It was touch and go there for awhile, but Anne Frank – it has just been announced – has passed the notoriously rigorous admissions standards of the Keller Texas Independent School District public library, and will be allowed to return to its shelves.
Some parents had complained that Frank’s hiding out in Amsterdam and then dying in a concentration camp was pornographic and had no place in a young person’s library, but, after removing the book, the library’s Review Committee came down with the judgment that, although end-stage emaciation from typhus in Bergen-Belsen is certainly in questionable taste, well, chacun à son goût!
Such as this 2015 event at the University of Chicago, which wee UD only just discovered.
Let me frame my remarks by recalling this comment from Christopher Hitchens:
When the Washington Post telephoned me at home on Valentine’s Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini’s fatwah, I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression.
One of the heroes of free expression I’ve found through writing this blog is Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the U of C. I’ve had two occasions to feature him, one when he defended Laura Kipnis against silly Northwestern, and another when he shared an email exchange he had with American Nazi Richard Spencer. Stone is a wise calm rational defender of pretty much unfettered free expression, and he introduced the guest speaker on my cosmic convergence youtube, which – I dunno – already the combination of Stone and the U of C – a school which welcomed wee UD generously and lovingly for her graduate education – had UD warm and runny…
This is from Stone’s introductory remarks:
We the people acting individually … get to decide what we think when we think it. We do not allow a government or a university or a corporation or a religion to make those choices for us. That’s the essence of what it means to be free.
Stone goes on to introduce the U of C undergraduate who unwittingly set in motion a big event at the school. Eve Zuckerman, president of the school’s French club, wanted to invite heroic free speech advocate Zineb El Rhazoui to speak to the club. But getting a person living under five thousand fatwas to the United States ain’t exactly a matter of paying for a flight from Paris. Zuckerman ended up needing serious help (help which was happily provided) from lots of French and American government and security officials, some of whom ended up attending El Rhazoui’s talk. So that’s impressive and heartening.
Yet more impressive was the tough, articulate (in her fourth language), non-negotiable defense of free speech and free thought launched by El Rhazoui, who has been particularly visible in the French media lately because of the notorious “dolls without faces” documentary which features the apparently Muslim-radicalized French city of Roubaix.
It’s funny how these dolls, on sale at a toy store there, have taken on a powerful symbolic life across France — I guess because they’re a simple, very graphic evocation of the social reality whereby some Muslim children are trained up very early indeed in a sense of their nothingness, their invisibility. Veiling is hardly scandalous, even to a six-year-old, if you’ve always understood yourself to be without even a face.
Anyway, there it all was: The University of Chicago, Stone, El Rhazoui. What a pleasure.
UPDATE: The president of UD‘s George Washington University might want to watch the Stone/El Rhazoui youtube.
Or aren’t allowed to see.
La vidéo – in which far-rightist Eric Zemmour announces his presidential candidacy to the French people – is burning up the airwaves; not only does the New Yorker give it a good once-over (“one of the most bizarre videos ever offered by a would-be leader to his nation”), but theocrat Adrian Vermeule has risen to its defense as Youtube slaps an age-restriction on it.
The age-restriction is the bizarre thing; the NYer writer is wrong that the video itself is bizarre. It’s a soppy chauvinistic rendering of La France, familiar from scads of such renderings from hyper-nationalist movements around the world. There’s no dead-in-the-water patriotic trope the video doesn’t use, re-use, and then re-use one more time. The only thing mildly unusual about it is the French sourcing. France used to be so secure in its cultural superiority that it didn’t have to sink to self-pleasuring.
Nice summary. UD keeps thinking that, with each meat toss, universities will wise up and stop suppressing speech. But things are getting worse. Every week, administrators pitch another porterhouse at reactionaries. How utterly fucking stupid.
‘We are back to the age of Galileo’s inquisitors.‘
‘[T]he current fashion [is] a performance, a kind of, yes, virtue signaling… Upon what authority are [Bright Sheng’s denouncers] allowed such primacy of influence in how we speak, think and teach in our times?’
Actually, yes it is. Even hate speech is protected in the United States, a country which models freedom of expression for the world. As an American, I’m free to say that I despise the culture that continues to thrive in, say, the camps full of ISIS members being held in Syria. No one gets to hush me and advise me that it’s an illegitimate form of expression to despise sex slavery, the full body veiling of eight year old girls, routine beheadings.
An extreme example? We would all condemn such a culture?
Well, but then you don’t actually believe the expressed loathing of a particular culture is out of bounds.
For unto us a child is born! Folks in Luray, Virginia, where at exactly this time last year UD celebrated her birthday, do tend to be a bit old-fashioned… Here you’ve got their good ol’ boy mayor Barry Presgraves not only using a way-Biblical verbal formulation, but also chuckling online about how Joe Biden’s VP is gonna be “Aunt Jemima .” HAW!
