Latest college shenanigans by the Regressive Left: censorship at Pomona and UCLA; Wellesley student paper publishes “we need free speech but. . . ” editorial

Several readers have pointed out that 29 people from the Claremont College group (a consortium of 5 schools) signed a letter saying that “objectivity” and “truth” are not real, but are bogus ideas used to “silence oppressed people” and promote white supremacy . The student letter (full version here), addressed to Pomona College President David Oxtoby, is a response to an email Oxtoby sent about Heather Mac Donald’s April 7 talk at Claremont McKenna College’s (CMC) Athenaeum. (MacDonald, who describes herself as a “secular conservative”, talked—or tried to talk (see below)—about her book The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe, which, according to Amazon, makes this argument:

It deconstructs the central narrative of the Black Lives Matter movement: that racist cops are the greatest threat to young black males. On the contrary, it is criminals and gangbangers who are responsible for the high black homicide death rate.

The War on Cops exposes the truth about officer use of force and explodes the conceit of “mass incarceration.” A rigorous analysis of data shows that crime, not race, drives police actions and prison rates. The growth of proactive policing in the 1990s, along with lengthened sentences for violent crime, saved thousands of minority lives. In fact, Mac Donald argues, no government agency is more dedicated to the proposition that “black lives matter” than today’s data-driven, accountable police department.

In today’s political climate, where some argue that all police are racist and nearly all black people killed by cops are instances of racism, you can see why this thesis would be controversial. But it’s not “hate speech,” and it’s certainly worth discussing the data. Mac Donald argues that many black communities want more policing because of the prevalance of black-on-black crime.

When Mac Donald spoke at Pomona (she had to be livestreamed because students blocked the entrance to the auditorium), pandemonium ensued (see below), and Oxtoby wrote an email that inspired the student response. The President, according to the Atlantic (which defended Mac Donald’s right to speak) said this among other things in his defense of free speech:

“Protest has a legitimate and celebrated place on college campuses” . . . “What we cannot support is the act of preventing others from engaging with an invited speaker. Our mission is founded upon the discovery of truth, the collaborative development of knowledge and the betterment of society. Our shared commitment to these values is critical to educating leaders who are prepared to craft solutions to the most complex problems we face.”

That didn’t sit well with the Claremont students, who responded with their ridiculous denial of the concept of “truth” and demanded that President Oxtoby not only answer their letter, but also issue an email retracting his initial defense of free speech. Because only 29 student signed the letter, I won’t analyze it in detail; suffice it to say that this is what happens when postmodernism meets Regressive Leftism, promoting prose laden with jargon and buzzwords, as well as invidious denial of a concept of truth. An excerpt from the student letter:

[Oxtoby’s] statement contains unnuanced views surrounding the academy and a belief in searching for some venerated truth. Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples. The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain. This construction is a myth and white supremacy, imperialism, colonization, capitalism, and the United States of America are all of its progeny. The idea that the truth is an entity for which we must search, in matters that endanger our abilities to exist in open spaces, is an attempt to silence oppressed peoples. We, Black students, exist with a myriad of different identities. We are queer, trans, differently-abled, poor/low-income, undocumented, Muslim, first-generation and/or immigrant, and positioned in different spaces across Africa and the African diaspora. The idea that we must subject ourselves routinely to the hate speech of fascists who want for us not to exist plays on the same Eurocentric constructs that believed Black people to be impervious to pain and apathetic to the brutal and violent conditions of white supremacy.

The letter goes on to accuse Mac Donald of being “a white supremacist fascist supporter of the police state”, and also demands that if anybody sends hate mail to or harasses the letter’s signatories, the senders be punished, up to expulsion. Finally, it demands that Oxtoby take action against  against The Claremont Independent, a conservative student paper, for “its continual perpetuation of hate speech, anti-Blackness, and intimidation toward students of marginalized backgrounds.”

