On Sept. 13, 2013, Rod Dreher at The American Conservative gave a nice display of his glaring hypocrisy regarding freedom of speech and his often camouflaged aversion to the market place of ideas. Why?
In a recent article (“Campus Feminist Vs. First Amendment”), Dreher decided to launch an attack on a female LSU student, Jana King, portraying her as some rabid anti-freedom of speech nitwit, and himself as her very opposite, an enlightened defender of free speech. Now, that takes hypocrisy, given that Dreher is not in any way different than Jana King. Before we get to Dreher’s hypocrisy, however, let’s take a look at the case itself.
Dreher starts out by painting King as a (liberal) snowflake who is particularly upset about a noxious form of oppression: having to hear opinions she disagrees with. Sounds bad, doesn’t it? Funny thing is, that’s exactly what Dreher’s profile is. Moreover, when we examine the case with King more closely, it seems a bit more nuanced at least in one respect.
King wrote an op-ed and made a video complaining about a recent change in policy at LSU. As a result of a lawsuit from the Alliance Defending Freedom group where the latter prevailed, LSU has recently been forced to allow students express opinions anywhere on campus and not just on this tiny “Free speech plaza.” Now, at first glance, it sounds like the University had confined “free speech” to one tiny square outside the classroom – like something out of Animal Farm – but this policy seems to mostly involve speech outside the classroom, that is, students and outsiders being able to protest or distribute printed materials to LSU’s students all over campus – and not just in one small spot.
I, in any case, completely support ADF’s actions to ensure there is freedom of speech in this regard throughout this campus and other campi. But I have to say I sympathize a bit with a particular aspect of King’s complaint. While one gets the impression that King is actually quite bothered merely by opinions she doesn’t appreciate -something she shares completely with Dreher- the examples she has on her protest video are mostly of aggressive deliveries, a fact that Dreher carelessly if not purposefully left out. Says King:
Most people think of freedom of speech as a constitutionally given right that allows them to say whatever they want, whenever they want, at whatever volume they want, without fear of any consequence because “Ahem, First Amendment.” … What they did not intend to protect was that student’s right to yell at you about a fetus that you may or may not have growing inside of you. … I feel like the Founding Fathers would side with me if I were to tell them about my experience last fall, when a member of the Baton Rouge community came on campus and began harassing me and a friend for being feminists. She went so far as to angrily shake a finger at us and call us “baby murderers.”
King isn’t merely complaining about differences of opinions and their expression, but of their angry and aggressive, in-your-face delivery. We don’t have enough details to know exactly how aggressive this incident was, but I can image if the protesters were truly angry and aggressive that it’s not unreasonable she found them unpleasant. And while I still support the right of people to yell at others in protest, it can also turn into a form of harassment or be borderline. I could see how this type of angry and loud behavior could easily escalate tensions between students to the point that it would break out in some kind of physical violence. On the other hand, I think if such incidents should happen, they need to be dealt with individually, instead of having a campus-wide censorship policy which, in particular, prohibits the more normal (read minimally polite) delivery of pamphlets or speech.
Getting back to Dreher, he continues his grand hypocrisy display in his article by going on to attack the idea of a “safe” space on campuses mentioned by King. His criticisms are all very well and good on the subject, and I perfectly agree with them, but a “safe space” is exactly what he enforces on his blog!
Dreher writes on the fake “safe” concept:
[beginning of excerpt] That “safe” business deserves a bit more commentary. If you watch the short King video to the end, you’ll see that she considers restricting speech on campus to be a matter of protecting her “right to a safe learning environment.” This whole idea of “safety” is often a cudgel the cultural left uses to marginalize and silence its ideological opponents by condemning their opinions as a threat to safety.”
The first time I encountered that was back in 1994, when a self-described feminist at my lunch table, upon learning that I was pro-life (this, in response to my answering a question one of her feminist friends put to me), mildly freaked out, and told her friends that she didn’t feel “safe” with me at the table. I had never seen anything like that before.
But it’s quite common now among gay activists in schools, who (rather brilliantly, from a Machiavellian point of view) sell their highly ideologized approach to education as a method for creating “safe spaces” in schools. The idea is that if you oppose their strategy or proposed policies, you must be indifferent to the safety of LGBT students. …
For example, in this guide, GLSEN compares rejecting its definitions of what constitutes an acceptable school to being on the same spectrum as supporting slavery or being a member of the KKK. In the same guide, it gives this example of “community oppression”:
“Community oppression is oppression that one experiences within a community to which they belong. Example: A lesbian attends a house of worship that preaches homosexuality is a sin.”
