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onliberty At this point you have heard about the controversies at Yale and Missouri. If you haven’t, just Google it. Among liberals there has been some debate and soul searching about the value of free speech, and its diminishing status as inviolate among youth. Jon Chait has a pretty thorough take over at New York Magazine. You can follow links to the arguments of those who contextualize and apologize for the more Maoist of the protesters to “get the other side.”

Since I support free speech, offensive speech, and engage in a fair amount of offensive speech, obviously I have a reflex to side with Chait on principle. Additionally, I’m a conservative who finds intra-Left/liberal conflicts pretty interesting and delicious. Finally, I don’t think that America is horribly racist, nor do I think institutionalized racism is a huge problem on campus (and perhaps not so much outside of campus, at least insofar as policy can and should address it), and, I don’t think that much consideration should be given to “marginalized populations” in terms of being particularly sensitive or apologizing for them (there is a whole lexicon which has cropped upon the Left which has a lot of meaning within-group, but is useless when attempting to communicate out-group; I reject the legitimacy of the terms of the debate as it is presented by many on the Left and liberals).

711zuJb66HL In my more cynical moments I’ve stated that we need to stick a fork in John Stuart Mill, and the idea of a free exchange of ideas. The Left has started to go full Marcuse, to the point where even the language used by conservatives is deemed illegitimate. Yes, there are liberals who attempt to enforce the old rules of tolerance of vigorous dissent, but at the end of the day there’s not much broader policy daylight between the two campus, so will they stand up for unpopular views when push comes to shove? The best bet then would be to join in the animal-battle for the authoritarian state of yore as it comes back to life. Kill or be killed, while the libertarians keep shouting “can’t we just get along?!?!?!”

But my old standby is what do the data say? Back when “trigger warnings” were in the news I noticed that there was a question in the general social survey about the removal of library books. There is a variable LIBMSLM which asks about an “anti-American Muslim clergymen’s book”:

If some people in your community suggested that a book he wrote which preaches hatred of the United States should be taken out of your public library, would you favor removing this book, or not.

There are also similar questions about anti-religious books, militarist books, a book promoting homosexuality, and a book promoting racism. My question is simple: what demographic groups support the removal of these books? The detailed methods are at the end of this post (you should be able to replicate), but what I basically did is used a logistic regression to compare the effects of several variables at once in terms of predicting attitude toward book removal. The samples were limited to the year 2000 and later.

What did I find?

* Liberals support free speech more than conservatives. Even in cases, such as racist books, where ideologically you would suppose they would oppose it (and there is a modest trend if you look at the period between 1990 to 2014 for liberals to be more supportive of removing the racist book).

* The more educated and more intelligent support free speech more than the less educated and less intelligent (the effects hold independently of each other).

* Whites are more supportive of free speech than non-whites, except in the case of a book promoting homosexuality, where there is no difference.

* Atheists and agnostics are moderately more in favor of free speech than the very religious. They are not very differentiated when it comes to the anti-American Muslim clergymen, confirming secular discomfort with fundamentalist Islam.

If one follows Twitter of the elite media one might be surprised that liberals are more supportive of free speech than conservatives. A different set of similar variables support the same conclusion. So what’s going on here?

First, I do think that the hot-house of the campus environment results in distortion and extremism which has minimal support more broadly. My Twitter following is very diverse, and many liberals have been direct messaging me expressing worry and anger at the anti-free speech antics of the protesters. But please observe: the have been direct messaging, rather than putting up their objections in my public timeline. Though the majority of liberals still support free speech, the loudest and most organized element seem to be much more “nuanced” on the issue of freedom of thought.

Second, the modern Left is a coalition of very different groups. The majority of the non-white sample above was black, and it is clear that in regards to speech non-whites are less supportive of tolerance of taboo or unpopular ideas than whites. White liberals may be very strong supporters of free speech, but their political allies may not be. And, the reality is that in terms of intra-coalition dynamics white liberals have to be very careful in how they talk to non-whites, lest they be accused of racism (I’ve been told by my wife to curtail my trolling on Twitter, but pretending to be an SJW of color is pretty fun when engaging with white liberals, since they let you slice off their balls at will, and don’t even object when you’re totally incoherent in your argumentation). This probably explains some of the private expression of support for free speech, but the subdued public sentiments. Liberals who support free speech also still want to eliminate institutional racism and oppression toward marginalized groups, so they have to balance their values when they seem at tension, and don’t want to be supporting those who oppose their policies even if they support the right of those people to disagree.

Finally, the robust support for free speech by the intellectual and social elites is heartening, and suggests that the courts are going to consistently serve as a legal bulwark against attempts to curtail dangerous ideas and sentiments. But obviously that’s not going to always translate into social norms.

Ultimately the question comes down to will. The broad sentiment of liberals does remain in the corner of liberty of thought, right or wrong. But will they stand up for unpopular views, as they have in the past, because in this country you can? That’s an open question I guess.


Methods:

The dependent variable names are below in the table.

The independent variables were: sex, age, realinc (income adjusted for inflation), god(r:1-2″atheist/agnostic”;6″very religious”), polviews(r:1-3″Liberal”;5-7″Conservative”), race(r:1″white”;2-*”non-white”), degree(r:0-2″No College”;3-4″College”), wordsum

Wordsum is a vocabulary test, with a 0.71 correlation with IQ.

Removing books was always coded as 1, and not removing as 2. Sex is 1 = male, 2 = female. For the god variable, 6 = those who “know god exists.” I did not look at moderates, but aggregated liberals and conservatives (extremely to slightly). For education I just divided between college and non-college.

To get an intuition for the direction of effect, for the anti-American preacher being a male, liberal, younger, more educated, more intelligent, and white, are statistically significantly contributing to greater odds of tolerating the book in the library.

