It all started when George Will wrote a column about RAPE®. Okay, it wasn’t specifically about RAPE®. It was titled Colleges become the victims of progressivism but it talked quite a bit about the alleged epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses.
It would be really helpful if you went ahead and read his column before continuing. I’ll wait until you get back.
Done? Okay, let’s continue. Were you outraged and offended by what he said? I wasn’t. I’m not saying that I agree with everything he said, but I didn’t see anything to get upset about. Others saw it differently.
George Will is a conservative Republican. He is also a cisgendered white-privileged factory-equipped male. Obviously he has no business offering an opinion on ANYTHING to do with RAPE®. There is ONLY ONE politically correct view on the topic. George Will committed blasphemy.
Naturally, his column resulted in a lot of hyperventilating, pearl-clutching, panty-twisting and bloviating. The typical response twisted or flat-out misstated what Will said, and was heavy on emotion but really low on cogent thought.
Here’s what Jezebel had to say:
Earlier this week, a shitstorm swirled in the wake of toupeed troll George Will’s latest column in the Washington Post wherein he argued that being the victim of “sexual assault” (his dickish quotation marks, not mine) conferred a “coveted status” that came with “privileges.” In response, several groups called for the Post to discontinue running his column. The Post’s response was, predictably, shitty.
The National Organization for Women called for Will to “take a break” from his column, maybe go sit in a corner, think about what he’s done. And four Senators, in a letter to the editor, urged Will to stop being such a dipshit. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Tammy Baldwin, Richard Blumenthal, and Bob Casey wrote in a joint statement,
Your column reiterates ancient beliefs about sexual assault that are inconsistent with the reality of victims’ experiences, based on what we have heard directly from survivors. Your words contribute to the exact culture that discourages reporting and forces victims into hiding and away from much-needed services. For starters, your notion about a perceived privileged status of survivors of sexual assault on campuses runs completely counter to the experiences described to us.
The Post’s editorial page editor Fred Hiatt rushed to Will’s defense, telling Media Matters that his column was “within the realm of legitimate debate.” Using the word “legitimate” — a word that has been invoked by conservative men in a rape apologist context before — to describe Will’s column must have been a Freudian slip.
If George Will had written about any other indignity or crime perpetrated by the powerful on the disempowered — race-motivated violence, xenophobia, child abuse, — and implied that victims who came forward were just doing it for the “status,” he’d be out on his ass faster than Donald Sterling on greased roller skates. When the Chicago Sun-Times ran a republished stupid and deliberately trolly transphobic op-ed from a National Review contributor who is sort of like a kindergarten George Will, the paper responded to public outcry by taking the post down and apologizing. Yet, because pieces called “It’s Time to End Rape Culture Hysteria” and “The Rape ‘Epidemic’ Doesn’t Actually Exist'” (written by the same conservative think tank flack author) that ran in TIME and USNews, respectively, are still up, and somehow, George Will’s editor accepts his embarrassingly ignorant and damaging screed as “legitimate,” I cynically reach the conclusion that something bigger is going on here. Are victims of rape and domestic violence (occasionally men, but overwhelmingly women) the final politically acceptable punching bags for opinion pages? The Washington Post sure seems to think so.
That was last week. Last night the progressive community was rejoicing in a small but not insignificant victory:
st louis post-dispatch drops george will over rape column http://t.co/oJiziQPCnz
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) June 19, 2014
Oliver’s tweet triggered a little interaction:
first amendment right to a newspaper column, natch RT @realmyiq2xu2 It's good to see that freedom of speech is alive and well in St. Louis.
— Oliver Willis (@owillis) June 19, 2014
The back-and-forth continued for a while and was joined by a few members of Oliver’s fan club. One of them posted the graphic at the top of this post. Like Oliver, they kept talking about the first amendment. I, on the other hand, was talking about freedom of speech which is a principle that exists independently of the constitution.
This was the parting shot from one of Oliver’s fans:
@realmyiq2xu2 And free speech only applies to government censorship. In any case, the SLPD aren't censoring Will.
— PlankySmith (@PlankySmith) June 19, 2014
I’m old enough to remember when the free speech movement was alive and well at college and universities. Free speech advocates carried signs and put up posters quoting Voltaire’s “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.”
From the Nazis to the Stalinists, tyrants have always started out supporting free speech, and why is easy to understand. Speech is vital for the realization of their goals of command, control and confiscation. Basic to their agenda are the tools of indoctrination, propagandizing, proselytization. Once they gain power, as leftists have at many universities, free speech becomes a liability and must be suppressed. This is increasingly the case on university campuses.
Back in 1964, it was Mario Savio, a campus leftist, who led the free speech movement at the Berkeley campus of the University of California, a movement that played a vital role in placing American universities center stage in the flow of political ideas, no matter how controversial, unpatriotic and vulgar. The free speech movement gave birth to the hippie movement of the ’60s and ’70s. The longhair, unkempt hippies of that era have grown up and now often find themselves being college professors, deans, provosts and presidents. Their intolerance of free speech and other ideas has become policy and practice on many college campuses.
We have seen many stories lately about campus protests against planned college commencement speakers like Condoleezza Rice. We also see colleges and universities adopting “speech codes” that limit free speech. Unfortunately the problem isn’t just confined to the halls of academia.
“We cannot let a minority of people, and that’s what it is, it is a minority of people, hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the majority of people.” – Hillary Clinton, CNN Townhall, 6/14/2014
Yesterday the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s appeals board cancelled the Washington Redskins’ trademark because it was “disparaging” to some Native Americans. Recently Mozilla forced CEO Brendan Eich to walk the plank when it was revealed that six years ago he made a donation in support of Proposition 8, California’s anti-SSM initiative. A few months ago Scarlett Johansson came under fire for making an ad for Sodastream, thus running afoul of the “boycott Israel” movement.
These days if you deviate from what the left considers politically correct they will try to shout you down and/or shut you down. This is not merely the “free market at work”, this is a deliberate attempt to establish a monopoly in the marketplace of ideas.
Censorship does not require government action. The Nazi Brownshirts practiced censorship before they gained power by using organized violence. The Progressive Sturmabteilung generally sticks to organized harassment and monetary coercion. Generally.
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said that the remedy for bad speech was more speech, not censorship. I guess progressives just don’t have enough faith in their ideas to permit any competition.
(RAPE® is a registered trademark of the Democratic party. Any use without their express, written consent is prohibited.)