You see what’s going on here? To express the opinion within your community that homosexuality is sinful is a form of oppression.
[end of excerpt]
Dreher then cites Greg Lukianoff of FIRE:
“In a sense, I am grateful for her video and article because it’s rare to see a student so clearly and forthrightly make the case against basic political speech on campus. It’s also nice to have someone state so clearly that they think basic political speech could be harassment and possibly deny her a “safe learning environment.” When I tell people the language “safe learning environment” is often used as a code for the supposed right “not to be offended,” they are, ironically enough, sometimes offended by that suggestion. … On today’s modern campus, safety equates to comfort, which too often means a right not to hear opinions that you dislike. This is precisely the opposite of what campuses should encourage.”
This is the apex of hypocrisy from Dreher. If you’re reading this for the first time, it may be news to you that I was banned from commenting on Dreher’s blog (part of the TAC site). What terrible offense did I commit? His accusation was that I created an “unsafe” environment at his blog! Ideas or facts he is bothered with, in his own little snowflake manner, are swiftly censored.
Dreher justified his banning by accusing me of writing something “inflammatory.” See? There is no safety if something “inflammatory” is written, is there? Clearly, Dreher was only doing a public service on his blog by censoring comments he labeled “inflammatory.” Because we all know how bad “inflammatory” is. It just calls for censorship, doesn’t it? (Rather brilliant, from a Machiavellian point of view, wouldn’t you say?) If Dreher could rewrite the First Amendment, he would change it to: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech (except in all cases I deem said speech to be inflammatory), or of the press (which should also be censored any time it has the gall to be inflammatory as well, as per my definition)…
So if you ever want to censor an idea or fact, just call it “inflammatory” and censorship is justiified. LSU and GLSEN and Jana King made the mistake of calling the opinions, ideas, and facts they don’t like “unsafe.” Who could censor “unsafe” speech? Only narrow-minded people on the left. But “inflammatory” speech, oh no! That’s a whole different ball game! It must be censored! Just ask Rod Dreher. He would have been all in favor of LSU censoring free speech in the entire campus, including in the classrooms, if students had claimed they were being forced to hear “inflammatory” ideas!
What Dreher really meant is that I was upsetting his little comfort level. And obviously such charges of “inflammatory” are of the kind “proven to be inflammatory because the accuser says so.” Just like when the left claims some statement is “unsafe” according to them.
Let’s fix Dreher’s paragraph above for him: This whole idea of “safety” is often a cudgel that conservatives very cozy with homosexuality, like Dreher, use to marginalize and silence other social conservatives by condemning their opinions as a threat to their “comfortable” discourse bubble.
On the center, right, or left, people often react quite the same way: if some speech makes them uncomfortable, well, its censoring is immediately justified under the guise of defending some lofty ideal.
The censorship Dreher practices on his blog is not any different than what I experienced recently at a liberal cad’s blog who exclaimed: The market place of ideas must be shut down, because too obnoxious. See? Too unsafe, too obnoxious, too inflammatory – pick your censorship justification label, they’re all the same: they merely serve the same noxious purpose of reducing the market place of ideas to a monopole of ideas. It’s nothing but a way to eliminate questioning points of views within a public forum. While I am not positing that a campus space is perfectly equal to a blog forum space, I am pointing out that Dreher is just as much of a snowflake eager to maintain his little comfort level as Jana King, GLSEN, and all the obtuse, herd-thinking liberals he criticized.
Lastly, paraphrasing Dreher’s own article at the end, Dreher considers himself enlightened and tolerant yet he is no less McCarthyist than these liberals. Such is the nature of illiberal cozy-with-the-gays conservatives. They are not aware that free speech means free speech, not just freedom for speech that’s “safe” or “non-inflammatory” according to the tendentious and manipulative definition they and many other such “conservatives” insist on.
This blog is dedicated to publishing recent comments and discussions that have been censored mostly in conservative venues, but sometimes liberal ones as well.
I started publishing censored comments submitted to First Things/First Thoughts and then added more censored comments as the phenomenon multiplied. As I mentioned I had several comments censored on The American Conservative until I was banned. The false charges for the banning were “inflammatory!” Below is a list of the links to some of the censored comments.
This post was redacted by Rod Dreher at the American Conservative. He took out all mentions to how denouncing violence by LGBT people is met with the same levels of cover up as in the CC scandal.
Censored at TAC:
Censored on the American Conservative 21/1/2013- I was told it was inflammatory
Censored (The American Conservative): Comment highlighting sexual violence, promiscuity, and STDs by homosexuals in reference to the new rules for Boy Scouts