Proof of University Censorship and the Risk to Free Speech

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Tue, Apr 21 - 9:00 am EST | 4 years ago by
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Riposte Modernism - Free Speech

The next generation of academics, and journalists, are being indoctrinated into not even knowing what free speech means.

You should probably be worried if an entire generation is being brought up and educated to think that Free Speech should come a distant second to a vague sense of collective comfort. Apparently, some people think that’s not a big priority, however. It’s been implied that in my articles I might make too big a deal of the largely youth-driven “Tumblr Leftism,” paying attention to the wrong things.

For those of you who don’t know, tumblr is a huge social-media website, largely based on the posting of images and memes, that is used (among many other things, like Twitter) by what are highly-inaccurately called “social justice warriors” (a terrible term, because it implies that social justice is the problem, or that the pseudo-activists that weaponize it to promote censorship are somehow ‘warriors’ and not just a gang of narcissistic power-hungry abusive frauds). It’s the sort of place where people talk about how important an issue it is to ban clapping at feminist conferences so no one gets triggered, but think that it’s ‘problematic’ to condemn ISIS for murdering and oppressing women because that might be racist.

Real Feminist

(The person in this image? This is a social justice warrior. The “tumblr feminist” morons who can’t be bothered to support her? Pseudo-activists.)

But the argument is that even if I find these people annoying, there are other groups that are much more dangerous because the tumblr activists have ‘no real power’. Sure, they have the power to organize blacklisting attempts to try to ruin people’s careers (including mine, for example, using complete fabrications and lies). But they don’t have the power to really influence things on the world scale, the argument goes. This comes hand-in-hand with the accusation that I’m not paying attention to authoritarians with what they presume to be real power to cause harm, like “Christian Theocrats” (gee, I guess they missed the three articles in a row I did on that subject).

Never mind that these critics are wrong in claiming I’m being one-sided in my opposition to autocratic collectivism in any form (I have, every time, said that the only division that matters isn’t left or right, it’s about whether you’re on the side of Han Solo or the Empire), the bigger point is that they’re wrong about the danger level of the college-liberal pseudo-activists.

Why? Because even if right now these people have relatively little power at the level of federal politics or international affairs, they have enormous power in the college campuses and in educational institutions in general, and like any illiterate Pakistani girl being denied a chance to go to school at gunpoint can tell you, education is both the wellspring of power and freedom. And these pseudo-activists are poisoning that well here.

How badly are they doing this? So badly, it would seem, that colleges throughout the English-speaking world have gone from being bastions of dangerous thought to being gulags of dangerous thought-control, where if you are a student or faculty you have to be constantly careful not to say or even think the wrong ideas, the ones that the Outrage Patrol deem worthy of destroying you for. Once in a while, you see the people my critics think of as being in “real power” trying to enforce censorship against ideas they find dangerous, but even then it’s in half-hearted word-controlled lingo out of fear of ‘offending’ the fantasies of the pseudo-activists). But much more often, it is the pseudo-activists directly engaging in censorship.

Do you demand proof? Fine! Let’s look at a short list of things that the pseudo-activists have banned or tried to ban on university campuses lately, in increasing order of mind-boggling absurdity:

That’s quite a long list, and I’m sure you could find a lot more (for example, I didn’t even touch on the wave of protests meant to silence speakers on campus that in some way or another express views opposite those of the pseudo-activist Collective). But the bigger problem isn’t just the censorship itself but the way that this mentality is redefining the very notion of ‘free speech’. To give just one more example, and explain why this is such a problem, consider the case of the recent banning of the movie American Sniper followed up by disruptive protests meant to cancel the screening after it was reinstated.

In a response to that, over on the Huffington Post, a University of Michigan student-journalist named Neel Swamy wrote an article excusing the censorial atmosphere and trying to argue that some ‘hate mail’ that was received on account of the banning was somehow ‘proof’ that the censorship was justified. While pointing out that he himself has not seen American Sniper, he stated: “As a student journalist, I will be the first to say that I advocate free speech” – even as he claimed that the right to free speech is in competition with “the desire to establish an inclusive environment”, and that we have to respect the “right” of the University “to intervene when the emotional or physical safety of its students” is compromised.

So, in other words, this up and coming future journalist, working in a field that should be our first line of defense for the freedom of speech, believes that ‘free speech’ means that you should only ever be allowed to say things that don’t emotionally upset people. THAT is the danger of Tumblr Leftism. That is why the danger represented by them is much greater than the tired, waning power of religious autocrats (however bad their attempts at censorship might be). Because this mentality that believes somehow “not being offended” is a right, and a GREATER right than the freedom of speech (which, unlike the former, is an actual real and inalienable right), is latching onto and indoctrinating the people who will control the media and set the policies of the next generation.

Noam Chomsky - Freedom of Speech

You know, I haven’t watched American Sniper either. Not because of whatever its political message is, but just because I have a lot of other shows and movies I’m more interested in watching. If I felt offended by it, though, I might choose not to watch it. That’s my right. It’s NOT my right, and not ever my right, to decide that YOU shouldn’t get to watch it either, though. But increasingly, the pseudo-activist mobs that have infiltrated our education system are giving people a definition of free speech that suggests they should get to curtail any kind of speech that they personally decide wouldn’t be safe for them, for you, or for others they falsely claim to represent.

