Tales of Campus Intolerace

Anecdotal evidence suggests that campus brownshirts are creating an increasingly hostile environment for free speech. We are seeing more and more stories about veteran campus speakers who say they’re being subjected to abuse that they’ve never previously experienced. One recent story comes from the Claremont schools.

After students heavily protested her lecture at Harvey Mudd College last night, Dr. Chrissy Lawrence of Monsanto Company, an agricultural biotechnology corporation, canceled the lecture she was slated to give at the Keck Science Center. “I don’t know how many of you attended last night’s talk from a Monsanto scientist, but some of the students behaved unprofessionally,” noted a Harvey Mudd College professor in an email obtained by the Claremont Independent. “The Monsanto speaker said that in all her years of presenting to students in colleges/universities that last night’s student audience was by far the worst student audience she had ever encountered.”

Harvey Mudd is a science and engineering school, and at first we were surprised that students at such a school would mistreat a guest speaker. Later the article notes, however, that “much of the backlash” came from students of nearby Pitzer College. Wikipedia describes Pitzer as having “a particular emphasis upon social justice.” Ah. So the fake students with fake majors waltzed over to disrupt the talk intended for the real students with real majors. As the old saying goes, ‘always bet on form.’

And thanks to the actions of these social justice warriors, the speaker canceled her subsequent appearance. Will a society with less speech really be more just?

Another recent anecdote comes from the other side of the pond.

Antony Glees, an expert in counter-terrorism who teaches at the University of Buckingham, said that left-wing staff and students have become more militant over the past 10 years, with chilling effects on free speech.

Professor Glees said he was heckled at recent panel discussion on the government’s “Prevent” anti-terror strategy after he spoke up in favour of the scheme. He said there was a “feeling of menace” after was “cynically jeered at” and branded a racist by students and even other lecturers.

He also said he was “mindlessly heckled” and branded a “white, male, colonialist, Zionist and racist” by one student after he criticised protesters who stopped the Israeli ambassador speaking at universities.

“I was glad to get out of there alive,” he said. “I was taken aback by the atmosphere… these were closed minds.

“I don’t expect people to share my point of view but I expect people to be open-minded, to engage in debate. Not to be attacked.”

Does that sound like an environment conducive to learning?

On the bright side, not all young people are hostile to free speech. The Oxford Union recently held a debate on the motion: “This House Believes the Right to Free Speech Always Includes the Right to Offend.” In support of the motion, Brendan O’Neill makes the best 8-minute defense of free speech we have ever heard. A choice excerpt:

The right to offend is not some pesky little part of freedom of speech that we have to put up with. It is the heart and soul and lungs of freedom of speech. It is the coursing lifeblood of human progress. It is the instigator of liberty and modernity and science and understanding.

What a laughing stock today’s student leaders are that they can so casually dismiss the right to be offensive without realizing that their lovely enlightened lives are the gift of individuals who gave offense. The gift of scientists, thinkers, agitators, who bravely showed their asses to the dominant ideas of their era.

In this choking climate, we have got to move beyond talking about a right to offend–we have to talk about a duty to offend. Anyone who cares, anyone who cares for freedom, anyone who believes humanity only progresses through being daring and disrespectful now has a duty to rile and stir and outrage, a duty to break out of the new grey conformism, a duty to ridicule the new guardians of decency, a duty to tell them fuck your orthodoxies.

The motion carried by a vote of 319-70. Bravo!


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Memo to Gun Grabbers: Screw You

anti-gun-nutsWell, in reply we would point out that ‘because I want one’ is a perfectly legitimate justification for most of the important things in life. Why do we need a flat-screen TV or a house in the suburbs or books or freedom of religion? The answer is basically ‘because we want them’ and that should be good enough. After all, who are you to say we can’t have them? Again: Who. Are. You.

The fact is that libertarians like us are not trying to deny you anything you think is important to you. We would hope you would extend the same consideration to us.

Furthermore, at this point, ‘because I want one’ is a more respectful and responsive answer than gun grabbers deserve, because they have shown themselves not to be arguing in good faith.

