Campus Free Speech

Former Harvard President Larry Summers Warns of 'Creeping Totalitarianism' on College Campuses

A victim of political correctness denounces students' lack of perspective.

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Larry Summers
The Weekly Standard / Youtube

“To regard it as one of life’s premiere moral injustices to have to eat dinner underneath a portrait of Woodrow Wilson is to lose perspective on what is happening in the world.” That was former Harvard University President Larry Summers’ take on the increasingly petty concerns of college students, which he shared during a revealing conversation with The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol.

The full interview is worth watching, because Summers very closely articulates my own views on the subject of modern campus discourse. Summers opines that not all political correctness is bad: some of it is the positive effect of very real social progress. It’s a good thing, for instance, that it’s no longer acceptable to yell insulting remarks at gays.

The problem, as Summers puts it, is that students are increasingly averse to the idea of the university as a place where dissent is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged, and all kinds of beliefs are put to the testâ€"not just because those beliefs are mistaken, but because skepticism and scrutiny are intellectual tools that must be cultivated.

Summers says:

It seems to me that there is a sort of creeping totalitarianism in terms of what kinds of ideas are acceptable and debatable on college campuses, and I think that is hugely unfortunate. I think the answer to bad speech is different speech. The answer to bad speech is not shutting down speech, whether it’s climate deniers, and I yield to no one in my degree of confidence that the scientific evidence points to overwhelming evidence that there is a serious global climate change problem, but atmospheric scientists who disagree with that conclusion should be able to have their say. I was proud to write a brief as president of Harvard in support of affirmative action, and I think that’s the right position and I hope the Supreme Court will uphold it, but those who feel differently should be able to have their say. And the idea that for example as took place in recent years, a serious suggestion is put forward that the law of rape not be covered at Harvard Law School because it would be a painful experience for some law students, is one that it seems to me administrators should be denouncing, rather than sympathizing with. The idea that somehow microaggressions in the form of a racist statement contained in a novel, should be treated in parallel with violence, or actual sexual assault, seems to me to be crazy.

The notion that law professors might stop teaching rape law because the subject is uncomfortable for certain students sounds preposterous, but it’s not at all made up. Jeannie Suk, one of the Harvard law professors concerned about The Hunting Ground’s misrepresentation of Brandon Winston, has written on the subject here.

Summers, it should be remembered, resigned as president of Harvard in 2006 after hyper-offended students and professors ran him off campus for the crime of merely discussing some social science research about innate intelligence among men and women. That episode seems especially relevant to what’s happening on campus today. Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker defended Summers on free speech grounds in an interview with The Harvard Crimson:

CRIMSON: Were President Summers' remarks within the pale of legitimate academic discourse?

PINKER: Good grief, shouldn't everything be within the pale of legitimate academic discourse, as long as it is presented with some degree of rigor? That's the difference between a university and a madrassa.

CRIMSON: Would it be normal to hear a similar set of hypotheses presented and considered at a conference of psychologists?

PINKER: Some psychologists are still offended by such hypotheses, but yes, they could certainly be considered at most major conferences in scientific psychology.

CRIMSON: Finally, did you personally find President Summers' remarks (or what you've heard/read of them) to be offensive?

PINKER: Look, the truth cannot be offensive. Perhaps the hypothesis is wrong, but how would we ever find out whether it is wrong if it is "offensive" even to consider it? People who storm out of a meeting at the mention of a hypothesis, or declare it taboo or offensive without providing arguments or evidence, don't get the concept of a university or free inquiry.

It seems legitimate to worry that these kinds of people have a great deal of power on the modern university campus.

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  1. Just a bit late to the party, isn’t he?

    1. If you have to have dinner with Bill Kristol, you want to be as late as possible.

      1. “Hey Bill, I see we got the table under the Wilson portrait…..again….”

  2. Colleges aren’t as welcoming of dissent as they used to be, and they never were

    “1966

    “During former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s visit to Harvard, the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) requested that he participate in a debate on the Vietnam War. When their request was denied, SDS members ambushed McNamara, hurling accusations at him and forcing him to climb on top of his car for protection. Eventually, the police helped the Secretary of Defense escape through underground tunnels.”

