T Nation

I Hope my Kids have Professors Like This: Freedom and Dissent


#1

I thought it might be fun to discuss. This 16 minute clip renews my faith in the goodness of people.

There’s a lot to talk about here. Free speech, dissent, political correctness, and the fundamentals of freedom. I thought many of you would like it. I heart Alan Charles Kors. Just lovely.

Who’s Too Weak to Live With Freedom? Prof. Alan Charles Kors on His Fight for Free Expression

This is also a great short clip (8 min) about similar topics.

Steven Pinker on Taboos, Political Correctness, and Dissent . Have any of you read his books? I’m thinking about The Blank Slate, or Better Angels of our Nature .


#2

Good videos.

I’m from a generation of people who were lied to. “College will solve all of your problems!” If I had to do it all over again, I would have skipped it.


#3

I’m glad you liked them! Free Speech is a topic near and dear to my heart.

I’m really concerned by the proliferation of University Speech Codes, and campuses like Ithaca College who have developed a system for students to report “microagressions.” It’s absurd that we are going to “punish” these perceived infractions. I think it will discourage the free exchange of ideas. I see it as the new McCarthyism. George Carlin has called it a kind of “fascism pretending to be manners.” A way of silencing your political opposition. When people are left without nonviolent means to communicate, the option is violence.

We can dismiss this as “it’s just college.” That’s not true. Infringement on free speech is permeating our society. So many comedians will no long play college campuses. They censor what they say. People seem to think that they have a “right to not be offended.” It scares me that Americans, particularly on the far left of the spectrum seem to want to exchange freedom for comfort or security. Freedom isn’t really even a value for them. They put “niceness,” or “not hurting someone’s feelings” on a much higher level than freedom. That BLOWS MY MIND. Colleges should be about the open exchange of ideas, not censoring yourself so that you don’t accidentally commit a microaggression.

This number of campuses with Speech Codes is increasing, particularly under Obama’s new bureaucratic regulations, as are issues with due process related to campus disciplinary committees.

This kind of thing really disturbs me. Ellen DeGeneres told a joke about Bolt. She’s photoshopped riding on his back. You can see the image in the link below if you missed it. People accused her of being a racist. The joke was about Bolt being fast. BUT I think a lot of people are afraid to speak out and say “I’m with you, Ellen,” our of fear. It’s very much “the emperor has no clothes” type of mentality, IMO.

We could also talk about due process, and the scary incidence of students being accused of sexual assault. They can be dismissed, not allowed to graduate, without ever having a trial, or even being able to have legal representation. There’s a case right now at Yale where the Captain of the Basketball team experienced that. Infringements on basic freedoms like the right to due process. Once again, interpretation by the Obama administration and mandates to colleges about how to handle sexual assualt.

The Duke Lacrosse Case. 12 minutes. See the response of the faculty at Duke.


#4

@ “college will solve all your problems. I wish I’d have skipped it.”

I expect to see more of this as we move toward “free college for all.” Some kids are better served learning a trade or technical job that doesn’t require a degree. They will extend the four years of getting a bachelors degree into six and effectively just delay starting their life, particularly when they choose majors with little to no economic value.


#5

Thanks for posting those! It’s interesting that those two would be considered left wing academics, and yet they must be feeling the heat to speak out like that.


#6

Absolutely. The professors at Yale, Nicholas and Erika Christakis had to step down from their positions for making a statement about Halloween costumes would also be considered lefties. That didn’t matter. They still became the subject of student protests for asserting that the students were adult enough to decided for themselves if a Halloween costume was offensive, and to talk these differences out with each other. To quote the offensive email they sent to students at Yale, "…if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away, or tell them you are offended. Talk to each other. Free speech and the ability to tolerate offense are the hallmarks of a free and open society.”

I have friends who are professors there, and many of the faculty would NOT publicly support them. It’s very similar here on the campus where I work. People do not want to publicly speak out. It’s as if by saying they support free speech, they are saying they want to use racial slurs or something. Honestly.

We discussed this a while back on the Mizzou thread. There are a series of these videos, but if you missed it here’s one. You get the idea.


#7

You’d think this would absolutely be a non-partisan issue. Amazingly, most of the people who will vocally support free speech right now are Conservatives. You’ll get some people who want to outlaw flag burning. I believe both Clinton and Trump have made some comments to that effect. Some will speak out against the NFL flag protesters like Kaperdink, but there’s a big difference between saying that you are offended by it, or you don’t like it, and telling someone they CAN’T do it.

Jerry Seinfeld talking about free speech with Seth Meyers. He’s been really great at publicly speaking out.


#8

President Obama has made several really great statements in support of free speech, including taking students to task for uninviting speakers like Condi Rice. I was super happy to see that.

He’s a bit of a mixed bag though because what he says and what he does don’t always match. His administration "… has increasingly pushed for draconian speech codes on campuses, including ones that would allow people to be punished for offending any one for any reason at all, and his Department of Education’s aggressive enforcement of supposed Title IX violations regarding sexual harassment has led to professors such as Laura Kipnis being forced to sit through an administrative “inquisition” over an essay a few students didn’t like.

