A great testimony on the value of free speech

I’m sorry that I’ve been too busy to write much lately, but I plan to start posting more on the blog soon. In the meantime, I came across this great testimony by Richard Muller, who is professor of physics at Berkeley, on the value of free speech, which he wrote after Milo Yiannopoulos was prevented from giving a talk over there:

When I first arrived on the Berkeley Campus, I went to a talk by a neo-Nazi. It was 1964, three months before the “Free Speech Movement”. I saw the announcement of the upcoming presentation, and I was curious—so I attended. About 250 students showed up. The speaker was introduced (in very neutral terms) and he spoke for about 45 minutes. The audience listened politely.

 

When he finished, questions were solicited. I noticed a pattern: the students were asking pointed questions, often involving logic or history, and they seemed to confound the speaker. It was almost a student competition: who could ask the most devastating question! The speaker was confused; he almost seemed to stutter; he was embarrassed. He had no good answers. Each succeeding student seemed to be able to ask even better questions that left the neo-Nazi helpless. He came across as an ignorant and utter fool.

 

I walked out absolutely delighted. I had seen free speech in action! It worked. Possibly everyone in the audience came away feeling as I did. Even supporters of the neo-Nazi must have been appalled at his ineptitude.

 

A few weeks later, a student was arrested and expelled for engaging in a political presentation at the corner of Bancroft and Telegraph, right at the edge of campus. I and a large number of students felt that the administration was undermining the free speech that we so much appreciated, and that I had seen so beautifully demonstrated at the neo-Nazi talk. Soon afterwards there was a peaceful sit-in at Sproul Hall. I was arrested; I spent the night in the Oakland jail (much more interesting than the Santa Rita camp where most arrestees went). Soon after that I described my experiences to a wonderful student I had just met, and we’ve now been happily married for over 50 years.

 

What happened in Berkeley last night? There was a speech scheduled by a controversial person (some might classify him as a neo-Nazi, but he was nothing compared to the actual neo-Nazi of 1964). Some students had organized a peaceful protest. Too bad; it would have been much better and more effective to attend his speech and hit him with embarrassing questions. A group of about 150 anarchists soon arrived, and, covered with black masks to hide their identities, and using the peaceful protesters as cover, began to attack the building violently. From my home a mile away I could hear much of it. I watched the terrible events on local news and video tweets.

 

I visited the area this morning. Somehow the image on TV had given an exaggerated image of what happened. Damage to property was minimal, with most having happened on one corner of the Student Union building.

 

Had the protesters used the 1964 tradition, attend-listen-embarrass, this could not have happened. It was the presence of thousands of innocent students that allowed the anarchists to denigrate free speech and leave the police virtually helpless to stop the violence.

 

I strongly urge the campus to revert to the old form of free speech, the kind I saw and loved in 1964, attend-listen-embarrass. It is effective and avoids the danger of a small group of extremists leveraging your disagreement with the speaker for their own violent ends.

 

Of course, the attend-listen-embarrass approach does have a downside too. If you listen to the speaker, he might actually influence the way you think about things. Personally, I love that aspect. Sometimes what I know about a speaker turns out to be wrong or exaggerated, and polite listening actually affects the way I think about the world. I’m never afraid to listen.

This is exactly how intelligent, civilized individuals respond to ideas they find abhorrent. If you want to know how illiberal, anti-intellectual little shits respond to ideas they find abhorrent, you can read about what happened at Middlebury College a few days ago, when Charles Murray tried to give a talk over there.

33 thoughts

  1. That’s pretty much of a sham. The professors run the university. If they wanted protection for free expression, they would have it, but they don’t. I don’t know anything about Muller individually, but either he’s like a Southern governor deploring a lynch mob, and he doesn’t mean it, or, if he’s sincere, he’s like some oddball upland Republican in North Carolina ca. 1920, a lonely voice ignored by his fellows. In any case, reform will not come from within.

    1. Do you have a video of Trump encouraging violence against speakers at other rallies? That would be more apposite. But only professors do that, I fancy.

