- Je suis Brendan Eich
- Salman Rushdie, meet Brendan Eich
- Chief Cochran is Brendan Eich
- Bigots gotta agress
- Microaggression theory’s where my sympathy ends
- Crêche microaggression in Brunei
[W]hat makes [Je suis Charlie] kitschy is that we love thinking of ourselves standing in solidarity with the brave journalists against the Islamist killers. When the principle of standing up for free speech might cost us something far, far less than our lives, most of us would fold. You didn’t see liberals wearing “I Am Brendan Eich” slogans; many on the Left think he got what he deserved, because blasphemers like him don’t deserve a place in public life. Nor did you see conservatives brandishing “I Am Brendan Eich” slogans, because they feared they might be next.
(Rod Dreher, No, We Are Not Charlie, hyperlink added for the amnesiac reader)
Here freedom of expression is called free speech, and it is protected in the first of the Constitution’s amendments because it is the most important of our rights.
In the way that courage is the first of the virtues because without it none of the others are possible, the First Amendment protects the freedom upon which all others depend. Without free speech no difference of opinion can be resolved, no progress made in the law or in politics, no truth found and held high, no scandal unearthed and stopped.
But free speech takes patience. It requires us to hold our temper and give each other plenty of room in which to operate.
We resolve these things peacefully in the West. And this is not only “tradition.” We know on some level that this is how civilization keeps itself together. I remember long conversations during these controversies in which people tried to view the provocative works charitably. Maybe the artist is trying, awkwardly and imperfectly, to say something big and even good? Maybe he’s trying to say: “You say you love Christ but you don’t honor him.” Maybe he’s trying to say, “You say you honor Mary, but in your own actions and lives you cover her not with glory but dung.” Or maybe the artists were just talentless hacks producing the only thing they were good at: publicity.
The point is people considered and debated. They didn’t pick up a gun.
A singular feature of extremist Islamists is that they are not at all interested in persuasion. They don’t care about winning you over, only about making you submit. They want to menace and threaten. They want to frighten. They enjoy posing with the severed head.
It is the West’s job not to be overcome by fear, not to give an inch.
(Peggy Noonan, Salman Rushdie, Meet Charlie Hebdo, emphasis added)
I’ve developed a pretty good instinct for free speech cases that are winners (and losers) if they can make it the the Supreme Court. (I put “losers” in parentheses because few free speech cases that win in lower federal courts make it to SCOTUS.)
I know that Ryan Anderson is highly sympathetic to the prospective plaintiff here, but he gives the Mayor’s side, too, and I think the Mayor is delusional about his justification:
Cochran is a devout Christian and active in his community as a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon and teacher. In 2013, he wrote and published a book — “Who Told You That You Are Naked?” — to provide guidance to a men’s Bible study group embarking on a study, “A Quest for Authentic Manhood.”
In late 2014, retired Atlanta Fire Department Capt. Cindy Thompson contacted GA Voice, a Georgian LGBT group, to protest Cochran’s book and its mention of homosexuality. Thompson then brought the book to the Mayor’s LGBT liaison, Robin Shahar. Soon afterwards, LGBTactivistgroupsbegan to rally for the fire chief to be fired.
The activists point to only one page in the book which mentions homosexuality as one among many sexual sins from a Christian perspective.
Mayor Reed promptly responded to the activists, issuing Chief Cochran a month-long without-pay suspension, ordering him to undergo sensitivity training, and then—after a month’s investigation—dismissing the chief. At a news conference, Reed summarized his reasons for dismissing the fire chief, “This is about judgment…This is not about religious freedom, this is not about free speech… Judgment is the basis of the problem.”
Re-read that delusional, incoherent rationale.
No word yet whether Chief Cochran plans to sue. I would encourage him to do so if only to protect others from such delusional euphemisms for “no Christians allowed,” or at least “keep it in the closet.” And, yes, if he must take it SCOTUS, and he succeeds in getting it to SCOTUS, I predict a win, and one that’s not even close.
If weak or unpopular minorities wish to be protected from economic or legal discrimination by law—if they wish laws enacted that prohibit discrimination against them in employment, for instance—then they must be willing to tolerate whatever insults or ridicule people who oppose such legislation wish to offer to their fellow voters, because only a community that permits such insult as part of public debate may legitimately adopt such laws. If we expect bigots to accept the verdict of the majority once the majority has spoken, then we must permit them to express their bigotry in the process whose verdict we ask them to accept. Whatever multiculturalism means—whatever it means to call for increased “respect” for all citizens and groups—these virtues would be self-defeating if they were thought to justify official censorship.
(Ronald Dworkin, 2006, emphasis added) I suspect that on some issues, Ronald Dworkin would consider me a bigot. But you can’t muzzle me and then expect me to say “Well, I lost fair and square.”
This, too, is why the resolution of some of our most contentious public issues by the judiciary on dubious constitutional pretexts doesn’t produce consensus, and why it’s ominous that courts keep presuming to settle such issues. Most of us have no voice there.
I’ve reviewed these reports of “trauma”, and have reached a conclusion about them. I’m going to make a brief statement summarizing my conclusion. While I mean this in the nicest way possible, I don’t want victims of Microaggressions or supporters of Trigger Warnings to doubt my sincerity.
F*** your trauma.
Yes, f*** your trauma. My sympathy for your suffering, whether that suffering was real or imaginary, ended when you demanded I change my life to avoid bringing up your bad memories. You don’t seem to have figured this out, but there is no “I must never be reminded of a negative experience” expectation in any culture anywhere on earth.
If your psyche is so fragile you fall apart when someone inadvertently reminds you of “trauma”, especially if that trauma consisted of you overreacting to a self-interpreted racial slur, you need therapy. You belong on a psychiatrist’s couch, not in college dictating what the rest of society can’t do, say or think. Get your own head right before you try to run other people’s lives. If you expect everyone around you to cater to your neurosis, forever, you’re what I’d call a “failure at life”, doomed to perpetual disappointment.
(Chris Hernandez, italics added, bold in original. Oh, yeah: Bowdlerized with asterisks, too.) Rod Dreher is right about how well it’s written and, I’d add, how well it’s illustrated with pointed cartoons and images.
A few days ago, I published something about the writer needing to be a virtuoso of kindness. I do not consider this item contrary to that. Microaggression theory must surely be in the top tier of stupid academic fads. The only thing I can think to say in its favor is that those who invoke their little traumas are (after a fashion) admitting that they’re broken and weak, which lifts them above “I’m okay, you’re not okay” sociopathy.
But still, a cold slap in the face to disenthrall microaggression’s acolytes is a long-term kindness – to deliver them from failure and perpetual disappointment.
Do you suppose there are academics in Brunei who could offer a learned microaggression theory rationale for this new law? Apparently, the sight of a crêche will so traumatize Muslims that they must convert.
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“The remarks made in this essay do not represent scholarly research. They are intended as topical stimulations for conversation among intelligent and informed people.” (Gerhart Niemeyer)