But expulsion didn’t apply to those who disrupted Mac Donald’s talk at Pomona, one of the most egregious examples of an attempt to shut down an invited speaker and of a university’s administration and security standing by passively and allowing the censorship to happen. You can read Mac Donald’s account of her talk, a piece called “Get up, stand up“, at City Journal.  It also details the fracas that ensued when she spoke at UCLA the previous day. It’s pretty disturbing, and worth reading in its entirety (it’s not very long). As far as Mac Donald and I know, no students have ever been punished for disrupting a speaker, but that has to happen if these disruptions are to stop. As Mac Donald concludes:

We are cultivating students who lack all understanding of the principles of the American Founding. The mark of any civilization is its commitment to reason and discourse. The great accomplishment of the European enlightenment was to require all forms of authority to justify themselves through rational argument, rather than through coercion or an unadorned appeal to tradition. The resort to brute force in the face of disagreement is particularly disturbing in a university, which should provide a model of civil discourse.

But the students currently stewing in delusional resentments and self-pity will eventually graduate, and some will seize levers of power more far-reaching than those they currently wield over toadying campus bureaucrats and spineless faculty. Unless the campus zest for censorship is combatted now, what we have always regarded as a precious inheritance could be eroded beyond recognition, and a soft totalitarianism could become the new American norm.

Finally, in an editorial whose title alone tells you it’s a lie, read “Free speech is not violated at Wellesley“, in the Wellesley News, the student paper at a University rife with Regressive Leftism. You can probably tell from the title that this is a “we need free speech but. . .” piece, with the “but” dealing with “hate speech”. Here’s an excerpt:

Many members of our community, including students, alumnae and faculty, have criticized the Wellesley community for becoming an environment where free speech is not allowed or is a violated right. Many outside sources have painted us as a bunch of hot house flowers who cannot exist in the real world. However, we fundamentally disagree with that characterization, and we disagree with the idea that free speech is infringed upon at Wellesley. Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.

Wellesley students are generally correct in their attempts to differentiate what is viable discourse from what is just hate speech. Wellesley is certainly not a place for racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, transphobia or any other type of discriminatory speech. Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech; it is hate speech. The founding fathers put free speech in the Constitution as a way to protect the disenfranchised and to protect individual citizens from the power of the government. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable, no matter how hateful and damaging.

Wrong to a large extent: free speech was put in the U.S. Bill of Rights to allow airing of all views that don’t call for immediate violence but permit a clash of freely expressed views as the best way to find truth and efficacious policies in a democracy. The First Amendment is not there to “protect the disenfranchised”! There are other such protections.

Finally, the Wellesley editorial implicitly threatens harassment or violence against students who don’t get properly “educated” about “hate speech” (shades of the Cultural Revolution!):

This being said, if people are given the resources to learn and either continue to speak hate speech or refuse to adapt their beliefs, then hostility may be warranted. If people continue to support racist politicians or pay for speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others, then it is critical to take the appropriate measures to hold them accountable for their actions. It is important to note that our preference for education over beration regards students who may have not been given the chance to learn. Rather, we are not referring to those who have already had the incentive to learn and should have taken the opportunities to do so. Paid professional lecturers and politicians are among those who should know better.

We at The Wellesley News, are not interested in any type of tone policing. The emotional labor required to educate people is immense and is additional weight that is put on those who are already forced to defend their human rights. There is no denying that problematic opinions need to be addressed in order to stop Wellesley from becoming a place where hate speech and casual discrimination is okay.

The editorial, very poorly written for a college full of smart students, shows how far this “hate speech” cancer has spread. Let me provide for you Coyne’s Glossary for the words at issue:

“free speech”: Speech that you like because it comports with your ideology
“hate speech”: Speech you don’t like because it challenges your ideology
“Nazi”: Anyone uttering “hate speech” (see above).
“White supremacist”: See “Nazi”
“emotional labor”: Having to argue your case rationally—something to be avoided at all costs when you can simply call people names (see “Nazi”)


  1. Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    (Only) about 1% of all homicides in the USA are police on civilian.

    About 93% of blacks murdered in the USA are murdered by other blacks.

    Of course we need to carefully investigate all police shootings/killings. But, as Sam Harris has noted, it is distinctly unhelpful to lump all police shootings into the bucket “racist-inspired murder”, which is what BLM seems to be advocating.

    They run the gamut of “any sane person would have done the same” to “obviously this cop should never have been given a badge & gun and let loose on the street” and everything in between.

