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Friday, August 11, 2017

Virtue as a contest

I was listening to a recent FIRE podcast, an interview with Freddy DeBoer.  DeBoer makes the point that virtue is competitive in social media. To compete with others to arrive at a more virtuous position involves evolving to ever more "ridiculous" positions. One example he uses is the idea that the phrase "I see what you mean" is "ableist" in its exclusion of blind people.

If virtue is a competition, it is a competition for social status. DeBoer also points out that contemporary "intersectionality" on college campuses tends to leave out class. Why? Because these are people who are in a privileged, largely upper-middle class cocoon.  

Another point he makes is that the university administrator's cause is not social justice, but the avoidance of conflict and legal liability. Thus the administrator might give in the social justice demands, but usually for the wrong reason.

It is refreshing because many defenses of free inquiry have been coming from the right, recently. We need to insist that freedom of speech is a left-wing cause. What good does it do to censor pro-Trump views on campus when Trump is actually the fucking president?  

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Your last sentence is dead-on. Like it or not, whatever the POTUS thinks is within the realm of the possible, and must be tolerable as an idea to thinking people. You cannot ban expressions of the thoughts of the current President of the United States of America on an American college campus.

Interestingly, the same people who ban Trump's thoughts want to rename buildings bearing the names of past presidents, and ban the expression and discussion of their views even as historical facts. It really is amazing how literally Orwellian all this is. I really hope the silliness soon becomes apparent as such and passes into history. Of course, they'll try to obliterate our memory of this embarrassing period; they will no doubt try to censor our histories of their censorious campaigns.