LIBMSLM LIBMIL LIBHOMO
B Exp(B) Probability B Exp(B) Probability B Exp(B) Probability
SEX -0.40 0.67 0.01 0.06 1.06 0.63 0.08 1.09 0.52
POLVIEWS(Recoded) -0.88 0.41 0.00 -0.50 0.61 0.00 -0.71 0.49 0.00
AGE -0.01 0.99 0.00 -0.03 0.97 0.00 -0.02 0.98 0.00
DEGREE(Recoded) 0.46 1.59 0.01 0.58 1.78 0.00 0.61 1.84 0.00
WORDSUM 0.32 1.37 0.00 0.18 1.20 0.00 0.20 1.23 0.00
REALINC 0.00 1.00 0.08 0.00 1.00 0.22 0.00 1.00 0.00
RACE(Recoded) -0.49 0.61 0.01 -0.77 0.46 0.00 -0.17 0.85 0.27
GOD(Recoded) -0.17 0.84 0.47 -0.57 0.57 0.01 -0.75 0.48 0.01
Constant 0.90 2.46 0.17 2.92 18.61 0.00 2.66 14.33 0.00
LIBATH LIBRAC
B Exp(B) Probability B Exp(B) Probability
SEX -0.21 0.81 0.09 -0.09 0.92 0.43
POLVIEWS(Recoded) -0.56 0.57 0.00 -0.29 0.75 0.02
AGE -0.02 0.98 0.00 -0.01 0.99 0.05
DEGREE(Recoded) 0.51 1.66 0.00 0.45 1.57 0.00
WORDSUM 0.22 1.25 0.00 0.15 1.17 0.00
REALINC 0.00 1.00 0.22 0.00 1.00 0.75
RACE(Recoded) -0.62 0.54 0.00 -0.55 0.58 0.00
GOD(Recoded) -0.75 0.47 0.00 -0.32 0.73 0.09
Constant 3.31 27.37 0.00 1.20 3.30 0.02
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: Free Speech 
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  1. The questions in the survey seem to be about banning hypothetical books. Is it possible that things may be different if the books in question are real?

    Very anecdotally and speculatively, I suspect that the difference between talk and revealed preferences is much sharper for liberals; they care about what they signal, and instinctively recognize that an opinion on a hypothetical book can generate only so much outrage.

    • Replies: @boogerbently
    Libs talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.
    They're 100% in favor of free speech, as long as you agree with them.
  2. Of course most Liberals will claim they 100 percent support freedom of speech even the kind they don’t agree with, but they don’t actually practice what they preach. Most liberal colleges will not even let Ann Coulter for example speak on their campuses. Liberals are always coming up with a list of new words that should be banned from people’s everyday English vocabulary.

    Actions speak louder than words and I am seeing zero action from Liberals that they actually support the right for people to openly state politically incorrect views. Razib how is your job going at the Liberal New York Times? Oh yeah they gave you the boot because they thought you were not Liberal enough for their liking.

    Are you going to tell me that The New York Times are the biggest champions of freedom of speech?

  3. You answered your own question when you pointed out the reluctance of the pro free speech left to support you publicly. They crumble when asked to put their money where their mouth is, the left that supports free speech will be shouted down and intimidated out of existence, give it another generation, probably less.

    You can see evidence of this process happening already, even the free speech supporters on the left that will still speak publicly about these issues will so water down their arguments and put so many qualifications on it that they might as well not even bother, it’s like they are tiptoeing through a verbal minefield. It is that way right now where I live in the Midwest, I can imagine it is already ten fold worse on the Left Coast and the Northeast.

  4. Nice work that’s very interesting. The news these days suggests liberals are more apt to be rabid, and I think that is the word, literally physically rabid, and are more, maybe much more, likely than conservatives to imagine actual street protesting to be the only real kind of free speech—what do you mean their free speech? we are the one’s speaking, and their hatred hates our speech etcetera, the mindset of the campus crusaders who right-wing speaking invites. (I think it’s myopic stupidity, middling IQs on the left are insensately self-righteous for some reason.) Which raises the question, which today is worth more in the balance of political dissent broadly defined, words or actions? Personally I’d rather read you in the NYT than mill around in the street like I forgot it wasn’t st. paddy’s day but that’s me.

  5. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I’m not sure what counts for tolerance. Just being able to say and write something without being silenced or censored, or being able to express unpopular opinions and not have your professional and personal life destroyed? I would say conservatives might be prone a little more to the former but liberals are way more inclined to be intolerant in the latter. In fact, liberals become like religious zealots and show little compassion or proportionality. IMO, the isolated and ever-shifting intolerance of liberals is scarier than zealots, whose across-the-board intolerance consistency never leaves you quessing. But I guess that is just the self-refuting nature of true liberalism/relativism playing itself out.

  6. A critical take on this from a lefty perspective (h/t LFC commenting at Crooked Timber): pro-free speech but even more telling the kids to recognize that there are more things in heaven and earth, than are dreamt of in their philosophy, and that a little humility would not hurt. A bit overmuch handwringing, but given how fraught this whole issue has become, I understand stepping gingerly to try to keep the focus on the argument.

    The comments so far are not worth bothering with: no flaming or anything, just not worth the time. The post itself is too long, IMHO, but again that has much to do with trying to affect the right tone.

    A particularly telling couple of paragraphs:

    I worry, as in the case of Halloween costumes and much else, that at least some cultural activists are setting themselves up as future commissioners of culture over other social classes and their worlds, that this is as much about admonishing people “out there” for their failure to use the right terms, for their outre mannerisms and affect, for their expressive noncompliance. That this is all about kids who will become upper middle-class (or rich) through access to education judging and regulating kids who will not have that status or education, no matter where the educated kids started in life. That making blanket policies about Halloween costumes and much else might become a building block of class differentiation, part of a system of middle-class moral paternalism.

    That’s what an earlier generation of cultural activism left me doing as a young graduate who wanted to be an “ally”: piously correcting people outside of my immediate social universe whenever life put me into close contact with them. Often when it was the most innocent and well-intended on my part, it gave the greatest offense, as when I once started talking about the importance of working-class unionism with my non-union working-class cousins that I was meeting for the first time at my paternal grandfather’s house.

  7. Left this comment on a Facebook thread discussing this piece:

    “… there are two ways you can look at what is going at Yale in light of this data. The first is that you can conclude the Yalies are an extreme and vocal group who do not represent the liberal majority, and whose noise gives them more attention than their influence deserves.

    That’s one way to see things. The other way to look at them is as a well organized vanguard that is removing what common ground between their allies and their opponents exists, radicalizing their entire faction in the process. I was dismissive of the Red Guard analogy yesterday, but it is worth keeping it in mind here as it is one of the most powerful examples of **how quickly political signaling spirals can get out of hand.** But we don’t need to turn abroad to see that kind of thing. Our own history is full of it. The American south 1820-1860 is probably the best example, for tolerance, free speech, and other marks of liberal life were exactly what was under assault then too. Over a period of four decades a committed, well organized minority–indeed, a minority of a minority, not unlike the Yalie protesters today–were able to radicalize their entire faction, destroy the liberties that make republican government meaningful, and so thoroughly remove any sense of kinship and common ground with their political opponents that nothing short of war could resolve their differences.

    I’m not saying we are heading for a war. But it is important to remember where those committed to illiberalism can lead their parties. These folks *must* not be allowed to hijack the Democratic Party or progressive political debates. They are not the majority now. They must not be the majority ever.

    So the question remains: what can we do to aid the silent majority of liberals reclaim their movement?”

