All ages have their orthodoxies. And if writers, artists, thinkers and comedians do not occasionally tread on them, then they are not doing their jobs. Meanwhile human nature remains what it is. And just as some children will always pull the wings off flies and fry small ants with their toy magnifying glasses, so a certain number of adult inadequates will find meaning in their lives by sniffing around the seats in the public square until they find an aroma they can claim offends them.
Which brings us back to the fixable matter: the wider cowardice, the societal silence. When Evergreen State College turned hooligan in 2017, the shock was not that American universities contained students unsuited to any education outside a correctional facility. Nor, frankly, was it a surprise that the college president George Bridges was so supine that he ended up begging the student protesters to allow him to go to the bathroom to pee (‘Hold it’ was the advice given by one hoodlum). What was surprising was that even when the professor who had inadvertently caused the breakdown (leftwing, Bernie-supporting, lifetime Democrat Bret Weinstein) was physically threatened, repeatedly defamed and finally chased off campus for good, not one of his longstanding colleagues took any public stance in his defence. Solidarity — perhaps the noblest aspiration of the political left — was totally absent. And these academics and administrators were not living in 1930s Moscow, but in 21st-century Washington State.
In case after case it has been the same. The problem is not that the sacrificial victim is selected. The problem is that the people who destroy his reputation are permitted to do so by the complicity, silence and slinking away of everybody else.Douglas Murray, “How to fight back against Cancel Culture” at Spectator (January 24, 2020)
We may need to start asking ourselves: Do educational institutions we support really sponsor education or do they sponsor crackdowns on independent thinking?
You may also wish to read: Will Florida’s law for diversity of thought at universities work?