Totalitarians always want to silence their opponents. We’re seeing that play out these days on our college campuses with speech codes, bias-incident teams, disinvitations and disruptions of talks by anyone who isn’t “progressive.” And now we have entire conferences under official imprimatur where freedom of speech is the villain.
In today’s Martin Center article, Branson Inscore of the J. W. Pope Foundation writes about a recent conference held at UNC-Greensboro. It was pretty nasty.
The keynote address was given by a professor at Chapel Hill. Inscore writes:
In particular, freedom of speech is conceptualized and found in documents as a universal human capacity and right requiring legislative and judicial protections, but this late-18th-century idealism obscures the manner in which freedom of speech is always already implicated in racism, Watts said. He identified the idea of race as a biotrope (a living, constantly developing piece of language that’s represented by different words), and free speech as instrumental in the social construction of race.
The very idea of freedom, postulated in universalist terms in the 19th century, and serving as the ontological structure for the First Amendment, doesn’t allow the black. This exclusion is not legal, nor paralegal; it is brokered by the psychic structure and pseudoscience responding to the biopower imperatives of racism.
I doubt that it ever occurs to this guy that free speech was instrumental in building the movement against slavery in the 19th century.
The conference went on the next day with panel discussions about the supposed problems of free speech and how to deal with them — invariably involving coercion.
The only voice of opposition to all of that was a student who dared to question the assumption that free speech is bad.
UNC-G should be ashamed and we should all be afraid.