    1. You know who else sheltered in underground tunnels?

      1. Dinah MacQuarie’s father?

      2. Tom Hanks?

      3. The underground tunnel has since been converted into Harvard’s Weekly Standard safe zone .

      4. Saddam Hussein?

      5. Mole rats?

      6. Most of Montreal?

      7. Fiver and Hazel?

    2. You know who represented the SDS, right?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHh1WV-81gE

        1. I got as far as the part where Silverglate was saying how SDS students grew up to be speech-suppressing professors.

          This suggested that the students’ censoring tendencies were less visible when they were students.

          I’m not so sure about that.

          1. Here I thought they grew up to be “thirty-something” Reagan Democrats.

          2. BTW, you know who else is part of FIRE?

            Straight from the Village Voice to Cato, Nat Hentoff.

    3. Depends on just what you mean by “colleges” I think. Still, I don’t think “welcoming of dissent” is quite the right thing to say. I do think that colleges as institutions used to be more open to more diverse views and perspectives, though.

  3. I think people have recognized that its more politically-effective to protest debates …

    (i.e. – to threaten people, to accuse them of racism/sexism/trans-islamo-phobia/whatever, to declare them ‘controversial’ and ‘problematic’ and demand their careers be destroyed by the mob-whim)

    …than to actually participate in them. You see, its actually possible to *lose* debates. You can’t lose a protest.

    1. Well, you can’t lose the kind of protest that most college activists engage in where you really don’t have anything real at stake, anyway.

  4. Creeping? Sprinting, maybe.

  5. Jesus Fucking Christ, Robbie!

    “Political correctness” is NOT politeness and decorum.

    1. Yeah, you don’t let people get away with raping over a thousand children because you’re just too polite to tell them to knock it off. Political correctness is at best cowardice; when embraced whole-heartedly, it’s usually a euphemism for the forms of hatred and bigotry that the elites tolerate or encourage.

  6. Imagine a medical student who is training to be a surgeon but who fears that he’ll become distressed if he sees or handles blood. What should his instructors do?

    Require him to see and handle blood? Require him to see (but not handle) a psychologist? Ease him into it by showing him the appropriate scene from the film “Carrie”? Talk him into becoming a rape lawyer instead?

    It really is quite the conundrum.

    1. How about they flunk him? “Failure to complete a required procedure.”

      1. This right here.

    2. Dump a quart of pigs blood on him and hope he doesn’t have psychic murder powers?

      1. No, pelt him with tampons while chanting “Plug it up, plug it up.”

    3. Med schools purposely have a class in the first semester to catch the people who can’t see or handle blood before they get to deep into their study. I believe those who faint and can’t overcome their reaction are pushed into similar fields that don’t require the direct interaction with blood.

    4. i dont remember if it was on reason or not, but i read something a little while back (maybe it was something of or about that “closing of the american mind” thing) about how the ways we actually deal with getting over trauma are more about confronting whatever scares us than just avoiding it forever. in that student’s situation i might just pursue a different career (staying in medicine sounds distressing). im turning thirty in a few months, so that puts me in a very, very weird position in re these “controversies”. older people complaining about younger people is like THE most cliched old person thing to do ever (so i try to not do it), but older people complaining about the next generation being too puritanical is a pretty novel dynamic, no? everyone whos ever said this before has been wrong, but against all odds, maybe we’re finally fucked? (no, for real this time)

      1. no, not really for real. in someone else’s words (sort of) “not only will the future be vastly more surprising than anything I imagine, it will be more surprising than anything I can imagine”

  7. If only universities today has the same commitment to searching, rigorous debate as the medieval Scholastics.

    1. The WILSON Quarterly?!

      NOOOOOOOO!!

      1. What do you have against emotional support volleyballs? Bigot.

        1. Well, as long as I don’t have to eat dinner underneath a portrait of a volleyball ….

  8. PINKER: Look, the truth cannot be offensive.

    “You can’t be offended by the truth!”

  9. It’s easy to laugh at politically correct crowd, but when you consider that an entire generation of college graduates are being indoctrinated with this sort of ideology, it starts moving from absurd to alarming.

    1. Relax, RoninX. They can all be fended off by (metaphorically) making the sign of The Cross.

    2. “It’s easy to laugh at politically correct crowd, but when you consider that an entire generation of college graduates are being indoctrinated with this sort of ideology, it starts moving from absurd to alarming.”

