In Part I of this entry, I promised to cite examples of poor discourse in America on both the left and the right in my second installment. While it’s fair to question my sincerity at this juncture, I can’t find relevant examples from the right, and have had to make cuts to my list from the left. However, a nasty comment from someone who was clearly not a Progressive on a Breitbart article inspired me to write this in the first place, so there’s that.
While I wish I could shame everyone for failing to take advantage of their inherent Freedom of Speech, Liberals are the ones who need to look in the mirror and seek humility in this arena the most. Hopefully, the following will illustrate why.
As you have likely heard by now, both Yale University and the University of Missouri have made recent headlines for speech and race related issues. Several Yale students were upset by an e-mail suggesting they tolerate racially insensitive Halloween costumes or engage the people wearing said costumes about why they are offensive. This was offered as an alternative to supporting the authoritative banning of distasteful getups. The letter was interpreted as racist by a group of students, and they threw an obnoxious tantrum about it. A mob of students refused to consider views that differed from their own (particularly those by Silliman College “master” Nicholas Christakis whose wife had sent the previously mentioned e-mail), and called for certain individuals to lose their jobs for disrupting their “safe space”. At the University of Missouri, two stupid and irrelevant “racist” incidents have driven a mob of students to rise up against the “institutionally racist” system on campus. The two “attacks” were a swastika of poop drawn on a bathroom wall and some drunk idiots yelling “nigger” at a black student (though the only proof that these incidents occurred are a photo of the swastika and the aforementioned student’s unproven claim).
What this has to do with campus administration, I do not know, but that’s who the students targeted. Several officials have stepped down since the students began crying about it, including President Tim Wolfe.
These instances perfectly illustrate the problem with PC policing on campus. The disgruntled students did not simply desire to make their voices heard; they aimed to silence the opposition and destroy their livelihoods. This is unacceptable behavior. No one demanded the students agree with opinions they opposed. Diverse and unique opinions were presented, and the students engaged in blatant, shameless, and unforgiving intolerance. They, with the assistance of communications Professor Melissa Click, went as far as physically preventing a student journalist from documenting the situation at Mizzou.
In the ensuing days, students from campuses across the country engaged in a “million student march” to demand the government give them more money. One student appeared on the Fox Business channel with Neil Cavuto to explain her group’s demands. Cavuto calmly and reasonably questioned the young woman’s understanding of economics and government, revealing the student’s ignorance on the matters at hand. The thing to keep in mind is that Cavuto, a Conservative, did not bash the Liberal girl’s brains in with reason and economic common sense. He calmly and politely used the Socratic Method to encourage the student to think about exactly what she was calling for. This was an educational experience for viewers at home, and will hopefully serve as the same for the idealistic learner in the debate. Cavuto set a great example for all who wish to discuss politics, economics, and social issues, and, to her credit, the passionate student, though flustered, remained polite and reasonable. As a young woman, she is still learning about how the world works, so scolding her for her completely understandable ignorance would have been a massive failure.
What has taken place at Yale and Mizzou is embarrassing, and should not be tolerated by campus administration or educators, and definitely not by the public. The right cannot solve this problem; it is the left’s mess.
The Ad Hominem Assault of Ben Carson
As I wrote in a previous post, Dr. Ben Carson is a great and “unsmearable” man no matter how hard the Liberal media wishes the contrary were true. Carson may have exaggerated and dramatized a few details of his life story, but I would be distrustful of and bored by any person who didn’t. The important thing to remember here is that how stab-ly the Good Doctor attempted to stab a classmate, how hammer-ly he wanted to hit his mom with a hammer, and how scholarship-ly the scholarship West Point offered him was, the minor details of Ben Carson’s biography have nothing to do with his proposed policies or hopes for America. If Carson were vying for the title of most explicitly accurate autobiographer in the universe, his smearers might have a point. But for those of us interested in politics, there is nothing to see here.