    • Replies: @Enrique Cardova
    Our own history is full of it. The American south 1820-1860 is probably the best example, for tolerance, free speech, and other marks of liberal life were exactly what was under assault then too. Over a period of four decades a committed, well organized minority–indeed, a minority of a minority, not unlike the Yalie protesters today–were able to radicalize their entire faction, destroy the liberties that make republican government meaningful, and so thoroughly remove any sense of kinship and common ground with their political opponents that nothing short of war could resolve their differences.

    Good point on how extremists can polarize things to the point of no return. But were those in the south who wanted to push the region towards war a minority? Many historians indicate that the war drew the support of most white southerners, who felt slavery was essential, a fact reflected in numerous Confederate states' formal Declarations of Secession. See book: The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Confederacy by Bradley R. Clampitt - 2011 for example. The pattern shows up in even mixed areas of union and confederate sentiment- such as individual counties within a state. One study of Alabama for example, shows that supporters of the Union were a small, marginal segment of the state's white population, and the vast majority of whites statewide, supported the war effort.

    It was not a minority radicalizing the white populace to go to war. To the contrary, that populace overwhelmingly supported the war to preserve slavery. Some claim it was not slavery but "state's rights". But this is laughably circular. What was the "state's right" at issue? Slavery.
  8. I don’t think it’s the majority that matters. It’s those who are most committed. That Yale professor believed in freedom of speech, but he was browbeaten into submittion by a teenager with attitude. I had three teenage stepdaughters and I have seen tantrums like that before. If you give in to them, you are lost.

    The good thing abut anonymous fora is that you can reveal things that you would never say face-to-face. My father was a transexual in the 1980’s. (He never had the operation, he just went wearing idiotic amounts of make-up.) It was no fun being his teenage son back then as transexuals were seen as aberrants. The very people who were most unpleasant back then are the biggest advocates of trans-rights now. Most people support freedom of speech now because it still sounds good. People who mouth that platitude believe “they are on the right side of history”. They will change their views the moment it becmes fashionable to do so.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    yeah. i think conformity bias is a major issue ;-( make sure you are rich, it buys you insulation from the need to conform....
  9. @22pp22
    I don't think it's the majority that matters. It's those who are most committed. That Yale professor believed in freedom of speech, but he was browbeaten into submittion by a teenager with attitude. I had three teenage stepdaughters and I have seen tantrums like that before. If you give in to them, you are lost.

    The good thing abut anonymous fora is that you can reveal things that you would never say face-to-face. My father was a transexual in the 1980's. (He never had the operation, he just went wearing idiotic amounts of make-up.) It was no fun being his teenage son back then as transexuals were seen as aberrants. The very people who were most unpleasant back then are the biggest advocates of trans-rights now. Most people support freedom of speech now because it still sounds good. People who mouth that platitude believe "they are on the right side of history". They will change their views the moment it becmes fashionable to do so.

    yeah. i think conformity bias is a major issue ;-( make sure you are rich, it buys you insulation from the need to conform….

  10. The survey question is biased with regard to analyzing free speech. You can’t say liberals support free speech more than conservatives based on that question. And intellectuals will be more supportive of radical Muslim ideas than the mass public, but that is not necessarily a good indication of whether they support free speech.

    Given the conservatives’ position of being patriotic and their history with Muslims, they will be more opposed to an anti-American Muslim book than liberals, regardless of their position on free speech. If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result. I suppose you may even find that “intellectuals” are more opposed to free speech if the question was asked this way.

    A good analyst would ask a non-biased question. Though I know you didn’t come up with that survey question, you did analyze it with respect to support for free speech, which is problematic.

    • Replies: @CJH
    --> Whooops I guess you did the analysis already! Didn't read closely enough.
    , @Razib Khan
    problematic. LOL.
    , @Razib Khan
    If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result.

    you were wrong, though it is clear that the effect is attenuated. i hope you update your beliefs appropriately! :-)
  11. @CJH
    The survey question is biased with regard to analyzing free speech. You can't say liberals support free speech more than conservatives based on that question. And intellectuals will be more supportive of radical Muslim ideas than the mass public, but that is not necessarily a good indication of whether they support free speech.

    Given the conservatives' position of being patriotic and their history with Muslims, they will be more opposed to an anti-American Muslim book than liberals, regardless of their position on free speech. If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result. I suppose you may even find that "intellectuals" are more opposed to free speech if the question was asked this way.

    A good analyst would ask a non-biased question. Though I know you didn't come up with that survey question, you did analyze it with respect to support for free speech, which is problematic.

    –> Whooops I guess you did the analysis already! Didn’t read closely enough.

  12. Following these strange developments is depressing, I want my own safe space “Occidentals Anonymous”:

    “Hi,

    My name is Gordon,
    I’m a liberal
    ….and I approve of Western Civilization…”

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    The moment that happens, you become part of right-wing white supremacist organization.
  13. How about the mainstream news media just do their bloody job, and determine for their readers, viewers and listeners whether any of the three alleged incidents at, or near, the University of Missouri even took place? I would literally bet my life that the alleged “neo-Nazi’s feces” incident is a run-of-the-mill race hoax– whether it actually took place, at all, or was merely phoned in, and then not even investigated by the campus’ version of the Keystone Kops, who are now requesting that students immediately document and report “hurtful” speech to the police!?!

  14. Razib,

    If you have to bet money, how powerful and dominating do you think those SJW college kids will be 20 years from now in terms of dictating sociopolitical norms to the wide populace? I.e. per Mr Greer’s analogy above could they conceivably have free reign to go into places like school, corporations, etc. to act as Red Guards with no one dare to oppose them?

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    I.e. per Mr Greer’s analogy above could they conceivably have free reign to go into places like school, corporations, etc. to act as Red Guards with no one dare to oppose them?

    i'm not confident of anything. but, a lot of these kids are going to go into a globalist marketplace, so i doubt their particular values can become ascendant. but, the old liberal order does seem like it's dying. my advice to everyone is to make sure you're in the top 5%, because the overclass doesn't give a shit about your freedom or dignity, so just make sure you can claw your way into it ;-)

    and yet with all my pessimism, the truth is, and will always be, and we can appreciate it in all its glory even if the maoists and brown-shirts come after us. that lets me sleep at night without too much worry. look at ancient DNA! look at the pluto mission!
  15. @CJH
    The survey question is biased with regard to analyzing free speech. You can't say liberals support free speech more than conservatives based on that question. And intellectuals will be more supportive of radical Muslim ideas than the mass public, but that is not necessarily a good indication of whether they support free speech.

    Given the conservatives' position of being patriotic and their history with Muslims, they will be more opposed to an anti-American Muslim book than liberals, regardless of their position on free speech. If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result. I suppose you may even find that "intellectuals" are more opposed to free speech if the question was asked this way.

    A good analyst would ask a non-biased question. Though I know you didn't come up with that survey question, you did analyze it with respect to support for free speech, which is problematic.

    problematic. LOL.