  2. Do you think it’s okay to rough up peaceful protesters, but wrong to rough up speakers? If not, I don’t see that the distinction you’re drawing matters. A vote for Trump was a vote for political violence (and corruption… and sexual assault… and racism… and incessant, childish lying… etc.), and Trump supporters who’ve suddenly discovered the value of civil liberties should be reminded as often as possible that they’re miserable hypocrites.

    1. Earthly Knight, what amount of coercion do you think is tolerable in order to bring about a better world? Do you favor racial set-asides in university admissions, in hiring, in job promotions and such? These are coercive by definition. Do you favor them?

      Can you imagine that the people on the wrong side of those coerced transactions feel like victims of a robbery? Do you grasp that 40+ years of this has embedded a lot of rage?

      It is leftists who seem committed to continuing to fill that reservoir of rage. If you think “deplorable” white people are seething now, you have no idea. Wait until this long period of putting unlimited guns and butter on the National Mastercard ends. Wait until white people are more concerned with keeping their kids safe, fed, sheltered and schools than continuing to contribute to your Utopian project. Violence is coming. Leftists think we’re in a fight analogous to the early 1960’s. On the contrary, we’re heading into a resumption of the English Civil War.

      1. I wonder, do all Trump supporters believe, as you do, that right-wing political violence is a justified response to the “coercion” of affirmative action? Do all of them, like you, secretly yearn for bloodshed and race war?

        Thanks for confirming that everything I say about how Trump supporters are psychotic fascists is true!

  3. Earthly Knight,

    First of all, it’s a stretch to say Trump encouraged violence at his rallies. It should be clear to anyone who is not completely humorless or motivated that Trump is joking around. These are figures of speech and entertainment. People often say, for example, that someone is “punchable”, or “should be shot”, etc. Don’t take it literally. And even if you insist on literal interpretation of everything you hear, and think Trump actually encouraged violence at his rallies, you cannot say that people who voted for Trump were any more pro-violence than those who voted for Clinton, given that the DNC actually *hired* violent protesters and sent them to Trump rallies to incite violence. (See Project Veritas videos.) Then, when the violent protesters managed to stir up trouble, the Democrat-Media Complex conveniently blamed everything on Trump’s rhetoric. It was always a stretch, and I am amazed anyone actually bought it. That anyone still buys it now, after O’Keefe exposed the Democrat operatives in question, is mind blowing.

    And even, even if you buy that narrative, a vote for Trump is still a vote against Clinton, who doesn’t have a great record when it comes to preventing actual war, death and violence as Secretary of State.

  4. “First of all, it’s a stretch to say Trump encouraged violence at his rallies.”

    No, it isn’t, as the video demonstrates beyond any shadow of a doubt. If you want to be taken seriously, don’t begin your comment with a lie.

    Reminder: Trump supporter = illiberal little shit

    1. The fact that you say something is true beyond any shadow of a doubt doesn’t make it so. You don’t address any of my arguments.

      1. The video speaks for itself– Trump encouraged violence at his rallies. Your “arguments” are pathetic attempts at self-delusion, and nothing more.

          1. Nice try, but “whenever Trump says anything awful, he’s just joking around” isn’t an argument. The video clearly shows Trump encouraging and celebrating violence against protesters. I’m sorry you don’t like the facts, but those are the facts.

    1. Which part of my previous comment do you call a lie? I believe the O’Keefe videos and the Wikileaks make it abundantly clear that it’s Democrat operatives who are responsible for inciting violence at Trump rallies.

      Have you actually seen the videos? Or did you just read the Politifact interpretation explaining the whole thing away?

      Here’s an excerpt:

      “FOVAL: We train up our people, wherever they are, to — and I work with a network of groups, we train them up on how to get themselves into a situation on tape, on camera, that we can use later.

      PROJECT VERITAS GUY: So some of this, so I probably know your work.

