Oh the Humanities…

One of my biggest concerns about the SJW craziness on college campuses is the current trend to conflate speech, even offensive speech, with violence. Mahler Mali does a great job describing this trend and its sources in this piece. He argues that the humanities, and especially the English majors, lack academic rigor and instead spend (waste?) their time inculcating anti-freedom ideals in their students:

Activist professors incapable of surviving in the more arduous disciplines (see: Autoethnography) are the most vociferous in limiting academic freedom of others. Given all of this, it is no surprise that Baer holds the views that he does. Neither is it surprising that we have professors of English publishing op-eds which ask for limiting speech, such as Aaron R. Hanlon a professor of English at Colby College in New Republic or John Patrick Leary a professor of English at Wayne State University in Inside Higher Education. 

Mali points out that one of the great accomplishments of the Enlightenment was the freeing of speech in order to avoid actual violence:

Words are not violence. We brought Western civilization through a crucible of ideological warfare to establish the norms of differentiating speech from physically harmful actions. Now some operators in the humanities want to drag us back there. What the “snowflakes” and Baer get right about free speech is absolutely nothing.

I recommend you read the whole thing.

And, lest someone want to defend limitations on “hate speech,” please be reminded that such a thing does not exist, at least not in constitutional jurisprudence.

We might want to put our heads under the pillows or, better yet, just laugh at these people. But remember that these students who claim “harm” and “violence” from speech, and who claim there is no such thing as objective truth (tell that to an airplane), will soon be lawyers, leaders and, gulp, federal judges.

Posted by Gregg Smith

Gregg Smith is a Great Falls attorney and businessperson. He writes a monthly column for the Great Falls Tribune.

Reader interactions

2 Replies to “Oh the Humanities…”

  1. Mike Mikulski May 8, 2017 at 7:28 AM

    Straight form The Heritage Foundation:
    “As with all of the Bill of Rights, the free speech/press guarantee restricts only government action, not action by private employers, property owners, householders, churches, universities, and the like.”
    Do I like the fact that people choose to burn the flag, or say things I disagree with, no, however, it is their right to do so. I have the same right to say what I want to say, even if it is not “politically correct.” The rub comes in when someone who disagrees with me tries to take physical action that prevents me from doing so. I guess our government schools have done a marvelous job by not teaching students the truth about a bunch of old time, dead white guys, who founded our nation.


    1. Thought you might like this comment from the E-City Beat Facebook page:

      Brian Cunnington This article is absurd. There is an argument to be made about free speech being nearly absolute but this is not that argument. To claim that speech is not violence shows this attorney’s/writer’s privileged position. And to claim that real violence is reduced by free speech is absurd.

      Get that? Pretty good argument: if you don’t think saying something out loud is “violence” then you’re privileged. Irrefutable.

      Oh, and the idea that it’s good to talk things out rather than shooting each other is “absurd.”

      This is what passes for reasoning on the far left, I’m afraid.


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