      I’m more upset that the cohort arrived in college with a bias toward that imbecility.
      I’m ‘way more concerned with the gov’t-school teachers in K-12 preparing them for that.

      1. ^This.

        I also wonder if schools like Harvard are taking fewer students from parochial schools than they used to.

    3. It’s not as gloomy as it appears. The overwhelming majority of college students care about having a good time, getting laid, and getting decent grades; they couldn’t be bothered with this political bullshit. Think about it- how often do you actually meet someone in person who has the temperament of a SJW? Do you ever hear words like “microaggression” spoken out loud in conversation?

      SJWs crave attention. They are responsible for most protests and nearly all idiotic Internet activism campaigns. Additionally, for reasons I’m not sure of, they’re vastly over-represented in media. All of this gives the impression that SJWism is some kind of new normal, when really it’s a bunch of incredibly loud, mentally ill maniacs shouting nonsense from the rooftops that normal people don’t give two shits about.

      1. So you’re saying the overwhelming majority of college students are involved in the rape culture which is plaguing higher education institutions?

        1. Absolutely! Did you even read that Rolling Stone article? It stung the patriarchy pride soo bad, they had to “discredit” it.

      2. All of this gives the impression that SJWism is some kind of new normal, when really it’s a bunch of incredibly loud, mentally ill maniacs shouting nonsense from the rooftops that normal people don’t give two shits about.

        The problem is, they are the ones who are attracted to positions of power. And even if most people don’t care about SJW causes, they do care about fitting in.

      3. I met quite a few in college. Some even tried to suggest to me that the Humans Vs. Zombies club I was president of (they didn’t know I was), was founded by another female engineer, and was fifty/fifty gender split on the board was sexist because we our player base was majority male. Of course, my college had the dubious honor of graduating Amanda Marcotte, so the SJWs might have been particularly bad there.

      4. I think you are right. And hope you are right. Some people think that activism is why you go to college and those people will find some cause to be obnoxious about. But they are a minority at most schools.

      5. A Silent Majority?

  10. I can’t help notice that so many PC warriors of yesteryear are now being eaten buy the youth whom they gave birth to.

    1. I’d wallow in schadenfreude, except that they’ll come for us next.

      1. “they’ll come for us next”

        Their experience with us I believe will be quite different than with the college bureaucrats. They’re not even a majority on campus much less here in the jungle.

      2. I think most of us are too old.

    2. That’s the upside. Unfortunately some people rush to their defense and say “not all political correctness is bad”.

      1. And not all cancer is malignant.

  11. I yield to no one in my degree of confidence that the scientific evidence points to overwhelming evidence that there is a serious global climate change problem, but atmospheric scientists who disagree with that conclusion should be able to have their say.

    The rest of you non-atmospheric scientists can shut the fuck up with your denialism!

    I was proud to write a brief as president of Harvard in support of affirmative action

    So equal protection is off the table too. Fuck this guy, he was less of a douche in The Social Network.

    1. Now, be nice, he’s just a bit slow, bless his heart. Despite all experience he still seems to think that if he makes protestations of his prog orthodoxy in various areas, they’ll go easy on him for disagreeing about on a couple other areas.

      The fact is, though, that no matter how many years you’ve labored on the plantation, if after all those years you try to escape they’ll forget about your previous faithful service and hunt you down ruthlessly.

    2. Summers seems to have a problem with Blacks and women too. He personifies the racism and sexism that pervades even the highest echelons of our most progressive institutions.

    3. Yeah, he’s a pig, but a thoughtfully nuanced pig. Kristol is a monster. Their mutual rhetorical blowing of each other was a spectacle and if Harvard had a cock they’d be chugging it.

  12. ” Summers opines that not all political correctness is bad: some of it is the positive effect of very real social progress. It’s a good thing, for instance, that it’s no longer acceptable to yell insulting remarks at gays.’

    The obvious point here which Robby misses is that for many, “Yelling insults at Gays” is no different than “using improper pronouns”.

    Once you grant that there are some “special victim-classes” … whose feelings must be protected with vague codes of behavior, which are guaranteed to be arbitrarily enforced, and endlessly evolving and expanding their mandate… you’ve lost the war before you’ve fought your first skirmish.

    There is zero “Good side” to politically-correct speech-policing. Either you accept that there are a plurality of views in the universe, and that all of them have the right to be expressed no matter how vile… or you don’t. Its that simple.