      FOVAL: I know you do. Everybody does. But —

      PV: You mean like a situation where it’s sort of like a —

      FOVAL: You remember the Iowa State Fair thing where Scott Walker grabbed the sign out of the dude’s hand and then the dude gets kind of roughed up right in front of the stage right there on camera?

      PV: Yeah.

      FOVAL: That was all us. The guy that got roughed up is my counterpart, who works for Bob [Creamer].

      PV: And that was like, storyboarded? Him getting roughed up like that?

      FOVAL: We scenarioed it.

      PV: And so you, like leant yourselves to that situation and it happened. A self-fulfilling prophecy.

      FOVAL: We not only leant ourselves, we planted multiple people in that front area around him and in the back to make sure there wasn’t just a action that happened up front, there was also a reaction that happened out back. So the cameras, when they saw it, saw double angles of stuff like, they saw what happened up front, and they saw the reaction of people out back.

      PV: That’s fucking brilliant. That’s brilliant.

      FOVAL: And then the reporters had people to talk to.”

      Further, Foval says that Republicans are less likely do engage in similar tactics because they like to adhere to the rules.

      Further, he claims responsibility for the incident in Asheville, where a woman heckled a Trump supporter and then claimed to be assaulted by him. Foval claims she was trained as a part of his operation.

      Further, Foval explains that the operation is set up to provide Clinton and DNC with plausible deniability.

      Furthermore, Wikileaks exposed the DNC playbook that showed they were counting on the strategy of painting Trump as violent, etc.

      Please watch the videos and see the DNC leaks, and then tell me how you think they don’t show that Democrat operatives were responsible for inciting violence at Trump rallies with the specific aim of painting a narrative of Trump being the violent one.

      1. You claimed:

        “given that the DNC actually *hired* violent protesters and sent them to Trump rallies to incite violence.”

        This means you will need to supply evidence that (a) the protesters sent by Americans United for Change were “violent” and (b) that they were paid for what they did.

        I also don’t see why you think that this matters. It can at once be true both that Trump encouraged violence at his rallies, and hence that all of his supporters are illiberal little shits, and also that liberal organizations send protesters to bait Trump supporters into violence.

        1. I should add that your Project Veritas also (unsuccessfully) tried to incite liberal protesters to start a riot at the Women’s March:

          http://wonkette.com/610302/trump-donee-james-okeefe-offering-progressives-big-to-riot-at-trump-inauguration-allegedly

          You have to admit, it’s pretty funny that they duped people like you into thinking that only democrats would pull this sort of dirty trick and then got caught doing exactly the same thing themselves a few months later.

  5. The problem is that the comparison you’re making is stupid. I know many people think that protesters who disrupted Trump’s rallies were just exercising their right to freedom of speech, but they are just badly confused about this. The first amendment does not give you the right to disrupt someone’s political rally anymore than it gives you the right to interrupt a football game by running naked on the field or to crash the stage of a concert to make a political statement. This is what the law says and it’s exactly as it should be, otherwise there would be no such thing as freedom of assembly. So, if you absolutely want to make a comparison between what happened at Middlebury College and what happened at some of Trump’s rallies last year, it would make more sense to compare the students who prevented Murray from talking to the protesters who disrupted Trump’s rallies. Of course, Trump was also wrong to incite violence, but that doesn’t mean he violated freedom of speech. When people try to disrupt a peaceful assembly, they should be asked to stop and, if they refuse, they should be removed from the premises, by force if necessary. But this should be done by law enforcement or people who received training to deal with that kind of things.

    1. None of these claims strikes me as obviously true:

      (1) That someone who (say) holds up a protest sign at a political rally is “disrupting” the rally in a way that merits forcible removal.

      (2) That someone who holds up a protest sign at a political rally is not engaged in a legitimate exercise of free expression. How about, for that matter, booing, laughter, or talking quietly to one’s neighbor? Do you think that we have no right to boo, laugh or talk quietly to our neighbors at a political rally? What if it takes place in a public venue?