That lack of good faith is apparent in the above tweet which contains the terms ‘gun nuts’ and ‘assault weapon.’ The latter is a made-up term that has no reasonable definition within the context of the weapons that citizens can legally purchase. ‘Assault weapon’ is nothing more than rhetoric that leftists like to use because it sounds scary. And as far as the term ‘gun nuts’ is concerned, hey, nothing demonstrates good faith in public discourse like referring to perfectly sane, law-abiding, and hard-working fellow citizens as ‘nuts’ because they happen to disagree with you.

By now, supporters of gun rights have made their arguments over and over. We have explained carefully why gun control does not work, and how self-defense is a fundamental human right. Leftists can easily find, if they want, all these facts and arguments. But leftists don’t care; they have proven themselves impervious to facts and reason, and have demonstrated no willingness to debate honestly. We therefore agree with Kurt Schlichter that, absent a leftist attitude adjustment, there’s no longer any point for gun rights supports to try to engage in debate.

American gun owners are beginning to respond with a fresh, powerful argument when facing anti-gun liberals. Here it is, in its entirety. Ready?

“Screw you.” That’s it. Except the first word isn’t “Screw.”

It’s not exactly a traditional argument, but it’s certainly appropriate here. The fact is that there is no point in arguing with liberal gun-control advocates because their argument is never in good faith. They slander gun owners as murderers. They lie about their ultimate aim, which is to ban and confiscate all privately owned weapons. And they adopt a pose of reasonability, yet their position is not susceptible to change because of evidence, facts or law. None of those matter – they already have their conclusion. This has to do with power – their power.

You can’t argue with someone who is lying about his position or whose position is not based upon reason….

Or simply, there’s no point trying to engage with someone who’s not listening.

You can point to statistics showing that law-abiding citizens who carry legally are exponentially less likely to commit gun crimes than other people. You can cite examples of armed citizens protecting themselves and their communities with guns. You can offer government statistics showing how the typical American is at many times greater risk of death from an automobile crash, a fall, or poisoning than from murder by gun.

But none of that matters, because this debate is not about facts. It’s about power. The liberal anti-gun narrative is not aimed at creating the best public policy but at disarming citizens the liberal elite looks down upon…

Supporters of gun rights are, however, perfectly willing to debate anyone who reciprocates by arguing in good faith. In fact, Schlichter offers a specific example of what real debate looks like.

Liberal writer Kurt Eichenwald recently wrote a “compromise” proposal to settle the gun issue that was notable because he actually analyzed gun freedom arguments and agreed with some of them. He cited the silliness of the “assault weapons” and “cop killer” bullet lies. While he still rejects 30 round capacity magazines, he began with opposition to silencers and then, after hearing facts and evidence from knowledgeable gun owners, changed his position. That’s good faith, the threshold requirement for a real debate…

Eichenwald showed himself to be a serious person, worthy of debate. But unfortunately, Eichenwald is a rare exception on the political left. Most leftists seem intent only on pursuing a hidden political agenda or engaging in their usual closed-minded east-coast tribalism and virtue signalling. These people, well…this is the only response they deserve.


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‘Free’ Tuition Implies a Federal Takeover of Higher Education

The leading Democrat candidates have been promising ‘free’ college tuition, or an approximation thereof.

Sanders reiterated his call for free college tuition in Saturday night’s debate with Clinton and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Sanders said: “It is an extraordinary investment for this country. Germany, many other countries do it already.” Clinton is calling for free community college tuition, [and] debt-free four-year college…

That excerpt comes from a piece by Diana Furchtgott-Roth of the Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch in which she argued that the free-tuition plan would lead to higher taxes. This is a valid point, and reminding people of the free-lunch fallacy is always worthwhile. But the free-tuition plan presents an even bigger problem that no one seems to be mentioning–it would lead to a virtual federal takeover of the American system of higher education.