    1. If people say horrible and offensive things, and they are GENUINELY horrible and offensive… then there’s actually no need for any institution to provide for special rules and enforcement mechanisms. Because the people who utter these horrible and offensive things will suffer the approbation of their peers.

      If we accept even de-minimus Political Correctness… the “its just about being nice” lie… as soon as people say things other people disagree with…. well, all someone has to do is “take offense” and WHAMMO they have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal to destroy one another.

      Once you grant special police-powers to “feelings”, you have abandoned free expression, you’ve abandoned respect for plurality, and you’ve handed In Loco Parentis powers to a committee of politically-protected Nannies who endlessly seek to justify their own existence by creating criminals out of everyone.

      1. I think that’s the problem though, lefties thing that anything but their world view is genuinely horrible and offensive.

        Not necessarily even lefties. Look at here. If you are against open borders, you’re a racist who hates brown people. If you think terrorism is a problem, you’re a racist who hates brown people. If you think not all police killings are wrong, you are a racist who hates brown people (and never mind that it’s no big deal when terrorists kill a small number of people and force women into sex slavery, but a huge problem when police do the same)

        And don’t get me started in Islam, even though it’s completely incompatible with libertarianism, often if you criticize it again, you are a racist who hates brown people. (Because somehow all muslims are a race and are brown, even though it’s a religion with followers of every skin color)

        1. that’s my point about “pluralism”. there are usually at least 2 (and often many more) equally valid points of view on any issue. including the super-PC stuff like “Race” and “gender”.

        2. And if you are for open borders, you are a naive cosmo idiot who hates America. And if you think that every single Muslim individual shouldn’t be judged based on their religion rather than on their choices and actions as individuals, you are some kind of idiot and probably a secret progressive who just wants to be invited to cocktail parties.

        3. There are people who are willing to engage on these issues without calling anyone a racist. But it’s easier to ride the persecution complex than to argue against counterpoints.

          1. No, obviously the most unreasonable and idiotic commenters are representative of the whole thing.

      2. G, take a look here again:

        “If people say horrible and offensive things, and they are GENUINELY horrible and offensive… then there’s actually no need for any institution to provide for special rules and enforcement mechanisms. Because the people who utter these horrible and offensive things will suffer the approbation of their peers.
        If we accept even de-minimus Political Correctness… the “its just about being nice” lie… as soon as people say things other people disagree with…. well, all someone has to do is “take offense” and WHAMMO they have an arsenal of weapons at their disposal to destroy one another.”

        “Genuinely” horrible statements are only subjectively opposite from “being nice”.
        I live in SF, I’ve pointed out, when someone claimed there was ‘over-population’ that they were (ahem) somewhat mistaken. I ‘suffered the approbation of my peers’.
        I’m not arguing that there needs to be institutional punishment, only that approbation is irrelevant. If you are persuaded and convinced by the evidence, screw ‘the peers’; it’s their job to offer evidence to the contrary.

        1. “I’m not arguing that there needs to be institutional punishment, only that approbation is irrelevant. “

          one = the word i meant to use was “Disapprobation” (noun:”strong disapproval, typically on moral grounds”)

          two = you’re comparing debates about points of fact (“overpopulation”) to people who demand police-speeching authority because of “feelings”. I was making a point about the latter.

          There’s no ‘evidence’ that a person ‘feels like a woman’ and has any basis to demands to be referred to as one other than their say-so.

          The idea that a person should have “preferred pronouns” is fine, but the crucial point is “preferred”. Not everyone should be expected to comply, and failing to isn’t something that institutions should get in the business of enforcing.

          My point was that there is no better mechanism for the enforcement of “niceness” or “decency” or “respect” than social-pressure and self-generated norms. People like summers who think “not yelling derogatory remarks at Gays” came about because of some bullshit PC-campus-code are idiots = those things stopped happened completely without them because the world became more-comfortable with homosexuality. You don’t need ‘enforcers’ to create norms.

          side note = you’re one of the least-respectful dis-agreers i’ve ever met. Neither here nor there, just saying.

          1. “My point was that there is no better mechanism for the enforcement of “niceness” or “decency” or “respect” than social-pressure and self-generated norms. People like summers who think “not yelling derogatory remarks at Gays” came about because of some bullshit PC-campus-code are idiots = those things stopped happened completely without them because the world became more-comfortable with homosexuality. You don’t need ‘enforcers’ to create norms.”
            And my point is that ‘norms’ are not enforceable; facts are.