      (3) That assaulting a protester being escorted out of a rally by security does not violate his right to free expression.* Note that this is precisely the sort of behavior that Trump was encouraging.

      *http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/10/politics/donald-trump-protestor-punch-face/

      1. This view on heckler’s rights seems correct to me:

        https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2010/02/17/heckle

        “[AAUP President Cary] Nelson said he was a fan of the speech/protest policy of the University of Michigan. That policy says: “Within the confines of a hall or physical facility, or in the vicinity of the place in which a member of the university community, invited speaker, or invited artist is addressing an assembled audience, protesters must not interfere unduly with communication between a speaker or artist and members of the audience. This prohibition against undue interference does not include suppression of the usual range of human reactions commonly displayed by an audience during heated discussions of controversial topics. Nor does this prohibition include various expressions of protest, including heckling and the display of signs (without sticks or poles), so long as such activities are consistent with the continuation of a speech or performance and the communication of its content to the audience.””

        If the protester is genuinely disrupting the event– i.e. making it unduly difficult for the speaker to continue, or difficult for the audience to hear the speaker– then it should be fine to remove them. Otherwise, they’re engaging in protected speech, and assaulting them, as Trump encouraged his minions to do, violates their rights to free expression. So Trump’s supporters are (by your standards) illiberal little shits after all.

  6. Almost every rally held by Trump during the campaign took place in a private venue or, as in the case of the rally he was prevented to hold by protesters/hoodlums in Chicago, a public venue that was privatized for the occasion. Therefore, if he doesn’t like what protesters do, he was within his right to ask them to leave and to have security use reasonable force if they refused. What he didn’t have the right to do was to call for his supporters to rough them up and it was wrong for him to do so, but he did not prevent anyone from exercising their right to free speech by doing that. Similarly, if someone crashes the stage of a concert to give a speech and the singer assault that person, he is doing something reprehensible but he is not preventing anyone from exercising their right to free speech.

    If the rally was held in a public venue that was not privatized, then the kind of rules Nelson is talking about apply and protesters can, for instance, hold a sign hostile to Trump and do other things of that nature as long as they don’t prevent him from giving his speech. (That’s why, as Nelson says in the statement you quote, it would be illegal for the University of Michigan to prevent that kind of protests at one of its events, since it’s a public university. But this doesn’t apply to a rally in a private venue or in a public space that has been privatized for the occasion.) But as far as I know, those circumstances only happened in Saint Louis during the campaign and the protesters were clearly trying to prevent Trump from speaking, so they were in violation of the law and should have been arrested.

    Now, since you seem to have a lot of time to waste and I never thought that Trump was a model of liberalism, I wouldn’t be surprised if after spending a few hours on Google you could find a few cases in which Trump encouraged his supporters to rough up protesters that were just exercising their right within the bounds of the law, in which case I would be happy to say that he and the supporters who acted on his behalf behaved like illiberal thugs who prevented someone from exercising their right to express themselves. But so far you haven’t done that, you have just shown that Trump and some of his supporters sometimes behaved like thugs, which is not the same thing. If you don’t understand that, it’s because you are badly confused about some basic principles that are supposed to govern a liberal society, but unfortunately you aren’t the only one…

    However, I don’t want to argue with you about this for hours, because in my experience it’s absolutely pointless to try to explain those things to people who don’t already understand them. So let’s assume that you’re right and that in making those statements during his rallies, Trump wasn’t just unlawfully inciting violence, but also preventing people from exercising their right to express themselves. The comparison that you try to make between Trump’s supporters and the protesters who prevented Murray from giving a talk at Middlebury College would still not make any sense.

    Even if we accept your claim that every Trump supporter who assaulted protesters at one of his rallies prevented them from exercising their right to free speech and not just engaged in another kind of unlawful behavior, which again we shouldn’t because it’s not true except perhaps in a few cases I don’t know about, there are still only a handful of Trump supporters who did that sort of things during the campaign, out of probably more than a million who went to his rallies during that period. On the other hand, as far as I can tell based on the reports in the press, 100% of the protesters who showed up at Middlebury College against Murray were trying to prevent him from talking.

