat we’re allowed to eat must be limited to save the planet
If you don’t believe me, go take another look at the EAT-Lancet manifesto.