    As you note, let’s discuss the data. Calling any dissent (from your obviously 100% correct opinion /sarcasm) “hate speech” is just moronic. But it’s perfectly exemplary of the regressive left.

    • eric
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      we need to carefully investigate all police shootings/killings.

      That’s going to be difficult, given that most local police forces only report justified shootings that result in homicide to the FBI. IOW after a cop kills someone, the local force does an investigation. If they like the results of that investigation, they’ll report it. If they don’t like the results, they don’t report the incident.

      Gee, its almost like they’re undercounting police murder of citizens on purpose, isn’t it?

      • Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:41 am | Permalink

        If that’s indeed the case, then you’re right, it’s going to be difficult. Incredibly difficult. Still, we have to do that incredibly difficult work. We definitely don’t get to jump to convenient conclusions because the work is difficult.

      • mikeyc
        Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

        “If they like the results of that investigation, they’ll report it. If they don’t like the results, they don’t report the incident.”

        Do you have evidence for this claim? If it’s true I am astonished.

        • eric
          Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Here you go. Straight from the FBI itself (but my bold): “The FBI’s UCR Program is a nationwide, cooperative statistical effort of more than 18,000 city, university and college, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies voluntarily reporting data on crimes brought to their attention…”

          I believe that, somewhat similar to the UK, there is always an investigation when a cop shoots a citizen. But (a) who conducts it is a matter of local and state law, (b) it’s not necessarily an independent investigation (i.e., the force on which the shooter is employed often conducts the investigation), and (c) their is no federal requirement that they report the results to any federal crime-data collecting body.

          • mikeyc
            Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

            Thank you for responding, Eric but you didn’t address my question. I know that reporting is voluntary (see my comment to Coel below). But you made the claim that local law enforcement agencies do not report investigations of police shootings “they don’t like”. What you posted does not support that claim.

            • eric
              Posted April 21, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

              Ah. Well your question made me do some more digging, and I have to say that I was wrong in my extrapolation but that the real answer is somewhat even more disturbing.

              I had initially thought that the fact that the UCR reports a number of ‘justifiable homicides’ by officers but not murders by them implied that local police forces preferentially report only the homicides they find through investigation to be justifiable. This is not the case. Instead, the FBI classifies any report of a killing by an officer in the line of duty as a justifiable homicide, no matter what the circumstances. What’s more, while they do track statistics on the relationship between killer and victim (see the UCR’s “Expanded Homicide Data Table 10”), absent from that table is anything like ‘arresting officer’, because the FBI’s categorization doesn’t count such events as murders (homicide, yes, murder, no – and despite the title, table 10 is about murders. So police shootings won’t show up on it).

              You should also look up the two articles submitted to the Senate Judiciary committee as part of some investigation. Google “How many police shootings a year? No one knows
              By Wesley Lowery” and it’s the pdf that pops up (though he’s the author of the first submitted document, not the compiler or the author of the whole thing). This quote, from the second article, is particularly interesting: “Some agencies said they didn’t view justifiable homicides by law-enforcement officers as events that should be reported. The Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia, for example, said it didn’t consider such cases to be an “actual offense,” and thus doesn’t report them to the FBI.”

      • Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:47 am | Permalink

        If they don’t like the results, they don’t report the incident.

        Is that really true? In the UK there is automatically an independent investigation whenever anyone is shot by the police (though they do only shoot about 2 or 3 a year).

        • mikeyc
          Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          In the U.S. local law enforcement agencies are not required to report police shootings to the FBI. As it turns out, not many do.

          Irrespective of Eric’s claims, the most commonly cited reason is that they just can’t be arsed to do it. Their excuse normally is they are already overburdened with work and they aren’t going to do anything they are not required to. The FBI has no authority over other police forces, so the attitude is not surprising.

          However, because it makes sense to have some repository on national data, beginning this year(!), the goal is to have all police agencies report shooting by their officers to the FBI so accurate tallies can be made. Many localities still don’t require their police forces to comply, but almost all are now. One would hope they are because they are interested in rigorous study and a desire to know the truth.


        • Posted April 22, 2017 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

          Eric is just fantasizing that the “voluntary” aspect of the program means depts are free to include some data points while leaving out others. In actuality, either they submit data or they don’t.

    • J. Quinton
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

      “About 93% of blacks murdered in the USA are murdered by other blacks.”