    Moreover, the fact that a person voted for Trump doesn’t mean that he approves of everything Trump says or does, just as the fact that someone voted for Clinton doesn’t mean that he approves of everything she says or does. Otherwise you’d have to say that, for instance, every person who voted for Clinton approves the violation of international law, which I’m sure many don’t. So you’re clearly making a false equivalence, even if we accept your understanding of freedom of speech, which again we really shouldn’t. I honestly don’t even understand why you brought up Trump in the first place, since this post had clearly nothing to do with him.

    1. 1. “What he didn’t have the right to do was to call for his supporters to rough them up and it was wrong for him to do so, but he did not prevent anyone from exercising their right to free speech by doing that.”

      I don’t think this is true. If, for instance, I wear a t-shirt emblazoned with a political message to a grocery store, and one of the other patrons decides to assault me because of it, he’s violating my right to free expression. This is no different than sucker-punching someone on the street because you don’t like their political views. And the same holds true of the store owner if he incites the other patrons to assault me. As you say, the owner’s rights to the property give him license to demand that I leave, and to use reasonable force to remove me from the premises if I refuse, but assaulting someone for the political content of their speech violates their rights whether the venue is public or private. Our rights to free expression don’t just vanish into thin air whenever we walk onto private property.

      2. “Moreover, the fact that a person voted for Trump doesn’t mean that he approves of everything Trump says or does,”

      It seems to me that anyone who votes for a candidate who promotes political violence as a means of suppressing speech makes themselves complicit in the violence. If a Trump supporter is willing to apologize profusely for Trump’s offenses against civil liberties, maybe they can be absolved, but otherwise they are “illiberal little shits,” just like the protesters at Middlebury. Even if you vote for a fascist because you believe that he’ll make the trains run on time, you’re still an illiberal shitbag for voting for the fascist.

      3. “I honestly don’t even understand why you brought up Trump in the first place, since this post had clearly nothing to do with him.”

      I bring it up as a reminder that the greatest threat in this country to our civil liberties, by orders and orders of magnitude, is the occupant of the oval office. A sincere civil libertarian should devote his time and energies to each threat to our rights roughly in proportion to the magnitude of the threat. This means that, if you genuinely care about living in a liberal society, you should devote perhaps 100 words to criticizing Trump for every word you spend on college students.

      One of the most salient characteristics of alt-Nazis and those under the sway of alt-Nazi propaganda is that they obsess over violations of civil liberties committed by people with no real power or influence (like college students) while ignoring or serving as apologists for the far more serious and pressing threat to our rights posed by Trump. I know you are an academic, and so to some degree your disproportionate concern with threats to academic freedom is understandable, but you should still be a lot more outraged by the president doing his best imitation of Robespierre in order to intimidate the free press than you are by a scientific racist getting no-platformed at a college you probably hadn’t heard of a month ago. Don’t allow yourself to be manipulated: if you sincerely care about civil liberties, as I do, your number one political goal at all times should be resisting Trump.

      1. I wrote this comment a few days ago and totally forgot to post it. I was reminded of it because I received notifications about the unfortunate exchange which took place below, so even though it’s a bit late, I figured that, since I already wrote it, I may as well post it.

        1. Yes, I guess I can agree with that, but it doesn’t change the fact that most people who protested against Trump and were brutalized, if not all of them, were not legitimately expressing their opinion but were trying to deny other people the right to peacefully assemble to listen to a speaker. Thus, as I pointed out before, it makes a lot more sense to compare them to the people who prevented Murray from speaking at Middlebury College than to Trump and the handful of his supporters who roughed them up.

