Enemies of Free Speech Must NOT Be Silenced: Let Everyone Hear Their Gibberish

Yesterday I read about an editorial pronouncement published in the Wellesley College student newspaper that tried to enunciate an official policy of suppressing free speech. The document came out incoherent at several points, not surprisingly (though the reasons for its incoherence were sometimes surprising: the editors literally wrote the opposite of what they had intended in a couple of crucial places). The case, as presented by these Keystone Cops of monitored speech and others of their brigade, amounts to the following.

Some expressions move people to anger, hatred, and hence—potentially—to violence. Violence hurts people. Therefore, any speech that stirs the audience up is subject to instant suppression (depending on whether the arbiters deem that the audience is right or wrong to get stirred up about a given issue).

This argument is self-annihilating. I think any adolescent of average intelligence would quickly ask, “So who judges the judges? How can we know that their right and wrong isn’t just the way they happen to feel that day?”

Yes, exactly. But beyond that, think about what the argument implies with regard to people generally. They can’t think for themselves. They have no natural power of reason—no inborn ability to join claims logically nor any common humanity that alerts them to unfairness or outrage. All such faculties are myths, according to today’s academy. Logic is simply programming pounded into the masses by a patriarchal establishment. “Decency” is the same thing. Both are given highfalutin names to cloak them in respectability… but they’re mere brainwash. If some firebrand orator pushes your buttons and you are a member of the great unwashed, you will fall prey to his manipulation. You can’t do otherwise: you’re defenseless.

Well, not quite. Your defense is that the forward-thinking opponents of the establishment will shut down the firebrand before he assembles a crowd (which manifestation of power, of course, requires that they themselves be the de facto establishment, if I may be forgiven a lapse into logic). And since reason of both the logical sort (inner consistency) and the intuitive sort (moral imperatives) is all illusion, those who stage the protective intervention and bundle the would-be speaker off to Siberia don’t have to justify themselves in any sane manner. All they have to say, by their account, is that they’re shielding our ears from hateful speech and our eyes from hateful publications. This overweening nannyism-gone-berserk could cover up tracks of the most horrendous kind, naturally. The self-elected components of “society’s conscience” could be euthanizing their critics left and right, and the masses could be persuaded to go back to their video games and smartphones as long as whistle-blowers didn’t stir up “hatred”. No whistle, no foul.

I suppose that my last two paragraphs amount to the same thing as, “Who will judge the judges?” But I wanted to emphasize that advocates of selective suppression are, in fact, advocates of arbitrary suppression, and hence of suppression without practical limit—categorical suppression. You either have the freedom to speak your mind… or you don’t. If a redneck anti-intellectual Hotspur were to exhort his hearers to round up all academics in Humanities programs and put them in a concentration camp, I would want him to speak his fill. Then I, in my turn, could point out to him that he’s doing the very thing for which he so detests academics in Humanities programs. If our hearers are too dense to understand my point… well, then, we’re all dead, anyway. But I’m fully convinced that if they hear my side and my opponent’s, they will recognize themselves and the children they hope to rear in my world that allows discussion of ideas, compromise, recognition of errors, insight, and—in a word—growth. The permanent infantilism of those wretches who live under Him Who Would Be God is not what any “decent” person hopes for his or her babies.

The protophobe (“First-Amendment Fearing”) Left of our more insane campuses is nothing less than the new KKK. I don’t like lynching, no matter who does it. I’ll bet you don’t, either.

The Neurosis of E-Life: An Addendum

What happens when messages can be conveyed easily from one party to another? Messages proliferate. What happens when messages proliferate? Everyone becomes saturated in “information” of widely varying quality. What happens when the good stuff and the bad is all stirred together in the same dumptruck-load of malodorous “communication”? The good stuff gets neglected with the bad. What happens when negligence becomes epidemic? People start feeling isolated and depressed, or even getting chippy and rude. What happens when depression and rudeness suddenly spike? People grow plangent—they want more attention, and they want everyone to apologize to them. What happens to a society of hurt, whining children and sullen, smarting victims? It fragments. You have the children who continue to whine and form groups of whiners; you have withdrawn clams who tune everything out, including the desperate sufferers who are in anguishing need; and you have the whackos who decide to blow themselves and everyone around them to hell since they can’t find an audience.

Welcome to our world.

