2014/05/29/Universities becoming bastions of intolerance/woozle

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I was just reading this article so I could file it properly on Issuepedia, but I find myself getting outraged about the issue all over again -- for real this time.

When it was just been my pet conservative expressing this view, I was prepared to chalk it up to his oblivious trust in the elite establishment*.

But now Michael Bloomberg comes out and says the same thing, and gets a round of applause.

Apparently there are a few points of which Mr. Bloomberg is unaware -- though I have a hard time believing he truly does not realize:

1. that paid speech is not free speech. As with political contributions, it is (if anything) the exact opposite.
2. that none of these speakers were coming to engage in open debate. They were coming to spread the establishment's views, to a captive audience. This is not free speech; it is indoctrination.
3. that these speakers were not just coming to speak, but to be given honorary degrees and many thousands of dollars by the university. This is not the university hosting a forum for the free exchange of ideas; this is the university endorsing one particular set of ideas, using already-scarce funds to further enrich the already-wealthy at the expense of the students, many of them extremely cash-strapped or even in debt up to their ears to pay for the privilege of being there.

...and yet Bloomberg laments the terrible loss of this opportunity to bestow largesse and honor on our beloved elites. Although the obedient idiots in attendance who applauded him are probably just oblivious, I can only think that he knows exactly what he's doing.

4. that there were genuine and substantial reasons why the idea of honoring and enriching these individuals was problematic -- and that none of the complaints about the student protests addressed any of these issues. They treated the students' legitimate concerns as nothing more than childish temper-tantrums.
5. that the protesting students were using speech to express their position -- and Bloomberg is telling them to shut up.
6. that if any of these speakers truly wished to engage in open discussion, they would be welcome to come speak with any of several different student groups at the universities in question, or at a roundtable session with the student body, or in any of a dozen or more different formats which would undoubtedly be very well attended and likely would not be protested if it were made clear that the students would be allowed to speak and ask questions in front of the same assemblage... and as long as they were willing to do so FOR FREE.

(...and probably more points I'm not thinking of at this late hour.)

What this all seems to come down to is that people like Mr. Bloomberg who have substantial political power think of themselves as being substantially different from the rest of us:

They are more rational, calmer, better able to see all sides of an issue, better able to weigh competing concerns against each other. When they make mistakes -- like accidentally receiving benefits which might be seen as a form of bribery, or arguing a country into a terrible war based on false evidence -- these mistakes were always made with the best of intentions, with the greater good always firmly in mind. Such mistakes must be forgiven (reasons the elite) because after all it may someday be my turn to be caught in an awkward position where my actions are seen in a negative light -- and then the peasants will be coming for me with their torches and pitchforks.

So I must and will defend my fellow elites against the savages and their misplaced belief in "democracy" as a form of governance. We know what's good for them; they, the poor dears, simply lack the proper perspective. They lack the discernment to see when terrible actions are necessary and vital for our national interests -- and there's no point in giving them the evidence, because they would just twist it around and interpret it however they want. So we will placate them as best we can, and tell them bedtime stories and sing them to sleep.

Screw you, Mr. Bloomberg. Screw you and the limousine you rode in on. You are opposing the basis of all modernity: the recognition of individuals as equals before the law, the belief that all voices have an equal right to participate in the marketplace of ideas, the idea that no individual should be seen as better than any other except through the fruits of their actions.

By supporting the right of privileged elites to be given an enormous platform and stipend for expressing their views while opposing the right of anyone else to criticize them, you are making it clear that you have absolutely no regard for the free speech of anyone who isn't an elite. You oppose my right, as a member of a free society, to be heard.

The outrage here is that you can call for silencing of free speech, in the name of free speech -- and be applauded for it. And honored. And paid.

Some relevant links:

Notes

* despite his disdain for Obama -- but I gather that from his perspective, liberals vs. conservatives is kind of like peppermint vs. wintergreen, where he just really doesn't like peppermint that much; if peppermint wins, then he has to put up with a bad taste in his mouth for a few years -- nothing more.

Crossposted from Google+