        2. This is an absurdly strong requirement, which you would never apply to anyone else, as I already pointed out. I’m sure that many Trump supporters are illiberal, because most people are illiberal, but they clearly pose no distinctive threat to freedom of speech. In fact, the people who are most likely to oppose freedom of speech according to polls (women, minorities, millennials, etc.) disproportionately voted against Trump, so the people who voted for Trump are probably more likely not to pose a threat to freedom of speech. What happened during the campaign, despite how the media tried to spin it, certainly doesn’t contradict that. For a while during the campaign, it had become almost impossible for Trump to campaign normally, because his rallies were systematically disrupted by protesters, who physically attacked his supporters and destroyed their property. Indeed, violence against Trump supporters during the campaign was far more common than violence by Trump supporters, only the New York Times and CNN didn’t make such a fuss about it… A handful of Trump supporters physically assaulted protesters who, in the vast majority of cases if not all of them, were illegally trying to disrupt their events. But they didn’t routinely attempt to prevent Clinton from campaigning normally, they didn’t seek them out to intimidate them, physically assault them and/or destroy their property because they didn’t like what they say. On the other hand, thousands of Trump’s opponents did exactly that, yet I didn’t see much outrage in the media.

        3. I will have no problem criticizing Trump when he threatens civil liberties, but that’s not what he’s doing when, for instance, he is criticizing the press. Anyone who thinks that Trump threatens freedom of the press just because he routinely criticizes the press simply does not understand what freedom of the press entails, just as people who think that protesters who prevent speakers from giving a talk are just exercising their right to free speech don’t understand what free speech is. As long as this is all he does, I have absolutely no problem with Trump criticizing the press, on the contrary. Indeed, freedom of the press doesn’t mean that journalists are entitled to be protected from criticism, not even by the President. The notion that journalists are intimidated by Trump, for anyone who actually looks at the facts, is perfectly ridiculous. No President in recent history ever had to face such a hostile press, so if Trump is trying to intimidate journalists, it’s obviously not working. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fact that journalists criticize Trump which bothers me, for there are plenty of things to criticize about him. I have no problem with honest and diligent journalists, such as Glenn Greenwald (whose political views I generally disagree with), who criticize Trump and call him out when he lies or does something wrong, which happens all the time. What bothers me is that, as Trump correctly points out (although we could say the same thing about him), the vast majority of journalists are incompetent, dishonest and routinely lie to manipulate people. People who deny that because they are opposed to Trump are just stupid. I’ll be more sympathetic to journalists when they start doing their job, but I’m not holding my breath…

        The problem with Trump is not the imaginary threat he poses to freedom of the press or any of the other nonsense that journalists are talking about. I’m much more worried about the fact that, in recent years, the government has gained the ability to spy on people much more easily than used to be the case. This was already out of control under Obama and it may well get worse under Trump, although even that is hardly obvious and, in any case, we don’t know yet. Anyway, I don’t believe for a second that Trump poses a greater threat to freedom of speech than the spread of the illiberal notion that, if you don’t like what someone has to say, you are entitled to preventing them from saying it. As the classical defenders of freedom of speech, such as John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, understood perfectly well, the greatest threat on freedom of speech isn’t the state but the mob. This is especially true in the US, where the legal protections of freedom of speech are very strong, but so is conformism. Tocqueville explained that very well in Democracy in America and what he wrote more than a century ago has never been more true. Even after 4 years of Trump, I have absolutely no doubt that very few people will be prevented from saying what they think because of him, whereas countless people self-censor every day because of political correctness. This makes the free exchange of ideas impossible, seriously distorts research in many cases, etc. What happened at Middlebury College is just the most extreme manifestation of political correctness, but it should be strongly condemned if we don’t want the norms underlying freedom of speech to be further undermined. This is something that even people who fear, irrationally in my view, that Trump might attack freedom of speech should care about, because it would be all the more easier for him to do so that the norms underlying it have been undermined first.

        Finally, before I finish, let me just add a more personal note. As everybody who knows me could tell you, I have publicly taken position in favor of freedom of speech on several occasions, always at a risk for my career. I have done the same thing in favor of due process at universities, which earned me the hostility of many people in my field. Perhaps you actually are in a position to lecture me about this, but I have no reason to think so, so you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t take very seriously someone who is lecturing me anonymously about the defense of liberal values.