Right now, tuition levels are high, but to some degree are contained by the ability of students to price shop. If Podunk U. tries to charge more than Pissant U. for essentially the same education, Podunk will lose students to Pissant. But in a situation where students aren’t paying, that price discipline is lost. The only way to restore some price discipline will be for the government to impose price controls. That is, the tuition rates will be set by the government.

Government would need to set the tuition rates in order to prevent the universities having an unlimited claim on the public fisc. With taxpayers on the hook, universities inevitably won’t be allowed to charge whatever they want. An analogy would be private hospitals in a single-payer system such as in Canada. The hospitals in Canada, although often privately owned, are not free to set their own rates; they can earn no more than the government agrees to pay them.

Government tuition-setting would give the federal government sweeping authority over higher education. For starters, it would mean that, with the exception of endowments and private gifts, the federal government would control the overall level of financing of the industry. And with the money comes control; the government would inevitably want a say in how the money is spent. Universities would lose a substantial degree of control over their own policies and budgets. To cite again the analogy of Canadian health care, provincial governments exercise considerable authority over the practices of ostensibly private hospitals.

[I]t is generally the case that a provincial government sets and provides overall hospital budgets, in addition to reviewing large financial decisions made by a hospital’s board. Provincial governments also have the power to set the scope of the services offered by a hospital and even close facilities they deem unnecessary.


[T]he provincial government [of Ontario] has complete discretion to raise or lower hospital funding. Hospitals must also operate according to provincial regulations, including Ontario’s Public Hospitals Act. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care also develops and enforces operational policies for hospitals regarding the services they provide and their financial decision-making. Hospital boards must further submit annual operating plans to the government and must gain ministry approval before making any changes to the services they offer.

Giving the federal government this sort of control would be a disaster for the universities and for academic freedom.

Even in its current relatively limited role, the federal government wields too much power over higher eduction. Consider the experience of just the last couple of years in which the feds have imposed kangaroo courts to adjudicate accusations of campus sexual assault. Many institutions including Havard Law School oppose the policy, but none dare defy the feds for fear of losing grant money. In fact, universities submit to the sexual assault diktat even though it has no force of law; it’s merely an opinion offered by bureaucrats at the Department of Education. Just think how much more control the feds will have if they take hold of the tuition purse strings.

Going around talking about ‘free’ tuition allows Bernie Sanders to play to his image as a bleeding heart who likes to give people free stuff. But as always with government intervention, there’s a dark side that involves extending the government’s control over the people. A free-tuition program would make higher education even more dependent upon government than it already is, and would provide a further boost to the power of America’s already decadent and corrupt political class.

Support for Democrats on university campuses runs about 90%, but the universities for their own sake better hope that Democrats are not really serious about ‘free’ college tuition.

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A Compilation of Student Demands: 1984 meets Idiocracy

Independent Journal published a list of some of the more astonishing demands currently being made by student protestors on various campuses. The general image conveyed merges the pitiless authoritarianism of Nineteen Eightly-Four with the risible stupidity of Idiocracy. Here are our favorite demands, with comments.

First, the University of Virginia wants to shove Thomas Jefferson down the memory hole.

“President and Dean of Students should deliver statements promoting acceptance and acknowledging the University’s deeply troubled history.

These statements must acknowledge past and present racial and gender discrimination. … Such remarks should not reference Thomas Jefferson, because of his decidedly mixed racial legacy.”
This demand, to discuss the university’s history without mentioning its founder, former president Thomas Jefferson, is under the heading “establish a culture of truth”.

War is peaceNext up, Dartmouth College:

“All male-female checkboxes should be replaced with write-in boxes to make forms, surveys and applications more inclusive for trans*, two-spirit, agender, gender-nonconforming and genderqueer folks. This should be a campus-wide policy.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce recently required us, under penalty of law, to complete its American Community Survey. Question number 3 on the survey asks “What is Person 1’s sex? Mark (X) ONE box.” There are only two boxes, with labels “Male” and “Female.” Maybe these students should send their demands also to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The University of Cincinnati better watch out for the grammar police.

