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Response From A Conservative (guest post by Philippe Lemoine)

The following is a guest post* by Philippe Lemoine, a graduate student in philosophy at Cornell University. It’s a response to a post by Les Green (Oxford) published here yesterday, “Because They Are Universities” (originally published at Green’s blog under the title “Why it is hard to be a...

Comments

Comments in green on the left are from DailyNous, comments on the right are from the philosophymetaforum.

Oliver Traldi

33 day(s) ago

Good stuff! 55 Report

Jon Light

33 day(s) ago

This is a great post. 49 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

Does calling Green an “ignorant fool”, and those who protest right-wing speeches “unhinged, illiberal, left-wing thugs” exemplify the kind of free speech you yearn for? Those “illiberal thugs” are seeking to inhibit speech that tends to silence the speech of particular groups. This is simply in the American spirit of giving individuals and groups the greatest possible freedom up to the point at which that freedom threatens the freedom of others. 99 Report

Joshua Reagan

33 day(s) ago

“inhibit speech that tends to silence the speech of particular groups” This is the part where you lose us. 36 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

I would genuinely like to know why that is. Take the example of “redlining”, the practice of drawing boundaries on a map, and denying loans to people seeking to, for instance, buy a home in a, say, predominantly African-American neighborhood. This is a purely economical decision on the part of bank, and that is just to say that it is a practice that is rational within the institution of lending–as such, it is an example of institutionalized racism. We know how such explanations are met by the sorts of conservatives whose speech is objected to (Milo, Ann Coulter, etc.). The explanation is dismissed as “playing the race card”, and so on. So the observation itself is denied by the kind of silencing technique I’m talking about, and that is unacceptable. 71 Report

Joshua Reagan

33 day(s) ago

It’s clear that malicious actors can hide bad intentions behind supposedly neutral language. It’s also clear that (other) malicious actors are willing to use that fact to suppress moral and political messages with which they don’t agree, regardless of the legitimacy or well-groundedness of those messages. 15 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

That’s true. I chose to focus on the idea of “illiberal thugs” (as the author of the original post puts it) shouting down conservative pundits. But the main point, which I think the author himself distracts the reader from, is that conservative points of view (and their holders) tend to be immediately dismissed as illegitimate in a knee-jerk way on most university campuses. Part of the problem, I think, is that legitimate, interesting conservative ideas are rendered invisible by very public spokespersons who presume to speak on behalf of the conservative, and whose intentions really are malicious (misogynist, white supremacist, etc.) 61 Report

Joshua Reagan

33 day(s) ago

Are you suggesting we all come together to banish the Ann Coulters of the world so that, afterward, the “acceptable” right-wing views are able to be heard without distraction? No thanks. Left-wingers labor under no such restriction and I won’t either. 13 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

No, I’m suggesting that the conservative should join progressives in protesting the Ann Coulters of the world–assuming they as conservatives reject points of view that mask malicious intentions under the mantle of a conservative political identity. 63 Report

Joshua Reagan

33 day(s) ago

Again, no thanks. Leftists don’t do that to left-wing speakers. Nice try with guilt-by-association though. “Don’t you reject the liquidation of the Kulaks? Surely you don’t harbor that left-wing bloodlust in your heart!?!” 12 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

I made no suggestion of guilt-by-association. I’m simply saying that there are people who call themselves “conservatives” (e.g. Ann Coulter) who harbor malicious intentions and that those intentions ought to be reason enough for the non-Coulter conservative to explicitly reject those views. Furthermore, I cannot think of a left-wing analogy–which left-wing pundits should I protest, and what malicious actions are they guilty of? There is no current-day, American analogy to the treatment of the Kulaks that I know of, nor do I know of any self-described “progressive” or “liberal” who hijacks those labels for the purpose of tacitly promoting inequality or other social ills. 55 Report

Joshua Reagan

33 day(s) ago

I’m just a hayseed dummy, so “conservatives must condemn Ann Coulter publicly, or else they’re guilty too” seems like guilt-by-association to me. Let me simply repeat the relevant point, with which you haven’t engaged at all: “It’s also clear that (other) malicious actors are willing to use that fact to suppress moral and political messages with which they don’t agree, regardless of the legitimacy or well-groundedness of those messages.” 10 Report

David Wallace

32 day(s) ago

@Joshua Reagan: “Leftists don’t do that [condemn extremism] to left-wing speakers.” “But the other side does it” is not a very good defense of bad behavior. 64 Report

Joshua Reagan

32 day(s) ago

No it’s not, but I’m under no obligation to disavow a list of right-wingers if I’m to get a fair hearing in the Academy. My claims and arguments should be judged on their merits. 0 Report

Joshua Reagan

32 day(s) ago

I should have said: “I *should* be under no obligation to disavow … if I’m to get a fair hearing…” 0 Report

D.C.

