Where Free Speech Ends, Ignorance Begins

Leave a comment

At the risk of sounding like a geezer complaining about “these kids today,” back in my college days, when it came to points of view we were unhesitatingly exposed to literature, teachers and on-campus speakers covering the ideological waterfront.

In one instance, the student body was addressed by civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory, radical Irish activist Bernadette Devlin and the conservative writer and critic Russell Kirk — all in the course of a week or so.

Such variety was a common occurrence, and freewheeling, open discussion was encouraged. We didn’t always like or agree with a lot of what we heard or read — from time to time there were vehement protests — but all of it was invaluable. None of us were harmed in the making of our education.

So I was appalled other day when I read about the attempt by Republican Arkansas legislator Kim Hendren to ban from that state’s public schools all books written by the great radical historian Howard Zinn, including his seminal “A People’s History of the United States,” a truthful, lacerating look at the heroes and villains of America — especially the oligarchs and kleptocrats who once again have their heels on the necks of the poor and middle class.

But I also was deeply troubled by the incident at Vermont’s Middlebury College on March 2, when controversial social scientist Charles Murray was invited by a conservative student group and attempted to speak on campus. Here’s what happened, according to the Associated Press:

“Hundreds of students chanted as Murray began to speak Thursday, forcing the college to move the lecture to an undisclosed location. Murray’s talk was live-streamed to the original venue, but protesters drowned it out. The topic, he said, was the divergence of the country’s culture into a new upper class separated from mainstream America.

“Afterward, a group of protesters surrounded Murray, professor Allison Stanger and college administrator Bill Burger as they were leaving, he said. The protesters became violent, with one pulling Stanger’s hair, twisting her neck, the college said.

“After Murray and the two Middlebury staff members got into a car to leave, protesters banged on the windows, climbed onto the hood and rocked the vehicle, the college and Murray said.”

Professor Stanger, by the way, went to the ER and was subsequently diagnosed with concussion. She’s a respected political scientist at Middlebury and a fellow at the progressive New America, and was there the other night because the conservative student group had asked her to provide a counterpoint to Murray’s speech, to interview him from the stage after his prepared remarks. She had prepared some tough, challenging questions.

Many of Charles Murray’s opinions are indeed odious and his research highly questionable, He was co-author of “The Bell Curve,” a notorious book that seemed to link race and IQ. He describes himself as a libertarian, but the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) calls him a white nationalist and reports:

“According to Murray, the relative differences between the white and black populations of the United States, as well as those between men and women, have nothing to do with discrimination or historical and structural disadvantages, but rather stem from genetic differences between the groups… Murray’s attempts to link social inequality to genes are based on the work of explicitly racist scientists.”

At the beginning of Murray’s attempt to speak at Middlebury, students turned their backs to him and chanted in protest. I probably would have done the same. But to not let him speak and to allow the protests to lead to violence is inexcusable. I realize that this raises all sorts of questions about freedom of speech and academic liberty, the nature of dissent and when and if political violence is ever justified, but looking at what happened coolly — and admittedly, from a distance — it seems clear that this went far beyond the boundaries of civil discourse that especially today must be defended against the barbarians who already have run roughshod, pushing through the gates and seizing the reins of power and governance.

Professor Stanger said it best herself. She wrote:

“To people who wish to spin this story as one about what’s wrong with elite colleges and universities, you are mistaken. Please instead consider this as a metaphor for what is wrong with our country, and on that, Charles Murray and I would agree. This was the saddest day of my life. We have got to do better by those who feel and are marginalized. Our 230-year constitutional democracy depends on it, especially when our current President is blind to the evils he has unleashed. We must all realize the precious inheritance we have as fellow Americans and defend the Constitution against all its enemies, both foreign and domestic. That is why I do not regret my involvement in the event with Dr. Murray.”

And then she quoted James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

I can be as guilty as the next person about tuning out and trying to ignore the voice of someone with whom I vehemently disagree. I know, too, that this indeed is a time to speak out against the ignorance and despotism sweeping our nation. Further, I realize that the religious, racial and homophobic hate crimes that have been on the upswing since Donald Trump’s candidacy and election — and increased in 2016 for the second year in a row according to the Southern Poverty Law Center — far exceed in numbers and intensity any violence or brutishness that has occurred on college campuses. No question that they’re more frightening and dangerous.

But, in the words of Andrew Sullivan, “Universities are the sanctuary cities of reason. If reason must be subordinate to ideology even there, our experiment in self-government is over.”

Two sides of the same coin: whether the Trump White House or those who would physically attack a college professor. Their unthinking, unyielding enslavement to a single viewpoint is fatal.

Ignorance begets ignorance and hate begets hate. And like a virus, each can infect without regard to race, gender, creed or political perspective. At a time when those in charge are fueling a pandemic of intolerance we must make sure not to succumb ourselves.

By Michael Winship / Moyers & Company

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Two remarkable and disturbing truths about yesterday’s special discrimination session in North Carolina

Leave a comment


Image: NC Policy Watch

There were a lot of horrific aspects to yesterday’s right-wing blitzkrieg on Jones Street. There were the hateful and ignorant speeches, the frequently even more hateful social media posts and tweets from the virtual storm troopers supporting the discriminators in the Legislative Building and then, of course, there was the truly absurd and outrageous lack of process that accompanied the passage of major legislation that will bring derision upon our state for years to come.