“We demand that the University of Cincinnati enforces [sic] a fully funded comprehensive racial awareness curriculum that is mandatory for all students, faculty, staff, and police structured by a caucus comprised of students, community members, and administrators of diverse backgrounds to be put in place by the start of the 2017-­2018 academic year.”

Would it constitute a microagression for us to point out that these UC students seem not to understand the proper use of the subjunctive tense? (The full statement on their website repeats this same grammatical error several times.)

University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill:

“We DEMAND the elimination of tuition and fees for all students. In achieving this, we call for an immediate moratorium on tuition and fee increases. …

Because nothing says selfless idealism quite like DEMANDING free stuff. Likewise, nothing says personal responsibility quite like demanding that someone else pay for your schooling.

We know that merit scholarships reproduce inequality as they primarily benefit wealthier, white students. Hence, we aim to end the mythology of meritocracy that is pervasive in higher education.”

So instead of trying to improve constructively on our imperfect meritocracy, the students prefer to throw the baby out with the bath water by not rewarding merit at all.

Tony’s alma mater, New York University:

“Improve Mental Health and Wellness Center dynamics such that the counselors are well trained in racial/ethnic specific struggles on a psychological level (particularly when dealing with everyday microaggressions) as well as LGBTQ struggles.”

Asking for more resources for mental health treatment does at least show admirable self awareness.

The University of California at Berkeley:

“WE DEMAND that the name of Barrows Hall be changed to Assata Shakur.”
Shakur, a member of the former Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba for political asylum after been convicted of a number of crimes, most notably, the murder of a New Jersey state trooper.

In 2013, she became the first woman ever to be named to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Thomas Jefferson, Child of the Enlightenment, out. Assata Shakur, Most Wanted Terrorist, in. Progress!

Some additional student demands were noticed by Walter Olson.

Olson1We prefer the full term, “undocumented Democrats.”

Anyone who thinks we went too far in the post below by comparing today’s campus protestors to Communist China’s Red Guards should check out this one.

Olson2 Well, at least one aspect of the public shaming wouldn’t trouble us, since we’re already follicly challenged.


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Occidental College to Vote for its Own Demise

Back in the late 1960s, China launched the so-called Cultural Revolution, in which cadres of radical students–Red Guards–were empowered to abuse, torture, and even to murder their former teachers. The teachers were forced to undergo reeducation, and compelled during ‘struggle sessions’ to make humiliating public confessions.

America’s education system has not yet devolved to the utter chaos of the Cultural Revolution, but the current protest movement sweeping America’s campuses bears an eerie similarity. In the role of the Red Guards we have crybully SJWs, a generation of students indoctrinated in Cultural Marxism and victimology. Like the Red Guards, they are impervious to argument and contemptuous of free speech. They believe themselves to be morally superior to their professors and university authorities. Thus they believe they have the right to berate their fellow students and their own professors and to compel them to undergo reeducation, which is called ‘diversity training.’ Those that fail to toe the ideological line can be publicly shamed and thrown out of work by mobs of SJWs on social media. To summarize, the parallels with the Cultural Revolution are as follows.

Red Guards -> SJW Crybullies

Reeducation -> Diversity training

Struggle session -> social media lynch mob

At the moment, at least one institution stands poised to take a leap in the direction of cultural revolution: Occidental College in California. The Occidental faculty today was presented with a proposal called Plan of Action on which they eventually will have to vote. Reason’s Robby Soave got hold of an advance copy of the proposal.

The Plan of Action seems to be a response to recent protests on campus; students occupied the administrative center and vowed not to leave unless Occidental President Jonathan Veitch agreed to resign. They also want Occidental to hire more professors of color and fund new diversity initiatives.

The students will get many of the things they want, if the full faculty body approves the Plan of Action. The resolution would mandate diversity and ally training for all faculty, beginning in January 2016. “We empower the Dean of the College to ensure compliance,” the plan reads.