  16. @CJH
    The survey question is biased with regard to analyzing free speech. You can't say liberals support free speech more than conservatives based on that question. And intellectuals will be more supportive of radical Muslim ideas than the mass public, but that is not necessarily a good indication of whether they support free speech.

    Given the conservatives' position of being patriotic and their history with Muslims, they will be more opposed to an anti-American Muslim book than liberals, regardless of their position on free speech. If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result. I suppose you may even find that "intellectuals" are more opposed to free speech if the question was asked this way.

    A good analyst would ask a non-biased question. Though I know you didn't come up with that survey question, you did analyze it with respect to support for free speech, which is problematic.

    If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result.

    you were wrong, though it is clear that the effect is attenuated. i hope you update your beliefs appropriately! 🙂

    • Replies: @G Pinfold

    "If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result."

    you were wrong, though it is clear that the effect is attenuated.
     

    Ah, but the liberal is a wily one. Here he will likely qualify his belief in free speech with the reminder that 'one is not free from the consequences...' And we know what he means by 'consequences', don't we? But to hear him say it, it's as if the punishment will be delivered by a force of nature or an act of God. I suppose this is what it feels like to be on the right side of History. I wouldn't know.
  17. @Riordan
    Razib,

    If you have to bet money, how powerful and dominating do you think those SJW college kids will be 20 years from now in terms of dictating sociopolitical norms to the wide populace? I.e. per Mr Greer's analogy above could they conceivably have free reign to go into places like school, corporations, etc. to act as Red Guards with no one dare to oppose them?

    I.e. per Mr Greer’s analogy above could they conceivably have free reign to go into places like school, corporations, etc. to act as Red Guards with no one dare to oppose them?

    i’m not confident of anything. but, a lot of these kids are going to go into a globalist marketplace, so i doubt their particular values can become ascendant. but, the old liberal order does seem like it’s dying. my advice to everyone is to make sure you’re in the top 5%, because the overclass doesn’t give a shit about your freedom or dignity, so just make sure you can claw your way into it 😉

    and yet with all my pessimism, the truth is, and will always be, and we can appreciate it in all its glory even if the maoists and brown-shirts come after us. that lets me sleep at night without too much worry. look at ancient DNA! look at the pluto mission!

  18. I am uncomfortable looking at issues in terms of who can understand the issue. That said, most people do not understand the concept of free speech. Of the proportion of people that do understand that free speech is for the “other”, how many value it as a means to a greater good as opposed to how many are, as Razib mentioned, full Marcuse. That divide is determinative.

  19. Liberal college campuses take a Libertarian live free or die attitude regarding drug use, Homosexuality, and tolerance of Islam, but they do not apply that same live free or die Libertarian attitude towards freedom of speech they disagree with, tolerance of Christianity, and gun rights. For a group that claims to be so open minded Libertine, they sure do love to shit all over the 1st and 2nd amendments.

  20. @Razib Khan
    If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result.

    you were wrong, though it is clear that the effect is attenuated. i hope you update your beliefs appropriately! :-)

    “If the question was about a book by a Confederate who justified slavery and racist hate groups, you will get the opposite result.”

    you were wrong, though it is clear that the effect is attenuated.

    Ah, but the liberal is a wily one. Here he will likely qualify his belief in free speech with the reminder that ‘one is not free from the consequences…’ And we know what he means by ‘consequences’, don’t we? But to hear him say it, it’s as if the punishment will be delivered by a force of nature or an act of God. I suppose this is what it feels like to be on the right side of History. I wouldn’t know.

  21. A common tactics of those with extreme political views (whether on the right or left) is to attack people with more moderate views and ignore those with opposing extreme views.

    For example, something who makes a mildly racist comment with be attacked by left-wing “social justice warriors” more than someone who makes a blantantly racist comment (such as referring to Black people as “muds”).

    This is nasty and cynical tactic, but it’s often very effective, since moderates tend to be easier to intimidate – either because they are nicer, more moderate people, or are they becaue they are individuals with high social status who have a lot to lose.

    In the early 20th Century it tended to be communists, fascists, and violent anarchists who used this tactic, but todays its used primarily by lab-smashing animal right activists, extreme anti-racists, hard-core LGBT supporters and other types of online “social justice warrior.”

  22. @froginthewell
    The questions in the survey seem to be about banning hypothetical books. Is it possible that things may be different if the books in question are real?

    Very anecdotally and speculatively, I suspect that the difference between talk and revealed preferences is much sharper for liberals; they care about what they signal, and instinctively recognize that an opinion on a hypothetical book can generate only so much outrage.

    Libs talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.
    They’re 100% in favor of free speech, as long as you agree with them.

  23. I don’t think you can blame this intolerance on Marcuse. These people give very clear, explicit rationales for intolerance—safe spaces, crying, etc.—and they are not at all Marcusian. From what I’ve read of Marcuse, I think he’d be disgusted by the current crop of radicals.

    (Don’t remember if I’ve been banned here? If so, sorry for posting!)

    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    These rationales always relate to supposed oppression. Marcuse advocated that the intellectual elite manipulate the masses to repudiate liberal society's tolerance of oppression.

    But Marcuse was a dangerous person, hated by most hard Marxists, and one who should have been hated much more than he was by anti-imperialists. He had served in a high position in U.S. intelligence during the war, and his speciality was propaganda. (Look at the biographical matter in wikipedia.)
  24. For liberals, free speech is a means to an end. A tool they used in the sixties to grab power in colleges and media. Nowadays liberal free speech more often than not is a form of aggression towards dissenters.
    Needless to say, free speech was never meant for anybody who stands in their way to power and riches.

  25. The Roberts Supreme Catholic Court has decreed that bribery is free speech. This has caused me to pretty much loose interest in the subject.

  26. anon • Disclaimer says:

    I believe your faith in the courts is misplaced. Courts eventually follow social sentiment, they do not lead it. This aligns with the observation that so called conservatives advocate positions which would have been considered controversially liberal by their ancestors. Perhaps this is the natural evolution of any given meme-o-sphere.

    • Replies: @iffen
    If Gore had been ahead of Bush in the "official" tally in the Florida, the Supreme Court would have ordered recounts until the cows came home.
  27. Razib – are your sample sizes large enough to find effects within, for example young liberals (and young conservatives) versus their older counterparts?

  28. So, nobody is surprised our disturbed that conservatives are against free speech?

    [How many of you free speech warriors have defended the rights of leftists? Few disagreed when Pat Buchanan recently supported blacklisting communists. Unlike some far leftists – like me – who have defended the rights of rightists (http://kanbaroo.blogspot.com/2008/02/kanbaroo-court-30th-installment-richard.html), among others.]

    The dominant theme – even in comments to the present article – is ‘don’t defend the freedom of leftists because they won’t defend you.’

