Free Speech or Ideological Puritanism?

By Sam Stevens

The takeaway from the student uprisings of the last few months is that many students graduating universities are incapable functioning in a republic.

Free speech presupposes that everyone tolerates each other in the true meaning of the term. Instead, the concept has been perverted. Everyone must embrace lifestyles or identities with which they disagree, to the point that their own identities are considered invalid or hateful. For example, the concept of freedom of association when it comes private businesses has been all but eroded.

Universities are supposed to be places of open discourse. Rather than adopt a true diversity when it comes to political thought, many have taken the route of going into hysterics when something counters their social justice ideology.

It is not the administration of these universities that launches into a rage. Students lashed out of the administrators of Yale University for suggesting that they be open to different ideas.

Yale is one of the Ivy League universities. The future leaders of the nation are supposed to graduate from Yale. Yet they need the school to police Halloween costumes they consider “racist.”

This episode suggests what academics at that university must be like. However, I can only speculate, as I do not attend the college. It does suggest a narrow range of acceptable thought.

Television, movies, and mass media have foisted upon the country this narrow range of thought, cloaking it in inclusiveness and diversity. The other mechanism is pre-packaged systems: social justice liberalism a la MSNBC and neo-conservatism a la Fox News.

Both police their respective ideological pools with ruthless efficiency. Any criticism of Israel will get you ostracized from the Republican establishment, while any criticism of immigration earns you the same fate on the other side.

This kind of conditioning is so rampant that people self-police their own thoughts and behaviors, unless they want to the self-appointed thought police to shriek them down and brand them as a deviant.

The point of a republic is to allow qualified citizens to vote and deliberate on the issues in order to come to some kind of consensus. The adherents to the kind of ‘safe space’ politics cannot function in a democracy. If someone is shielded from any disagreement or alternative ideas, it leads to stagnation and decay.

All one-party, totalitarian states fail because of this flaw. The establishment becomes so convinced of its superiority, partly because they have purged any alternative ideas.

While there are no secret police, it’s almost as if America has marginalized truly diverse thinkers. The 1960s Cultural Revolution, like all revolutions, has turned on itself.

Where the Baby Boomers championed free speech decades ago, we now have the nebulous concept of hate speech, where the self-appointed guardians of speech lambaste anything remotely beyond the pale of political correctness as “fascist.”

The “68er” Cultural Revolution mirrors the French Revolution on a much less violent scale. The students of Yale, Missouri, and other universities are the destructive Jacobin force, the true believers in “safe space” politics, attacking their Baby Boomer and Gen-X Girondists, the moderates that actually believe in free speech.

What this means for intellectual discourse in America’s universities will emerge as time goes on. Should the trend ideological Puritanism continue, it can only lead to tyranny. If the students of Yale and Missouri want their universities to coddle them and insulate them from alternative ideas, they will only want a state that does the same.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: