Category Archive 'Free Speech'
06 Apr 2021

Matt Taibbi on “Content Moderation”

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Matt Taibbi is still a man of the Left, but he wasn’t Woke enough for Rolling Stone, so being a victim of Cancel Culture himself, he’s basically on the right side on Free Speech and Censorship at the hands of Establishment Media and Big Tech. Here’s his latest:

For blue-leaning audiences, news that companies like Facebook and Google had begun shutting down or de-ranking accounts in ways we’d never seen before was, to my initial shock, mostly perceived as a good thing. In the wake of Trump’s election, many Democrats believed something had to be done about “fake news,” Russian trolls, and, especially, inflammatory right-wing speech.

Polls showed 40% of millennials believed the government should be allowed to limit speech offensive to minorities, a number significantly higher than the one for either Baby Boomers (23%) or GenXers (27%). If those levels of support among younger voters existed for outright government censorship, how would that audience ever be convinced to care about private companies zapping political accounts?

The issue was such a non-starter with younger, blue-leaning audiences that when I did a feature about Facebook’s 2018 purges of so-called “inauthentic” accounts, Rolling Stone headlined the piece, “Who Will Fix Facebook?”, as if to disguise what the story was actually about. (I got letters from disappointed readers who’d been drawn in by the headline, hoping to read a story demanding that Facebook wipe out more right-wing/conspiratorial content). After the expulsion of Alex Jones and Infowars from Apple, Facebook, Google, and Spotify, it seemed many younger readers didn’t see a problem with increased content moderation. If anything, Silicon Valley didn’t remove enough obnoxious content.

Conservative readers from the start have been significantly more unnerved by the content moderation movement, for the obvious reason that most higher-profile targets of tech crackdowns have been right-wing figures. After years of decisions like kicking Donald Trump off Twitter, suspending or banning figures like James Woods and Milo Yiannopoulis, and intervening to block access to the New York Post’s expose on Hunter Biden, the censorship issue in conservative media has usually been pitched as being a problem exclusive to them.

After the Hunter Biden story was blocked, Republican politicians like Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and Colorado’s Cory Gardner hauled tech CEOs to Washington to face accusations of “bias.” At the much-covered hearing in October, Wicker railed at Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “Mr. Dorsey, your platform allows foreign dictators to post propaganda, typically without restriction,” he said, “yet you typically restrict the president of the United States.” Read the rest of this entry »

22 Mar 2021

Last Night on Facebook

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The Yale Football Team of 1891. Read this.

Back in 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Princeton ’17, in This Side of Paradise described “The Yale Thing” this way:

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“I want to go to Princeton,” said Amory. “I don’t know why, but I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be, and all Yale men as wearing big blue sweaters and smoking pipes.”

Monsignor chuckled.

“I’m one, you know.”

“Oh, you’re different.” I think of Princeton as being lazy and good-looking and aristocratic,” you know, like a spring day. Harvard seems sort of indoors”

“And Yale is November, crisp and energetic,” finished Monsignor.

“That’s it.”

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

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The Yale man in fiction was typically portrayed as an All-American, square-shooting man-of-action, along the lines of Frank Merriwell, Dink Stover, Flash Gordon, and even Bruce Wayne.

The modern ascendancy of leftism can **** up anything, even the Yale identity.

On Facebook, some self-appointed younger alumni (nearly all female) and some Albertus grad who merely works at Yale set up and run the “Yale Alumni Group.”

Typically, that group has a rules regime created by sanctimonious left-wing goo-goos.

1. Agree to Abide by the Rules of this Group by Joining it

By joining this group, you agree to abide by its policies below and understand that group Admins and moderators will enforce those policies at their discretion.
This page is heavily monitored. Posts that do not contribute to alumni community-building or are determined to be antagonistic, racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise rude or insulting, will be deleted and the user may be muted, blocked and/or banned from the group immediately without notice.

In other words: Surrender your free speech rights at the door.

2. No Hate Speech, Bullying, Insulting or Rude Language

This page is heavily monitored. Posts that do not contribute to alumni community-building or are determined to be antagonistic, racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise rude or insulting, will be deleted and the user may be muted, blocked and/or banned from the group immediately without notice. …

6. Be Kind and Courteous. Like at Yale.

We’re all in this together to create a welcoming environment. Let’s treat everyone with respect. Healthy debates are natural, but kindness is required. …”

“Be Kind and Courteous. Like at Yale.”? What Yale is that? Not the Yale I was at. The Yale I knew was full of intensely competitive, sharp-tongued young men with a talent for cutting remarks who were not inclined to suffer fools and simps gladly.

Obviously, the more recent Yale has been sensitized and feminized, neutered and house broken, and politically corrected and pansified to a fare-thee-well.

Yalies today clearly do not wear big blue sweaters and smoke pipes, they get tattoos and piercings and emote a lot. They are not a bit reminiscent of November. They are like a sticky, humid day in August in the rainy season in a Third World swamp.

Over the last 48 hours, that Facebook Yale Alumni group featured a thread started by a typical female specimen who wanted advice about how to cope with “bullying and intimidation” when “speaking truth to power” at an upcoming meeting of some unnamed non-profit board.

It seemed obvious to me that anybody who started off telling you they enjoyed some sort of privileged possession of the truth, and who regarded debate and disagreement as “bullying and intimidation” was a deluded and outrageously self-entitled nuisance with a penchant for posing as a victim. I thought all this cowardice about facing oppositional speech and eagerness to play the victim card was decidedly unbecoming in a graduate of Dear Old Yale and consequently a card-carrying member of the national elite, and said as much. I carefully phrased all my observations as blandly and politely as possible (knowing perfectly well that censorship was a hair-trigger away).

A number of other females rushed immediately to her defense, accusing me of “mansplaining,” not entirely inaccurately describing me as “arrogant and insufferable,” and demanding that I check my white male privilege.

I responded with this poster meme:

Within a few minutes, when I went to read the responses, I found that all of my comments had been purged.

Having taken great care to avoid any actual pejoratives or colorful expression, I was much annoyed. I had drink taken as well, and I lost my temper. I sat down and wrote a posting specifically insulting the group’s management characterizing their sexual proclivities and existential status and urging them to commit obscene acts, some actually impossible. I’m afraid my boyhood roots in a mining town in the Hard Coal Region came out under provocation.

Not surprisingly, a minute later, I was no longer a member of the Facebook Yale Alumni Group.

But I’m not done with those wee slinkit cowerin’ beasties. My next step will be to create a Free Speech Yale Alumni Group on Facebook.

23 Feb 2021

Yes, Indeed!

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12 Jan 2021

As the Left Reveals Its True Fascist Colors…

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Kurt Schlichter has some choice words for our liberal fascist overlords.

So, the Establishment has decided to address the grievances of people who feel disenfranchised, silenced, and subjected to double standards with much more disenfranchisement, silencing, and double standards. Seems like an on-brand move for the most corrupt, unwise, and incompetent – yet remarkably arrogant – ruling caste America has ever known. Good plan – deny them the right to pick their 2024 president, clap like trained seals as corporate overlords cut off their ability to express themselves, and continue to treat their own supporters well and dissenters much, much worse. That’s sustainable. Say, let’s put out this blazing fire with this handy can of gasoline.

Yeah, they are having fun for now. While the supine GOP is tweeting hack cliches about Muh Not Who We Are, the left is trying to tighten the noose. But we’re woke. Rasmussen puts Trump’s popularity at 51%, rising after the riots. We aren’t blaming Trump for the riots. And we sure aren’t rolling over for these bastards.

RTWT

25 Sep 2020

Woke Fascism Rules Britain

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Here is Kristie Higgs’s petition that got her fired. (click on the image for larger version)

Toby Young, in the British Spectator, explains how you can lose your job even for anonymous on-line dissent.