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    majorities of all political persuasions support free speech in this particular survey (i put the variables up there so you can look yourself). so it isn't that "conservatives are against free speech", though they are less supportive.

    The dominant theme – even in comments to the present article – is ‘don’t defend the freedom of leftists because they won’t defend you.’


    i have no problem defending the freedom of leftists. e.g., i think anti-anti-israel stuff is pretty annoying, though i'm probably on the very mild pro-israel side myself.

    but, as a descriptive matter i think both the left and the right are going toward a bidding war of authoritarianism. i can't see anything stopping it in our society, as we lack the sort of cohesion we've had in the past.
    , @D. K.
    From the 1947 Waldorf Statement:

    "We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods."

    Does "freedom of speech" include a right to be hired by the film industry while a member of a party or group that so advocates? Was, say, Dore Schary, who signed the Waldorf Statement on behalf of RKO, a "conservative" who was suppressing freedom of speech? Was he one while he was running the most prestigious studio in Hollywood, MGM, from 1951 until Thanksgiving Day 1956, during the infamous blacklist? Was he one when he subsequently wrote the play "Sunrise at Campobello" to lionize FDR? Was Dore Schary a "conservative" when he served as the national chairman for the ADL? Is the ADL morally wrong to have named an award after Dore Schary?

    Is Hollywood, today, run by political "conservatives?" Does Hollywood, today, blacklist people from employment in the film industry because of their expressed beliefs? If so, do any of those blacklisted people belong to any parties or groups covered by that passage, quoted above, from the 1947 Waldorf Statement?
  29. @Stephen R. Diamond
    So, nobody is surprised our disturbed that conservatives are against free speech?

    [How many of you free speech warriors have defended the rights of leftists? Few disagreed when Pat Buchanan recently supported blacklisting communists. Unlike some far leftists - like me - who have defended the rights of rightists (http://kanbaroo.blogspot.com/2008/02/kanbaroo-court-30th-installment-richard.html), among others.]

    The dominant theme - even in comments to the present article - is 'don't defend the freedom of leftists because they won't defend you.'

    majorities of all political persuasions support free speech in this particular survey (i put the variables up there so you can look yourself). so it isn’t that “conservatives are against free speech”, though they are less supportive.

    The dominant theme – even in comments to the present article – is ‘don’t defend the freedom of leftists because they won’t defend you.’

    i have no problem defending the freedom of leftists. e.g., i think anti-anti-israel stuff is pretty annoying, though i’m probably on the very mild pro-israel side myself.

    but, as a descriptive matter i think both the left and the right are going toward a bidding war of authoritarianism. i can’t see anything stopping it in our society, as we lack the sort of cohesion we’ve had in the past.

    • Replies: @Stephen R. Diamond
    The test of commitment to free speech is to that of your worst enemies. Conservatives being open to the free speech of racists is far less weighty than conservatives of all stripes wishing to shut down the Muslim - which I'd call being against free speech.

    Why isn't commitment to free speech part of core conservative ideology? The only consistent supporters of free speech I'm aware of are various far leftists who have demanded "Free speech for fascists." I'm not inclined to trust anyone with power who would say anything less.
  30. Freedom itself is actually quite fuzzy word. USA is considered torch of freedom. But in reality, its very legal system (represented by numerous law makers) creats numerous laws so detail that are governing almost every aspect of its citizens life. You can not walk naked around; you can not marry more than one spouse; you even can not walk on any land you want since most land are already owned by someone. Wild hunter-gatherers or barbarians must think civilized peple actually bunch of slaves. Even your earned money can not be totally yours. How much freedom do you really have comparing to barbarians?

    Civilization (rule of law) and freedom are oxymoron.

    Now consider freedom of speech. If walking naked in public is offensive and was made illegal, then what about offensive speech? If no rule apply, people can say whatever they want and absolute freedom even allow baseless accusation of someone (witch hunt). Some one can accuse you committed murder and verbally convince mass to vote for your death. Well this is like new guinea head hunting party. If you were falsely accused, your head was cut off by witch hunting mob. Would you still prefer absolute freedom of speech?

    Obviously in civilized society, there should be rules for speech like other aspects of life in civilization. But how the line should be drawn is the question. I do not have the answer. What is purpose of speech/debate? Clearly we do not vote to have your malignant tumor diagnosed by public debate. We trust some experts (medical doctors) to make judgemnt on that matter since we know average folk incapable of such judgment. We even do not trust mediocre people trained in such field to make judgement. We want the best ones to make such judgement on the matter of life/death. Winning debate in puplic is not the same thing to have truth. But silencing opinions might also prevent truth coming out.

    Just throwing something to think about. Absolute freedom is not realistic.

  31. @Stephen R. Diamond
    So, nobody is surprised our disturbed that conservatives are against free speech?

    [How many of you free speech warriors have defended the rights of leftists? Few disagreed when Pat Buchanan recently supported blacklisting communists. Unlike some far leftists - like me - who have defended the rights of rightists (http://kanbaroo.blogspot.com/2008/02/kanbaroo-court-30th-installment-richard.html), among others.]

    The dominant theme - even in comments to the present article - is 'don't defend the freedom of leftists because they won't defend you.'

    From the 1947 Waldorf Statement:

    “We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States by force or by any illegal or unconstitutional methods.”

    Does “freedom of speech” include a right to be hired by the film industry while a member of a party or group that so advocates? Was, say, Dore Schary, who signed the Waldorf Statement on behalf of RKO, a “conservative” who was suppressing freedom of speech? Was he one while he was running the most prestigious studio in Hollywood, MGM, from 1951 until Thanksgiving Day 1956, during the infamous blacklist? Was he one when he subsequently wrote the play “Sunrise at Campobello” to lionize FDR? Was Dore Schary a “conservative” when he served as the national chairman for the ADL? Is the ADL morally wrong to have named an award after Dore Schary?

    Is Hollywood, today, run by political “conservatives?” Does Hollywood, today, blacklist people from employment in the film industry because of their expressed beliefs? If so, do any of those blacklisted people belong to any parties or groups covered by that passage, quoted above, from the 1947 Waldorf Statement?

  32. @Razib Khan
    majorities of all political persuasions support free speech in this particular survey (i put the variables up there so you can look yourself). so it isn't that "conservatives are against free speech", though they are less supportive.

    The dominant theme – even in comments to the present article – is ‘don’t defend the freedom of leftists because they won’t defend you.’


    i have no problem defending the freedom of leftists. e.g., i think anti-anti-israel stuff is pretty annoying, though i'm probably on the very mild pro-israel side myself.

    but, as a descriptive matter i think both the left and the right are going toward a bidding war of authoritarianism. i can't see anything stopping it in our society, as we lack the sort of cohesion we've had in the past.