            “side note = you’re one of the least-respectful dis-agreers i’ve ever met. Neither here nor there, just saying.”
            You’re one of the most ‘clever’ dis-agreers I’ve met. ‘Nuff said.

            1. “And my point is that ‘norms’ are not enforceable; facts are'”

              This seems just a semantic problem.

              “norms” of behavior, or what we think of as politeness, courtesy, decency, etc…. are enforced in the sense that people agree they exist by consensus behavior.

              Of course someone will come along and say “they’re not going to play by your square social-codes, man”! and blow their nose on the tablecloth and fail to flush the toilet… but the point is = they don’t get invited to the party the second-time around. that’s how “norms” are enforced. Social-norms are defined by what people collectively accept. What is unacceptable is socially rejected. Of course they’re entirely dependent on cultural context, and what passes as “respectful” behavior in a street-gang doesn’t quite fly in a boardroom meeting.

              Summers seemed to think that the one ‘positive’ effect of campus PC-speech-policing is that they ‘promoted decency’, and may have reduced homophobia, etc. My point was that ‘decency’ or social-propriety of that sort is entirely a matter of group self-enforcement. Campus Speech-Police won’t ever create ‘more-decent people’.

          2. Calling Sevo ”least-respectful” is really letting him/her/it off the hook.
            I’d say ”biggest zzzhole on any comment board I’ve ever read even though I agree with him/her/it more than half the time.

      3. “approbation of their peers.”

        What a novel concept.

      4. if it was a good idea it wouldnt need to be a law

    2. I don’t think Summers was advocating speech codes in his comment about insulting gays. He was referring to disappearing social acceptance of such behavior.

    3. The obvious point here which Robby misses is that for many, “Yelling insults at Gays” is no different than “using improper pronouns”.

      I’d look at it this way. In normal society, it’s generally unacceptable to yell insulting remarks as anyone. If it becomes unacceptable to yell insults at gays (though I’m not sure how acceptable that ever really was), then it means gays are being treated like everyone else, and not as a special class.

      I’m probably being too charitable. It’s been known to happen.

    4. There is zero “Good side” to politically-correct speech-policing. Either you accept that there are a plurality of views in the universe, and that all of them have the right to be expressed no matter how vile… or you don’t. Its that simple.

      Yet another example of the progressive dichotomy. The call for diversity results in one or more groups getting rights that make them more equal than everybody else because Prior Discrimination. This special consideration leads to more power to this new protected class and less to others. Real Diversity suffers.

      The result of a progressive policy is almost always the opposite of what they intend. The truth is usually the opposite of what progressives claim it to be. It’s the Progressive Dichotomy.

  13. I’m offended that anyone would ever characterize Larry Summers as a “victim”, yet.

  14. Interesting article on gun control debate.

    http://hotair.com/archives/201…..bout-guns/

    1. A surprisingly level headed (not shrieking) article from the NYT on guns, put still troubling in a couple of places..

      And every time liberals speak blithely about banning guns, they boost the N.R.A. Let’s also banish the term “gun control”: the better expression is “gun safety.”

      Witness the virus mutate. “Global warming” ? “Climate change?”

      Yet this, too, must be said: Americans are absolutely right to be outraged at the toll of guns. Just since 1970, more Americans have died from guns than all the Americans who died in wars going back to the American Revolution (about 1.45 million vs. 1.4 million). That gun toll includes suicides, murders and accidents, and these days it amounts to 92 bodies a day.

      Annnnd.. why not throw overdoses, car crash fatalities, and congestive heart failure statistics into the mix?

      1. We spend billions of dollars tackling terrorism, which killed 229 Americans worldwide from 2005 through 2014, according to the State Department. In the same 10 years, including suicides, some 310,000 Americans died from guns.

        Stop wasting “billions of dollars”

        So of course we should try to reduce this carnage. But we need a new strategy, a public health approach that treats guns as we do cars ? taking evidence-based steps to make them safer. That seems to be what President Obama is trying to do.

        Thank you, Obama. Seatbelts and airbags sooth my bloodlust, and inhibit suicidal depression. Science is wonderful.

