Do you remember Laura Kipnis?
Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern had the temerity to challenge the current campus orthodoxy over rape culture and trigger warnings. She did it in a publication called The Chronical of Higher Education.
Her article was excellent. I posted about it here.
As though to prove her right a battalion of Northwestern students decided to protest. Like the Brown Shirts of yore, they wanted Kipnis to be punished for hurting their feelings… by which I mean, for expressing cultural values that ran counter to theirs.
Michelle Goldberg wrote about these vulnerable darlings in The Nation… of all places:
… including, apparently, their vulnerability to articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education. As the protesters wrote on a Facebook page for their event, they wanted the administration to do something about “the violence expressed by Kipnis’ message.” Their petition called for “swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article,” and demanded “that in the future, this sort of response comes automatically.”
Note well that these enemies of the first amendment have decided that Kipnis engaged in violent speech. To their minds, such speech needs to be punished. They are functioning within a crime/guilt/punishment paradigm.
To which Goldberg responded by pointing out the contradiction inherent in the students’ message. Truth be told, she was not the first to do so, but she presented it well:
It’s easy to sympathize with the young feminists’ desire to combine maximal sexual freedom with maximal sexual safety. Yet there are contradictions between a feminism that emphasizes women’s erotic agency and desire to have sex on equal terms with men, and a feminism that stresses their erotic vulnerability and need to be shielded from even the subtlest forms of coercion. The politics of liberation are an uneasy fit with the politics of protection. A rigid new set of taboos has emerged to paper over this tension, often expressed in a therapeutic language of trauma and triggers that everyone is obliged to at least pretend to take seriously.
Perhaps it’s time to stop pretending. We do better to denounces and dismiss these assaults against free speech.