      And about 85% of whites in the USA are murdered by other whites.

      About 95% of all victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslim.

      I could go on. But the fact remains that saying [high] percentage of [group] are killed by [same group] is axiomatic; people aren’t killed randomly. Like all other crimes, they’re committed by people they know or who are in their immediate community.

      The >90% of blacks killed who are killed by other blacks is a complete red-herring and an irrelevancy. Those murders are still considered crimes. No one denies that they’re crimes.

      What’s atypical is when [outgroup] kills [ingroup]. But at least it’s still prosecuted. The worst possible version of this is when people who are supposed to be *upholding and enforcing the law* are breaking the law by murdering people. And those murders are not prosecuted.

      No one bats an eye when an Islamic terrorist kills another Muslim. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what happens. But when a non-radicalized Muslim is killed by outside forces — especially outside forces that are supposed to be the ones *combating Islamic terrorism* — that’s particularly heinous. And the parties responsible should be held accountable.

      If police aren’t held accountable, if they have a blue wall of silence that either doctors up police reports to hide crimes or prevents any investigation, then we have a “who watches the watchers” situation. If they don’t accept accountability, if they don’t accept oversight, then they can kill without impunity.

      And that’s not law enforcement. That’s terrorism.

      • Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

        “The worst possible version of this is when people who are supposed to be *upholding and enforcing the law* are breaking the law by murdering people. And those murders are not prosecuted.”

        I completely agree.

        Do you think every police-on-(black)civilian shooting is racially-motivated murder?

        Everyone seems to be missing this point:

        “it is distinctly unhelpful to lump all police shootings into the bucket “racist-inspired murder”” (Every case is different.)

        And: It might make sense to go after the 93% of the problem instead of the <1% of the problem.

        As noted, I fully support investigating, by outside persons, every police-on-civilian shooting.

        I heard the Ramsey County Attorney, John Choi, explain the evidence he has for prosecuting the officer, by Jeronimo Yanez, in the Philando Castile shooting case. I am convinced Yanez is guilty of a crime in this case, of being amazingly stupid/negligent if nothing else, more likely manslaughter.

        I'm skeptical that police get away with simply not reporting shootings/killings. (It's not like nobody is noticing these when they happen.) I'd like to see data on that. If that's actually the case, I am (obviously) strongly in favor of making that illegal.

        My main point is the first one I quoted above: ""it is distinctly unhelpful to lump all police shootings into the bucket “racist-inspired murder”"".

        • Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

          And: It might make sense to go after the 93% of the problem instead ofin addition to the <1% of the problem.

      • Posted April 22, 2017 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        You protest an alleged non sequitur by producing a string of non sequiturs.

        The rate at which blacks are fatally shot by police is consistent with the rate at which they encounter police, which is consistent with the rate of commission of crimes by blacks.

        Since some people can’t accept the fact that blacks commit crimes at a rate three times higher than their representation in the population, they must postulate — without evidence — a systemic, racist, hidden conspiracy of a massive scale to explain the discomfiting data.

  2. Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    Those 29 CMC students are well on their way to being experts at the Post-modern bullshit language of obscurantism.

    • Denise
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      No doubt they were well taught.

  3. Sastra
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    The idea that there is a single truth–’the Truth’–is a construct of the Euro-West that is deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which was a movement that also described Black and Brown people as both subhuman and impervious to pain.

    Well, that may be true for YOU — but it’s not true for me. So it’s not objectively “true” at all. There was no such thing as the Enlightenment, and nobody ever described Black and Brown people that way. Colonialism never happened, discrimination never happened, and no police officer has ever unnecessarily shot a person of color. There is not even a fact of the matter concerning the existence of police officers, or people of color.

    No. If you’re fighting oppression, a more accurate discernment of the likely truth is your friend, not The Enemy.

    • Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      This is the problem I ran into a lot in social services. How can you use the both/and paradigm of truth without using the either/or? It’s either both/and or either/or. Unconditional tolerance is a nice sentiment, but impossible to live out. If a boundary marker is out of place, change it, don’t remove it.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

      Those who deny objective truth can demonstrate both their sincerity and the reality of non-objective knowledge by stepping off the highest building on campus. Free yourself from mental slavery and overthrow the false objectivity of a dead white male.

