URLs du Jour

2017-05-22

■ A three-verse day for us. Proverbs 26:24-26 is really down on the Proverbial enemies:

24 Enemies disguise themselves with their lips,
    but in their hearts they harbor deceit.
25 Though their speech is charming, do not believe them,
    for seven abominations fill their hearts.
26 Their malice may be concealed by deception,
    but their wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.

Not six or eight abominations, mind you: seven.

■ A disheartening editorial in my local paper, Foster's Daily Democrat, showing just how far left/stupid the paper has moved over the past few years. The editorial demand: Put an end to racism at UNH. This is all stemming out of the Cinco de Mayo brouhaha.

Fortunately, it's awful and nearly self-refuting. Starting with the title: end racism. Seriously? Where's the magic wand to do that, a goal that has never been accomplished by any society, ever?

Let's grant that the editorial starts (as such arguments always do) with Good Intentions. The writer wants students at UNH to respect each other, to be treated as dignified individuals without prejudgment due to their race. (Or, no doubt, any other characteristic in the laundry list: age, sex, color, marital status, physical or mental disability, creed, or national origin.) Fine.

And the editorial is against violence, threats, and vandalism. Also fine. But those things are already well-covered by the law, and the UNH conduct code. So?

Once the editorial goes beyond that, things get problematic. The editorial (vaguely) promotes responses that are (a) disproportionate to the observed offenses at UNH, (b) probably unconstitutional; (c) almost certainly a recipe for further campus strife.

The editorial takes at face value various UNH incidents: the N-word written on a "diversity-themed" bulletin board, scrawled swastikas in a dorm, a rock thrown at a bicycling "student of color". All meant to show that racism is prevalent on campus.

We've noted this before. Such incidents may be perpetrated by bigoted students. But sometimes such incidents are hoaxes. They may be, as with one recent bit of nastiness, "a strategy to draw attention to concerns about the campus climate.”

Nevertheless, the editorial proceeds to demand that UNH "do more": "it needs to be made clear that these acts won’t be tolerated — that students can be expelled for such acts."

Wait a minute, what acts? Exactly. Should a student be expelled for wearing a sombrero on May 5?

That's not too far-fetched. Boston.com reported that students are demanding that the conduct code be amended "to expel students who post 'racially insensitive' content."

Not just "hate speech". Insensitive speech.

And the rhetorical overkill is tremendous: one young lady at a UNH forum, claimed “blackface is a direct death threat."

What can you say, except: No. No, it's not.

Again, I recommend Eugene Volokh, written as a response to a similar editorial in the Washington Post. I was thinking about writing an irate letter to Foster's, but I realized I'd probably just be plagiarizing Volokh.

The Post has long benefited from strong First Amendment protection and has long defended it. It’s a shame that it is affirmatively calling for viewpoint-based speech suppression here.

For my take, please reread that with Foster's substituted for "The Post".

■ On to happier matters, by which I mean the continuing degradation of democratic norms in political debate. David Harsanyi lectures: Putting Country Above Party Works Both Ways. A point we made yesterday:

Now, I realize there is no room for half-measures in this political environment. You must be wholly, 100 percent convinced every day on every topic that Donald Trump is guilty of every act floated by every anonymous source in every publication or you will accused of abetting the coup against the American people.

But it's worth pointing out that Democrats, at least rank-and-file liberals, seem to have convinced themselves that this saga ends with articles of impeachment and removal. Who knows? Maybe they'll be right. But it's not concern-trolling to point out that having this level of certitude about an outcome has the potential to be self-destructive for the country as well.

■ David French wrote an article about Chelsea-used-to-be-Bradley Manning, and was attacked. But not on the substance of the article, but… Chelsea Manning and the Problem with Pronouns. Yes, David referred to Manning as a "he".

Immediately I was deluged with passionate but reasonable tweets explaining to me exactly what was wrong with my pronoun usage. No, wait. That was in a parallel universe. Here in the real world, I received a series of tweets you can’t post on a family website. In the real world, I was called a transphobe, “America’s worst person,” and many other names simply because I wouldn’t identify Manning as a woman.

I'm pretty sure that's the sort of thing people have in mind when they demand that people be expelled for "insensitivity".

In the secular faith of the illiberal Left, pronoun mandates have become the equivalent of blasphemy codes. On this most contentious of issues, one must use approved language and protect the most delicate of sensibilities. It’s bad enough to see this mindset work itself through Twitter or in shouted arguments on the quad. When it makes its way into law, then intolerance moves from irritation into censorship. It’s identity politics as oppression, and it’s infecting American debate. May it not corrupt American law.

Interesting times, aren't they?


Last Modified 2017-05-22 11:22 AM EST