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June 15, 2014

Comments

splotchy

I find this sort of thing deeply troubling. As I do the recent swift conviction and jailing of a UK youth who tweeted offensive remarks about a murder. I don't defend his actions which were deeply offensive. But suppressing and even criminalising that which we find offensive? Where there has been no incitement, no threat, no harassment, surely we should be free to say what we want. No-one is forced to listen or agree, and opposing views will gain support if they have genuine merit.

That universities - places of broadening minds and learning - should become places where debate is quashed by intimidation....... well, Mao's China and Stalin's Russia come to mind.

rabbit

Such censors seem to think constraints on speech will never apply to them. They think that their cause is so manifestly just that the knife will never cut the other way. Such a naive viewpoint demonstrates a woeful ignorance of history.

Dan

@Splotchy I think you mean this guy:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-south-west-wales-27328669

Clearly he is a moron, but the idea that you should have your liberty taken away for this sort of thing is deeply, deeply troubling. Where were all the celebrity human rights activists on this? The whole point of free speech is to defend people you find personally abhorrent. Anyone can defend points of view they support.

David

Another example, closer to home. In November 2011 Cambridge University students protesting against funding cuts pre-emptively shut down and “occupied” a lecture by David Willetts, the minister for higher education, with the planned Q&A session being replaced by shouted slogans and continual barracking. Given Willetts’ appetite for serious debate and given the rarity of opportunities to grill a minister in person, the monotonous chanting and grandstanding made for a poor substitute. Nelson Jones wrote a response for the New Statesman, published online the following day:

Here was a minister willing to take part in a live, unpredictable and well-informed public meeting. Even if you disagree with his policies, this is surely something to be welcomed. Instead we were subjected to a tedious monologue by a bunch of self-satisfied protesters unwilling to listen to any point of view other than their own… The people who were ignored last night were the majority of the audience who had come to listen to - and challenge - the minister. Their views and wishes were swept aside by the actions of an immature and intolerant minority.

Sadly, Mr Jones’ view was very much a minority one and his enthusiasm for debate was rebuked by the New Statesman’s leftwing readership (whose comments have since disappeared). One commenter, a student, said, “We no longer need to listen.” Nor would others be permitted to listen, apparently. Another insisted, rather fancifully, that Willetts was “threatening the capacity of universities to maintain the institutions of free speech and critical thought” and therefore he must be silenced. The idea that universities are the last stronghold of “free speech and critical thought” is actually quite funny, in fact hilarious, as regulars will appreciate.

Others denounced Jones’ article – a defence of free speech and intellectual debate – as “conservative rubbish.” Another sneered at the very idea that such a debate should be “allowed” on campus. (Funny how often that word crops up, along with what it implies.) And so students who wished to hear - and engage with - a view at odds with their own were spared its corrupting influence by those who shouted loudest and then kept on shouting until people were obliged to leave. The protestors, you see, were “defending education” by making discussion impossible. Triumphantly and with great self-satisfaction.

oldwhiteguy

dan says....."the whole point of free speech is to defend people you find personally abhorrent". sorry dan but that is just not so. if someone is saying something that is abhorrent I will not support or defend them. they can say what they like but do not expect support of any sort from me. I will use the Koran as an example. the followers of islam have the hatred of Jews written in their so called holy book. we tolerate it but sure would not support what they say or do. I personally will not even tolerate it.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

David, thanks for collecting these snippets. I don't think they're much different from what's happening at British universities, if the recent NUS special conference on "lad culture" is anything to go by.

One of the shinier pearls of wisdom from that social justice shindig was uttered when the assembled indignati were discussing how to get pop songs they disapprove of banned:

"Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s censorship”

It's tempting for liberty minded people to become disheartened at this sort of thing. But here's the good news:

1) Most students aren't political. Rick (with a silent P) from the Young Ones may have real-life imitators, but they're very much a small minority. They just make more noise than normal people.

2) Reality is going to boot these people in the goolies. It's simple economics. Most of the social justice stasi are doing degrees that leave them less employable than when they started. They can't all get jobs as sociology professors, Labour party MP's, or Guardian columnists.

So for the great majority of the chanters, the hecklers, and the window smashers, today they might enjoy screaming about evil patriarchal Gaia-hating cismales and whatnot. Tomorrow they'll be fetching my large black Americano - no sugar - when my climate-raping SUV rolls up at the drive through Starbucks. Or making sure your hotel pillow has those little chocolates on it when you check in: http://davidthompson.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451675669e2019aff231bef970d-pi

It's nice that markets allow us to find the most valuable ways to serve one another.