In a professional context, you also see the multiplication of petty tasks to virtual infinity. Since it’s now so easy to demand that minions and underlings do thus and so, demands grow more numerous. The manufacture of demands, indeed, becomes itself an arduous chore: the tinpot dictators snuggled behind their keyboards actually manage to overwork themselves. They need more supporting staff, so more funds must be allocated to more hiring. At the other end, the minions grow more stressed-out because the day’s hours have not been multiplied to keep up with the rising volume of minute tasks to perform. They cut corners on the work they were intended to do in order to complete absurd surveys, questionnaires, and tutorials. The threat of harsh consequences if they do not accede to every latest demand wears upon their health, as well; for the demands are entirely impersonal and often, therefore, imperious. When you can order someone about remotely, never seeing the person’s face or hearing the person’s voice, you tend to order a little more often and a little more peremptorily. One thinks of the subjects of the Milgram Experiment, turning up the “pain” button on their tortured victims (who, unknown to them, were just acting), because they nestled behind the anonymity of a command chain and a two-way mirror.

Give a man a hammer, it is said, and everything looks like a nail. Give people the capacity to send messages simply and quickly… and you have a society of people who do nothing but “message”, to the extent that they haven’t enough time to live something worthy of report. As a society, the model is pretty crappy, really. I could almost wish for an EMP to wipe it all away; but then, most of us would die in the process.

Then again, are we alive right now?

What’s to Celebrate, About THAT President or THIS One?

I think I do a pretty good job of staying away from politics in discussions among mixed company.  If I can do it, why can’t others?  Why do I have to open the mandatory e-mail in my workplace and find a missive congratulating Barack Obama on a job well done?  There was no analagous message wishing luck to Donald Trump.  When I reflect that a few responsible people have been trying over the past decade to get Congress to remedy our exposure to Electro-Magnetic Pulse events with no success whatever at the federal level, and that a single such event could kill 300 million Americans within a year, my blood boils.  Granted, George Bush II was on watch when the alert was first raised: his administration led the charge to do nothing (being preoccupied, apparently, with monitoring all of our private communications).  Under Obama, however, not only has understanding of the impending threat deepened and been more broadly disseminated (no thanks to the mainstream media); the man has actually equipped Iran–one of the two most likely perps of an EMP attack in the near future, based on our observation of missile-development programs–to become an active threat.  Meanwhile, he’s wasted months and months of precious time and treasure-loads of precious resources ginning up concern about climate change.  Manhattan may be under water in 2075!  That’s obviously a far greater issue than the death by thirst, starvation, hypothermia, and rioting of nine out of every ten citizens, possibly by 2020.

A job well done… really?  Define “job”, please.

Contrarily, newscasters on all the FOX sister-stations produce queues of talking heads communicating the hope of “ordinary Americans” that President Trump will “make their lives better”.  The problem, it seems to me (as an American and a Constitutionalist), is that one man should have so much power as to be able to make our lives better or worse.  I don’t want anyone making my life better.  I want bureaucracies everywhere to get their fingers the hell out of my life, so that I may make it better if I have the energy or worse if I commit errors rich in good life lessons.  I want to be treated as an adult instead of a child; I don’t want a new daddy-figure who artificially supplies work for me instead of intrusively choosing my diet for me.

A student told me yesterday that you can’t collect water off your roof in these parts for filtering and drinking.  He said that it’s illegal.  A little research suggests that he was wrong in terms of state law.  Nevertheless, he may be right in terms of certain municipalities and subdivisions, which have all kinds of patently unconstitutional restrictions on what one may do.  Government entities on both the micro- and the macro-level are busily gnawing into our basic freedoms.  If you look hard for them (i.e., outside the mainstream media), stories are superabundant about the Bureau of Land Management telling a rancher that he can’t water his cows because of a rat or an owl.  My brother-in-law claims that the county in which I hope to build a retirement home will require me to have an outlet capable of servicing an electric car, even though I have no intent of ever owning such a car.  (I may drive ten miles, perhaps, in a month.)  All of these “do-gooders” are stifling the very resourcefulness and independence that will be needed to confront… oh, say, a major EMP event.  And if such an occurrence were to happen naturally (as it certainly will within a few decades–lead-pipe cinch), then it might ultimately wipe out the human race.  In the meantime, though, our keepers will have nudged us benignly toward vehicles that don’t directly use fossil fuels… and those marginalized voices who protest, like Dinesh D’Souza (a man of color, by the way), will find themselves not-so-benignly doing significant prison time on some trumped-up charge relating to improper completion of complex paper work.