32 day(s) ago

“This is a purely economical decision on the part of bank” That’s just factually wrong. 0 Report

Daniel Kaufman

33 day(s) ago

Those “illiberal thugs” are seeking to inhibit speech that tends to silence the speech of particular groups = = = The lack of self-awareness in this comment just says everything. 36 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

By “lack of self-awareness” I assume you mean that I have tried to justify the silencing of individuals in the same sentence in which I decried silencing as such. If so, then answer this question. If I disrupt a speaking appearance by a self-described conservative who promotes views that deny the existence of, say, institutional racism–thus making talk of institutional racism sound crazy or confused (i.e. silencing such talk)–have I promoted the ideal of freedom of expression or have I hindered it? 56 Report

David Wallace

33 day(s) ago

Hindered it. (Claiming “P doesn’t exist” doesn’t silence someone who says “here are some examples of P”. It just marks a disagreement.) 83 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

That logic doesn’t work in the pragmatics of political speech. If x is presented as a paradigm case of a P (say, x = my example of redlining, above), then the denial of Ps (instances of institutional racism)–as an intention to deceive and thus maintain power–ought to be inhibited. 76 Report

Joshua Reagan

33 day(s) ago

Who decides whether it’s deception or earnest? There’s a lot of power in that guy’s hands…. 15 Report

David Wallace

33 day(s) ago

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? 33 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

Ok…rather than saying, “ought to be inhibited”, I should say “ought to be challenged”–but I think this equally applies to the conservative who rejects the deceptive and/or malicious speech of the Ann Coulters of the world. 59 Report

D.C.

32 day(s) ago

Then you’re changing your entire argument. “Challenged” is not the same as disrupting a speaker and preventing them from speaking. 8 Report

Daniel

33 day(s) ago

If I disrupt a speaking appearance by a self-styled nominalist who promotes views that deny the existence of, say, numbers–thus making talk of numbers sound crazy or confused (i.e., silencing such talk)-have I promoted the ideal of freedom of expression or have I hindered it? 15 Report

Dave Millar

33 day(s) ago

See above. That’s not political speech, where deception has a pragmatic effect on social power-relations. 42 Report

Daniel

33 day(s) ago

I’d try further parodies involving political speech (e.g., utlitarians denying the existence of rights, making talk of rights sound crazy or confused, thus “silencing” rights-talk), but I worry that you’d just bite the bullets. 28 Report

Ray Aldred

31 day(s) ago

Does expression exclude disruptive expression? Why can’t expression be disruptive? Nobody said an expression of a belief has to be neat and tidy, or friendly, or rational, or expressed in a formal argument. 2 Report

Daniel Kaufman

31 day(s) ago

Hindered it. Assaulting a speaker “silences” him. The speaker saying something doesn’t “silence” anyone. You can engage in Orwellian manipulations all you want. That doesn’t mean we are going to buy it. 7 Report

Marinus Ferreira

33 day(s) ago

I do not understand why Daily Nous has taken on itself to turn itself into yet another venue for people to shout ill-spirited and one-eyed nonsense at each other. The internet is massively oversupplied with such venues, and nobody is benefited by any of them. The headline (I will charitably suppose it’s the editors that supplied this idiotic nonsense, and not the author) is as bad an example as any you’ll find on the internet. This is roundly an embarrassment for all involved. Regarding the pernicious rubbish that *the single example* of Russia shows that public healthcare isn’t more efficient (even though all the most efficient providers of healthcare are public systems), the fact that the editors of this blog allowed fit to publish something that said ‘the claim that X tends to do better at Y is false, because Z is X and not Y’ reflects badly not only on the content of the piece but also the content of their increasingly misguided editorial policy. At our philosophy we teach first-year general education students that this is paradigmatically bad critical thinking, and the editors shouldn’t give it any better treatment. 154 Report


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