3) Higher education is a bubble, and bubbles burst. We have too many students getting into too much debt doing degrees that have no value. Universities are sustained by the fading ancestral memory of the days when a degree was a passport to a better life. The residual goodwill they enjoy is substantial, but not unlimited. If something can't go on forever it won't.

4) Revolutionaries need to be tough. Our would-be neo-Bolshevik overlords are brittle. Back at the NUS Wannsee Conference on lads there was no end of lachrymose hand wringing:

Nsoedo says we need a safe space for men to talk about their insecurities. He also says it’s hard to escape lad culture. “Every time I’m with men I tend to be experiencing lad culture.”

Poor Nsoedo. :(

Here's the problem, chaps, chapesses, and trans*chappertinos of colour: crying into Twitter like a little girl won't get you very far. Shouting at people and breaking a few windows in the rare environment where you have overwhelming numerical advantage and little fear of retaliation isn't the stuff of which #smashingcapitalism, or whatever you're ululating about today, is made. Wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt doesn't mean you have the stones to murder your enemies like Che did.

So after you collect your degrees in Marxist astrology or whatever, bear in mind the best career advice anyone will ever give you: be quick fetching my coffee, and remember to smile. :)

David

the assembled indignati

I’m swiping that one. For the greater good, you understand.

splotchy

Dan - it was Jake Newsome I was referring to. I did not know someone else had also been jailed.

OldWhiteGuy - A distinction should be made between attacking the message, rather than the messenger. Re the latter, only extreme threats/incitements/intimidation can justify suppression. Being wilfully idiotic/offensive should instead merit being ignored.

Charlie Suet

What dismays me about all this stuff is how recent it feels (I mean in the UK). I left university five or six years ago now. My generation simply weren't as stupidly left-wing as the current crop seem to be. The girls didn't subscribe to puritan feminism and where there was the usual 'no-platform' bollocks being spouted, there was plenty of push-back.

I guess there are likely to be three main explanation for this:
1) The internet has made it easier for idiotic American ideas to cross the Atlantic
2) These phenomena seem more ubiquitous when you read about them - when you are actually a student you basically just ignore these sorts of people.
3) A lot of the more extreme protesting dies away when Labour are in power, because its practitioners are casuists and hypocrites.

splotchy

I throw into this melting pot of suppression, the pressure borne by feminist to effectively shut down the Oxford University Union, or at least prevent any debating there, because the president has been questioned by police about a rape allegation.

That's questioned. Not charged or convicted. But forget the presumption of innocence and (should one be needed) the right to a fair trial. The freedom to speak and debate must suffer.

David

Rick (with a silent P) from the Young Ones may have real-life imitators, but they’re very much a small minority. They just make more noise than normal people.

The problem, or one of them, is that it’s very easy for small and noisy groups of ideologues and narcissists to sabotage events and extinguish discussion, especially if the campus administration is indulgent of their various causes, pretensions and neuroses. In the example of disruption given in the Collins article, what’s interesting is the near-impunity of those doing the disruption. To the extent that the university’s spokesman later implied fault on the part of the invited speaker – for not being willing to stand there and scream for an hour, trying to be heard above other screaming people.

WTP

I take exception to "idiotic American ideas" crossing the Atlantic. I suppose we could trade instances of where this nonsense got more traction, new vs old world, but such reminds me a bit of the adage that fascism is always descending on America but landing in Europe. Things have "progressed" to a pitiful state on American campuses and I have no experience with UK and/ or European ones, but quite often the prongs over here try to justify or encourage socialist and other nonsense with the presumed enlighten thought that we should be "more like Europe".

In 1998 I was vacationing in Italy, Rome specifically. This being such a short time after the fall of the USSR, etc. I was amused when a drunken college student out with his friends was singing The Internotionale. The next day or so we crossed over to Trastevere to find a Che poster shellacked to a wall next to the quaint little restaurant where we ate. I was again amused, so much so that I took a picture of it. Such things you would never see in the US at that time. They seemed like the proverbial cockroaches surviving a nuclear war over there. And yet here we are repeating history all over again.

Dan

@oldwhiteguy

I don't mean defending the person per se (though I expect the police to do this, certainly)' or what they say, I mean defending their right to say it. This is an absolute position; once you equivocate, lists are drawn up.

Charlie Suet

I should explain that I don't think all American ideas are idiotic, or that all idiotic ideas are American (far from it). I only mean that this particular strain of identity politics was developed in American universities. Admittedly some of its progenitors were themselves continental, but in the main we seem to get a lot more of the rhetoric that was once the preserve of, say, Women's Studies Courses than we used to.

It's also worth bearing in mind that Britain traditionally considers itself separate from the continent (even if furriners don't agree). My university only reluctantly lets people study non-Austrian continental philosophy, for example.

As for the old "socialism works in Europe" idea, that says more about the progs' ignorance than it does about actual radicalism in Europe.

WTP

Specifically the identity politics part. I wouldn't know for certain, but you're probably right. A risk of Democracy I suppose.

Yeah, I'm aware that UK keeps it's distance, as much as it can, from The Continent. And rightly so. Just a little tweek there. When this subject comes up I'm reminded of our contested 2000 presidential election. The company I worked for at the time had a UK subsidiary that I was working somewhat closely with. Whilst gathering voices for a conference call one morning the chitchat was about how it was going over here vis-a-vis the recounts, especially since I was in Florida. One of the Brits on the line jested why all the fuss, as there was (BBC perspective perhaps?) little difference twixt W and Gore. I commented perhaps from 5000 miles away but up close it's a different perspective. I wonder if such would still appear the case today, say between the Hildabeast and say Romney.

Michael McCallion

The sadness of it all (beyond the impact on the majority of attendees) is the reluctance of the majority to interfere. This has become a learned response of the educated class of ordinary people.

The education of non-ordinary people is to realize that being non-ordinary, monied childhood, it is necessary to follow the tenets of "The Prince" and/or "The Art of War". Only in this direction will the monied childhood be passed on to the next generation.

The result is the passive majority and the manipulative trend setters. The agents for the manipulative trend setters, quickly thrown under the bus in the political world and radicalized for a life of anger and hurt in the "real world".

I have no solution except the trading, hetereonormative normal world has been the base for the advancement of the evolution of the wage based civilization. It is also the goal of the educated non-monied ordinary people. Possibly the ongoing need for technological ordinary people will maintain a non-oppressive society somewhere in the world. Cheers;

Tim Newman

I find this sort of thing deeply troubling. As I do the recent swift conviction and jailing of a UK youth who tweeted offensive remarks about a murder.

This doesn't surprise me: I know somebody who had the Met on his doorstep for sending a few emails to an ex who had just binned him rather unceremoniously. He made no threats of any kind, just said what he thought of her in the week or toe following. The fact that she went running to the police was pathetic in itself, that the police actually took an interest and acted is even more so. Somehow, "causing people to become a little uncomfortable" is nowadays a criminal offense.

Trimegistus

Okay, we can deplore this nascent fascism. We can mock the hypocrisy of the self-described progressives who behave like a new Inquisition. We can argue online and huff and puff and scowl.

But it's a real danger: we can't just laugh this off as crazy college lefties. Today's crazy speech-silencing campus activist is tomorrow's White House staffer.

So: what can we do? How can we actually combat this? Negative publicity doesn't seem to work (especially since the media sympathize with these wannabe-Red Guards and ignore or soft-pedal their outrages). College administrators and professors are enabling the problem rather than trying to prevent it. The law is mysteriously unable to do anything.

I'm serious. Blog posts and harsh words on Facebook aren't enough. But physical confrontation will simply be used as fodder for legal harassment and media targeting of conservatives. Protests against leftist speakers will bring down the wrath of universities and the law defending "freedom of speech."

I don't know what we can do, but something must be done.

MikeG81

@ Tim Newman

Pathetic it may be, but it's the logical conclusion of being told all your life that a parent, then teacher, then the state(police/courts) are the only ones that should solve conflicts between individuals, violent or not. Now that "feelings" have been identified as a physical body part or something, the state can intervene in this case of violence. Just the same as when you were 5 and some adult indulged the cries of "he hurt my feelings".

The fact that your male friend made comments toward a member of the protected class, made it important for the coppers to respond to the double plus ungoodness.

WTP

What trimgistus said. As to what should be done, we need to speak out not just amongst ourselves but on their blogs and spaces. Yes you may be banned or ignored, but that forces them to react rather than just accepting that people with a real belief in free speech should run away. When the stupid is raised in meat space amongst friends or otherwise, speak up. I'm not saying raise the subject and jam it down innocent third party's throats, but when such nonsense is just casually expressed we all have an obligation to say "No". Yes, you will be falsely accused of "politicizing" the discussion, but stick to your guns and remind those present as to who raised the issue. Again, not endorsing overreach or making irrational political connections to non political subjects. And don't expect to impact your friends or others over any short run.

I adopted this policy for myself post-9/11. It's taken over a decade but it's quite satisfying to hear those who once dismissed me as a crank admitting today that there is bias in the media, that academia is wasting our money and our youth. I know I'm not eloquent enough to do this job properly, but we all need to do this. The more who speak up, the easier it will be on all of us.

