Monday, April 15, 2019

The World's Dumbest Humans

Niall Ferguson.

This can be uncomfortable for anyone accustomed to unquestioned status and veneration: but that’s life, if you believe speech should be free. For years, privileged men have been able to frame themselves as agents provocateurs – often spouting the kind of opinions a roaring, angry drunk on the night bus might, but with a plummy accent, an Oxford degree, and an overreliance on antiquated vocabulary – in columns in national newspapers. Their fury is not that they have been silenced – they have not – but that their victims have argued back, and they have been forced to bear responsibility for their words.

For centuries, powerful people have been allowed to pour their prejudices freely into the public discourse. Their free speech is still not remotely under threat – the pages of many newspapers globally, and the volley of abuse anyone other than a white, straight man on social media receives daily, should assure them of that. But for the first time, the people targeted by the right, especially the academic right, are fighting back. With free speech comes responsibility: borrowing the language and ideology of the far right, but cloaking it in a style lifted from Brideshead Revisited, fools no one.