        1. 1. “In fact, the people who are most likely to oppose freedom of speech according to polls (women, minorities, millennials, etc.) disproportionately voted against Trump,”

          I’ve seen polls suggesting that these demographics are more likely to favor government censorship of what they regard as hate speech, but I’ve never seen evidence that they’re less supportive of free expression in general. Are you certain that Trump supporters aren’t just as keen on censorship, but want different categories of speech to be censored? Prohibitions on flag-burning, for instance, seem to be more popular on the right:

          http://www.gallup.com/poll/23524/public-support-constitutional-amendment-flag-burning.aspx

          I would expect rightists to also be more supportive of censorship of sexually explicit and anti-Christian speech, although I don’t have any polls to that effect ready to hand.

          2. I applaud your past efforts standing up against the illiberal sentiments of identity-politickers in academia. I have also spoken out repeatedly in support of academic freedom, although probably not so publicly as you. But the tables have turned now, and today it is Trump and his allies who pose the greatest threat to our civil liberties. Just off the top of my head, here are some of Trump’s unconstitutional campaign promises:

          –To relax libel laws to make it easier to sue media outlets who criticize him
          –To imprison flag-burners
          –To ban all muslim entry into the country
          –To close down mosques which practice radical forms of Islam
          –To murder innocent family members of terrorism suspects
          –To reinstate torture
          –To put an end to birthright citizenship

          Unbelievably, Trump has even put his stamp of approval on the Japanese internment! Here’s a source for most of these claims, if you need one:

          http://reason.com/blog/2016/03/03/donald-trump-enemy-of-the-constitution

          Trump is utterly, utterly hostile to liberal values, and to whatever extent he fails to carry out these campaign promises, it will be because civil libertarians resist him every step of the way. In the Bush years, I spoke out against government surveillance and supported the ACLU; in the Obama years, I spoke out against political correctness and supported FIRE; with Trump in power, my money and attention will be devoted to stopping the rising tide of fascism. I encourage you to follow suit. It’s fine to continue criticize college students and street ruffian anarchists and so on, but your top priority now should be the illiberal shits who hold actual power, that is, Trump and his sycophants.

  7. I agree that Muller’s story is a great example of free speach in action.
    I am doubtful that this example could be reproduced today. As he said, Yiannopoulos is “nothing” compared to this neo-Nazi, which is precisely why this would never happen to him. I laugh at the idea of Yiannopoulos being dismantled by a handful of university students. He is much more clever than that and an expert in the art of rhetoric.
    It is pretty obvious that for extremists thesis, dismantling them is not enough to deprive them of support. There is more than rationality at work here.

  8. I do find it instructive to read the debate (of sorts) with “earthly knight.” Even her screen name is a hoot, an unintentional reference to her blue-haired self-image of a secret king, of a savior of mankind from mankind’s evil subset.

    There will be no peace with people like this. I’m perfectly happy with that. She is, like all leftists, incapable of understanding from where the living standards she takes for granted arise. She doesn’t live in Zimbabwe. She doesn’t live in Calcutta. She’s just another Amy Biehl, and frankly I would happily see her walk Amy Biehl’s walk instead of being talk, talk, talk.

    Leftism is a cult religion that gained ever more traction as the long period of increasing embrace of “limitless resources” marched on. We’re finally near apogee of this, with the last 50 years being entirely funded by going into debt on a scale with no precedent. This is a perfectly normal situation, typically seen in the final wave up before a vast “correction.” During the coming period, I sincerely doubt the most zealous left-cultists will survive for long. They’ll be eaten by their totems, starve, contract a pandemic disease, suicide or simply sit down in a heap and pass away.

      1. Sweetheart, your monomania is worse than mine (and that’s an accomplishment.) Go pet your cats, maybe get tested for toxoplasmosis. You’re simply too short for this ride, too tiny to realize that GDP includes government spending that is largely funded by borrowing. Putting GDP in the denominator is thus laughably foolish. Surf on over to the St. Louis Fed’s FRED site and do a little more rooting around.

