The Social Agenda of the Left and the Morality Muzzle

This endless expansion of sexual categories is a necessary consequence of what is now the fundamental tenet of modern sexual politics, and perhaps a key element of modern politics in general: That a person’s attitude to sex is the primary criterion for assessing their moral standing in the public square. If you say that sex has intrinsic moral significance, then you set it within a larger moral framework and set limits to the legitimate use of sex. In doing so, you declare certain sexual acts illegitimate, something which is now considered hate speech. This constant coining of new categories of sexual identity serves both to demonstrate this and to facilitate its policing.

via LGBTTQQFAGPBDSM? OMG! | The American Conservative.

There is a flag that needs to be set into the ground here: it should be possible for us as a society to have an honest debate about the morality of a sexual act without one side demonizing the other.

If we fail in that, we are not simply surrendering to political correctness. We are losing freedom of speech and freedom of religion all in one swoop, and thus losing what it means to be American.

On George Will and Scripps College

Late last summer, George Will was invited to speak at a respected public policy forum at the Scripps College in Pomona, California. He was then abruptly disinvited. The reason given for the withdrawal of his invitation was his recent Washington Post column on rape on college campuses. According to a statement by Scripps College President Lori Bettison-Varga, “after Mr. Will authored a column questioning the validity of a specific sexual assault case that reflects similar experiences reported by Scripps students, we decided not to finalize the speaker agreement.”

The column was awful, but the actions of Scripps College were a travesty.

Good Column Gone Bad

Let’s start with the column. In it, Mr. Will makes an important point that calls for deeper examination: when you celebrate or reward victimhood, victims tend to proliferate. He could have launched into a discussion of perverse incentives that can turn social programs into perpetual entitlements. Instead, he undermines his point by attempting to illustrate it with the worst possible example he could have chosen: the issue of sexual assault on campus.

Progressivism and its baggage have invaded our college campuses, politicizing instruction, fattening administration, and de-legitimizing an entire range of political views. Yet events make clear that those same  campuses do not yet have in place the right kinds of mechanisms to define, prevent, address, adjudicate, and punish sexual assaults. We can argue whether the tonic will cure the disease, but there is truth to the diagnosis. Mr. Will’s column was muddle-headed and embarrassing.

Good Intentions Gone Bad

I applaud the administration and students of Scripps College in their desire to show support to the victims of rape on campus. That said, no matter how you try to spin this, Mr. Will was disinvited because the views he expressed in one editorial out of some four thousand that he has written for the Post in the past 40 years was found objectionable.

To exclude him for that reason is to either demonstrate naked partisanship or to surrender to political correctness. Either is conduct unbecoming an academic institution, the lifeblood of which should be open debate and discussion of all viewpoints, however nauseating or preposterous.

The right thing to do would have been to bring Mr. Will to campus and allow him to speak his piece. If the Scripps students disagreed with Mr. Will, they could demonstrate that they not only possessed the maturity to offer him a forum for his views, but also the intelligence and passion to artfully rip him to shreds in public debate. Sadly, they will be denied that opportunity. That Scripps did not take this course in the name of political orthodoxy reflects no credit on the institution, its faculty, its students, or its alumni.

Debate and the Nation’s Future

When I was an undergraduate at UCSD in 1983, Angela Davis came to speak on campus. My College Republican friends and I raised no furor about it. What is more, I went to hear her speak despite my fundamental objections to her political and economic views, and despite her alleged provision of firearms to an underaged criminal who then used them in a kidnapping. In a mostly Davis-friendly crowd, I challenged her viewpoints and was shouted down, and rightly so: in my passionate disagreement, I had neglected to prepare a question that could be delivered with more logic than raw emotion. Nonetheless, I will treasure that day: nothing is more invigorating, more empowering, than having the chance to face in open debate a public figure whose views you oppose.

I wish only one thing for the students of Scripps and every institution of higher education in our great country: that they have as many opportunities as possible to face up to their political opponents in open debate. For if we do not teach our children to do that, to address their differences in dialogue, even heated dialogue, the only course of action left to them is to disregard or ban those with whom they disagree. Down that path lies a divided nation at best, and at worst, tyranny.

