Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kristof: Mizzou, Yale and Free Speech

I think Kristof is a bit too easy on the PCs here.
But I'm hardly neutral on this issue. The illiberal left probably pushes even more of my buttons than does the illiberal right.
academia — especially the social sciences — undermines itself by a tilt to the left.
   I'd say: especially the humanities and the social sciences. And the explicitly politicized, largely activist departments like women's studies, gender studies, and the various varieties of ethnic studies departments that have one foot in the humanities and one in the social sciences. 
   More importantly, I'd say: I try to avoid the "this undermines liberalism" argument as a matter of principle. If liberals can't see and/or don't care that the PCs are wrong, then I'm not interested in helping out liberalism by bribing them to do the right thing by emphasizing prudential considerations. Do it on principle or to hell with you is my view of the matter...  Liberals have got to learn that they're not always right, and that this will help conservatives is not the only argument that matters. 
We should cherish all kinds of diversity,
Yeah, no. Not even close. Not even close to being close to being right. We should not cherish all kinds of diversity," This is one of the muddle-headed beachheads established by the paleo-PCs of the late '80's-early '90's. "Diversity" is part hollow verbal tic, part verbal camoflage that, among other things, encourages us to reduce individuals to whatever biological and cultural properties the left wants to emphasize at the moment, and part rotten euphemism that lets us do so without feeling bad about it. We don't have any reason to "cherish," say, 8-bit video-game aficionados, horse enthusiasts, Scientologists, poop-swastika-scrawlers...nor any number of other irrelevant types. Diversity is not clearly a good in itself, and certainly not good along any axis you can think up. Are there too few black people in American universities? Well say so then. If you can't even say it, then you shouldn't be pursuing policies that attempt to change it.
   One thing Kristof is almost certainly right about, though, is that one type of "diversity" that might ought to matter to universities is political: it's more than a bit weird that there are so few conservatives there. Were liberals really liberal, they'd worry about that more.
   Finally there's this:
A widely circulated video showed a furious student shouting down one administrator, Prof. Nicholas Christakis. “Be quiet!” she screams at him. “It is not about creating an intellectual space!”

A student wrote an op-ed about “the very real hurt” that minority students feel, adding: “I don’t want to debate. I want to talk about my pain.”
In addition to being illiberal, political correctness is anti-intellectual. They've got an array of jargon that might sound scholarly to the untrained ear, but that's just a facade. There is a kind of link between PC and the post-post-modern mish-mash of not-terribly-good recent Continental philosophy that's so popular in so much of the humanities and social sciences--critical theory et al. But there's a deep anti-intellectual current in that stuff that subordinates the pursuit of truth to "emancipation"--at least in it's more popular interpretations. Liberals-in-the-broad sense hold that we have to put up with discomfort and offense because free expression and the pursuit of truth and goodness are more important. PCs think that--to put the point in its most unfavorable light--hurt feelings trump all. Or, rather: the hurt feelings of members of politically correct groups trump all. There's a point worth considering deeply buried in their nonsense...but I'm not feeling particularly charitable this morning.


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