        1. If they took a scientific, or logical, approach to gun related death and injury, they would likely conclude that the War on Drugs? is a major culprit and turn it off. After the WoD was retired they might well find that a lack of jobs and independence is another problem and retract Minimum Wage Laws that keep young, unskilled black men from finding jobs. Then they might find that Welfare contributes to single parent homes and to boys growing up without a father figure, and then rewrite welfare laws to encourage rather than discourage families. Yeah, they could take a scientific approach to gun violence, but they won’t.

      2. If they cared about gun safety, they should be boosting the NRA. They mean gun control.

  15. If this can be contained to a handful of universities I’m less concerned since as stated about they created these worthless derp bags. I would see this as a self correcting problem at some point. They force the best instructors elsewhere, and people looking for an actual education as opposed to a faux power trip follow.

    1. Oh, that’s reassuring, universities will be filled with instructors who aren’t “the best,” and with students who are into power trips – which will be faux power trips on campus but will get less faux as they Peter Principle their way up the governmental or corporate ladder and become “leaders.”

      1. What I meant was that those Universities that dont allow themselves to be taken over by the derp mob wiill attract those good professors and the rest of the students who want to learn will follow, leaving the wimpy bureaucrats with a handful of retarded students whose tuition won’t even cover the faculty holiday party.

        1. Oh, I hope so.

          But I’m not sure.

          Between the motivated students and the utter retards there’s a large middle ground – which way will they jump?

          1. I think they’ll jump which ever way benefits them the most while offering emotional support to the retards as long as no real sacrifice is required on their part.

            1. To paraphrase Margaret Mead, “never doubt that a small group of overprivileged, retarded citizens can change the world, for the worse.”

      2. I’m not sure they could make the government any worse than it is anyways. People do have limits. Corporate America has already reached theirs. Sure they’ll humor them as they have been but it can’t go any further without seriously damaging profits. Senior Management isn’t giving up their beach homes for these idiots.

        1. OK, but look at what university graduates were able to do in other countries. Are we to say it can’t happen here?

          1. nb – it could well work out your way, I’m just feeling a tad cynical.

    2. “I would see this as a self correcting problem at some point. They force the best instructors elsewhere, and people looking for an actual education as opposed to a faux power trip follow.”

      Agreed. Sort of like suicide bombers; you tend to run out of them.
      The danger, such as it is, relates to the taxpayer money supporting the ‘institutions of higher learning’ accepting or promoting the BS. There is no end to taxpayer money.

    1. “as they demanded racial equity”

      Done. You are racial equals. You’re just not mental or emotional equals. No one can help you there but you.

      1. “as they demanded racial equity

        They demand Assets, minus the Liabilities. Entirely reasonable, and appropriate…

    2. PapayaSF|1.18.16 @ 11:52PM|#
      “In protest news, a “black queer liberation collective” that calls themselves Black.Seed, an offshoot of the Black Lives Matter movement, shut down half the Bay Bridge today.”

      I tried to go from south of market to downtown today. Slow but made it. On return, I got:
      “Hecklers chase S.F. Mayor Ed Lee from MLK Day stage”
      http://www.sfgate.com/politics…..767176.php
      3rd at Howard was closed; I was on New Montgomery. For a LOOONG time.

    3. BTW, the Chron picks a particularly ‘complimentary’ image:
      http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/…..767354.php

  16. Dull-witted blades spinning like pillaging saws eviscerate brains splashing and splattering the contents and visions onto the fucking flecked disorders of society’s motherfucking ancient nightmares reincarnated as fresh-skinned blood-curdling Saviors tromping and gathering glassy-eyed and listless under a boiling future. Salvation from freedom requires a hellish horizon.

    1. “Salvation from freedom requires a hellish horizon.”

      What do they want?

      Freedom from choice.

      When do they want it?

      NOW!!!

      1. Ken Shultz|1.19.16 @ 12:03AM|#
        “What do they want?
        Freedom from choice.”

        Comments here had me re-read “True Believer” (Hoffer). He refers often enough to the ‘terrible burdens of liberty’; the ‘necessity of choosing’; the dreaded requirement of ‘taking responsibility’ rather than relying on the parent figure to relieve you of that.
        I’m reminded of the Tonys of the world; lo, that they may never have to act as a moral agent!