        As to the racist thing, haven’t you figured out yet that we don’t care any more? Call me a racist. Call me “Literally Hitler.” (LOL on that one, “literally.”) Call me a skinhead, a Nazi (putting me in the camp of National Socialist is hi-lar-ious!), a homophobe (I guess my study of microbiology and time in the lab looking at what happens when you stuff your urethra with coloform bacteria makes me “hate” gays?) or whatever other epithet your little Holy Homogeneous Diversity catechism dictates.

        Doesn’t bother me at all. I’m quite secure in knowing that you’ll always hide in your little room, hammering your keyboard, because if you met me in person you’d wet yourself. You see, I take all this stuff seriously. You and yours intend to harm my family. Someday, maybe not that far into the future, me and mine may be put in a position to decide whether to help you or watch as you burn. My guess is that we won’t even bother to pee on you then. Popcorn time!

        1. I don’t understand, why is your response to someone calling you a psychotic fascist to behave like a psychotic fascist?

          “GDP includes government spending that is largely funded by borrowing. Putting GDP in the denominator is thus laughably foolish.”

          Because…? It sounds like you almost had a coherent thought here, but it fizzled before you could finish it.

          1. Sweetie, did you miss the part where I invited you to follow in the footsteps of Amy Biehl?

            Despite your puerile insults, you should be very, very happy that I’m quite sane. But by all means, keep up your good works. With luck, you will soon irritate someone who is genuinely psychotic and I’ll read about you in the obits. I am impressed by your rapier wit and believe in my heart that if you try hard enough, you can incite someone to actually show up on your doorstep. No one on the Internet is truly unreachable.
            PS: Do you go to bars and places where people have lowered thresholds for impulsive behavior and poke the bears? Do you wade into the maelstrom of right-wing Literally Hitlers and dare them to touch you? I’m betting you’re a wee bit too spineless for more than Internet Knighting. Cheers! :^D

  9. “I’m quite sane.”

    IDK, you sound like you’re about one trivial provocation away from shooting up a mosque, or a pizza parlor. Anyway, you couldn’t possibly have illustrated my point that Trump’s supporters are deranged, illiberal little shits any better, so thanks for that.

    1. I can never tire of this; you insult only those you know are harmless. You don your Knightly Armor only because you believe you are safe wherever you are behind your little keyboard.

      Rabbit, rabbit, come out to play. The guy who blogs as Anonymous Conservative does a nice job explaining the psychology of little rabbits whose amygdalae are deadened and atrophied, so you seek the faux combat of web forums as a means of stirring yourselves.

      Let me know when you’ve actually gone out and faced someone with the means to hit you. Until then, adieu, mon cherie. As illustrations go, your predilection for inciting people from afar just adds to the value of r/K theory.

  10. I have no desire to moderate comments, but I will also not tolerate anything that can reasonably be interpreted as a physical threat, so I think that saying things like “if you met me in person you’d wet yourself” is totally inappropriate. I won’t delete that comment, with apologies to Earthly Knight, because I want people to know about my policy, but in the future I will not be so lenient. I have no problem with heated exchanges, but it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be civilized.

    1. I understand; recognize that I was illustrating a point.

      If you are not yet tired of people who exhibit nothing beyond “Internet Courage,” I most assuredly am. I live in the real world, where despite my size and appearance, saying stupid things to stupid people can have horrific consequences (so I don’t do it.) I’m probably not exaggerating—I am physically intimidating, and have been told that on early acquaintanceship others were frightened by appearance.

      I find it amusing on occasion to interact with people who think conflict in this real world is a flame war, much less a slap fight. I have yet to encounter a person who called a certifiably insane person “psychotic.” Instead, they reserve insults conspicuously for those they do NOT fear. Nothing I write here would change that.

      Real world. A place that Internet forums like this let some people forget exists.

      Here’s to a return to greater appreciation for this truth.

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