      • Richard
        Posted April 22, 2017 at 3:51 am | Permalink

        Perhaps, Wil E Coyote style, they will be able to walk on air, buoyed up by their unshakable belief system, just as long as they don’t look down.

        In the past I have suggested that such people walk off a cliff – but only a very low cliff, as I am not really that cruel.

        If Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’ is really a rape manual, according to these nutters, what is his ‘Law of Universal Gravitation’? A racist diktat to keep POC subordinate to white imperialist colonialists? After all, it does describe force (oppression!) acting between masses (the under-privileged marginalized masses) and bodies (the ruling bodies of white supremacy)!

  4. Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    It’s hard not to call these students names. Ignorant springs immediately to mind.

    Who (freakin’) appointed you to be the central censor and decide what free speech is acceptable [you foolish students]?

    You [students] are simply ignorant of the principle of free speech. It exists to protect speech you don’t like. That’s the entire point.

    The emotional labor of educating you on this point is getting pretty oppressive!

    • DrBrydon
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      They fundamentally reject their characterization as hot-house flowers, but it is singularly apt. They are ill-prepared for the open world.

      • Michiel van Haren
        Posted April 21, 2017 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

        Let’s hope so, though I’m afraid they are already changing the “open world” to their liking. And they will soon occupy positions of power, maybe not so much in business, but all the more in politics, school boards etc…
        Many of them will become “diversity officer” or something like that and hold terrible power over other people.

  5. Historian
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    The Newseum Institute’s First Amendment Center has a page devoted to FAQs on the First Amendment. Here is one pertinent to the discussion.

    Can people who oppose a speaker’s message use their ‘freedom of speech’ to drown out the offending words?

    This is called a “heckler’s veto.” The problem with it is that, far from advancing understanding, it inhibits it. Freedom of speech was guaranteed in the First Amendment so that a full range of ideas would be available on matters of public interest. The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment as it pertains to public college campuses over the past 80-90 years is derived in part from J.S. Mill’s essay, “On Liberty,” in which he asserted that:

    “… the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

    Students are not allowed to drown out the lectures of a professor in the classroom without disciplinary action, because doing so disrupts the school’s academic purpose. Guest speakers are allowed on campus in order to offer different and broader perspectives, thereby addressing the school’s purpose. So, student speech that would drown out a controversial guest therefore can be prohibited.
    However, institutions ideally will not simply silence students wishing to protest against a campus speaker. They may restrict student protesters to an appropriate forum, thus allowing both exercises of free speech to occur.


    This explanation makes clear that dissenting opinions, however noxious one may find them, is at the heart of why the First Amendment exists. Since so many students, at least the vocal ones, seem not to grasp this, the question arises as to where they acquired their distorted views of freedom of speech. One possibility is that in their adolescent idealistic naivety they become susceptible to arguments that seem to advocate the right things to protect the “marginalized.” What they seem to lack is any understanding of what freedom of speech actually means, which could be remedied by courses in American history and what used to be called civics. Ignorance is not limited to those who lack a college degree.

    • mikeyc
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

      I think you have too much faith in civics classes to remedy the problem.

      But I really commented to say I enjoy reading yours here. Very often I learn something. This is true of a number of regulars here (and our host, of course).

  6. BJ
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    Quote from the students: ” Historically, white supremacy has venerated the idea of objectivity, and wielded a dichotomy of ‘subjectivity vs. objectivity’ as a means of silencing oppressed peoples”

    I think this basically sums things up: the facts don’t fit our narrative, so facts and truth are tools of oppression and we rely on the “lived experiences” (i.e. stories) of people instead. When it’s demonstrated through analysis of facts that more white people are killed by police than black people each year. and that police only account for a couple hundred deaths in black communities each year while crime accounts for thousands. then truth is white supremacy. Anything that doesn’t agree with us is white supremacy, and if you disagree with that, you’re a white supremacist.

    According to the latest released statistics, the data shows that the number of black victims of police shootings is proportional to the amount of crime in the community: 24% of crime is committed by black people, and 26% of police shootings are committed against black people. So there’s clearly no racist epidemic going on in police shootings against the black community. If these are the facts, then the facts are racist because anything that shows BLM or regressives to be wrong is racist, and if you don’t believe that, you’re racist too.