Forgive me if that sounds like preaching, but I don't hear many non-fanatical types saying as much.

David

I’ve added new links to video of the Tancredo incident. In two parts, here and here. From chanting and harassment to smashed windows.

derek

http://theagenda.tvo.org/episode/203575/the-election-agenda-and%2C-go-free-or-go-home%3F

As usual the excellent Steve Paikin manages to get his guests to tell us what they really think, and it is extraordinarily enlightening.

It is an appalling demonstration of determined ignorance, and the desire to impose ignorance on others.

abacab

It's funny how British lefties, who usually align themselves as the polar opposite of American, can't adopt the latest American leftist idiocism-du-jour fast enough.

Ofay Cat

American university campuses resemble the "Lord Of The Flies". From the president on down ... America is in the hands of evil juveniles no different than the socialist thugs who practice totalitarianism on their campuses. You will comply or be run off campus with no apology.

We will have a civil war with these people. Most of the left has a pathological fear of weapons. That will be our advantage.

Anna

“You have to respect the right of people to assemble and collectively speak.”

And collectively intimidate people they disagree with.
And collectively waste other people's time and money.
And collectively smash windows.

We have to respect that.

witwoud

Charlie Suet: "What dismays me about all this stuff is how recent it feels (I mean in the UK)."

I don't know. Hasn't this sort of thing been going on in universities since forever? Malcolm Bradbury was satirising domineering, repressive, bourgeois-baiting campus radicals back in 1975 — his radical lecturer, Howard Kirk, even manages to get a conservative student expelled from the university. Have things really got worse, or have they skewed in slightly different directions (e.g., towards victim feminism) and become more visible thanks to YouTube?

Charlie Suet

I think you're almost certainly right, on reflection. Possibly there was a lull in the nineties and early part of this century.

I've heard that the concept of 'left-wing' colleges at Oxford and Cambridge wasn't as pronounced in the seventies - they were all like that.

Darleen

Not just the students, not just the professors, but even the President of the United States sprinkles his commencement address with shout-outs that manmade climate deniers are "fairly serious threat to everybody’s future" ...

and we all know what needs to be done about serious threats now, don't we ... nudge, nudge, wink, wink

the IRS/NSA/EPA moves to punish conservative groups was just a small, trial run. And as Congress is toothless is doing anything about them, 2016 run up to the coronation of Hillary Clinton going to make Lois Lerner's harassments of citizens look like a teaparty with Pooh.

Nikw211

Possibly there was a lull in the nineties and early part of this century.

Nope. No lull, no let up, no break, no slow down.

WTP

A college roommate just posted a pic of a statue of Lenin in Seattle. I see no evidence of a Reagan statue in Russia. Anyone know of an equivalent? Yes, in Warsaw, Budapest, Prague, etc. but they were never the real enemy. I'm talking Russia proper.

While I agree some of this commie crap has never gone away, I also believe that our campuses have shifted much further to the left. In the US you could find such idiocy at places like Berkley and even U of Florida, but as an elderly Keynsian I've befriended recently was saying just the other day, the students back then were willing to listen. He had to deal with such at the time. He disagreed with them but they for the most part respected the exchange of ideas. We're in much more dangerous territory today and I think it's whistling past the graveyard to think otherwise.

Hal

I don't know what we can do, but something must be done.

. . . . . I'm reminded that I've been seeing two sorts of organizations over time. The people I've been hanging out with, who have been getting really major amounts of successful and quality work done, run their meetings by Robert's rules of order, or are a really tiny cluster of people who just talk over what needs doing, and then do that, and keep paying attention and adapting as needed.

The other groups, the ones that keep giving my people headaches, even if only from watching things get mangled, seem to have demand for large organization consensus in all areas and practices . . .

David

Here’s one possible measure of whether an intolerance of dissenting views has increased on campus:

FIRE’s report finds that since 2000, the number of reported disinvitations and demands that speakers be disinvited has skyrocketed — from six in 2000 to 29 in 2013, for a total of 192 such incidents. And while efforts to exclude speakers receive the most press coverage around graduation, they are a year-round occurrence, meaning that the full number of disinvitation incidents for 2014 (15 so far) cannot yet be known. “FIRE has informally tracked disinvitation incidents for a long time, but the attention paid to the problem this year because of the prominence of the speakers at issue led us to systematically evaluate the problem,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “The data confirms what we and many others suspected: The desire to silence speakers on campus is strong — and disturbingly, ‘disinvitations’ are becoming more common.”