Well people all over noticed and afirst he jest chuckled more and said he thought twas funny and ain’t racist onaccounta he ate them pancakes all time grow’n up. Then MORE people noticed and the town of Luray started to worry it’d get all shit-listed and it’s a tourist town, see (gateway to Shenandoah National Park, Luray Caverns… ) so a lot of locals said they’d appreciate it if ol’ Barry resigned but hell no he said I ain’t gonna resign nothin wrong with calling all black women Aunt Jemima hell I wouldn’t mind if yall called me Mr Deliverance...
But well now see now Barry begins to understand that he’s fucked up the town real good by making all of us think it’s racist because of what its highest profile citizen said, plus pressure is really growing on him to get his ass out of the municipal building, so now he’s doing the lord I’m really sorry I mean it I’m sorry and I’ve grown and learned from this experience thing.
Nice summary of a recent town council meeting here, where some of the locals explained that calling people racist is just the sort of thing evil fascist socialists do, while some of the locals called for ol’ Barry to resign. “Luray has a black eye right now. You did that. TKO, boom, you knocked us out. You put us on the map,” said one woman, with absolute accuracy.
I mean, take Les UDs. We find ourselves in Luray couple times a year because it’s one of the only places with good restaurants down the hill from the national park, where we like to hike in the day and sit out under the perseids at night. Now that we know the mayor of the town’s a nasty racist, we’re liable to go elsewhere for our meals.
Will he resign? UD thinks eventually he will. It’ll just take more time cuz ol’ Barry’s real, real, slow.
A young Tunisian woman is sentenced to six months in jail because she retweeted a covid health advisory which uses religious calligraphy.
OA involves, as this afternoon’s target writes, “trolling through tweets and through statements [of prominent people] seeking to find evidence—however tortured—that there are signs of prejudice behind them.” Prominent Steven Pinker (yeah, he’s a linguist; but for me what matters is that he is among the highest-profile and most articulate of atheists) is in the process of being unpersoned because of his awful awful awfulness; though curiously, given his awesome awfulness, almost no one who signed on to the cretinous screed unpersoning him is willing to talk about it. Or even admit, in a number of cases, to having actually signed on. Self-cancel culture!
The origin of the letter remains a mystery. Of 10 signers contacted by The Times, only one hinted that she knew the identity of the authors. Many of the linguists proved shy about talking, and since the letter first surfaced on Twitter on July 3, several prominent linguists have said their names had been included without their knowledge.
Several department chairs in linguistics and philosophy signed the letter, including Professor Barry Smith of the University at Buffalo and Professor Lisa Davidson of New York University. Professor Smith did not return calls and an email and Professor Davidson declined to comment when The Times reached out.
Hit and run, baby. Hit and…. RUNNNNNNN!!
DIPSHIT IDEOLOGUES GET OWNED BY MOTHER JONES…
… one of the most progressive publications out there. All decent progressives are right to be enraged; mindless promiscuous attacks on the moral integrity of one’s betters do great damage to liberalism. The purulence of this group of academics in fact makes liberalism stupid and disgusting, which makes the world safe for the reelection of Trump.
… hero of mine. Especially today, with Stone’s release of an email exchange he had with the notorious Richard Spencer.
In an April 18 op-ed in the New York Times, Stone defended Spencer’s First Amendment right to speak at Auburn University.
According to Stone, he received an e-mail from Spencer thanking him for his piece saying, “[he thinks] it will be looked back upon as significant in changing the contemporary free-speech debate.”
In the e-mail, Spencer also expressed his desire to return to his alma mater for a speaking event.
… Stone wrote back, saying that he thought Spencer’s views were not worth discussing, and that he would not extend him an invitation.
“My strong support for the right of students and faculty to invite speakers to campus to address whatever views they think worth discussing does not mean that I personally think that all views are worth discussing. From what I have seen of your views, they do not seem to me [to] add anything of value to serious and reasoned discourse, which is of course the central goal of a university. Thus, although I would defend the right of others to invite you to speak, I don’t see any reason for me to encourage or to endorse such an event.”
The greatest privilege of all is being able to shut out offensive ideas.
Freedom and safety both require a level of risk and a careful balance. Unhappily a free society is simply not compatible with never-ending, numbing comfort. A bubble is its own kind of cage.
[North Korean] authorities have reportedly been holding mass meetings in various parts of the country to warn people against making sarcastic remarks about the regime and its supreme leader. … Officials pointed to the phrase “this is all America’s fault” as an example of sarcasm it doesn’t want uttered. It’s common for North Koreans to use the phrase ironically to criticize the country’s leadership.