    • Kevin
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

      These students need to take a lesson from Neil Degrasse Tyson: facts are the only narrative worth having and that’s what science does: searches for facts, uncovers them, and then demonstrably reproduces them.

  7. eric
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    Rather, our Wellesley community will not stand for hate speech, and will call it out when possible.

    I wonder if they even see the irony in that sentence.

    • Martin Knowles
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I don’t see the irony. It’s going to depend on what they (or you) understand by “hate speech.” We really need a good agreed-upon definition of hate speech.

      • Posted April 22, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        To me, the irony is that the speech of these students and others of their ilk is full of hate.

        • Martin Knowles
          Posted April 22, 2017 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

          Fear, perhaps, but not hate. At least, no more hate than we see on this thread toward these students.

          • Posted April 22, 2017 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think they are in fear. They are pompous and arrogant, like noblemen in pre-revolutionary Europe.

            As for hate, I can say that I personally hate them. I have suffered from people talking like them. The difference between them and me is that I do not want them silenced by force.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    The notion of subjective vs. objective largely has its origin in 19th century formulations of the scientific method and in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.
    Among scientists the watchword became ‘Let nature speak for itself’. In the wake of this was born random sampling and double-blind trials (first used to measure the effects of caffeine). Some have argued this is not completely possible (such as Thomas Kuhn and more radically his disciples.)

    The quarter-truth (or is it the nickel and dime-truth??) of the Wellesley students is that a body of people can easily persuade themselves that something is objectively true when they are wearing blinders in a big-time way, and in the 19th century a lot of racist ideas were being justified by allegedly scientific forms of reasoning.
    But what would these folks make of Steven Jay Gould’s “The Mismeasure of Man”?? This book explains well what is really wrong with all forms of ‘science’-based racism- why they are actually pseudo-science.

    Oh, and, the First Amendment first and foremost defends the press.

  9. Zach
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    We at The Wellesley News, are not interested in any type of tone policing.

    I’ve been trying to put my finger on what I particularly dislike about these people, and I think I have it. It has to do with that word, “tone.” What they write, and the postmodern buzzwords they use, certainly bug me, but not nearly as much as the tone in which they express them. Why?

    Because it is not the tone of radicals. It’s similar, to be sure, but the note of earnestness which any honest radical would have is distinctly lacking. Instead of earnestness I hear condescension. These people are not radicals. They’re not trying to critique and reform an existing status quo. They’re trying to establish a different one—via thoroughly authoritarian methods. Those sentences about “educating” people out of their racism practically made me shudder.

    Again, it’s that tone: “We don’t just know what’s good, we know what’s good for you.” Blech.

    • Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Oh, those re-education camps already exist — if you are a public school teacher.

      My wife recently had to attend a day-long program where, more or less, the presenter spent the entire day telling the assembled (largely white) group of teachers that they are all racists. (While knowing basically nothing about them beyond what they could see by looking at them: Race, age, sex, possession of a college degree (they were all accredited teachers).)

      And you were required to agree with it. Remarkably reminiscent of the “confession” trials of enemies of Stalin in the 30s.

      • Zach
        Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that’s the other thing: this notion of “unconscious bias,” i.e. thought-crime, which is endemic to everyone not explicitly aligned with the cause.

        It’s not enough to curb actual discrimination. We have to expunge people’s cortexes of wrong-think. It’s racist to even have a racist thought and considered just as bad, in principle, as acting like a racist.

        These people aren’t trying to enlighten America; they’re trying to purify it.

        • Randy schenck
          Posted April 21, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

          Purify, I don’t think I’d call it that. Maybe their own modern form of McCarthyism.

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    …speakers that prop up speech that will lead to the harm of others…

    There’s that harm thing again. The Wellesley editorial, as is typical in this argument, elides the connection between speech and harm. Apparently, certain things said by certain people (who says it is more important than what is said) cause harm. Implicit in this is that the harm is sufficient to require action. Our tradition of law, with its protections of defendants, has standards for what constitutes harm, and a victim or plaintiff merely stating that he was harmed isn’t enough. The law doesn’t recognize this speech as harmful, and does recognize that censoring it would be harmful.