It may also be worth revisiting this interview with Alan Charles Kors, co-founder of FIRE, in which he notes a generational shift in hiring patterns and a non-reciprocal tendency among self-styled leftist radicals:

I have always voted to hire people who think radically differently from myself, who are asking questions that I wouldn’t ask. The problem is that a lot of those people wish to clone themselves in their department and see voices that are dissident to their own orthodoxies as uncollegial.

And those who haven’t yet seen it may want to watch Evan Coyne Maloney’s 2008 documentary Indoctrinate U. Which I strongly recommend and reviewed here a while ago.

Conflictus

Dear Sir,

Thank you for a most thought provoking article (and comments).
I've been giggling like a little girl the whole day, thanks to the line by oldwhiteguy: "or whatever you're ululating about today".
It reminded me with such clear imagery the whole absurd senselessness of it all (many tiny short lived organisms, essentially planetary dandruff, in a mindbogglingly big universe...)

Nikw211

I can't speak for the US of course, and these disinvitations are indeed an alarming (if not entirely unexpected) trend.

But as far as the UK is concerned, when recent British graduate, Charlie Suet, said: 'What dismays me about all this stuff is how recent it feels …' I don't think it is all that recent. For instance, my first term at University in 1991 was marked by a student Socialist Worker's Party Occupation for example.

In fact, as I think I may have mentioned on this Blog before (and likely more than once), it's the resilience of these Marxist-inspired ideas that has the power to astonish. (And even this resilience would be tolerable, even welcome, if it weren't for the fact that the very study of so many AHSS subjects has become synonymous with the study of overtly politicised Marxist-based content. In fact, it's quite hard to imagine nowadays what a piece of literary criticism might look like without the tags 'hegemony','subaltern','cisnormative' etc. etc. in its tags).

Steve 2: Steveageddon

David - Swipe away :)

The problem, or one of them, is that it’s very easy for small and noisy groups of ideologues and narcissists to sabotage events and extinguish discussion, especially if the campus administration is indulgent of their various causes, pretensions and neuroses.

Yes, it's troubling, and it's also sad to see what has become of our universities. Nobody in history - including the Mongol hordes, the Luddites, and even Lord Humungus himself - has done more damage to the peaceful advancement of knowledge than has the modern university administration and its pet student radicals. If you closed half the universities down tomorrow, would we lose anything of value?

It's tempting to look on their works and despair. I prefer to point and laugh, because they're ridiculous.


Trimegistus - there are no obvious solutions, but when my kids are near university age they'll understand that unless they plan on learning something useful and academically credible - like medicine or engineering for example - there's no point getting into debt to fund it.

I can't fathom what goes through the mind of a man who lets his daughter go off to do Women's Studies. To me, that's like inviting Gary Glitter to a pyjama party.

David

Yes, it’s troubling

It’s also worth bearing in mind that this isn’t just a phenomenon of small dogmatic groups, which will always be around seething about something or other. The sense of unrealism and mental narrowness has become an institutional dysfunction, embraced and enforced by large parts of academia’s (increasingly bloated) bureaucracy. As a result, it does seem that the urge to correct campus WrongThought™ has become much more pronounced in recent years. Much bolder. I mean, when universities are doing this to would-be educators in the name of “social justice,” and hiring professional eavesdroppers to interrupt private conversations, I’d say new ground is being broken.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

Nikw211 - I'd never heard of the word subaltern being used in a lefty critical sense, so I eugooglised it:

Joanne Sharp proposed that Western intellectuals relegate other, non-Western (African, Asian, Middle Eastern) forms of knowing — of acquiring knowledge of the world — to the margins of intellectual discourse, by re-formulating said forms of knowing as myth and as folklore.

I think her argument, therefore, is that magic is real. Also, ghosts are real. She may have been influenced by the work of Dr. Peter Venkman, but since he was an awful white cismale who decamped to the private sector, probably not.

The subordinated man and woman can only be heard by his oppressors if he or she speaks the language of the oppressor

The bastards didn't even have the courtesy to use a babel fish, eh?

Incidentally, this is the brown-people whisperer Joanne Sharp:

http://www.gla.ac.uk/media/media_293875_en.jpg

She's a professor at the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences at Glasgow University.

How scientific are these geographical and earth sciences? I'll let the lady speak for herself:

My research interests are in feminist, postcolonial, cultural and political geographies.

http://www.gla.ac.uk/schools/ges/staff/joannesharp/

Uh huh.

woolly mammoth

and hiring professional eavesdroppers to interrupt private conversations,

*jaw drops*

Time for some tar and feathers.

David

Time for some tar and feathers.

