The closed minds of the uneducated; Students in California look foolish for rioting over speaker
Years ago, Nat Hentoff wrote “Free Speech for Thee, But Not for Me,” and what he meant, of course, was that from YOUR point of view, you could say whatever you wished, but if you didn’t like HIS point of view, well, he had to shut the hell up.
Welcome to the University of California at Berkeley.
Last week, some presumed students and, apparently, some off-campus morons decided that a writer for Breitbart News, some sort of lunatic fringe online publication or something, didn’t have the right to speak at their campus, so they rioted.
What an excellent idea. Listen, kids, we get it: Nobody wants to listen to points of view with which they disagree. It’s too troubling. It’s too … gosh, kids, we know it’s just too hard. It would be as if some idiot – like Mom or Dad – had sent you to college to (laughter) LEARN. Or to THINK. Or to …
LEARN to THINK.
Nah. Mom and Dad can’t be that stupid. They know you went to college to dig football games or score chicks or get sloshed or …
That’s what college is all about: making sure that points of view with which YOU don’t agree aren’t heard. That’s what free speech is all about. Well, your free speech.
Hey, I get it. You don’t want to hear my point of view. Why should you? You KNOW what you think. You KNOW what’s good and right and easy for you to understand. Because you agree with your point of view. My point of view might be HARD for you to understand, so why bother?
It would be as if you were in one of your college classes where somebody, like some old, white, fascist, racist professor, wanted you to ponder something that was an old, white, fascist, racist point of view.
The hell with that. And while we’re at it, let’s get that old, white, fascist, racist professor run off campus, because he’s making you feel UNCOMFORTABLE. Quick: Get to your safe space where the only people with whom you have to interact are people who think precisely like you. Whew! Safe.
What’s wrong with you? What are you afraid of? How can a differing point of view hurt you? You don’t have to buy into it, but would it hurt you to listen?
Sure, the Breitbart guy might be a young, white, fascist, racist, but SO WHAT? You don’t have to do what he says or believe what he believes. Laugh at him. Laugh at them all. It hurts them more than a riot, where the only people who were affected were the people who owned the stores you wrecked.
Doesn’t it behoove you (look it up, dummy) to understand what the other side is thinking so you can counter it?
No? Oh, right. Because you don’t have to counter it if you just shut it down. Well, yes, that is easier. Howdy, Berkeley.
Ah, gang, everything new is old again. Remember Dean Rusk at Yale in the early ’70s? Well, there isn’t much to remember, because those intellectuals booed him off the stage for fear that he might poison their tiny minds with conflictilng ideas.
There is, of course, an obverse to this, which would be your point of view when explaining to Mom and Dad why they should continue to finance your “education.”
Well, of course, I have suggestions. Let us take you now to your house during spring break, and here are some things you can do to show Mom and Dad (and Sis and Bro and the schmuck who visits Mom when Dad is working) exactly what you’ve learned:
1. MOM: Serves broccoli as the dinner vegetable. YOUR REACTION: Hurl the plate of broccoli through the kitchen window.
2. MOM: Asks you to wash the dishes. YOUR REACTION: Break into the cabinet that holds the REALLY GOOD dishes by smashing its glass front, then loot the dishes, claiming you are liberating them.
3. DAD: Asks you to help him clean out the garage. YOUR REACTION: Torch the &%$&&##@ garage.
Naturally, you do all of this while wearing a black mask so that Mom and Dad can’t identify you and expell you from the house.
Oh, it’s possible that some folks – perhaps Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt Sally or Cousin Milt – will find your reactions a bit over the top, but simply point out to those people that THEY ARE FASCISTS AND TRUMPISTS OR TRUMPIST/FASCISTS.
After, of course, you make sure that you drown them out when they try to express their opinions about your reactions.
But wait. If you’re drowning them out, how do you know what their reactions were going to be?
Because you just know. You just KNOW. So there is no point in listening to them. Especially because whatever they have to say will be the opposite of what you THINK and BELIEVE. And you are ALWAYS RIGHT, because haven’t you lived 18 or 19 REALLY HARD years, what with high school and that stuff?
So when you arrive home for spring break, don’t forget to bring a bullhorn or some other incredible noisemaker so that it won’t be just your voice you use to drown out those FASCISTS Grandma and Grandpa (especially their boring old stories about marching with Martin or sitting in with Mark Rudd).
Who wants to listen to their gunk? Or anybody’s gunk but either yours or the people who like TOTALLY agree with you.
Yeah. College, man. It’s a gas. And speaking of gas…
Mike Cleveland is former editor of The Cabinet.