Kristie Higgs, a 44-year-old school assistant, didn’t realise that criticising the sex education curriculum at her son’s school on Facebook would get her fired. For one thing, her account was set to ‘private’, so only her family and friends could read it. For another, she was posting under her maiden name, so no one could connect her with her employer. Finally, the school that sacked her for expressing these views wasn’t actually her son’s, but another one altogether. This seems a pretty clear case of a person losing her livelihood for dissenting from progressive orthodoxy.

Kristie’s case is being heard at an employment tribunal in Bristol this week. The dispute relates to two Facebook posts from two years ago. In one, Kristie urged her family and friends to sign a petition objecting to mandatory new sex and relationship lessons in English primary schools. In the other, she shared an article by an American conservative Christian commentator criticising the promotion of ‘transgender ideology’ in children’s books. ‘This is happening in our primary schools now!’ Kristie said.

Someone circulated screenshots of these posts to Kristie’s colleagues at Farmor’s School in Gloucestershire, where she had worked for seven years, and predictable outrage followed. Senior members of staff compared her views to those of ‘Nazi right-wing extremists’, according to Kristie, and someone lodged a formal complaint with the head, claiming her posts were ‘homophobic and prejudiced to the LGBT community’. Kristie was summoned to a ‘disciplinary’ at a hotel just before Christmas, where she was cross-examined for six hours by three of the governors, supported by three members of staff. When Kristie tried to explain that her objection to her son being taught that a woman could have a penis was rooted in her Christian beliefs, she was told: ‘Keep your religion out of it.’ After the hearing she was dismissed for ‘illegal discrimination’, ‘serious inappropriate use of social media’ and ‘online comments that could bring the school into disrepute’.

There are two free speech issues at stake here. The first is whether an employer’s social media policy, limiting what employees are allowed to say on Facebook and other platforms, can legitimately be extended to private conversations, particularly when the employee has taken steps to disguise her identity. On the face of it, that looks like a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to privacy. The second is whether Kristie’s comments constituted ‘illegal discrimination’ as defined in the UK’s Equality Act 2010. Did they create an ‘intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment’ for LGBT colleagues, even though they wouldn’t have known about them if they hadn’t been circulated by someone trying to get her into trouble? Or is she permitted to express such views by Article 10 of the ECHR, which protects the right to freedom of expression?

Kristie’s legal team can also appeal to the Equality Act, which makes it illegal to discriminate against employees for their possessions of various ‘protected characteristics’, including religion and belief. Her lawyers will argue she lost her job because she expressed her belief about the immutability of natal sex. However, when Maya Forstater’s lawyers made that argument in an employment tribunal last year — she was sacked for refusing to use trans women’s preferred pronouns — the judge said her gender critical beliefs weren’t ‘worthy of respect in a democratic society’.

Kristie’s treatment is -obviously deeply concerning for believers in free speech, but there’s another aspect of her case that worries me. According to a recent white paper, a Bill will soon be brought before parliament empowering Ofcom to regulate the internet. Under the proposals, Ofcom will be able to impose punitive fines on Facebook for not removing content that political activists find ‘offensive’, even if it doesn’t fall foul of any existing speech laws.

Twitter already bans users for misgendering trans people, so it won’t take much of a push for all the social media companies to ban people for criticising trans ideology. The Free Speech Union has just produced a briefing paper warning of the dire consequences for free speech if the government’s internet censorship plans become law, and I urge you to read it. Soon, it won’t just be Kristie Higgs who is punished for challenging woke dogma. It will be all of us.

09 Sep 2020

Going Galt on Facebook

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Last month, on Facebook, in the course of a heated political discussion, I responded to an interlocutor’s uncomplimentary remarks by referring to him as “a white trash communist.” Facebook immediately took his side and froze my account for 30 days.