I don’t see the Trump Administration flashing any signs that it will reverse the “job well done” by Barack Obama in these areas.  Trump isn’t abolishing any of the more oppressive and dictatorial departments: he’s just replacing their directors with his partisans.  So… my assessment is that you’re pretty much on your own.  Chacun pour soi.  Filter your own water without telling anyone, grow your own garden and hope that ATF’s drones don’t misidentify it as a marijuana plantation… and, in general, put your hope in your own two hands.  Get over the celebrations: there’s nothing to celebrate here.

Dirty Air Doesn’t Mean the Climate’s Changing

Dr. Wolfgang Thune is a highly reputed German meteorologist with a background (so I gather) in academia as well as in broadcasting.  He has published several articles and books exploding the absurd claims of the “climate change” cult.  I have read a few of these through links posted at Peter Helmes’ site, Die Deutsche Konservativen.  Now, neither my German nor my scientific training is sufficient to qualify me as more than a very clumsy reader of the Doctor’s work… but the modicum of it seemingly within my reach is quite thought-provoking.  I’ve just finished wading through an interview whose subject is, naturally, climate-change hysteria.  It’s posted at the Helmes site, if you think your German is up to the task.

A few tidbits that came in low enough to hit me between the eyes: carbon dioxide is a mere .038% of Earth’s atmosphere; and of that minuscule amount, 96% is naturally produced.

Plants need carbon dioxide to perform photosynthesis (yeah… I knew that!); so if we’re concerned about our CO2 levels, why don’t we plant more trees?  Why should we instead engage in CO2-suppressing crusades that will suffocate the planet’s vegetal inhabitants?

Earth is NOT analogous to a greenhouse.  She doesn’t have a glass ceiling.  Gasses escape from her atmosphere all the time (which, in the long run, poses its own life-threatening scenario… but that’s another story).

Carbon dioxide absorbs solar radiation only at a very few wavelengths (I seem to recollect Thune’s mentioning three).  That’s like putting three “stickies” on you living-room window and claiming that they keep the morning light from shining through.  (Actually, the stickies would have to be almost microscopic.)

There are people dropping like flies of heart and lung disease in Beijing, and I hear that Tokyo isn’t much better.  When I briefly lived in Dublin, Ireland, about thirty years ago, the coal smoke was so bad that I cut my stay short due to chronic respiratory problems.  Our air isn’t clean.  In many more urbanized locales, it positively stinks.

To address such problems by screaming, “Climate change!” in Chicken Little fashion, however–and even by clamoring for “deniers” to be imprisoned or executed, in Josef Stalin fashion–bespeaks a sickness of the mind at least as lethal as anything currently stalking our lungs.  We can’t solve problems if we don’t correctly name them.  The problem with our fume-rich lower atmosphere isn’t that polar bears might take up residence in Nome dumpsters or that New York might be turned into Venice: it’s that we’re breathing toxic crap.  Magnifying the issue to resemble the approach of a killer asteroid is merely a bid by centralized authority to acquire yet more control over our private lives.

More bureaucracy doesn’t produce cleaner air (just ask the Chinese).  Our entire energy-dependent way of life possesses a wide array of liabilities… ever hear of an EMP?.  We need to step back and study the mess we’ve created with calm reason rather than swarming deliriously after charismatic, power-hungry leaders like the mad devotees of Dionysus.

The War on Thinking (Continued)

I may have left the wrong impression yesterday in writing that readers detest big words and closely reasoned arguments nowadays–that there’s a kind of war on thinking, and that some of us who like to think things through (even if we don’t always do so effectively) are starting to feel lonely.  “Targeted” may be too strong a word; and as soon as a word like that flickers across my mind, I shift to recollections of self-perceived victims saying that newly empowered Trump supporters are threatening them on the streets.

So let me be clear.  I didn’t vote for The Donald–honestly, the final vote I cast last year was in the primaries.  (Verbum sagacibus sufficiat.)  But I am not a Trump-a-phobe, either.  My latest encounter with big-league suppression of speech was in a class of English majors last fall.  Annoyed that so many of the group consistently skipped our meetings and/or didn’t produce homework, I tried to pave over my irritation on one mid-semester occasion.  I remarked, “Well, I guess we have ten students missing today because Question Four drove them to suicide.”  You would have thought that I had uttered the “n” word or announced that the Holocaust was a Jewish-devised myth, judging by the reactions of three or four girls.  I was so stunned and appalled by the willfully uncharitable interpretation of my little bid for levity (one girl charged that I was “satirizing suicide”) that I devoted most of the following class to a defense of the First Amendment… to no avail.  I didn’t move any of those who had pounced on me with both feet.  Instead, they trotted out some rather Maoist arguments about how people need to think before they speak and society (read “government” as the Will of Society) should enforce the consequences of “not thinking” (read “not kowtowing to the hyper-active sensibilities of protected groups”).