Bacon, Islam, and the the Failure of the Politically Correct Society

Winooski, Vermont and the Dismantling of America’s Values – The Dennis Prager Show

Dennis and I don’t always agree, and he gets himself whipped into quite a lather on this one, but he makes a superb point: in the name of political correctness we are surrendering our freedoms, and no more so than in the speed of our retreat in the face of Sharia law.

There is a line between the tact that comes with common decency on the one hand and being hypersensitive about offending the hypersensitive on the other. Winooski, Vermont has stepped over that line. It is no more correct to take down the bacon sign than it is to demand that a nativity scene be removed from a Church law, that crosses be removed, and that Jews be prohibited from wearing religious garb.

On the other hand, if that makes sense to you, I understand that there are many parts of France that can be quite lovely…

A Belated Word on #CancelColbert

The Perils of Making Racial Insensitivity a Firing Offense”
Conor Friedersdorf
The Atlantic
April 1, 2014

I enjoyed this article by Friedersdorf, which was by and large balanced, and I will be interested to see whether and how Stephen Colbert takes his pseudo-conservative persona to his new role as David Letterman’s successor.

I have long been ambivalent about The Colbert Report. Doubtless the lowest-common-denominator, William-F-Buckley-must-be-spinning-in-his-grave far-right yakmeisters have earned their fair share of parody, and Colbert has done that with laughter rather than rancor, for which he deserves credit.

But even on his worst day, I’d never argue for his ouster. He is a comedian, and he is entitled to some license, even if that offends people. If you can argue that Lenny Bruce should not have been censored, you are a hypocrite if you don’t stand up for Stephen Colbert.

In the meantime, we would do well to remember that whatever Suey Park and her followers are, they are not “liberal” in any sense of the word. Indeed, she and they demonstrate that the radical left is anything but liberal. Those of us with any sense of history will hear in their cries the chilling echoes of mid-20th century fascism.

Legislating Morality

What is ominous is the ease with which some people go from saying that they don’t like something to saying that the government should forbid it. When you go down that road, don’t expect freedom to survive very long.

Thomas Sowell

How to Best Remember Pete Seeger

In Pete Seeger and the Judgment of History (Commentary Magazine), Jonathan Tobin offers what has to be the best, most balanced remembrance of the folk singer and activist that has yet been written. Some may feel that Tobin pussyfoots a bit, and certainly it would have been possible to write a more searching essay about Seeger and his legacy. Others have, just as many have written panegyrics to the departed songster.

Tobin did not follow the path of character assassination, choosing equipoise in his eulogy. He reminds us that in remembering the dead we do neither ourselves, nor the departed, nor the bereaved justice in recalling but a single aspect of that person’s life. If we believe that judgment is the Lord’s and his only, we should not judge. If we do not believe that, we are still obliged to inject balance in our public remembrances. We should come neither to praise the corpse nor piss on the grave, but to call upon our fellows to ruminate on the complexity of the human soul and what the legacy of a man in toto means to us all in our lives.

Remembering the bad with the good invites us to reflect that even heroes are flawed, and that humility remains the highest virtue. Remembering he good with the bad encourages us to go forward and do better, regardless of the chaos and destruction left in our wake to that point.

To do less is not just to display a lack of maturity and menschkeit: it is to forgo intellectual honesty and, in the case of political figures, to make oneself a party to demagoguery. It is as distasteful to eschew balance in the memory of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Margaret Thatcher is it is to do the same with the memory of JFK, Martin Luther King, and Pete Seeger.

Enough with paeans, with juvenile “ding-dong-the-witch-is-dead” idiocy. Let’s take a page from Tobin’s book and show some class, even to those whose politics we detest. We may well learn something.

The problem with the Left in America is that they are more European than American. Paraphrasing Dennis Prager, they subscribe more to the French Revolution (“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”) than to those of the American Revolution (“Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”) The more you think about it, the more you realize that this is the true fundamental divide in American politics.

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