        1. I’ll check it out.

    2. Immortal Technique *wishes* he had flow like Agile Cyborg.

  17. I disagree that the social justice warrior / PC movement we’re seeing on college campuses is like “creeping totalitarianism”.

    It’s more like a blitzkrieg.

  18. More grand-jury bashing, including recycling the suggestion that the grand jury that cleared Darren Wilson was biased. Of course, the Obama/Holder Justice Department later cleared Wilson as well, but never mind, there’s outrage to be felt.

    1. You see, the community isn’t represented by a panel of grand jurors, it’s represented by indignant mobs. Because the grand jurors only have a skewed view of the evidence, unlike the mob’s carefully-researched and unbiased position.

    2. The grand jury was not biased, they were a rigged jury.

      Grand juries exist to rubberstamp whatever decision the prosecutor makes with regards to taking a case to trial. They only hear the prosecutor’s side of the case, but they don’t know the law or rules of evidence or anything so they have to rely on the prosecutor’s word that he has a good case. Prosecutors like high conviction rates they can tout when they run for higher office so they’re not going to take weak cases to a grand jury – in fact legal ethics would dictate they not take weak cases to a grand jury. It’s unjust to subject a person to a legal proceeding you know you can’t win. Prosecutors can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, grand juries don’t just refuse to return a true bill when the prosecutor wants one.

      So this prosecutor knew he had no case but he took it to a grand jury anyway just so he could publicly wash his hands of any responsibility for it. He presented the defense case to the grand jury to make sure they didn’t indict, doubling his abandonment of legal ethics. And then he bragged to the public about what a great job he did presenting all the evidence to the grand jury without mentioning he has never in his life presented all the evidence to a grand jury before and it’s not his job to do it and he’ll never do it again. (Until another cop case pops up.)

      1. I’ve cited this Ohio article from 2009 before – the reporter finds the usual skepticism about ham sandwiches, but experienced attorneys also say the grand jury weeds out some bad cases:

        “”The grand jury helps separate the wheat from the chaff,” he said. As one example, [defense lawyer Glenn Jones] cited the case of a construction worker who was arrested for allegedly yelling a death threat at a police dog. When a grand jury was [shown] that case, Jones noted, it declined ” sensibly, in his opinion ” to bring a felony charge against the man.””

        1. “So this prosecutor knew he had no case but he took it to a grand jury anyway just so he could publicly wash his hands of any responsibility for it.”

          Yes, one would prefer that prosecutors who know they have a bad case would just say so.

          But since not all prosecutors are courageous enough to throw out a bad case, isn’t it a relief to know there’s a body which will do it for him?

          1. State law should require a local prosecutor to recuse himself and an independent prosecutor should handle ALL police violence cases. This takes the local prosecutor out of the uncomfortable position of having to do the ‘wrong’ thing for political reasons, and breaks the prosecutor-cop alliance.

            1. No, no!! That’s too minimalistic. We need federal involvement to solve this problem.

  19. OT: You can bring a horse to water…

    What’s with FEE? Half of the posts are about how poor people make too much money and now we’re being told not to trust the data that shows the rich are absurdly rich? I agree with the whole End the Fed and freer markets agenda, but cut the BS. The system is rigged by both government actions and private money. The people at FEE aren’t going to get ahead by attacking the minimum wage and defending billionaires. Focus on issues that are useful to everyone.

      1. It’s from my Facebook feed…

      2. Here’s our exchange so far:

        Me:So pointing out the flaws in a report by an activist group is “defending billionaires” now? And FEE has made good arguments for why the minimum wage hurts the poor. Stop with your absurd straw men.

        Him: Anyone who believes that the current minimum wage is currently too high is living in their own little idiotic world. There are so many jobs out there that require no skills or experience that pay higher than the minimum for two reasons: 1) attract better workers 2) the business acknowledges that the minimum is too low for their region. With all the damn inflation, the current minimum is at best adequate. You do not need FEE to spoon feed you, you can just go look at apartment listings and think “how much would I need to make to live in this town.”

        Me: Nobody spoon feeds me anything. My opposition to the minimum wage came from my own deductive reasoning. Labor is a cost. If costs go up, one or more of the following three things happens: businesses increase their prices, they shed their marginal workers and/or cut back on hiring, or they simply eat the cost. Given that business owners, like all people (including workers), want to maximize profit, the third option is rarely chosen, and if it is, it is ephemeral. So, eventually but inevitably, prices for goods and services will rise and/or certain jobs will cease to exist/will not be created.