    The test of commitment to free speech is to that of your worst enemies. Conservatives being open to the free speech of racists is far less weighty than conservatives of all stripes wishing to shut down the Muslim – which I’d call being against free speech.

    Why isn’t commitment to free speech part of core conservative ideology? The only consistent supporters of free speech I’m aware of are various far leftists who have demanded “Free speech for fascists.” I’m not inclined to trust anyone with power who would say anything less.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    read reason magazine to expand your awareness.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    Conservatives being open to the free speech of racists is far less weighty than conservatives of all stripes wishing to shut down the Muslim – which I’d call being against free speech.
     
    We don't want to silence them. We want them to leave. They can yak all they want back home.

    Why isn’t commitment to free speech part of core conservative ideology?
     
    "Conservative ideology" is an oxymoron. Russell Kirk explained why.
  33. It all depends who you ask to define ‘free speech’.

    One just has to watch the 40 or so world leaders who lead the Million March in Paris earlier this year in support Rothschild-owned Charlie Hebdo’s rights to insult and ridicule Muslims and Islam. All of them had been criticized by Amnesty International and HRW groups for waging war against ‘freedom of speech’ in their own countries.

    In June 2015, prestigious international literary and human-rights organization, STYLO France give its 2015 ‘Freedom of Speech’ award to Organized Jewry’s most feared French comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala.

    “Dieudonné lives in a society where almost unlimited offensive language and artistic expression may be used against some religious and ethnic groups but not others. In spite of the consequences, Dieudonné has criticized and ridiculed persons and subjects that are protected from free speech rights under French law. And he has paid dearly for his defiance of these prohibitions.”

    http://rehmat1.com/2015/06/22/french-comedian-wins-freedom-of-speech-award/

  34. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    My simplified construct what’s going on is based on equality being the central goal of liberalism. When looked at generally and at instances that may arise in the future, liberals often speak of self-expression as being the best way to an equal society. However, when they look at issues that are relevant now and that involve specifics, they throw that out almost entirely, and hope to use the power of the state to enforce that equality.

    I’ve noticed this trait in a co worker of mine who is of the SJW persuasion. She once talked in glowing terms about how great the future will be when people will have the choice of bionic limbs. She was really getting into this, and used terms like individuality and self expression. During an entirely different talk however, she was for outlawing plastic surgery almost entirely. People undergo plastic surgery, in her view, because certain physical traits are idealized by the people in power – the media, Hollywood, etc.. – and therefore people were willing to discard what made them unique. Only when society realizes that all people are beautiful just the way they are can people truly be equal. Other times she’s spoken very passionately about being prochoice. This passion, however, leaves her entirely when she talks about abortion in India or other countries where women are much more commonly aborted than males. She would like to force the state to severely restrict abortion so the ratio is equal. In other words, when speaking in a very general sense, self expression is one of her cherished ideals. When push comes to shove, however, she’ll quickly discard it in favor of the power of the state.

    I read The Marshmellow Test by Walter Mischel awhile back and he talks for quite some length about how people idealize future events and are much less optimistic about those events the closer they come to being realized. I’m sure that psychological trait has a name, but it escapes me. I think that is one reason why the survey’s results are showing something that just doesn’t jive with the actions we often see from liberals. They speak in glowing terms about choice, expression and individuality but often when expressing a vague worldview. They speak about a rational society, and regulations and laws when they’ve actually looked at issues more carefully and critically.

    For many liberals, equality isn’t just a goal to be realized, but also what society would look like if we returned to a state of nature. They’re generally blank slatists, in other words. So of course they think self expression and individuality are great traits when looked at in a general sense. If all of society’s mores and hierarchies no longer had any sway, all individuals would spend their next paycheck equally well. They don’t see that choice often leads to greatly disparate outcomes, because people have different genetic dispositions (as you always point out so well). It’s a big blind spot and leads to so much irrational bickering and more sadly, so many irrational laws.

  35. @Stephen R. Diamond
    The test of commitment to free speech is to that of your worst enemies. Conservatives being open to the free speech of racists is far less weighty than conservatives of all stripes wishing to shut down the Muslim - which I'd call being against free speech.

    Why isn't commitment to free speech part of core conservative ideology? The only consistent supporters of free speech I'm aware of are various far leftists who have demanded "Free speech for fascists." I'm not inclined to trust anyone with power who would say anything less.

    read reason magazine to expand your awareness.

    • Agree: Stephen R. Diamond
  36. When I was a college kid (in the ’60s), I used to go to a coffee house called the “Minus one” (Tucson). On the wall was a quote from Mill,

    “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

    We’ve come a long way.

  37. [wall of verbiage deleted. hey bullshitter, i gave you the variables and the gss link so you can look up some of the answers. also, you don’t know how regression works. there’s no point in you speculating at length when you could answer your questions with a few web browser queries. you know how to use a comment form so you know how to do that. -Razib]

  38. @T. Greer
    Left this comment on a Facebook thread discussing this piece:

    "... there are two ways you can look at what is going at Yale in light of this data. The first is that you can conclude the Yalies are an extreme and vocal group who do not represent the liberal majority, and whose noise gives them more attention than their influence deserves.

    That's one way to see things. The other way to look at them is as a well organized vanguard that is removing what common ground between their allies and their opponents exists, radicalizing their entire faction in the process. I was dismissive of the Red Guard analogy yesterday, but it is worth keeping it in mind here as it is one of the most powerful examples of **how quickly political signaling spirals can get out of hand.** But we don't need to turn abroad to see that kind of thing. Our own history is full of it. The American south 1820-1860 is probably the best example, for tolerance, free speech, and other marks of liberal life were exactly what was under assault then too. Over a period of four decades a committed, well organized minority--indeed, a minority of a minority, not unlike the Yalie protesters today--were able to radicalize their entire faction, destroy the liberties that make republican government meaningful, and so thoroughly remove any sense of kinship and common ground with their political opponents that nothing short of war could resolve their differences.

    I'm not saying we are heading for a war. But it is important to remember where those committed to illiberalism can lead their parties. These folks *must* not be allowed to hijack the Democratic Party or progressive political debates. They are not the majority now. They must not be the majority ever.

    So the question remains: what can we do to aid the silent majority of liberals reclaim their movement?"

    Our own history is full of it. The American south 1820-1860 is probably the best example, for tolerance, free speech, and other marks of liberal life were exactly what was under assault then too. Over a period of four decades a committed, well organized minority–indeed, a minority of a minority, not unlike the Yalie protesters today–were able to radicalize their entire faction, destroy the liberties that make republican government meaningful, and so thoroughly remove any sense of kinship and common ground with their political opponents that nothing short of war could resolve their differences.