Another form of vitriol the left spews at Ben Carson are attacks on his personal beliefs. A meaningless, ancient video of Carson talking about the pyramids of Egypt with nothing more than intentions of inspiration is being treated by the left like a drone strike by a Nobel Peace Prize winner on a volunteer hospital. Ben Carson, like the rest of us, is allowed to say and think weird stuff. He can say what he wants when he wants to. This is America! If Carson were demanding to excommunicate Egyptian pyramid experts who did not accept his theory, we’d have a problem. But what innocent and silly thoughts about prehistoric mysteries have to do with politics is beyond me.
From a fundamental standpoint, science does not actually prove anything. To claim that science provides us with absolute truths is intellectually dishonest. Science is a fantastic tool that is capable of guiding us towards knowledge, but strong scientific evidence is not equivalent to the figurative Word of God. In the same way that we must engage in critical thinking and skepticism when listening to the media, our government, religious institutions, and Hollywood, the scientific community is undeserving of supreme authority as well. The day science is given freedom from questioning is the day it becomes a religion, and no longer practical in the public sphere.
Some people are essentially calling for the heads of climate change deniers, and they sure as hell won’t be voting for a Republican anytime soon.
There is nothing wrong with saying Ben Carson would make a bad president. There is nothing wrong with criticizing policies you disagree with. There is nothing wrong with saying that a person’s religious views affect the way you vote. And there is nothing wrong with saying you will never vote for a certain political party.
But to lie about and attempt to destroy the reputation of another individual because you disagree with him? That’s not debate, nor is it in the spirit of Freedom of Speech.
Zoey Tur Manhandles Ben Shapiro
As a guest on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s Dr. Drew On Call, Conservative writer and political commentator Ben Shapiro challenged the status quo’s acceptance of transgendered people as healthy members of society. While certainly brash in expressing his views, Shapiro questioned our lack of skepticism involving the mental stability and societal impact of nodding and smiling in acceptance of transgenderism. He also pointed out the obvious fact that from a biological standpoint, males are males regardless of how they identify. Though it is completely reasonable to disagree, and strongly at that, with Ben Shapiro’s point of view, the panel focused on Shapiro’s word choices and his respect for people’s feelings, not his arguments.
Then, shockingly, the debate got physical. Transgendered journalist Zoey Tur was sitting next to Shapiro. Instead of refuting Shapiro’s claims or agreeing to disagree with him, Tur grabbed him by the back of the neck and said “you cut that out now, or you’ll go home in an ambulance.”
Worse so, the other guests not only failed to come to Shapiro’s defense, they lectured him about how he caused himself to be assaulted and threatened with serious violence. The don’t blame the victim adage was thrown out the window in defense of political correctness and valuing feelings over principles and facts.
This did not receive much attention outside of the alternative and Conservative media.
But what if their roles had been reversed? Had a Conservative thinker of, say, Bill O’Reilly’s ilk committed a similar assault against a transgendered individual, O’Reilly would have been crucified by society and possibly jailed or worse.
Tur’s brutishness is not typical of our preconceived notions of Liberal speakers, but it is another glaring example of the left’s unwillingness to have its views come under scrutiny, and its lack of maturity in debate.
Conservative speakers are being disinvited to public speaking events at alarming rates. Over the past several years, dozens of speakers scheduled to give lectures at universities and other kinds of public speeches have been disinvited or forced to choose not to attend events due to protests by people with different views.
FIRE (The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) has been documenting these cases and observing the phenomenon since 1999. While there are plenty of cases of Liberal speakers being disinvited to give lectures or commencement speakers, there is no doubt that Conservatives are far more often the targets, and Liberals are generally guilty of enacting resistance (Liberals even attempted to disinvite Bill Maher from speaking at UC Berkeley [which is supposed to be a bastion of free speech and expression]!). Check out FIRE’s website so you can see how this and other limitations on Freedom of Speech have been unfolding for yourself.
On the flipside, Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders was welcomed with open arms to speak at the notoriously Conservative Liberty University. Sanders’ supporters called it a brave and tolerant move on his part. This is despite the fact that there was no resistance to his presence, and the students he spoke to in a massive lecture hall behaved in a mature and polite manner throughout his visit. The truth is, it does not require courage to be a Liberal in Conservative territory. But when Conservatives step onto Liberal grounds, that’s another story.