"Because socialist society aspires to be a good society, all its decisions and opinions are inescapably invested with moral import. Every disagreement with them, every argument for alternative policies, every nay-saying voice therefore raises into question the moral validity of the existing government, not merely its competence in directing activities that have no particular moral significance," wrote widely read socialist economist Robert Heilbroner in a 1978 article in Dissent. "Dissents and disagreements thereby smack of heresy in a manner lacking from societies in which expediency and not morality rules the roost."Is it too much to ask that students of social organization understand that most human interaction is for some sort of betterment in mind and that morality might be emergent, and evolutionary stability might govern the expedience?
But consider that although Venezuelan socialism might have inherited a lot from the Roman Empire and the Iberian Catholic Church, there's a lesson from there that's germane here. "And, of course, the country's socialist government jails political opponents, beats demonstrators, and uses its legal power and economic control to stifle dissenting opinions that 'smack of heresy' in a system in which there is no 'relatively inviolable non-state employment sector' to serve as 'a condition for political freedom.'"
That's about muzzling the independent press, which is something politicians of all stripes hope to do, if they're not necessarily as up front about it as Our President.
But institutions of higher education, which mutated from seminaries, have their own notions of heresy.
In January of 2017, when the political controversy over Donald Trump’s perplexing win over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 national election was at its peak, my professor began his political psychology course by asking the lecture hall the following: “How many of you wish Hillary had won the election?” The question was voluntary, yet nearly every hand in the room shot up. “Okay, and how many of you supported Trump winning the election?” The room was quiet as not a single hand was raised, followed by a few chuckles. “Next, how many of you feel that liberals are safe walking across campus expressing their political views?” Every hand once again went into the air. “And how many of you feel that conservatives are safe to walk around campus expressing their political views?” The room filled with laughter as nobody raised their hand.Although the propaganda coming from universities continues to pay lip service to No Final Say and Pathbreaking Scholarship, the urge to extirpate Sin that used to rely on the Index now relies heavily on the Critique of Pure Tolerance. So much for free thought and discourse.
While most thought little of the exercise, this was one of the most frightening experiences I’ve had throughout my academic career. Here was an entire lecture hall of young adults laughing at the recognition of political suppression at a university founded on the principles of free thought and discourse.
“Free Speech,” as a term, has been co-opted by right-wing and liberal parties as a discursive cover for racism, xenophobia, sexism, anti-semitism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and classism. The creation of this petition at Williams cannot be separated from those dehumanizing associations. Nor can it be separated from a national pattern where certain amendments are upheld and protected at all costs and others are completely denigrated, ignored, and targeted. Take the privileging of the 2nd amendment over the 14th amendment, for example.The good news, dear reader, is that the student petition is self-refuting.
The petition prioritizes the protection of ideas over the protection of people and fails to recognize that behind every idea is a person with a particular subjectivity.You can argue that there are defensible markers of racism and all the other -isms and -phobias, and that public policy favors some passages in the Constitution more than others, or you can argue that each person has his own subjectivity, making his truth claims as valid as anyone else's. You can't simultaneously hold both positions.
Let's rewrite that last excerpt. "The petition prioritizes the protection of wrong ideas over the protection of our people and fails to recognize that some subjectivities are more subjective than others."