        1. Me: Moreover, higher wages on the low end only incentivize employees up the wage ladder to demand higher wages for themselves. These higher labor costs lead to higher inflation, as the wage increase didn’t come about through higher productivity (which leads to *real* wage growth), but by government fiat. No additional goods and services went up. Their costs merely did. This hurts everyone, save for the lucky few who benefited from the redistribution (and that benefit eventually tapers off with the general rise in prices).

          Him: You say it’s inevitable that prices will rise – I agree. If prices rise, as they have, and wages do not rise, who buys the goods/services? When the Fed stops making easy money (they’ve only just begun to raise rates) and the speculation ceases, and the loans don’t get paid back, and the market crashes again, where will consumption be at? How about savings? These key components of our economy will not be able to make up the difference because wages for people on the lower end are not high enough. I’d rather see a few businesses make radical changes now, or even shut down, than see a recession as bad or worse than the last.

          1. Say the government passed a law making it a crime to sell a bottle of wine for less than, say, twenty dollars. Would this guy keep buying bottles that would otherwise have been less expensive (presumably because they are of lower quality), or would this guy instead buy the best quality that twenty dollars can buy? After all, he’s going to spend twenty bucks no matter what. Assuming the makes the logical choice, and other wine drinkers do the same, what happens to the wineries that can’t produce a twenty dollar bottle of wine?

            1. They hire a decent Mexican winemaker.

            2. Living Wine Price.

              Every wine deserves to sell for at least $20. How else will wineries survive?

              Great analogy, sarcasmic. Although, I can easily hear progressives arguing that wine and labor are not the same thing. But unskilled labor and everyday wine are both commodities and will be sourced and produced similarly.

              1. Although, I can easily hear progressives arguing that wine and labor are not the same thing.

                Well, yeah. It feels icky to compare the two because labor is people. You can’t refer to people simply as labor. That ignores their feelings and isn’t fair. They’ve got to live. They deserve a living wage. Especially with all these rich people. It isn’t fair that some people don’t get paid a living wage while other people are rich. They deserve a living wage whether they earn it or not, and if their employer can’t afford to pay them a living wage at a loss, then the employer deserves to go out of business. (So what about all the other employees who would lose their jobs. The employer being punished is what matters.)

          2. Him: You say it’s inevitable that prices will rise – I agree.

            Of course you didn’t actually say that. All you said was prices have to rise if costs go up and productivity doesn’t.

            This idiot thinks price inflation is the natural order of things when the entire history of mankind shows the exact opposite. Prices rise only when the money supply rises faster than productivity rises.

            Subhumans, like the nitwit quoted, are perfectly happy with nominal wage increases and couldn’t give a whit that their relative wage decreases. Government is there to give these morons exactly what they want. A human with a functioning brain learns relatively quickly that the only way to guarantee a wage increase for himself is to become more productive. But the concept of productivity is alien to most of what are counted as human beings.

  20. The fascinating thing to me is how the university staff and management cave under what amounts to no actually effective pressure. Whats the dynamic causing that? You expect sophomores to be sophomoric, but why would that cause an administrator to grovel and toss their career away?

  21. To ask whether something is offensive in an academic setting is to believe the truth has been found. Whatever else is said that runs contrary to a ‘truth’ has to be offensive.

    It’s been established by decree and consensus! Now shut up!

    Welcome to your Dark Age.

    1. It’s been established by decree and consensus! Now shut up!

      People who believe in the ‘truth’ have good intentions, which means anyone who questions the ‘truth’ is also questioning those good intentions. Not only that, but anyone who questions the ‘truth’ must have bad intentions. All disagreement is born of evil! Evil! Burn them! Drown them! Destroy the evil!

  22. That Pinker guy’s responses were excellent. Showed just the right amount of disdain for censorship while still hitting all the right logical arguments.

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  24. “Climate deniers”, he says? Does anyone really deny climate exits?

  25. All that was ever asked of Larry Summers was consistency. When it turns out he’s an imbecile only 99.9% of the time, it leaves the door open for occasional truth-telling slip-ups that are grounds for dismissal.

  26. I just finished reading Illiberal Reformers, and now I, too, would consider having to eat underneath a portrait of Woodrow Wilson a grave moral injustice.

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