More from NC Policy Watch

Posted by Libergirl

Mike Huckabee: Dred Scott is ‘to this day the law of the land’

Leave a comment

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee doesn’t know that the infamous Dred Scott decision denying citizenship to black Americans is not, in fact, currently “the law of the land.”

“I’ve been just drilled by TV hosts over the past week, ‘How dare you say that, uh, [marriage equality is] not the law of the land?’” Huckabee said. “Because that’s their phrase, ‘it’s the law of the land. Michael, the Dred Scott decision of 1857 still remains to this day the law of the land which says that black people aren’t fully human. Does anybody still follow the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision?”

It took radio host Michael Medved to gently point out to Mike Huckabee that Dred Scott was overturned by constitutional amendment a short time later after certain … unpleasantries. It was a bit of a big deal, and was definitely in all the papers. So no, Dred Scott is most certainly not “to this day the law of the land,” not by any possible interpretation, and we must add this to the pile of things about the Supreme Court over which Mike Huckabee is still deeply and inexplicably confused.

More from Dailykos

Posted by Libergirl

Conservative group calls to lynch Obama and make it a ‘national holiday’

1 Comment

Nothing better than christian conservatives showing love for their fellow man!!!

A conservative Facebook group this week suggested that the lynching of President Barack Obama should be made into a “national holiday.”

Earlier this week, Examiner.com’s Robert Sobel pointed out that the Facebook group “America the next generation” had posted a photo of the president in a noose with the caption “The making of a National Holiday.” The image was apparently a composite of Obama’s head and a frame from the leaked video of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein being executed.

After some discussion between members of the “America the next generation” group and criticism from other Facebook users, the photo was eventually taken down. Some group members feared that lynching the president could make him into a “martyr.”

“OK by are own choice out of respect of our regular followers that requested us to remove the post with the noose around Obamas head,” the group wrote on New Year’s Eve. “[W]e did so out of Respect to them and we will take the high road!”

In a follow-up post, the group included a photo of former President George W. Bush with a noose around his neck “for you winey liberals that said it didn’t exist… like I said your double standards are pathetic!”

According to American television writer Steve Marmel, Facebook had refused to take action and remove the photo of President Obama with a noose around his neck because it “does not violate community standards.”

By David Edwards

Posted by The NON-Conformist


Leave a comment

This article has me a bit choked up. I wrote about JC Penny awhile ago when it was going through its problems with the One Million Moms boycott. April brought job cuts to the company and now it  will cut an additional 350 jobs at its headquarters. I bet you since the moms are a nominal Christian group they will say this was God’s will and will happily take credit for it. I’m sure included in their glad tidings is the fact, that straight and probably Christian people lost their jobs as well. No problem, they will pray for them to find jobs. This is the thinking that goes behind blind ignorance. This is a great example of the perversion in religion I often fight against.

There is a new saying called the single parent hoax. I kind of made it up but it still fits nicely within the frame of what’s being written. Recently, Wisconsin State Sen. Glenn Grothman wrote SB(senate bill)507 which classifies single parenting as child abuse. There is another provision that is written that is equally shocking and it also affects same-sex couples. Take a look for yourself so you want  just take my word for it.

Section 1. 48.982 (2) (g) 2. of the statutes is amended to read: 48.982 (2) (g) 2. Promote statewide educational and public awareness campaigns and materials for the purpose of developing public awareness of the problems of child abuse and neglect. In promoting those campaigns and materials, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

Section 2. 48.982 (2) (g) 4. of the statutes is amended to read: 48.982 (2) (g) 4. Disseminate information about the problems of and methods of preventing child abuse and neglect to the public and to organizations concerned with those problems. In disseminating that information, the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

This guy should be voted out. His reasoning for the bill, 31 percent of  Wisconsinite children are raised by single parents. This is overreaching governance that is unnecessary. The problems or better yet the true problem has to be addressed instead of an ignorant ass bill being written.

This sign had me at a loss for words. When was the last time we had a Christian President? As a person of faith I’m not the most motivated by politicians using their religious pedigree on the campaign trail. The last and only sincere Christian president was in my estimation, Jimmy Carter. I’m just saying. This is where the rubber meets the road. Is Mormonism a christian religion. EVERY NOMINAL CHRISTIAN DENOMINATION SAYS NO! I’m smiling, cause I’m wondering how these patriotic, God-loving, country loving, gun-toting, non-constitutional understanding people are going to vote. Their God will whisper in their ear “vote Romney a venture capitalist who has done more to destroy the American framework by taking advantage of its many offerings.”  I’m sure this guy has slept well knowing how he has acquired his dough.

Welcome to our democracy that you can buy as well as sell. A Christian president is laughable, I want a person to represent the people and keep their promises; like that’s going to happen. Anyway, cast your vote and hope for the best, whatever that is. Didn’t Bush II base policy on the voice of God?  He claims God told him to go into Iraq. We see how that worked out. He and immoral Clinton single- handedly destroyed this country and yet folks want another Christian president.

I would be remiss if I didn’t say anything about the Penn State debacle. I have to be careful not to be disrespectful. I don’t blame Jerry Sandusky, he was a sick man who needed help yet he preyed on young boys while Joe Paterno did nothing about it. What is more problematic is he is supposed to be a Christian with core values. Another issue is the talk of the death penalty which should happen, but people are arguing the incident didn’t affect the outcome on the field and the program will suffer because from the bad press. Really? This is criminal behavior/activity that should be punished to the highest extent.  Joe is no longer with us and can’t speak for himself but what is left of his legacy does speak of itself.

The NON-Conformist

%d bloggers like this: