13.2.07

DOES THAT "IN THE ORIGINAL GERMAN" QUIP APPLY? I'm extending the late Molly Ivins's description of Patrick Buchanan's keynote speech to the 1992 Republican Convention to one of the more notorious Frankfurt School ideas to catch on in the academy.

In City Journal, John Leo (via Milt Rosenberg) visits, once again, some of the same atrocities of the Perpetually Aggrieved.
Much campus censorship rests on philosophical underpinnings that go back to social theorist Herbert Marcuse, a hero to sixties radicals. Marcuse argued that traditional tolerance is repressive—it wards off reform by making the status quo . . . well, tolerable. Marcuse favored intolerance of established and conservative views, with tolerance offered only to the opinions of the oppressed, radicals, subversives, and other outsiders. Indoctrination of students and “deeply pervasive” censorship of others would be necessary, starting on the campuses and fanning out from there.
He goes on to note, however, that censorship for the sake of inclusiveness is becoming national policy in some countries.

Canada now has a national speech code and judges and elites eager to expand it. The Canadian Supreme Court has issued a series of rulings stating that the government may limit speech in the name of worthwhile goals, such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting sexual equality. The state may now seize published material judged to “degrade” or “dehumanize” any group.

What free-speech supporters would regard as horrendous abuses have become commonplace. In 1997, for instance, the mayor of London, Ontario, ran afoul of Canada’s Human Rights Code for refusing to declare a Gay Pride day, citing her Christian beliefs. The British Columbia College of Teachers refuses to certify teacher education programs at Christian universities if they urge students to abstain from premarital sex, adultery, or homosexual sex. The province’s hate-speech laws use extremely broad language, criminalizing statements that “indicate” discrimination or that “likely” will expose a group or one of its members to hatred or contempt.

Will Canadian subjects be required to pass a dispositions test?

Machinery of repression, however, is machinery that others can learn to operate.

Muslims want to play the same victim game as other aggrieved groups. The French Council of Muslims says that it’s considering taking France Soir, which reprinted the Danish cartoons, to court for provocation. When French novelist Michel Houellebecq said some derogatory things about the Koran, Muslim groups hauled him into court, which eventually exonerated him. The late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci wrote an angry anti-Muslim book, meant to waken the West to the gravity of the threat posed by Islam. Her prosecution in Italy for writing the book was pending when she died in October.

Much of Europe has painted itself into a corner on Muslim-driven censorship. What can Norway say to pro-censorship Muslims when it already has a hate-speech law forbidding, among other things, “publicly stirring up one part of the population against another,” or any utterance that “threatens, insults or subjects to hatred, persecution, or contempt any person or group of persons because of their creed, race, color, or national or ethnic origin . . . or homosexual bent”? No insulting utterances at all? Since most strong opinions can seem insulting to someone—can hurt someone’s feelings—no insults means no free speech.

Not everybody has the same notion of what constitutes "social progress." It occurs to me that tomorrow's mutation of St. Valentine's day into V-day on campuses nationwide is deliberate stirring up of one part of the population, the women of the fevered brow, against another part.

The follies of the perpetually aggrived are an inexhaustible source of material. I've located Repressive Tolerance in English, for extended reading.

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