Our "progressive" (not) left is becoming more and more domineering – hysterical, really – in its attempt to control what the rest of us see, hear, and read. In their quest to manipulate what we think, what we learn, leftists are resorting to tactics ridiculous, despotic, and sometimes violent. They are completely out of the closet with regard to the First Amendment; they want it expunged from the Constitution.
The latest in their bag of tricks is that speech that offends them constitutes violence! One Lisa Feldman Barrett wrote recently in the NYT that speech she opposes – that would be any speech defending conservative principles – causes stress, which causes grievous psychological harm. Her argument is a pitiful way of defending those students at Middlebury College who rioted when Charles Murray came to their campus to speak, during which time the professor who invited him was injured. She uses much bloviating academic blather to defend her untenable position and pretends to champion open debate but concludes by calling talks from a speaker like Milo Yiannopoulos a "campaign of abuse," too much to bear for college snowflakes. Milo may not be to everyone's taste, but no one is likely to be brain-damaged by hearing him speak.
Barrett sees scholarship such as Murray's as "repugnant and offensive" but not violent. Still, it is impossible to misunderstand her view that conservative speakers who challenge liberal dogma should not be allowed to be heard.
Barrett's argument that words can be psychologically damaging would ring true if she were discussing the verbal abuse visited upon the spouses and children of personality-disordered persons or on children bullied over a long period of time at school, but her contention that the words of conservative speakers equal violence is sheer nonsense. If speech were soul-destroying violence, the Founders would never have made it to the signing of the Constitution. They would have all been killed by the words of those who had opposed them since 1776.
Even more ridiculous than Barrett's "speech can be violent" theory is the case of artist Dana Schutz, whose best known work is a painting, "Open Casket," a portrait of the young black American Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955. David Marcus wrote about this bit of balderdash at The Federalist. Last week, at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, social justice warriors protested the exhibition of Schutz's work because she is white! It was the lie of a white woman that led to Till's death, so no white woman should be allowed to memorialize it. Schutz must be contaminated by the racism that caused the murder. Now these "progressive" tyrants want to dictate who can and who cannot create art. The ICA capitulated, and the painting was absent from the exhibition.
Perhaps the most bizarre protest by leftist activists is the drive to prevent Dennis Prager, longtime conservative radio host, author, founder of PragerUniversity, and music-lover, from conducting the Santa Monica Symphony Orchestra at Disney Hall in Los Angeles on August 16. Shockingly, members of that orchestra mounted a campaign to have Prager disinvited! Not shocking is the fact that they are also college professors. How utterly predictable. Who else but university professors would be so intolerant? Oh, the former mayor of Santa Monica made it clear he would not be attending a concert featuring a "bigoted hate-monger."
As Prager wrote, "this is a new low for the illiberal left: It is not enough to prevent conservatives from speaking; it is now necessary to prevent conservatives from appearing even when not speaking." So far, the board of directors has defied the protest.
Anyone who knows of Prager knows that the last thing he is is a bigoted hate-monger. That would be the illiberal left, who are the real bigots and hate-mongers.
From Barrett's opposition to anyone hearing Milo to those objecting to Dana Schutz's art to the idiots protesting Dennis Prager conducting part of a concert at Disney Hall, this level of intolerance is destroying American civil society. It is leftists who are the fascists, totalitarian, autocratic, and despotic.
Freedom of speech is part of the First Amendment for a good reason. The Founders knew that it was and would remain an inviolable aspect of individual liberty and human freedom. Those of the repressive left need to be ignored, if not to be mocked for their small-mindedness and for their obscene and destructive prejudice.