The Obama administration has also been roundly criticized by the Associated Press for it’s lack of transparency. So, he’s been a mixed bag. He campaigned on the idea of transparency in government. Not exactly a beacon of the free exchange of ideas and freedom of information. These are pretty basic hallmarks of a free society with good governance. The AP is obviously a group of right wing extremists. :slight_smile:


#9

A very close friend of mine went to Ithaca College about a decade ago. He was appalled to see what has happened there. I had a few professors that really did a great job. They didn’t try to mold minds, just free them (if that makes sense). If we go the “free college for all” route, universities will become indoctrination factories.


#10

Yeah. Political correctness really can be a form of fascism. We’ve seen a lot of students shouting down speakers they disagree with, blockading the entrances to the venue, that sort of thing. Title IX has strangely enough taken on quite a role in the free speech wars since what is “sexual harassment or sexual assault” can be extended to free speech types of infractions.

In terms of the presidential election and free speech, Trump and Clinton are both pretty depressing in terms of censoring the internet, etc…


#11

Hi Uncle Gabby. I meant to tell you in my earlier reply, those two professors are affiliated with the free speech group Fire, which made those videos. Funny thing. Fire has been attacked by the current version of progressives for being right wing extremists! It’s hilarious considering it’s NOT a partisan group, and some of the guys on it’s board are old school lefties who actually believe in free speech. Yep. I think they are a little shocked to see the evolution of their liberal politics in these new young progressives who demand censorship of ideas, trigger warnings, safe spaces and punishment for microagressions. The irony.


#12

They might be victims of their own success. Conservatives are almost non-existent on most campuses. Perhaps what these spoiled little cunts (and I use the word cunt in a non-gender specific way) are looking for is an opposition, and not having one they are turning on their predecessors.


#13

Yes. It’s a little bit funny to see the people who created this now feel like victims of it. A friend of mine compares women and religious practice in Africa. She’s feeling like she’s in the hot seat with regard to her research. For her to write anything about women who aren’t from her upper-middle class white background is now considered a BIG problem. How can she possibly imagine that she has the right to say anything about poor black women, or that she has the right to study them in the first place. Her field now demands a lot of apologizing, and “being so sensitive” about anything she writes, and she’ll likely be criticized regardless.

To put it in perspective, the new progressive morality of cultural sensitivity would say Steinbeck should have never written The Pearl. He has zero right to write about poor Latinos.

New in the free speech wars…

Journalists on the editorial board at the University of Minnesota’s student newspaper stick up for censoring the College Republicans. Yep. It’s surreal.


#14

I know everybody’s still taking about the election, and I’m probably mostly talking to myself here, but I changed this thread title, hoping we’d come back to taking about free speech. It’s a big thing with me. :slight_smile:

I keep hearing this new speech code. “Free speech doesn’t mean what you think it means. You can’t just say any old thing, any old way you want to.” This seems to be the new “niceness.”

The battle over microaggressions going on at our universities is both a symptom and a cause of malaise and strife in society at large.

This book review is worth a look.

And this from the EU. Attempts to regulate “offensive” speech.


#15

I was so moved by this story of Fidel’s Cuba. I want my kids to understand why freedom and dissent are so fundamental. Text below the link.

Armando Valladares in May accepting the Canterbury Medal from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty:

When I was 23 years old I refused to do something that at the time seemed very small. I refused to say a few words, “I’m with Fidel.” First I refused the sign on my desk at the postal office that said that, and after years of torture and watching many fellow fighters die, either in body or in spirit, I still refused to say those words.

If I just said those three words, I would have been released from prison.

My story is proof that a small act of defiance can mean everything for the friends of liberty. They did not keep me in jail for 22 years because my refusal to say three words meant nothing. In reality those three words meant everything.

For me to say those words would have constituted a type of spiritual suicide. Even though my body was in prison and being tortured, my soul was free and it flourished. My jailers took everything away from me, but they could not take away my conscience or my faith.


#16

Amazing parallels. “I’m with Fidel.” or “I’m with Her->”

“Free” medical care.

“Free” education.

Spooky how close those two are.


#17

I would highly recommend Rogan’s podcast -#877 with Jordan Peterson.


#18

Thanks, Gabby. I’m 20 minutes in, and completely HOOKED.

For you guys that don’t want to go looking for it in podcast format, I found the video on Youtube. Just AWESOME. @SkyzykS, @Alrightmiami19c, @pat, @sunnbeaches105 @Aragorn, @anonym, @MaximusB, @2busy . Trying to tag some of you because it ties into the Red Pill thread, and also the discussion about Castro. At least check out the first 10 minutes if you have the time. We’re going to listen to it at lunch over the next few days until we finish it.


#19

Thank you for the heads up! I will definitely hit this up tomorrow on my day off


#20

Woo! That is a lot of higher thinking to chew on.

I’ve only just gotten into the first 15 min. and its like flashbulbs going off in my head. (FTR- I haven’t spent much time in academia. about 60 credits at a CC of mostly technical stuff, so analysis of social concepts and the like kind of blows open some of the lesser used parts of my brain.)