Aspiring to be more politically correct than thou, a group of students at Wellesley College has formed a new organization. We shall call it the Wellesley Illiterati. Please do not confuse it with the Illuminati or with the Cambridge Apostles.
The Wellesley Illiterati have recently taken over the student newspaper “The Wellesley News” to print an editorial in defense of their right to try to shut down speech they do not approve of. The speech in question was delivered by the estimable Laura Kipnis, a Northwestern University professor who is currently touring the nation to promote her new book, Unwanted Advances. I have posted about the Kipnis saga on numerous occasions, about her running afoul of the campus thought police and being persecuted for as much.
When Kipnis gave a small speech at Wellesley a group of professors protested by penning a manifesto explaining that she was trafficking in hate speech and that her speech needed to be suppressed. Said professors argued that students would be damaged by listening to the views of a feminist like Kipnis. She has dared to question the current campus orthodoxy on a variety of issues, especially faculty/student amorous relationships.
For today we focus on the editorial published by the student newspaper. Alice Lloyd points out correctly that it is barely literate, and we all understand that the editors, presumably people who have some capacity to write in the English language, are stifling themselves because good writing, correct syntax, and cogent argument would oppress and embarrass those members of the Wellesley community who cannot write or think clearly.
Dumbing yourself down at Wellesley allows the less gifted students to feel like they are not less gifted. Of course, this also deprives them of the chance to improve themselves. Those who dumb themselves down are refusing to give the less giftedan example of good writing, something to emulate and aspire to.
Lloyd points to an egregious example of illiteracy:
But their failed experiments in sentence structure, as well as logical leaps none among the uninitiated could easily follow, backfire: "Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech." The pronoun "it" floats free, unbound by any antecedent, after the semicolon. The editorialists may have meant the second half of the sentence as a coded message to the world outside their coddling cell: Shutting down rhetoric is hate speech, of course it is! Send help!
Amusingly, the “it” after the semicolon must have as its antecedent “shutting down.” Thus the editors manage to say that they themselves, in their ardor for shutting down speech are practicing hate speech. The editors are not only syntactically challenged. They end up arguing against themselves. It reminds one of the ancient image of the ouroborous.
And Lloyd also points to this wondrous sentence:
[I]f people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted.
We are obviously in the realm of brainwashing. The writers notion that one speaks hate speech is redundant. Wanting people to be punished for refusing to believe what the thought police want them to believe is anti-democratic and totalitarian. It represents a dictatorship over thought and belief. We will not ask why is to decide whether people believe the right beliefs, but presumably they will be judged by the Wellesley Illiterti, a group that has so many of its own problems that we do not know how it will find the time to judge others.
Being incipient law professors the Wellesley Illiterati understand the original intent of the framers of the Constitution… and also of the First Amendment… so they opine on the topic. Strangely enough, they pretend to be originalists, even though true originalists understand that the purpose of the amendment is to allow for offensive and rude and obnoxious and even stupid speech. In no way are we suggesting that the free speech rights of the Wellesley Illiterati be circumscribed.
Lloyd quotes them and comments:
"The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government," they write. "The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging." The unthinking reflex to stay safe from dissent and foster intellectual sameness at the expense of rigorous debate has no particular precedent in actual history—or really anywhere off campus, or in any prior generation.
To be truthful, no one has ever thought that the marketplace of ideas is a free-for-all. The first lesson in constitutional law explains that libel, slander and defamation are not protected speech. Nor are conspiracies. And yet, attacks on reputation are directed against individuals, not against groups. A group does not, if I understand this correctly, have standing to sue over defamatory speech. One notes that defamation is an act. Hate is an emotion. They are not the same. Expressing hate does not defame anyone.
For the Wellesley Illiterati, like many other purveyors of such nonsense, disagreeing with the prevailing dogmas about climate change, for example, counts as hate speech. Disagreeing with the current dogma about same-sex marriage would count as hate speech. Believing that a man who thinks he is a woman is not a woman would count as hate speech. Pointing out that when admissions criteria are solely based on merit, and on an examination that measures same, Asian students outperform their peers from other cultures… would be hate speech.
The Wellesley Illiterati is promoting thought reform and other forms of totalitarian brainwashing. They are relics from the dead Stalinist and Maoist past, come back from the dead.
Lloyd quotes another egregious piece on illiterate nonsense:
It is vital that we encourage people to correct and learn from their mistakes rather than berate them for a lack of education they could not control.
Should we encourage the Wellesley Illiterati to learn from their own mistakes? Should we believe that they suffer from a lack of education, especially for their failure to understand enough of English grammar to know that their sentence is barely coherent? Obviously, they want to say that people who are as poorly educated as they are did not have any control over their education… even though, come to think of it, they are adults and they ought to take some responsibility for their own education.
By their lights, the words of Laura Kipnis will stifle “productive debate” because Kipnis was “bullying disempowered groups.” Dare we recall that Kipnis was herself bullied for her views, for her ideas and her beliefs?
As for what happened when Kipnis spoke at Wellesley, Kipnis herself explained:
[T]he talk went fine and the students I met were great — tough-minded, super-articulate," Kipnis wrote, referring to the talk that triggered outrage. "It was only later that I heard that other students had made a video denouncing me, ahead of my arrival, for being a white feminist ('white feminism isn't feminism'), among other crimes. Once home, I heard that some of my critics were threatening to file Title IX complaints against the professor who'd invited me and had started a letter-writing campaign to get him fired on account of my visit, or at least deny him a pay raise."
Speaking of bullying, who filed complaints against the professor who had invited Kipnis? The junior Red Guards, with the collusion and connivance of the Obama Education Department, want to attack a tenured professor, to get him fired or to deny him a pay raise.
Let us hope that the Trump education department shuts down this nonsense.