Late in the semester, much water having flowed under the bridge, the same class was working in groups on a challenging task.  One girl declared very audibly in frustration, “I think I’ll just shoot myself.”  I peeked around for any hint of a response.  All heads remained lowered with utter fixity.  I couldn’t make out whether nobody had registered even a blip on the indignation screen or whether–just as likely–they all realized that one of their one had done exactly what I’d done, and nobody wanted to acknowledge it.

So… please accept my clarification.  The political ideology that imagines itself the home-sweet-home of deep thought is, in my experience, the most repressive of openly shared ideas.  I do understand the complaints of those who’ve been hooted at by rednecks in pick-up trucks.  Every time I try to use my old-fashioned push-mower in the front yard, someone drives by and shouts, “Faggot!” at me out the window of that invariable, stereotypical pick-up.  I don’t know why.  So it’s more manly to park your gluteus maximus on a riding mower and burn gallons of gas than to force a manicure upon your grass with brute strength?  As a walker of long miles in my youth (I once covered 600 miles around Ireland in a month), I’ve also had projectiles hurled at me from passing vehicles that might have killed me outright if they’d landed a headshot.  Apparently, pedestrians are also “faggots”.  Non-faggotry clearly has something to do with gas consumption.

Yes, homo inerectus is among us: I get it.  And he always will be–you need to get that.  My beef is that people who used to think and converse in a calm, civil manner are cutting each other off now.  That’s a crying shame.

The Robot and the Helot: Neither Side Gets It

I read a story today about a Canadian study that found living in close proximity to heavy traffic bad for your health.  The toxic emissions and stirred dust were not the only suspected culprits.  Interestingly, noise was believed to be a major factor in (for instance) the relatively high incidence of dementia among those dwelling less than 70 meters from traffic arteries.  Now, 70 meters is about the length of a football field!  Many of us live much closer than that to constant roar and rumble.  It’s a sad discovery… or a disquieting theory, if you prefer; but it also makes me smile.  I’m not amused because an inner sadist rules my tastes, but only because I’ve been warning people about this sort of thing all my life–admittedly, on the basis of mere intuition.  I never had a study behind me before.  And there also appears to be no corroborative study behind this one.  Why not?

Well, because it’s just junk science, some would say.  The academics are at it again, trying to drum up alarm against the innovative, high-tech free market that has driven unimaginable economic growth around the planet for two centuries and virtually eradicated poverty in First World societies.  Or… it might also be that the corporations and their government mouthpieces responsible for most grants to academic researchers would never hear of anyone cracking the lid on such a Pandora’s Box–not on their dime!

Conservatives–or people who style themselves conservative–need to get their act together.  Driving peace and quiet out of our communities was never a conservative undertaking: it was always definitively subversive to the established, traditional way of life.  To argue that mankind must adapt to the fits and belches of mechanization, even though machines were supposed to improve life for mankind, is to be a marketplace progressive–an advocate of any product or sales strategy that produces material wealth.  This vector is soon (as in about three decades) going to lead us straight to the point where we fuse with robotic technology.  Would anyone like to explain to me how such a trajectory may be described as conservative?

But the other side appears to be just as clueless.  I recently finished watching a Netflix documentary titled Killswitch about the all-too-effective efforts of big government and its private-sector cronies to suppress the free and open circulation of information.  The case is quintessentially libertarian; and, except for the side of it which pertains narrowly to national security (e.g., keeping a secret nuclear deterrent under wraps so that bad guys won’t labor on developing the next generation of horror), I’m entirely on board with the argument.  But why does every free-speech champion in the flick believe that more government offers an answer?  Just because suppression often begins in a private-sector, mega-corporation lust to maximize profits doesn’t mean that the public sector is our savior by default.  On the contrary, the hard fact that government hacks are always up for sale is what confers upon businesses the power to suppress.

I don’t know what the ultimate answer might be, or if it exists… perhaps some genuine and informed kind of populism: but its thrust must be to insist that regulators back off rather than that they pile on with more “well-intended” regulation.

The documentary’s blindness to this most basic of facts made me want to chuck my TV out into one of those busy streets around my house.  I could claim dementia as my defense.