It is clear now, as I initially expected, that what the black student tantrum that brought down the leadership at the University of Missouri wanted is encapsulated by the first gesture by the school’s new puppet regime. This:
Ah, what a wonderful wonderful world it would be, the race-grievance mob believes, if we could arrest and punish anyone who doesn’t like us, looks at us with a stink-eye, sneers at us or calls us ugly names! That would make them love their neighbors! The entire Missouri fiasco was nothing but a Kafka-esque satire on this dream. It is one that is constantly fertilized by social justice warriors who increasingly favor totalitarian methods, and who maintain that “hate speech” is immune from the the First Amendment.
The new tactic, apparently, as I read the head-exploding memo above, is to leap right past “hate speech” to banning “mean speech” and “not very nice speech.” Rather than teaching their delicate and misguided students to learn what fat kids, ugly kids, flat-chested girls, 90 pound weakling guys, people with stutters or birth defects, people who are weak, or not very smart or obnoxious or poor, people who look different or wear strange clothes or have accents or smell different or who have handicaps or Asperger’s, or infamous parents, or old (my mother complained constantly about the “microagressions” she got from young people)… or, from the other side, those who too smart or too sexy or too articulate or too rich… have to learn in order to become self-sufficient, confident and not to be at the mercy of bullies, assholes and fools all their lives, the University of Missouri (and Yale, and many institutions to come if we can’t successfully humiliate those schools into rationality) are joining with the growing authoritarian wing of the progressive movement to advocate the suppression of free thought and expression. They think this will end racism. They think it is possible to make human beings “safe” from cruel and unjust social interactions.
Not in a free country, it’s not.
If that’s the social change they’re after, not only are they not going to get it, they are going to lose the support of a lot of citizens sympathetic to their plight.
Sorry, but it’s true: a hurled epithet, yes, even “nigger,” is protected speech, and should be. (Side note: anyone with well-developed rhetorical skills should be able to be far more hurtful using well-constructed derision without using any epithets at all. Go ahead…try me. “Nigger” just means “I am a bigot and don’t have the brains to say anything substantive.” )
OK, such words are uncivil, cruel, hurtful and wrong, and anyone not raised in a barn shouldn’t get out of third grade without knowing as much. But they are not a punch and it is not like throwing a rock. “Microaggressions” are just physical manifestations of emotions and thoughts. These are also outside the power of any legitimate authority to forbid or punish. The protests at Missouri demanding that the school do something to prevent random verbal assaults could only be a demand to chill speech and punish people for what they think and say, or worse, force them to change their biases and preferences because those in power, rightly or wrongly, think differently. If the leadership at the University of Missouri was competent and inclined to teach rather than pander, this would have been a learning experience. The lesson: In the U.S., you have a right to sound and act like a jerk.
Instead, the school is trying to model the only kind of society that could make the students feel “safe” from jerks: one that protected their sensibilities with jackboots and threats, and defined “hate speech” by whatever arbitrary standards its favored constituency demands. Let MSNBC provide its list of coded slurs, like “resilient,” “urban,” and “articulate.” Presumably the new regime also understands that hate speech—call in those descriptions and license plates!—is also to express an opinion based on facts rather than the self-serving lies of a criminal regarding Ferguson, the initial narrative or Trayvon Martin’s death or, presumably, the deification of President Obama.
“Safe” does not mean “insulated from words, ideas and people who annoy you.” Indeed, the protesters’ definition of safe is directly contradictory to their definition of diversity, unless their real definition is “diversity that makes me more comfortable, regardless of what its other effects may be.”
Which, of course, it is.
The Missouri fiasco has exposed the ethical and logical weakness in the civil rights movement’s latest mutation, which is to eradicate racism by fulfilling the worst paranoid fantasies of racists, and demanding special race-based privileges by government mandate. This damning revelation has panicked some progressive pundits into hysteria, like Salon’s Amanda Marcotte and Fox’s designated race-baiting black woman, Lisa Durden. (Fox uses silly people like this to make all progressives and black activists look bad. It’s a despicable tactic.)
Here’s Marcotte on Salon:
“No doubt there are some instances where young people, puffed up on self-righteousness and still sloppy about politics, go way too far with the P.C.-policing. But Monday’s resignation of Tim Wolfe as the president of the University of Missouri system in the wake of a wave of racial ugliness on campus should be a reminder that while a few loudmouthed lefties who overplay their hands may be annoying, young people—particularly young women and people of color—are less victimizers than victimized. All this chatter about “trigger warnings” and the supposedly over-coddled young has served to cover up the real story: Young people are under assault from reactionary forces and most of their grievances are not about imagined slights, but about very serious problems they are facing, on and off campus.”
- No doubt!
- Hearsay accounts of a shouted slur from a car, one racial epithet from an unidentified individual, and a swastika in feces that is not a clear racist statement and may well be a hoax (as I suggested in two earlier posts) is a wave. Who believes that?
- Using extortion and a suicide threat to hijack the school’s leadership and force resignations doesn’t victimize the targets, as much as hearing about three unrelated incidents makes the students victims. Good thinking, Amanda.
- “Under assault from reactionary forces” means “can’t get everything they want.”
Marcotte goes on to equate health insurance policies and university relations with Planned Parenthood with racial slurs, and proclaims political correctness a myth. I guess her theory is if you make enough random noise and protest enough, everyone will forget want really happened, and ignore that mythological note from the police.
The University of Missouri incident is revealing the deep, anti-free speech, totalitarian strain in the progressive and civil rights movement, and that our universities are nurturing it. The e-mails says it all: it is re sipsa loquitur.
The only ones who won’t admit the dangerous philosophy this exemplifies are those who are lying to themselves, or to us.