    I continue to be amazed that the argument over free speech isn’t being framed by its defenders as an question of who would do the censoring. For all the value of free and open debate, the primary benefit starts with avoiding tyranny of the majority. Since the current proponents of censorship self-identify as minorities, I would think this would be a forceful argument.

  11. Christopher Bonds
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Who determines whether a particular string of words is “hate speech,” I wonder?

  12. Denise
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    “…or refuse to adapt their beliefs”

    That’s the scariest part.

  13. Heather Hastie
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    In their list of issues the students include Islamophobia. This is a bug-bear of mine. There is a genuine problem of Muslimophobia in much of the West. It cannot and should not be conflated with a dislike of the religion of Islam. As we all here are aware, Islam is just a set of ideas, like every other religion. Everyone should be free to both believe or criticize and dislike any set of ideas. I’m heartily sick of the idea that criticizing Islam is a problem. That’s accepting that blasphemy is a real thing.

    The distinction must be made between prejudice against Muslims and criticism of Islam. For example, I heard Greg Gutfeld of Fox News yesterday insisting that the man who murdered three white men was a terrorist because he said Allah u akbar as police were about to shoot him. Gutfeld was quite hot under the collar about this. If the man had appealed to his god in any language other than Arabic, Gutfeld wouldn’t be insisting the man was a terrorist. To me it seems Gutfeld is Muslimophobic, and that’s the word we should be using. The murderer was racist. He was not also a terrorist. He killed white men he didn’t know at random. Any one of those men could have been Muslim himself.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Might go so far as to say – if the guy had said, Praise the Lord they would declare that he was troubled or sick, not even racist.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 21, 2017 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

        Yep. Another example. We’re told that the man that filmed himself killing a elderly man, put it on Facebook, and blamed his ex-girlfriend was a “Good Christian with a Good Heart”. Give me a break. Blaming his ex makes him a complete a-hole, whether or not he’s mentally ill. And whatever else it did, Christianity didn’t teach him to take responsibility for his own actions.

    • Filippo
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      “In their list of issues the students include Islamophobia.”

      I want to hear them talk about Islamofascism.

    • Posted April 22, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      “Allahu akbar” is a routine cry of Islamist terrorists as they are committing their terror acts. I do not know about other terrorists, e.g. IRA members, to appeal to G*d while doing terror, so I think Gutfeld is justified.

      I agree that the terror act was racist at the same time. American black racists have taken Islam as their banner a long time ago, and this fact alone should be food for thought to everyone who claim that Islam is just another religion. As for the chance that a victim could be a fellow Muslim, this has never stopped any Muslim terrorist.

      To me, it is out of question that the murder was a terror act. The perpetrator wanted the survivors to shiver, be it because they are white or because they are non-Muslim. Unfortunately, terror has become so mainstream today that, instead of accusing terrorists, we accuse those who accuse them.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted April 22, 2017 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Allah u akbar is a routine saying by all Muslims, not just Islamist terrorists. They say it all the time in normal conversation. It has become associated with Islamist terrorists because of the media.

        I am the last person to defend Islam. It’s currently the most dangerous of all religions in my opinion. We have to be careful though not to make every criminal act by Muslims automatically a terrorist act.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 22, 2017 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

          Agreed there. If we assume the same rate of criminality among Muslims as among the rest of the population, a lot of them (numerically) are going to commit crimes.

          (I could also note cynically the number of crims in jail who discover Christianity…)


        • Posted April 26, 2017 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

          It is not a routine saying; I have seen it in non-Islamist comments during the Libyan revolution, but I have never heard a Muslim actually say it. So it is either reserved for extraordinary situations or is a cry of fundamentalist Muslims (who are not all terrorists, of course). The media just transmitted what Islamist terrorists say when killing in the name of Islam. Now, right-wing sites are claiming that some mainstream media are omitting the “Allahu akbar” from their reports about the hate-motivated murder.
          I agree with your last sentence, but I also think we should try not to err in the opposite direction, such as when the Oklahoma beheading was classified as “workplace violence”. When the perpetrator of a hate crime or a terror act is Muslim, black or both, the degree of denial is astonishing.