The plan also obligates professors to place a much greater emphasis on topics relating to race and ethnicity—even if they don’t teach subjects that call for much examination of social or cultural issues. “All departments must incorporate issues of cultural and racial identity and diversity in their curricula,” the plan reads. Does all departments include mathematics? Physical sciences? I imagine that it does.

Needless to say, telling professors how to conduct their classes by compelling them to “place a much greater emphasis” on certain “topics” constitutes a gross violation of academic freedom. And without academic freedom, the university risks devolving into an ideological indoctrination camp.

But it gets worse. Enter the Red Guards, stage left.

Perhaps most worrying, the plan calls for a microaggression monitoring system that would allow students to report faculty members for offending them. The plan explains that this is necessary to correct “power imbalances between faculty and students.” But students will have too much power if they are granted the right to be safe from microaggressions—which are, by their very nature, subjective and relatively inconsequential. How are professors supposed to teach if they have to worry about being reported and investigated for unknowingly saying the wrong thing to a student?

Indeed, subjecting the professoriate to the terrors of a new generation of Red Guards will make effective teaching difficult or impossible. And it so happens that, during China’s Cultural Revolution, not much teaching took place. In fact, an entire generation was deprived of a proper education, and they are known to this day as the ‘lost generation.’

If America is to avert its own lost generation, someone at some point has to tell the campus crybullies ‘no.’ The Occidental faculty have the opportunity to do so by voting ‘no’ on the plan of action. We predict, however, that they won’t vote ‘no.’ They can’t vote ‘no’ because to do so would mean admitting to themselves that their lifelong and self-defining commitment to leftism has been in error, and their fragile psyches won’t allow them to do that. We predict, therefore, that the faculty will foolishly vote for its own demise. Dr. Frankenstein is doomed by fate to unleash the monster.


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It’s Official: Law Enforcement in America Steals More than Burglars

And yes, we do mean steal, because the vast majority of assets that law enforcement seizes are those of people who have not been convicted or even charged with a crime.

We believe it was Albert Jay Nock who wrote, roughly a century ago, that government seeks not to abolish crime, but to monopolize it.


Note: The graph (sourced from here) reflects only assets seized by federal law enforcement, and does not include hundreds of millions of dollars seized by state and local law enforcement.



The Left’s Latest Lunacy–‘Cultural Appropriation’

Students at the University of Ottawa for years enjoyed a free yoga class. That is, until neo-Puritan SJWs came to suspect that someone, somewhere, might be having fun.

Student leaders have pulled the mat out from 60 University of Ottawa students, ending a free on-campus yoga class over fears the teachings could be seen as a form of “cultural appropriation.”

Jennifer Scharf, who has been offering free weekly yoga instruction to students since 2008, says she was shocked when told in September the program would be suspended, and saddened when she learned of the reasoning.

Staff at the Centre for Students with Disabilities believe that “while yoga is a really great idea and accessible and great for students … there are cultural issues of implication involved in the practice,” according to an email from the centre.


“People are just looking for a reason to be offended by anything they can find,” said Scharf.

In the comment sections of various sites, people are having a field day ridiculing ‘cultural appropriation’ by carrying the idea to its logical conclusion–that different cultures should not borrow from each other. Hence, the National Hockey League will have to move its franchises out of the Lower 48, and non-Western cultures will have to forgo electricity, vaccines, and representative democracy.

But even this ridicule implicitly gives the cultural left more credit than it deserves. The ‘logical conclusion’ counterargument presumes that the left intends ‘cultural appropriation’ to serve as a universal principle, applicable to all people and cultures. The left, however, views cultural appropriation as an offense committed only by one culture: the West.

The concept of cultural appropriation is normally applied when a dominant culture borrows symbols of a marginalized culture…The centre official argues since many of those cultures “have experienced oppression, cultural genocide and diasporas due to colonialism and western supremacy … we need to be mindful of this and how we express ourselves while practising yoga.”

There you have it; the problem is “western supremacy.” Or in other words, following the leftist practice of viewing all issues in terms of race, the problem is white people. The Ottawa yoga class was guilty of practicing yoga while white. Just as the political left believes that only white people can be racist, only white people can be guilty of ‘cultural appropriation.’