Well, there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned sack beating. When the prospect of paid eavesdroppers was revealed to the public and reluctantly abandoned amid an avalanche of derision, those responsible for it weren’t at all apologetic. Quite the opposite. Presumably, they saw nothing improper or intrusive or downright creepy about what they wanted to do.

Nikw211

The sense of unrealism and mental narrowness has become an institutional dysfunction, embraced and enforced by large parts of academia’s (increasingly bloated) bureaucracy. As a result, it does seem that the urge to correct campus WrongThought™ has become much more pronounced in recent years.

David,

You make a point there that leads to something rather curious, I think. Comments such as this one:

    As universities turn toward corporate management models, they increasingly use and exploit cheap faculty labor while expanding the ranks of their managerial class. Modeled after a savage neoliberal value system in which wealth and power are redistributed upward, a market-oriented class of managers largely has taken over the governing structures of most institutions of higher education in the United States.

… or this one:

    … corporate money results in changing the value and mission of the university from a place where an educated citizenry is seen as a social good, where intellect and reasoning is developed and heightened for the value of the individual and for society, to a place of vocational training, focused on profit.

… both of which are written by self-confessed activist-academics are typical of a fairly commonly held view (on both sides of the Atlantic) that the commercialization of higher education is increasing and as it does so, 'real' education is being sidelined by the relatively recent introduction of 'corporate' business managers.

So in other words, it's curious that, if I've understood you correctly that is, you seem to be suggesting that the extreme Leftist campus hijinx is being supported by the very same expanded administration and bureaucracy that the Leftists at the forefront of said hijinx often feel they are opposed to and fighting against.

It would certainly be ironic if one of the reasons why nonsense such as we saw in the Tancredo videos (and elsewhere) is the result of university administrations trying to offer the 'customers' (students) what they want.

I mean, how bizarre would that be if the shenanigans of anti-capitalists etc. on campus were being tolerated by universities because their administrations were keen to attract more students through the promise of being more radical and diverse than another university it's in competition with.

If that's true – and it's a big 'if' as I may have misunderstood what's actually happening here – wouldn't that mean that anti-capitalist / anarchist / white privilege / cisgender studies etc. bullshit is underscored by the efforts of an administration focused on providing consumers with the 'experience' they really want? And if that was the case, wouldn't that mean that its actions just like this that are leading to the kind of destruction of the academic world that they constantly bemoan?

(That doesn't sound right, does it? And yet …)

Nikw211

I'd never heard of the word subaltern being used in a lefty critical sense …

Ah, well, you no doubt know by now 'subaltern' is a key concept in postcolonial studies, a term coined as far as I know by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.

The woman is remarkable for having invented the instant migraine, delivered in book form. The following is a 'taste' of her groundbreaking headache-inducer (only a little, nothing to make you swoon):

    In subaltern studies, because the violence of imperialist epistemic, social and disciplinary inscription, [the] project understood in essentialist terms must traffic in a radical textual practice of differences. The object of the group's investigation, in the case not even of the people as such but of the floating buffer zone of the region of the elite-subaltern, is a deviation from an ideal – the people or subaltern – which is itself defined as a difference from the elite. It is toward this structure that the research is oriented, a predicament rather different from the self-diagnosed transparency of the first-world radical intellectual.
David

Careful with that Spivak. Don’t get it on the rug.

David

It would certainly be ironic if one of the reasons why nonsense such as we saw in the Tancredo videos (and elsewhere) is the result of university administrations trying to offer the ‘customers’ (students) what they want.

I don’t have time to think and reply properly at the moment. Though it does seem that some campuses do bear a passing resemblance to holiday resorts. But somewhere in there there’s a basic economic problem, one we’ve noted before. Here in the UK the number of students is unsustainably high and much of that expansion involves courses of marginal, if any, economic value. Qualifications on which there’s no economic return or that have negative value. It also entails a large number of student loans that will never be repaid, thanks partly to those economically useless or marginal courses, and those losses are being absorbed by the taxpayer. It’s not a real market, whatever it is.

Nikw211

I should have opened it over the sink, really, shouldn't I?

David Gillies

Nikw: u wot m8?

Lancastrian Oik

@Nikw- wow, now there's a thought. You might be onto something.... that "of course, it's because most of them are just holiday camps for the future unempolyables" occurred to me, too.

Steve 2: Steveageddon

David - there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned sack beating.