    Good point on how extremists can polarize things to the point of no return. But were those in the south who wanted to push the region towards war a minority? Many historians indicate that the war drew the support of most white southerners, who felt slavery was essential, a fact reflected in numerous Confederate states’ formal Declarations of Secession. See book: The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Confederacy by Bradley R. Clampitt – 2011 for example. The pattern shows up in even mixed areas of union and confederate sentiment- such as individual counties within a state. One study of Alabama for example, shows that supporters of the Union were a small, marginal segment of the state’s white population, and the vast majority of whites statewide, supported the war effort.

    It was not a minority radicalizing the white populace to go to war. To the contrary, that populace overwhelmingly supported the war to preserve slavery. Some claim it was not slavery but “state’s rights”. But this is laughably circular. What was the “state’s right” at issue? Slavery.

    • Replies: @T. Greer
    Yes, it was a minority of a minority. In 1832 not even a majority of South Carolina's citizens were willing to go to war with the Union. By 1860 this had changed. What happened? A minority of a minority were able to do all the things I fear a hard illiberal left minority might eventually do. An organized, committed, and radical minority doesn't need to do much to transform their status from minority outsides to majority vanguards.

    I've glossed the relevant history in two blog posts:

    http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2015/06/there-is-no-right-side-of-history.html

    and

    http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2013/10/radical-islamic-terrorism-in-context-pt_10.html

    But really the Freehling book I cite in both is the best place to look for the full account of what happened. Easily the best political and social history of the antebellum South.

  39. @Gordon
    Following these strange developments is depressing, I want my own safe space "Occidentals Anonymous":

    "Hi,

    My name is Gordon,
    I'm a liberal
    ....and I approve of Western Civilization..."

    The moment that happens, you become part of right-wing white supremacist organization.

    • Replies: @Jefferson
    "The moment that happens, you become part of right-wing white supremacist organization."

    Indeed, saying I approve of Western civilization is racist micro aggression hate speech that oppresses and destroys Black and Brown people's safe spaces.

  40. @Aaron Gross
    I don't think you can blame this intolerance on Marcuse. These people give very clear, explicit rationales for intolerance—safe spaces, crying, etc.—and they are not at all Marcusian. From what I've read of Marcuse, I think he'd be disgusted by the current crop of radicals.

    (Don't remember if I've been banned here? If so, sorry for posting!)

    These rationales always relate to supposed oppression. Marcuse advocated that the intellectual elite manipulate the masses to repudiate liberal society’s tolerance of oppression.

    But Marcuse was a dangerous person, hated by most hard Marxists, and one who should have been hated much more than he was by anti-imperialists. He had served in a high position in U.S. intelligence during the war, and his speciality was propaganda. (Look at the biographical matter in wikipedia.)

  41. @Enrique Cardova
    Our own history is full of it. The American south 1820-1860 is probably the best example, for tolerance, free speech, and other marks of liberal life were exactly what was under assault then too. Over a period of four decades a committed, well organized minority–indeed, a minority of a minority, not unlike the Yalie protesters today–were able to radicalize their entire faction, destroy the liberties that make republican government meaningful, and so thoroughly remove any sense of kinship and common ground with their political opponents that nothing short of war could resolve their differences.

    Good point on how extremists can polarize things to the point of no return. But were those in the south who wanted to push the region towards war a minority? Many historians indicate that the war drew the support of most white southerners, who felt slavery was essential, a fact reflected in numerous Confederate states' formal Declarations of Secession. See book: The Confederate Heartland: Military and Civilian Morale in the Confederacy by Bradley R. Clampitt - 2011 for example. The pattern shows up in even mixed areas of union and confederate sentiment- such as individual counties within a state. One study of Alabama for example, shows that supporters of the Union were a small, marginal segment of the state's white population, and the vast majority of whites statewide, supported the war effort.

    It was not a minority radicalizing the white populace to go to war. To the contrary, that populace overwhelmingly supported the war to preserve slavery. Some claim it was not slavery but "state's rights". But this is laughably circular. What was the "state's right" at issue? Slavery.

    Yes, it was a minority of a minority. In 1832 not even a majority of South Carolina’s citizens were willing to go to war with the Union. By 1860 this had changed. What happened? A minority of a minority were able to do all the things I fear a hard illiberal left minority might eventually do. An organized, committed, and radical minority doesn’t need to do much to transform their status from minority outsides to majority vanguards.

    I’ve glossed the relevant history in two blog posts:

    http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2015/06/there-is-no-right-side-of-history.html

    and

    http://scholars-stage.blogspot.com/2013/10/radical-islamic-terrorism-in-context-pt_10.html

    But really the Freehling book I cite in both is the best place to look for the full account of what happened. Easily the best political and social history of the antebellum South.

  42. @Anonymous
    The moment that happens, you become part of right-wing white supremacist organization.

    “The moment that happens, you become part of right-wing white supremacist organization.”

    Indeed, saying I approve of Western civilization is racist micro aggression hate speech that oppresses and destroys Black and Brown people’s safe spaces.

  43. Like science, free speech is a white male western European thing closely associated with rise of Protestantism. Unless that group is dominant, you won’t have free speech or free enquiry in science. The Catch-22 is that the same traits that make cracka males believe in free speech have handicapped them in competition with other groups. Compare W.D. Hamilton (who?) with Stephen Jay Gould (a hero of the fight for equality).

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    closely associated with rise of Protestantism.

    saying stuff like this makes you seem stupid (though you probably think you're smart compared to the normal people you hang out with). italians, french, germans, and poles, who were catholic were all heavily invested in science. charles murray's *human accomplishment* makes it clear that scientific productivity had different hot-spots at different times, but it's not connected to protestantism.

    , @szopen
    Bullshit. Read something about history of Poland. At least one Polish book was forbidden in England (because it had dangerous idea that monarch is not above the law)
  44. @Tregon
    Like science, free speech is a white male western European thing closely associated with rise of Protestantism. Unless that group is dominant, you won't have free speech or free enquiry in science. The Catch-22 is that the same traits that make cracka males believe in free speech have handicapped them in competition with other groups. Compare W.D. Hamilton (who?) with Stephen Jay Gould (a hero of the fight for equality).

    closely associated with rise of Protestantism.

    saying stuff like this makes you seem stupid (though you probably think you’re smart compared to the normal people you hang out with). italians, french, germans, and poles, who were catholic were all heavily invested in science. charles murray’s *human accomplishment* makes it clear that scientific productivity had different hot-spots at different times, but it’s not connected to protestantism.

