Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The Greatest Obstacle To Participation In Public Debate

I get why conservatives want to say "lefty college students" though I don't actually get why centrist-types who claim to be liberals do, other than "that hot hippie chick who sold Socialist Worker papers when I was at Ann Arbor laughed at my small penis."

Most people don't have the luxury of being able to "say what they want" without facing potential lifelong financial ruin, and I don't mean because of libel/defamation suits. I mean because most of us exist in a precarious at will employment existence. A few "idiotic"* college students yelling at Charles Murray, who will be paid quite nicely no matter what, don't qualify as anything worth remarking on.

As with the "pundit defense force" generally, which battles people choose says a lot about them. Even elite college students mostly have no power, and often the "idiots" doing these things are members of marginalized groups who have good reason to object to racists and homophobes and misogynists, who already get paid to write things for our elite publications, getting a stage and a microphone in their communities. The heckler's veto is still speech, and it's unclear why it's more offensive speech than "paying a racist a bunch of money out of your tuition fees." The man with the microphone has already been granted a disproportionate voice and you have to yell to be heard above the sound system. There is no "debate among equals" in these situations.

*I don't necessarily agree that they are "idiotic" (depends!) but I don't feel like arguing specific cases here. Just making the point that what a few college students at a few elite campuses do does not matter one bit unless you imagine you are one of those people who will be paid money to go talk at college students and might, also, too, be yelled at.