:)

You namechecked the great Robert Heinlein last week. I'm reminded of Starship Troopers:

"Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor"

Incidentally, anybody following the International Lord of Hate, Larry Correia, will be aware that Robert Heinlein's name is mud among the tiresome lefties who have hijacked the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Heinlein, you see, is a Dead White Male. To add injury to insult, he wasn't a fan of Marxism or intersectional feminism either. And sometimes his characters solved problems by shooting them instead of trying to understand what the humans had done to deserve being attacked in the first place by giant space insects or mind-controlling jellyfish.

Dead white men like Heinlein and Asimov and Clarke and Bradbury are bad, because diversity. Them writing books was basically one big macro-microagression against all the disabled transgendered women of colour whose books would have been released had not the white men monopolised all the typewriters and paper.

The Guardian has an in-house science fiction writer called Damien G Walter who keeps us straight on this sort of thing. Damo knows what's wrong with sci fi: it's the white maleness, stupid!

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/jan/31/iron-man-white-male-geek-culture-fantasy-science-fiction

What authors should be doing is:

"writing about the emotional, political, social experience of being white, the challenges and complexities of whiteness [...] writing about patriarchy, how it has damaged us, how we dance in and out of these impossible gender binaries in our daily lives."

That sounds like fun! Put me down for one pre-order of Trigger Warnings In Space, please! I'll probably also see the movie and buy the licenced merchandise. Hopefully the logo is a big white penis with a red bar through it, Ghostbusters style.

To be fair to Damien, who is (perhaps needless to say) a white man himself, he is doing his bit for diversity by never having released a book.

Nikw211

the tiresome lefties who have hijacked the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Oh My God - heads of nails are just being hit left, right, every damn where, as I'm reading that.

Those fuckers still owe me the time and money I spent on buying sodding China Mieville's The City and the City or, as I like to think of it, 'bollocks'.

Mother of a whore, that is quite possibly the most cringe-worthy shite I have ever had to endure reading … and if I remember rightly they made Paolo Bacigalupi, who, whatever his politics, can actually write a damn, share the prize with Mieville.

And now some bright spark has let Mieville loose on a comic books - as if not content with ruining one of my favourite past times, the wee shite has to go and have a go at another of them!

dicentra

they’re very much a small minority. They just make more noise than normal people.

So were the Brownshirts, IIRC. Weren't Jews (students and profs) hounded off German campuses during the 1930s, beginning with the same shout-down and harass techniques?

pst314

they’re very much a small minority. They just make more noise than normal people.

That's the claim. But the much larger number of "moderate" and "reasonable" and "tolerant" university leftists who claim to love free speech (and that includes the professors and administrators) do nothing to stop these thugs. The most reasonable conclusion is that they approve of the thuggery.

pst314

"Time for some tar and feathers.

Well, there’s something to be said for a good old fashioned sack beating. When the prospect of paid eavesdroppers was revealed to the public and reluctantly abandoned amid an avalanche of derision, those responsible for it weren’t at all apologetic. Quite the opposite. Presumably, they saw nothing improper or intrusive or downright creepy about what they wanted to do."

Yes. It's not enough to get these people to stop any particular attack on our freedom. They need to be destroyed. Anyone who tries to pull this sort of Stalinist (expletive> should be subjected to a sustained and merciless attack on their reputation. They should forever after be known as scum, at work, at home, at church, wherever they spend their time. And their employers should suffer the same until they decide that employing thugs is not worth the pain. Really, it's way past time to apply a zero-tolerance policy to these creeps. It is no more reasonable to tolerate these creeps as it is to tolerate a rabid dog.

randian

Wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt doesn't mean you have the stones to murder your enemies like Che did.

I very much fear that the sort of people who feel privileged enough to openly commit vandalism and assault will indeed have the stones to murder like Che. All for a good cause, of course.

randian

Now that "feelings" have been identified as a physical body part or something, the state can intervene in this case of violence.

This sort of tyranny is inevitable result of the feminist slogan "the personal is political". Hurting somebody's feelings is now of government interest. Make no mistake, it is still the case that only certain people's feelings count. If she had sent him that email nobody would have cared.

randian

how we dance in and out of these impossible gender binariesu

Impossible? Last I checked humans still had only two sexes. A woman can pretend to be a man, but that doesn't make her pretense any less binary.

dicentra

Really, it's way past time to apply a zero-tolerance policy to these creeps.

We can also point out that Mafiosos are criminals, but they don't exactly respond well to shaming. In fact, they'll make sure you only attempt to shame them once.

These latter-day Brownshirts are doing only what it takes to achieve the goal at hand, which is preparatory to the next goal, which may require violence direct action, their cause being just that righteous.

Now Minnow will invite us to see the violence inherent in the system, just prior to the fish-slapping dance.

pst314

"fish-slapping dance"

I'll bring a saw-fish. :-)

Franklin

We could also let the leader of the firing squad yell the order to fire, and let the riflemen find out the hard way that they've formed a circle.

