posed a question which, once upon a more innocent time, would have been considered nonsensical: The response of any person who cares about the clarity of language would properly be “Never,” but Lisa Feldman Barrett, , asserts in the Times piece that the science is settled:
It might seem obvious, Barrett begins, that Yes, that should be obvious to anyone except illiberals, who know that whoever controls the language controls minds. So they are hell-bent on weaponizing words to advance their totalitarian agenda.
When the media elites of CNN or HBO or The View or late night talk shows openly bash Christians or the traditional values of flyover Americans, it is never, ever condemned as hate speech; but those same elites leap to denounce virtually everything the right says as such.
She notes that this concept is the sort of thing that has led to campus controversies about “microaggressions,” which have “stuck [sic] many as a coddling or infantilizing of students, as well as a corrosive influence on the freedom of expression necessary for intellectual progress.”
Yes, that is precisely what all this politically correct umbrage about “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” is: coddling and corrosive. But it is also more than that; it is an insidious strategy to shut down ideas and people that the left wants to demonize as not simply unworthy of debate but as dangerous and evil.
Barrett believes she offers a scientific rationale for “which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society. In short, the answer depends on whether the speech is abusive or merely offensive.” The latter has no adverse physical effects, but That’s also true of a political climate in which groups of people endlessly hurl hateful words at one another, and of rampant bullying in school or on social media. A culture of constant, casual brutality is toxic to the body, and we suffer for it.”
That is utterly false. It is not Milo who isn’t interested in debate; it is the politically correct bullies of the left, who have jettisoned intellectual debate because they know they cannot compete with conservatives on the level playing field of reasoned argument.
Having dismissed Milo as a hatemonger unworthy of consideration by decent people, Barrett moves on to casually dismiss the political scientist Charles Murray as a racist – although his speech isn’t violent, she concedes, merely offensive. It’s revealing that Barrett didn’t offer up examples of hate speech or racism from the left; why not use the anti-Christian gay activist Dan Savage as an example of hatemongering? Why not name Al Sharpton as an example of a racist? The tiresome accusations that Murray is racist are based literally on one tentative sentence from his whole impressive oeuvre of social commentary, whereas Sharpton has a lengthy career of openly racist statements and unapologetic race-mongering.
And yet Sharpton can speak anywhere, anytime without fear of violence from the right, while Murray recently had to flee a speaking engagement when Antifa thugs shut it down and chased him to his car, assaulting his escort, a female professor, in the process. Dan Savage can spew his profane hate anytime, anywhere with confidence that he will remain safe, but rioters injured at least half a dozen Trump supporters and caused over $100,000 worth of damage to the UC Berkeley campus where Milo Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak earlier this year. Barrett is arguing that shutting down Milo’s appearance is acceptable because he is “noxious” and “there is nothing to be gained from debating him.”
Barrett concludes her article by paying lip service to the necessity for “open conversations and vigorous debate about controversial or offensive topics,” then declaring that “we must also halt speech that bullies and torments. Sorry, illiberals, but to quote from The Princess Bride, you keep using that word – I do not think you know what it means. Speech is not literally violence. That, of course, is their aim.
Defenders of the First Amendment must never budge an inch on this issue. That’s why the left craves so badly to limit it, all the while waging literal violence against the right.
From FrontPage Mag, 7/17/17