From The New Yorker:
Public universities have no choice but to welcome far-right speakers seeking self-promotion. Should the First Amendment be reinterpreted for the digital age?
By Andrew Marantz
… Many college administrators were forced to devote their scarce time and money to securing on-campus venues for pugnacious right-wing speakers such as Ann Coulter and David Horowitz; arch-conservative policy entrepreneurs such as Heather Mac Donald and Charles Murray; and avowed racists such as Richard Spencer. These are names that a lot of Americans would prefer to forget. All of these figures hold views that are divisive, or worse. …
It’s almost as if New Yorker readers are profitably assumed to be part of an ideological tribe with as strong territorialist emotions — How dare Bad Guys defile the sacred turf of Berkeley? — as Glasgow soccer hooligans beating tourists from Milan.
But if you were as lucid as, say, Berkeley professor Judith Butler, you’d understand that Good Guys are Good. The masked vigilante Antifa Black Bloc might look like thugs, but they are Our Thugs, and that’s what counts.
Berkeley’s turf is sacred not because of some principle made about Free Speech in the 1960s but because that’s where Our Team beat Your Team. And the fact that Your Team is now appealing to the logic of Our Team’s rationalization of our triumph to contest our control of our turf just proves you are the Bad Guys.
Plus, free speech is bad for Berkeley’s balanced budget:
… the literal cost to U.C. Berkeley, in security fees alone, was likely to exceed a million dollars. The university had a budget deficit of more than a hundred million dollars, with less funding coming from the state in recent years. “Would I rather devote our precious resources to more class sections, overdue building repairs, or many other things we badly need?”
I asked john powell what he thought about the rhetorical tactic of conflating speech with bodily harm. “Consider the classic liberal justification for free speech,” he said. “ ‘Your right to throw punches ends at the tip of my nose.’ This is taken to mean that speech can never cause any kind of injury. But we have learned a lot about the brain that John Stuart Mill didn’t know. So these students are asking, ‘Given what we now know about stereotype threat and trauma and P.T.S.D., where is the tip of our nose, exactly?’” …
A picture of a brain scan would make all this Sciencey Stuff even clearer …
Later that fall, Judith Butler, the cultural theorist and Berkeley professor, spoke at a forum sponsored by the Berkeley Academic Senate. “If free speech does take precedence over every other constitutional principle and every other community principle, then perhaps we should no longer claim to be weighing or balancing competing principles or values,” Butler said. “We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech.”
Judith Butler was the winner of the 1998 Philosophy and Literature Bad Writing Contest for the following sentence:
The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.
Some budget items are sacred.