There was nothing new here. Pretty much any insult to liberals or liberal shibboleths will incur the wrath of Facebook’s zampolit censors. They start with 24 hours, then give you a week, and after a few offenses it’s 30 Days in the Hole for you.

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Like many other outspoken conservatives, I responded simply by rolling up a second pseudononymous account. It only required a second email address and phone number.

My 30-Day suspension runs on until mid-month, and lo and behold! on Monday, I shared the above anti-BLM meme, and my second account was immediately punished with 7 Days for violating Community Standards with “hate speech.”

I’m out of extra phone numbers, and Facebook has evidently gotten wise to dissidents like myself creating alternative accounts. My attempts at creating Account 3 all failed.

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All this has had the positive effect of bringing me to my senses. I’ve been wasting a few hours every day creating content for Mark Zuckerberg for free, responding like a laboratory rat to the positive reinforcement of “likes” and comments from friends, and indulging my argumentative disposition by correcting the fallacies of liberals. Not only is Facebook an incredible time sink, supporting it really amounts to accepting tacitly the petty dictatorship of Zuckerberg and his apparatchik nincompoops.

This is it for me. I will, henceforward, skim Facebook for new blog fodder, cynically use it to promote Never Yet Melted by linking posts, and that’s it. I’m otherwise posting, commenting, or sharing nothing. Mark Zuckerberg go screw yourself!

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17 Jul 2020

Andrew Sullivan Explains What Happened at New York Magazine

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Andrew is bending over backwards acrobatically to be nice about it, but he clearly didn’t fall. He was pushed.

What has happened, I think, is relatively simple: A critical mass of the staff and management at New York Magazine and Vox Media no longer want to associate with me, and, in a time of ever tightening budgets, I’m a luxury item they don’t want to afford. And that’s entirely their prerogative. They seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory in questions of race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space. Actually attacking, and even mocking, critical theory’s ideas and methods, as I have done continually in this space, is therefore out of sync with the values of Vox Media. That, to the best of my understanding, is why I’m out of here.

Two years ago, I wrote that we all live on campus now. That is an understatement. In academia, a tiny fraction of professors and administrators have not yet bent the knee to the woke program — and those few left are being purged. The latest study of Harvard University faculty, for example, finds that only 1.46 percent call themselves conservative. But that’s probably higher than the proportion of journalists who call themselves conservative at the New York Times or CNN or New York Magazine. And maybe it’s worth pointing out that “conservative” in my case means that I have passionately opposed Donald J. Trump and pioneered marriage equality, that I support legalized drugs, criminal-justice reform, more redistribution of wealth, aggressive action against climate change, police reform, a realist foreign policy, and laws to protect transgender people from discrimination. I was one of the first journalists in established media to come out. I was a major and early supporter of Barack Obama. I intend to vote for Biden in November.

It seems to me that if this conservatism is so foul that many of my peers are embarrassed to be working at the same magazine, then I have no idea what version of conservatism could ever be tolerated. And that’s fine. We have freedom of association in this country, and if the mainstream media want to cut ties with even moderate anti-Trump conservatives, because they won’t bend the knee to critical theory’s version of reality, that’s their prerogative. It may even win them more readers, at least temporarily. But this is less of a systemic problem than in the past, because the web has massively eroded the power of gatekeepers to suppress and control speech. I was among the first to recognize this potential for individual freedom of speech, and helped pioneer individual online media, specifically blogging, 20 years ago.

And this is where I’m now headed.

RTWT

And he’s right: if an anti-Trump, anti-Bush Quizling ersatz conservative, who additionally plays for the wrong team, is not an acceptable token in Establishment journalism today, things have reached one helluva pass. Andrew, of course, needs to sit back and reflect on his own part, in the role of sell-out, in letting matters proceed so far.

Andrew finds himself rather in the position of the late German pastor Martin Niemöller:

    “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”
13 Jul 2020

12-Year-Old Arrested in England For Racism!