Of note here is that the attacks hail from the left even upon the left. Dan Savage is as liberal as anyone. Birgeneau, who was hounded out of the Haverford commencement, is on the record supporting BDS against Israel and like causes. Epistemic closure tends to expose your dorsal side to attack - see Cantor, Eric - and we're looking at the left descend into the kind of internecine disagreements that cause it.

I still think we should fight them just for fun.

David

I still think we should fight them just for fun.

What’s extraordinary is the extent to which this kind of pantomime is indulged by administrators and faculty. In December last year, these fits of leftist psychodrama were kicking off on various campuses, including the local university, where one of my relatives works. She, like 200 others, was unable to get to work for several days, countless projects were interrupted at considerable expense, deadlines were missed, and dozens of classes had to be cancelled.

Meanwhile, members of the Socialist Students group and Revolutionary Socialists Society - a gang of delusional wannabe communists and would-be anarchist ninjas - “occupied” an entire building, claimed ownership of whatever they pleased, imposed on whomever they pleased and made the usual absurd demands. Chief among which being that they didn’t want to pay for anything, including their own tuition or the bill for clearing up after them. They wanted a world without consequence.

And in many ways, this is exactly what they were given. So far as I can find out, none of the masked wankers causing the disruption faced any serious sanction. None of those who’d delighted in thwarting and intimidating staff and other students faced any consequence for their actions. No-one was expelled. No-one was given a bill. And so these balaclavad tossers are being taught that they can act with impunity. Their Marxoid power fantasies have no consequence for them, only for others. The general attitude among staff and administrators was one of resignation. As if it were something one just had to put up with every few months.

And so it happens. Every few months.

Tim Newman

If she had sent him that email nobody would have cared.

Quite. Can you imagine a guy walking into a police station complaining of harassment over the emails of a jilted lover? He'd be laughed out the door. A woman does it, the police launch into action.

pst314

"So far as I can find out, none of the masked wankers causing the disruption faced any serious sanction."

Not only are most college administrators and professors cowards, they secretly agree with these communist parasites.

Henry

Can you imagine a guy walking into a police station complaining of harassment over the emails of a jilted lover? He'd be laughed out the door. A woman does it, the police launch into action

If that's true - and I tend to agree with you that it probably is - we have to ask why. It's not because police are naturally anti-male, I think, but because of considerable pressure put on them to lock up specifically men who are supposedly harrassing women.

Similarly, there are measures, both in the UK and in some states in the US, to respond strongly if anyone makes any suggestion to them that domestic violence might be happening. So a neighbour hearing a loud argument followed my a bang (possibly the woman throwing a saucepan at her spouse, as my sister once did)

The police might well know that if they ignore a report of a man being hurt in an incident, they will not get into anywhere near as much trouble as they would were the putative victim a woman. Similarly with reporting it as domestic violence.

It's not the police themselves so much as the pressures put on them (from more political persons higher up the ladder) that are serious examples of sexism against men. But it somehow doesn't make it onto the scrupulously unbiased Everyday Sexism site. Funny that.

If you think about it, there are probably quite a few parts of the law where the theory, interpretation and application discriminate to men's disadvantage. A man throws sauce over his ex-girlfriend, and gets a worse sentence than a woman who has kneed her ex-husband in a nasty area and reportedly said afterwards "I hope I've stopped him having any more children".

In the case of rape one might understand why the law treats men and woman differently. But if you look at just how differently the world treats us all, you have to doubt whether anyone in the country truly believes in "equality" - a left-winger's favourite word - or whether some people simply want equality where it suits them, and not where it doesn't.

Is "equality" in fact just a politicians word that people like to throw about - so they can appear righteous - while having no serious intention of thinking about the consequences?

(hint: yes)

Lancastrian Oik

China Mieville- I gave up on him after page 5 of "Perdido Street Station". You know how Martin Amis described the late Elmore Leonard as being "incapable of writing a dull sentence"? Well, China is Dutch's antithesis.

Lancastrian Oik

"I think we should fight them just for fun".

I think we will end up fighting them anyway, and it will be anything but fun.

David

Luckily, Mr Miéville’s politics are much more entertaining.

Lancastrian Oik

Thank you, David. I am very much entertained by Mr. Dalrymple's essays. More power to your blog. I'd rather live in Heinlein's universe than Mieville's. "The Roads Must Roll".

Franklin

Readers here might enjoy knowing that the above post of mine was recently discussed in approving terms by Mark Steyn.

David

Well get you.

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