The wackiness of political leftism becomes a lot easier to understand by keeping in mind that it is rooted in resentment and hatred.

Of course, under the right circumstances, to hate is appropriate. There’s a time to love, and a time to hate. Hating evil, for instance, is a good thing. The problem with leftists is that they hate people who have committed no crimes. And when crime does happen, the left does not object so long as the crime is committed by their political allies and against their political enemies. The only sins that leftists recognize are political.

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Gender Myths and the War Against Boys

The latest salvo in the War Against Boys (Christina Hoff Sommers, please check your voicemail) has been fired by a kindergarten teacher in Bainbridge Island, Washington. In the name of pursing ‘gender equality’, the teacher “actively denies her male students the opportunity to play with Lego blocks,” because she wants to encourage the girls to play with the blocks instead.

A kindergarten teacher in 51kajNru8iL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Bainbridge Island, Wash.,  in order to encourage her female students to play with them.

Karen Keller bars the boys in her class from playing with the colorful blocks, even going so far as to lie to them about their opportunity to play.

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head,” Keller told the Bainbridge Island Review. “I tell them, ‘You’ll have a turn’ because I don’t want them to feel bad.”

Keller does this because she saw the boys in her class gravitating toward the blocks during their “free choice” play time while the girls flocked to dolls and crayons. Keller’s solution was to deny the blocks to the boys, who wanted to play with them, in order to encourage the girls to play with them. The Review article offers no indications about how Keller gets the girls to play with something of which they have no interest.

Keller can claim to be well-intentioned, but we note that, in the name of gender equity, she barred only the boys, not the girls, from their preferred toys. Her actions are just the latest evidence that government schools are creating an increasingly hostile environment for boys.

Keller had found research finding that Lego play accelerates development and helps with spatial and math skills. And since Keller believes that gender stereotypes are ingrained into girls at a young age, well, something had to be done.

“I just feel like we are still so far behind in promoting gender equity,” Keller said.

Well, Keller may believe that the girls only prefer dolls and crayons to Lego because “gender stereotypes are ingrained into girls at a young age,” but that is a myth that science has decisively refuted. Keller appears to adhere to the ‘blank slate’ fallacy that males and females are born equal, and so sex differences that emerge are entirely attributable to social constructs. Studies, however, show that boys and girls exhibit stereotypical preferences over toys at an age of only nine months, too soon for socialization to take effect. Other studies reveal that boys and girls react differently to objects placed in front of them on the same day they were born. Evidence suggests that the behavioral differences are rooted in pre-natal exposure to testosterone.

These results indicate that sex differences are due to biology, not society. Since the differences are hardwired by biology, they cannot be undone by the efforts of gender activists to reassign toys or more generally to redesign the culture. Attempts by social engineers to achieve ‘gender equality’ will only end up making everyone–boys and girls, men and women–unhappy.

Teacher Karen Keller needs to educate herself and to stop subjecting the children in her charge to her arrogant and misguided attempts at social engineering. We recommend that Keller read Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate; otherwise, Keller could start by just watching the superb 38-minute video embedded below.

The video was created and presented by Harald Eia, a comedian in Norway who holds the equivalent of a master’s degree in sociology. Eia observes that Scandinavia for decades has been a world leader in pursuit of the goal of gender equality. And yet, the professions in Scandinavia remain as sex-segregated as ever: 90 percent of nurses are women, and 90 percent of engineers are men. Why have the efforts of Scandinavians failed to achieve gender equality?

Eia interviews Norwegian sociologists who believe, like Keller, that sex differences are a social construct. Then Eia seeks out the real experts–world-class psychologists–who expose the sociologists as totally clueless. It’s amusing to watch Eia as he discovers that everything he was taught in sociology turns out to be wrong.

Eia’s video is engaging and eye-opening, and apparently needs to be shown in American schools of education. In the meantime, however, American public schools remain hostile environments for boys, to the extent that keeping a boy in a public school could be considered a form of child abuse.

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