    • Replies: @iffen
    closely associated with rise of Protestantism

    Is it incorrect to think that Protestantism was a significant influence in the rise of general literacy? I guess I should compare the changing literacy rates among Catholic and Protestant countries and get the answer myself.
    , @Troy
    Have you read Robert Merton's work on this, Razib? I'm not up on the current sociological literature on this, so perhaps Merton's work has since been overturned, but when I read his "Puritanism, Pietism and Science," I thought he laid out impressive historical correlations between Protestantism and scientific activity.
  45. @anon
    I believe your faith in the courts is misplaced. Courts eventually follow social sentiment, they do not lead it. This aligns with the observation that so called conservatives advocate positions which would have been considered controversially liberal by their ancestors. Perhaps this is the natural evolution of any given meme-o-sphere.

    If Gore had been ahead of Bush in the “official” tally in the Florida, the Supreme Court would have ordered recounts until the cows came home.

  46. So the question remains: what can we do to aid the silent majority of liberals reclaim their movement?

    Refuse to get kicked out is the first thing to do.

    An organized, committed, and radical minority doesn’t need to do much to transform their status from minority outsides to majority vanguards.

    There is no limit on the number of times that this insight needs to be repeated.

    Thanks for the Freehling book tip, I will 1-click it when I get home.

  47. @Razib Khan
    closely associated with rise of Protestantism.

    saying stuff like this makes you seem stupid (though you probably think you're smart compared to the normal people you hang out with). italians, french, germans, and poles, who were catholic were all heavily invested in science. charles murray's *human accomplishment* makes it clear that scientific productivity had different hot-spots at different times, but it's not connected to protestantism.

    closely associated with rise of Protestantism

    Is it incorrect to think that Protestantism was a significant influence in the rise of general literacy? I guess I should compare the changing literacy rates among Catholic and Protestant countries and get the answer myself.

  48. @Razib Khan
    closely associated with rise of Protestantism.

    saying stuff like this makes you seem stupid (though you probably think you're smart compared to the normal people you hang out with). italians, french, germans, and poles, who were catholic were all heavily invested in science. charles murray's *human accomplishment* makes it clear that scientific productivity had different hot-spots at different times, but it's not connected to protestantism.

    Have you read Robert Merton’s work on this, Razib? I’m not up on the current sociological literature on this, so perhaps Merton’s work has since been overturned, but when I read his “Puritanism, Pietism and Science,” I thought he laid out impressive historical correlations between Protestantism and scientific activity.

    • Replies: @Razib Khan
    re: merton, while back. good stuff, but from what i have read newer work disputes the excessive focus on radical protestantism. also, i think any *necessary* connection (as opposed to an affect on the margins) makes you sound retarded (not talking about you here).
  49. @Tregon
    Like science, free speech is a white male western European thing closely associated with rise of Protestantism. Unless that group is dominant, you won't have free speech or free enquiry in science. The Catch-22 is that the same traits that make cracka males believe in free speech have handicapped them in competition with other groups. Compare W.D. Hamilton (who?) with Stephen Jay Gould (a hero of the fight for equality).

    Bullshit. Read something about history of Poland. At least one Polish book was forbidden in England (because it had dangerous idea that monarch is not above the law)

  50. @Troy
    Have you read Robert Merton's work on this, Razib? I'm not up on the current sociological literature on this, so perhaps Merton's work has since been overturned, but when I read his "Puritanism, Pietism and Science," I thought he laid out impressive historical correlations between Protestantism and scientific activity.

    re: merton, while back. good stuff, but from what i have read newer work disputes the excessive focus on radical protestantism. also, i think any *necessary* connection (as opposed to an affect on the margins) makes you sound retarded (not talking about you here).

  51. The issue is will the silent pro free speech stick up for free expression when some one is being hounded from their job. There is no evidence that they do. It true that PC incorrect who do best are those who refuse to back down and never apologizes.

  52. I am 65 Years old.
    Grew up on Long Island.
    When we were kids we were taught the following about free speech…..

    “I may not agree with what you have to say….BUT….I will defend to the death,your right to say it.”

    I have not heard anyone say this in a very long time.

  53. “Liberals” who claim to support free speech are generally lying. Do the institutions they control value free speech? How has “hate speech” come to be criminalized? Who established campus speech codes?

  54. Razib, would you explain the difference between your statement:

    I reject the legitimacy of the terms of the debate as it is presented by many on the Left and liberals

    and your implied criticism two sentences later:

    The Left has started to go full Marcuse, to the point where even the language used by conservatives is deemed illegitimate.

  55. @Stephen R. Diamond
    The test of commitment to free speech is to that of your worst enemies. Conservatives being open to the free speech of racists is far less weighty than conservatives of all stripes wishing to shut down the Muslim - which I'd call being against free speech.

    Why isn't commitment to free speech part of core conservative ideology? The only consistent supporters of free speech I'm aware of are various far leftists who have demanded "Free speech for fascists." I'm not inclined to trust anyone with power who would say anything less.

    Conservatives being open to the free speech of racists is far less weighty than conservatives of all stripes wishing to shut down the Muslim – which I’d call being against free speech.

    We don’t want to silence them. We want them to leave. They can yak all they want back home.

    Why isn’t commitment to free speech part of core conservative ideology?

    “Conservative ideology” is an oxymoron. Russell Kirk explained why.

  56. Talking as portuguese, watching these things from the other side of the sea, I have the impression that in the question of the “free speech” (specially at the universities) there is a mix of very different things.

    – a student being disciplined/expelled for saying “heterodox” things – IMO, it is a violation of free speech

    – a teacher disciplined/expelled for saying “heterodox” things – also a violation of free speach, but perhaps with some gray areas (imagine a holocaust denier – or perhaps a 9/11 truther? – as a history teacher)

    [in both cases, perhaps could also be a difference between things said in and outside the classroom]

    – a public figure invited by an university to make a speech and “des-invited” after protests – IMO, no violation of free speech (“free speech” does not include the right to be officially invited by an institution to make a speech)

    – a public figure invited by a group of students of an university to make a speech and “des-invited” after protests – at a general rule, I think that is a violation of free speech (in these case, the violation is more against the free speech of the group of students than against the free speech of the person in question); however, details could matter (the protesters made anything to prevent the speech to occur, or simply made an appeal to nobody attend the speech?)

    – a person in a position of authority forced to resign for saying “heterodox” things – if these things have a relation with their job, it is not a violation of free speech (the right to have your opinions does not imply to right to have authority to act according to these opinions); it they don’t, it is a violation of free speech (an example – the demission of Larry Summers is more acceptable than the demission of Brendam Eich)

    – “trigger-warnings” – if they are what I think they are, I think they are not, in anyway, a violation of free speech; the only problem seems to be a kind of “guilt by association”: the argument for “trigger warnings” is protecting some students from “trauma”, and it is also the “modern” argument for censorship (compare with the old censorship, who was worried that heterodox ideias could corrupt/pervert/manipulate some person, not hurt their feelngs)

  57. During times of war, some speech can also be giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Are we at war? By my lights, yes.

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