  14. Martin Knowles
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Just curious as to whether or not you (Dr. Coyne) make a distinction between “free speech” and “hate speech”? What would your position be toward hate speech, if there is such a thing? Would you allow it on your campus? Thanks.

    • Paul S
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Lots of posts on hate speech. Just use the search bar, upper left side of page.

    • Randy schenck
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Hate speech isn’t covered in the first amendment, so what is your point? There is now – Hate Crimes but that is also a legal thing isn’t it.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted April 21, 2017 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

      “Hate speech” isn’t a legally recognized concept in the United States, either under our criminal laws or the First Amendment to our Constitution. The remedy for “hate speech,” like the remedy for any other type of noxious discourse, is enlightened speech to counteract its harmful effects.

    • nicky
      Posted April 22, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      I think ‘hate speech’ is like ‘racist’, it really exists (cf. eg. ‘Radio Mille Collines’), but the epithet has been used so frequently, loosely and inappropriately as to have become virtually meaningless. Just like ‘racist’, or ‘Nazi’ for that matter.

    • Jim Smith
      Posted April 23, 2017 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      Telling blacks that their biggest problem is not cops is not hate speech.

  15. loren russell
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile, since I’ve come up empty on science/skepticism in my rounds of favorite blogs/websites today, I’ll console myself with the news releases on Homo floresiensis — pre H.erectus, maybe pre-H. habilis!

  16. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I disagree with almost everything these right-wingers causing such a ruckus by speaking on campus have to say, but — JESUS ACHE CRIMONY — if someone on campus wants to hear them, let them speak, already.

    The university isn’t endorsing speakers merely by allowing them to traipse onto campus to appear before some group that sees fit to invite them. And no one’s self-esteem can possibly be so ephemeral as to be effaced merely by the specter of someone saying words they find repugnant.

    This is ideological “puritanism,” as Mencken defined that term — the haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be enjoying themselves by doing something you disapprove of.

    • Jim Smith
      Posted April 23, 2017 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

      What ‘ruckus’ are right wing speakers causing. That would be the loony toon lefties causing it. Nice reframing of the topic. If it had been a picture it would be hanging upside down.

  17. Merilee
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Permalink


  18. mfdempsey1946
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    During the 1960s, there were counter-culture protesters who in some ways resembled those being described in stories like this one.

    But even those who often prefigured today’s snowflakes and virtue signalers also fought effectively for civil rights, feminism, and ending the Vietnam War.

    They actually made contributions to the betterment of US society, contributions that the present crowd often seems anxious to dismantle. In tandem, intentionally or not, with the Trump creature and his minions.

    On the other hand, some would-be radicals of the Sixties were also constantly emitting blasts of self-important self-righteousness derived from Classic Comix editions of Karl Marx, Mao Tse-Tung, Bertolt Brecht, and others whom they were pleased to anoint as direct antecedents of their own noble selves.

    On one occasion, while listening to a group of them sound off about “the revolution,” no less a figure than Norman Mailer, who was anything but a shrinking violet when it came to over-the-top rhetoric, reportedly remarked, “I’m not sure I want a revolution. Some of these kids are awfully dumb.”

  19. KCS
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Just wanted to compliment you on your ‘glossary’. Very Ambrose Bierce – devil’s dictionary like. Thanks.

    • Richard
      Posted April 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

      It reminds me of the ‘Withit Collegiate Dictionary’ in Poul Anderson’s 1972 yarn ‘There Will Be Time’. See


      Activist: A person employing tactics in the cause of liberation which, when used by a fascist, are known as McCarthyism and repression.

      Chauvinism: Belief of any Western White man that there is anything to be said for his country, civilization, race, sex, or self.

  20. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted April 21, 2017 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    “We at The Wellesley News, are not interested in any type of tone policing.” Really? What else are they doing?

    What a bunch of lamebrained idiots.

    (It gives me some morbid satisfaction that, according to their lights, that comment of mine just caused them actual grievous harm).


  21. Sebastian
    Posted April 22, 2017 at 7:06 am | Permalink

    “…this is what happens when postmodernism meets Regressive Leftism”

    In my understanding postmodernism doesn’t merely meet Regressive Leftism, it caused it.

%d bloggers like this: