03.18.19 | Political Correctness

It's hard to know if we're being played. We are confronted with anecdotal evidence of free-speech suppression on the campuses e.g. feminist critic Christina Hoff Sommers dissed at Lewis & Clark Law School; Jordan Peterson, the self-described free speech warrior, shouted down at McMaster University. Such events certainly make for compelling coverage by the mouth-frothing, feed-me, feed-me, 24-7 omnivore television news network. 

The reflection on the part of the more sober-minded columnist David Brooks acknowledges the phenomenon but frames the question by asking whether these student "mobbists" are reacting to societal problems borne of simple mistake or of malice. Eric Boehm hyperventilates in his Reason piece by suggesting we have entered into a climate of "cultural decay" and "authoritarian political correctness" that is leading us toward the sort of dystopia depicted in the science fiction novel of Fahrenheit 451.

In Britain, on the other hand, The Guardian has a different take on what it labels the free speech panic i.e. these "snowflake" students have become the target of a new rightwing crusade and that exaggerated claims of censorship reveal a deeper anxiety at the core of modern conservatism. So which is it?

Our Member Monday discussion will center around the dynamics of the campus free speech suppression from a historical perspective as rendered in our focus piece (Get Ready for the Struggle Session - WSJ or PDF Version Here). 

The cited "struggle session" reflects suppression, not only of the top-down hard boiled variety, but also from the bottom up through accusation and humiliation on the part of ideological mobs. We can thereby determine what, if anything, we can learn through the lessons provided by the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The question is whether social media and Twitter have the potential to make proletariats of us all.

A closely-related issue is the concerted effort through monument destruction to erase, or at least to re-write, our nation's history (Shall We Defend Our Common History? - Imprimis). 

What has happened in our culture and educational institutions that so many students jump from their feelings of being (so easily) offended to self-righteous demands to repudiate that which offends them. Remove Huckleberry Finn from the library? Really?

Steve Smith1 Comment