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09 Jul 2020

Latest From the New Paper of Record

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Babylon Bee: “International Manhunt Under Way For Those Who Signed Letter Supporting Tolerance Of Differing Viewpoints”

Harper’s A letter on Justice and Open Debate

A couple of signatories (including trans author Jennifer Finney Boylan and professional African American Kerri Greenidge) are crawfishing and revoking their signatures.

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02 Jul 2020

It’s Easy to Lose Your Job and Reputation In a Time of PC Hysteria

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NY Post story

In this time of Cancel Culture, not all exhibitions of self-indulgent racial melodrama win Pulitzer Prizes. This recent Harvard grad posted the above rant on TikTok, and was consequently fired by Deloitte.

Their HR Department, alas! poor girl, took her rather-extreme metaphor literally as a “threat.” I’m sure that she actually had no intention of stabbing anyone, but her personal participation in contemporary group psychosis does have plenty of unfortunate real world consequences.

The African-American pattern of persecution fantasy functions to justify unearned and undeserved favoritism and privilege as “compensation.” It operates as an excuse for the suppression of free speech and honest debate. And it fuels a demented and overwheening self-importance, persuading silly people that they are special and specially-entitled on the basis of historical victimhood, that nobody has suffered as they’ve suffered (and are still suffering!) and nobody else can possibly compete in status and entitlement and nobody else can possibly understand how they’ve suffered (and are still suffering!). Being the ultimate entitled victim and at the same time a haute bourgeois elite Ivy League graduate is nice work if you can get it.

Fueling and participating in this nonsense is intellectually dishonest and socially and politically destructive. This fantasy corrupts society, fosters limitless injustice, and sews bitter divisiveness. Stupid people, even some who did not go to Harvard, will swallow this feel-good, addictive poison and proceed to act on it. Last year, just for instance, 23-year-old Temar Bishop raped and beat a 20-year-old white college student to avenge his historical group grievances.

Bronx Justice News:

She was a white girl. She deserved it because us minorities have been through slavery.”

“This is what they used to do to us,” he allegedly told the witness, according to the criminal complaint. “This is what they did to us during slavery. They used to beat us and whip us.”

The victim suffered a broken nose and teeth, and vomited blood after the attack.

I thought it was sad that she lost her job for a private opinion and because her figure of speech was taken literally, but there is the consolatory thought that she obviously would not feel a bit sorry if the shoe were on the other foot, and some opponent of her Racialist Agitation had his career carpet-bombed due to some social media indiscretion. On the contrary, I have every expectation that she would gloat.

26 May 2020

Tyranny and So-Called “Hate Speech”

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The Heritage Foundation recently published a must-read report on the Left’s widely successful effort to first stigmatize, and eventually to criminalize, speech and ideas it doesn’t like, thus shutting down all discussion and debate over very significant cultural and policy issues.

America is the only Western nation that does not criminalize “hate speech.” Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and most nations of Europe already do so. The United Nations relentlessly pressures the remaining holdouts to follow suit: “As a matter of principle,” says the U.N. Secretary-General, “the United Nations must confront hate speech at every turn.”

Meanwhile in America, Members of Congress issue their support for speech restrictions, and Big Tech’s digital oligarchs, enjoying a disproportionate power over society, continue to impose speech restrictions in exchange for access to their platforms. So are America’s colleges and universities more and more governed by an aggressive chorus of students, faculty, and administrators who demand and impose speech codes. These fronts promises to grow in size, strength, and confidence in the coming years.

Leading restriction advocates want not only to banish “hate speech,” but also to criminalize it. In the words of Mari Matsuda, an influential professor at the University of Hawaii Law School, “[F]ormal criminal and administrative sanction—public as opposed to private prosecution—is also an appropriate response to racist speech.”

Perhaps most surprising, legal precedents that would bring this revolution fully into existence in America are already embedded in two areas of our legal system: antidiscrimination and harassment laws, and Supreme Court rulings favoring sexual liberation that are based on a new view of “dignity.”

