So I've been away awhile. Much of this is due to my involvement with my institution's response to accreditation requirements. And if you annoy me, I'll tell you more about that.
Going forward, Whiskey Fire will be largely about speech issues, because these subjects interest me, and because the usual discourse about these issues is, as a rule, stupid. For example, let's paw through this garbage from the Atlantic. Here's the ominous overture:
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense.
Oh fuck you.
To back up. One thing you must understand -- and if you can't grasp this point and you leave a comment to this post I will find you and pee on you -- is that pretty much everything that is written about "censorship" and "free speech" on the Internet, or the popular press, or indeed in academia, is not scholarship, but instead activism.
What do I mean? I mean that it is extremely rare to find anyone asking basic questions about controversies regarding speech controversies -- basic questions that very often should have included inquiries as to "who actually said what" and "what was actually said in response." Here's a goddamn rule: whenever you hear about a speech issue that gets you riled up, you probably know less than an eighth of the relevant facts. And if you spend a year or so trying to track down these facts? You know about three quarters about the dispute, if you're lucky.
So what you get when you read through the bullshit of assholes trying to PROVE THAT FREE SPEECH IS DOOOOOOMED AT COLLLEGE is a lot of noisy nothing --
Continuing with the morons from the Atlantic:
Two terms have risen quickly from obscurity into common campus parlance. Microaggressions are small actions or word choices that seem on their face to have no malicious intent but that are thought of as a kind of violence nonetheless. For example, by some campus guidelines, it is a microaggression to ask an Asian American or Latino American “Where were you born?,” because this implies that he or she is not a real American. Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue if something in a course might cause a strong emotional response. For example, some students have called for warnings that Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart describes racial violence and that F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby portrays misogyny and physical abuse, so that students who have been previously victimized by racism or domestic violence can choose to avoid these works, which they believe might “trigger” a recurrence of past trauma.
For fuck's sake. There is no evidence at all offered that either of these terms have become "common campus parlance" that is not anecdotal.
And "Trigger warnings are alerts that professors are expected to issue"...? You made that up. There are professors that use them. There are more that don't. The evidence that this is now what English profs do... is imaginary.
You can go through the entire stupid article and you will not find a single goddamn scrap of non-anecdotal evidence for any single one of the authors' sweeping claims. If instead you decide to take as a hypothesis the contention that "college students have always argued about group identity" and "this shit has happened in some way shape or form for centuries" YOU WOULD BE PROVED FUCKING RIGHT BY EVEN A FUCKING CURSORY REVIEW OF THE AVAILABLE HISTORICAL EVIDENCE HOLY SHIT.
The truth is that there is no such thing as "free speech." This is a fine ideal to pursue, and bless you for believing in it. What actually exists is a ferocious competition between specific groups to own and impose on others a monopoly over the right to differentiate between legitimate and illegitimate speech.
Unless you understand this, from a scholarly perspective, you can't even begin to understand the stakes of any "free speech" battle. For instance:
Greg Lukianoff is a constitutional lawyer and the president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which defends free speech and academic freedom on campus, and has advocated for students and faculty involved in many of the incidents this article describes