Kevin Gannon in Vox makes a similar argument to mine about UChicago’s recent political correctness diatribe: it’s not actually about freedom of speech. A few more pieces of evidence that conservative PC fear-mongering is really just about discomfort with leftist activism and not a broadly coherent pro-free speech ideology.
- Via Sean McElwee, the University of Texas’ new concealed-carry policy is already creating an intellectually suffocating environment on campus.
— sean. (@SeanMcElwee) August 27, 2016
Surprise, surprise: the awareness than anyone around you could be carrying a firearm makes you watch what you say a little more than the occasional professor letting their students know that a film they’re about to watch has a rape scene.
- In an almost-too-good-to-be-true bit of irony, former UChicago student body president Tyler Kissinger points out that the administration’s enthusiasm for “discomfort” and free expression actually has some limits in practice:
Hi there! I served 2 yrs as @UChicago student body president and was threatened with expulsion for helping to facilitate a sit-in on campus.
— Tyler Kissinger (@tylerbkissinger) August 25, 2016
- San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick announced today that he will no longer stand for the national anthem before football games in recognition of the way America “oppresses black people and people of color.” Twitter predictably exploded with calls for him to lose his job, get deported, and much worse. I would hazard a guess that many of these same people were praising the UChicago administration for standing up to censorious social justice warriors only a few days ago. There’s an important congruence between criticism of Kaepernick for “politicizing” sports and criticism of students who dare to point out the political implications of classic literature: what is at stake is not anyone’s right to free expression but the security of the status quo, imagined as politically neutral.
And this is just stuff from the past 48 hours or so. Bottom line: if there is a real threat to “free speech” in American society today, it stems from institutionally embodied conservative discomfort with anti-oppressive critique, not from nineteen-year-old “McCarthyists” on college campuses.
Update: “A Startup Is Automating the Lawsuit Strategy Peter Thiel Used to Kill Gawker”. I’m not holding my breath waiting for the mea culpas from the folks who said Thiel’s campaign was a one-time thing that was just about Gawker’s idiosyncratic sins.