If Americans are to resist this growing movement, they must understand the arguments, the demands, and the consequences of outlawing “hate speech.” No laws of history dictate that America must submit and follow this path.

The debate over “hate speech” reveals a fundamental disagreement about the purpose of America. Either it is political liberty, in which case the freedom of speech is essential for presumptively rational citizens to rule themselves politically and to pursue the truth through science, philosophy, or religion. Or it is the equal self-respect and dignity of marginalized and self-created identities, in which case these must not only be publicly affirmed and celebrated, but also shielded from (even well-meaning) scrutiny and criticism, called “speech violence” or “hate speech.” These two views cannot coexist. Indeed, restriction advocates admit that America’s understanding of speech “comes into tension with the aspiration of equal dignity.”

They want to eliminate the former to make way for the latter.

RTWT

27 Nov 2019

More Intellectual Freedom Today in Eastern Europe than in Elite Universities in Britain & the US

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Radomir Tylecote finds the differences remarkable and striking.

‘You can talk about anything you like,’ said Radu, a young Romanian academic when he invited me to a conference in Bucharest. The theme was ‘Real liberty or new serfdom?’ marking the anniversary of the fall of Nicolae Ceauşescu 30 years ago. The audience was made up of Romanian undergraduates.

The keynote speaker, a German federalist, was planning on making the classical liberal case for the EU, which made the title of my lecture – ‘The classical liberal case against the EU’ – a no-brainer. But I was nervous when I told Radu what I wanted to talk about. Thirty years ago, Romanians had been ruled by a man who literally gave his critics cancer. Would fears of criticising the powerful die hard in Bucharest? I waited for the explanation that there had a been a mix up, that my lecture would be cancelled, and… ‘Excellent!’ replied Radu. ‘That’s exactly what we need.’

A week later I was preparing to talk to a student politics society at Cambridge and I suggested the same subject. Only this time I did get the explanation. ‘The problem is… we’re looking for something a bit more mainstream.’ Mainstream? But this is broadly the view of 52 per cent of the UK population! ‘Right. It’s just that we had a pro-Brexit speaker once and it all got a bit uncomfortable, a bit… controversial.’ Controversial ideas? At a university? Whatever next?

He was quite honest about it. It seemed like his society’s director had introduced a policy of no-platforming Brexiteers. I spared him the thoughts crystallising in my mind about Cambridge as the scholarly heart of the English Reformation and the Parliamentarian struggle against arbitrary power. ‘Something on China, perhaps?’ he suggested. An authoritarian regime that suppresses free speech. Yes, I can see why that would go down better at Cambridge. …

I have long held the theory that the experience of communism in Eastern Europe has inoculated these countries against socialism today. It’s not that I romanticise these former Soviet satellites. Their political elites are frequently crooked (and often in hock to EU officials). Many of their citizens will likely wait decades before getting a real choice about EU membership. Most read little criticism of Brussels in their newspapers, just the boiler-plate encomiums. But that is beside the point.

The students in Bucharest were doing what students are supposed to do: hearing each side of the argument. They didn’t show any of the symptoms of intellectual decay that I often encounter among students in the Anglosphere – in particular, using someone’s dissent from progressive orthodoxy to exclude, purge, persecute, or otherwise gain power over them (I mean no-platforming, social-media mobbing or denouncing in an ‘open letter’). But there is another malady that afflicts so many of our students, and is often indicative of an authoritarian mindset: they are so boring.

In Cambridge there is a continued failure to uphold free speech, or to grasp what it is to be properly liberal. Because if I can make a case against rule by faceless bureaucrats in a former Warsaw Pact dictatorship but not at one of our finest universities, our culture is in serious trouble. By 1975 Saul Bellow warned that ‘the universities have failed painfully’ and in the 1980s Allan Bloom pointed out that ‘the spirit of scientific inquiry’ that used to animate them is slowly dying. In British universities now, you can’t talk about certain subjects. That sounds like the ‘new serfdom’ to me.

RTWT

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