There’s nothing in the world that is more dangerous to our civilization than that idea.

Kasimir Urbanski doesn’t write on a specific subject; he’s EveryJoe’s resident maniac-at-large. A recovering Humanities academic and world-traveler, he now lives in South America and is a researcher of fringe religion, eastern philosophy, and esoteric consciousness-expansion. In his spare time he writes tabletop RPGs, and blogs about them at

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  • Bordeaux Vixen

    though i disagree with your term slinging and generalization of the “left”, i heartily agree with argument about free speech. sure, say gross things i totally hate. it’s your right.

    • Kasimir Urbanski

      I’m glad you support free speech. It’s really important that we have people who (still) identify as being on the left that do support free speech. But do you really think any of the countless examples I put in the article above would not be from people who also identify themselves as being from the left?

      I have no problem condemning the authoritarians on the right (religious fundamentalists, for example, or the few neo-cons that still dare to show their face) and acknowledging the problem. You NEED to do the same, for the left. Because which political/economic side of the binary model you identify more with matters a lot less than what you think about Individual Freedom vs. Collectivism.

      I don’t care so much whether you vote Democrat or Republican. I care a lot more whether you’re on the side of Han Solo, or the Empire.

    • Bordeaux Vixen

      ah, i realize now that my non specific use of “you” sounded like i meant you specifically, though I didn’t really! sorry for the misunderstanding. i mean people can say gross things i totally hate and it’s their right – and that is a very good thing.

      i think you are really talking about circumstances evolving around safe space designations and questions of audience. Where are we? Did we declare this a particular kind of safe space? Who is listening and does it matter if we offend them? Universities typically have some sort of code of conduct to adhere to and keep themselves in good standing with general reputation management. If a space is declared to be a “safe space for LGBT folks”, then when someone says a hateful heteronormative slur, then they can be declared unfriendly and generally disallowed according to whatever sort of code/procedures are in place. If a space isn’t declared to safe, then it’s dangerous. Those who enter beware – anyone can call you a Nazi leftist, clap too loudly, make rape jokes, and break your little heart with no real recourse but social impact (if any). Though sad to consider, this is normal. I don’t like the idea of unsafe spaces for people that feel like shit about xy or z, but this is normal. Things are beginning to change, and it seems to be what you are actually dismayed about. This fluctuation in social structure and rules is nothing new, and it marks the wave of cultural change. Folks need to be free to choose and build the sort of life they want, including the societal norms. That is free speech in 4 dimensions – changing bit by bit, from within.

    • Kasimir Urbanski

      Folks must be free to choose and build the sort of life they want, it’s true. Which means that if you want to associate in closed groups, what you decide is allowed or not allowed is fine. If it is voluntary, that’s not a problem.

      The problem is when you are trying to IMPOSE your own personal ideas of what should or should not be allowed as speech into the Public space. And to restrict speech in an area like a University, which is the place where, in theory, the next generation of thinkers and professionals and leaders are formed. To teach them “Free speech is the right to say things that doesn’t offend anyone at all” is to betray our entire civilization.

    • Bordeaux Vixen

      I agree with you!

      Though, I would say your perspective on Universities as especially important because they form the next gen of leaders is classist. Not every leader goes to college. Rather, the notion of restricted speech on university campuses is unsettling because of the sheer number of people educated in a free speech restricted zone. That is, of course, assuming that’s the sort of university attended.

    • Kasimir Urbanski

      Aside from ‘celebrities’, what group of influential people do you know today that does not go to college? In fact, part of the problem we have are far too many people going to college, to the point that the value of a Bachelor’s Degree is little more than toilet paper. People are coming out of a 4-year program with a $60000+ debt to work a minimum-wage job.

    • Bordeaux Vixen

      Yes! You are right! So many people go to college today that the degree you earn is becoming less respected, less important… less influential.

  • mythusmage

    Not being offended is not a right.

  • BillPrimostaff

    Kas, I’ll give you American Sniper to watch, I found it very enriching, not for the shooting, the war scenes are not that amazing, but on the home front side.

    I read this as a kid and still believe it to be right on what free speech is all about:

    Si tu diffères de moi, mon frère, loin de me léser, tu m’enrichis.

    • Kasimir Urbanski

      Very true.

  • ArtRebel

    Sounds like they’re gearing up for an American version of The Cultural Revolution. Someone ought to inform them how utterly horrible the survivors of that ordeal in China now feel about it all, and how wretched their “youthful idealism” made that country. How many people were burned to death for the sake of “The Revolution” and how duped an entire generation of collage aged Chinese were who fell for it all, got themselves passionately excited enough to kill others for “the cause”, and how it destroyed their souls forever after. If our American college students want to follow that path, they’re welcome to try it, by the way. After all, it’s a free country. But they should be aware, frankly, that America isn’t China, and the response they’re likely to get as soon as push comes to shove may result in their being rather outrageously disappointed with the results of their “idealistic enthusiasm”.

  • Dean Collins

    I’ve never liked Chomsky but that is a great quote.

    • Kasimir Urbanski


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