Nov 18th 2015

Intolerance Masked As Tolerance Is Still Intolerance

by Jeff Schweitzer

Jeff Schweitzer is a scientist and former White House Senior Policy Analyst; Ph.D. in marine biology/neurophysiology

Racism exists in this country; denying that reality, a disease of conservativism, is just the latest reincarnation of a problem that never seems to die. But right wing extremism is not our society's only ideological woe. Sadly, liberalism has developed its own disease of decay, a growing cancer that threatens to undermine the very foundation of liberal thought.

In ostensibly promoting tolerance, the essential core of liberalism, left wing extremists have taken on an ill-advised and misguided campaign to enforce an extreme version of political correctness, a form of intolerance that is ironically self-destructively anti-liberal. Before those left of center suffer the analogous fate of conservatives who lost their initiative to the Tea Party, traditional liberals must stop this madness.

Before delving into specifics, we need to explore some baseline observations. Let us be clear: There is no constitutional right not to be offended. But we need to go even further: I actually have a constitutional right to express opinions that offend you. I have the inalienable right to hold an opinion you find heinous, and have the constitutional right to verbalize those ideas.

I derive these rights from our country's founding documents. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of expression, specifically by prohibiting Congress from restricting the press or the rights of individuals to speak openly. Here is the actual wording:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Yet an increasing number of students on university campuses have decided that their personal and easily-bruised sensitivities trump the Constitution and my individual freedom. These anti-liberal liberals unknowingly take the radical position of dictators, tyrants and monarchs that the way to control thought is to suppress any speech that is deemed by someone, or anyone, to be distasteful. Nothing could be more distant from true liberalism, which celebrates and warmly embraces broad tolerance of disparate worldviews.

A fundamental assumption of liberalism is that the rigid control over personal liberties, opinions or speech is the unhappy realm of conservatism, something to be fought at all costs. American liberalism is centered on the very idea of social justice, free speech, freedom of religion, celebration of diversity, and an individual's fundamental right to free expression, without fear of reprisal or being ostracized.

One can hardly imagine anything more anti-liberal than thought police. Those on the left who seek to suppress speech cannot be called liberal at all; indeed, what we get with extreme liberalism is fascism, defined most significantly by its nature of "suppressing opposition and criticism."

But how can radical left and right become one and the same? How can this be? Consider circumnavigating the globe at the equator; the two points furthest apart converge at journey's beginning and end. So too with politics. In walking the path of political extremism, we find that opposing ideologies tend to converge toward the common ground of totalitarianism. Political correctness is ground zero.

Campuses Gone Wild

One of the most egregious examples of intolerance is the growing trend in academics to disinvite speakers who hold views inconsistent with campus sentiment. Students make the terrible mistake of thinking that by inviting a speaker a university endorses the speaker's views. Nothing could be further from the truth; invitations to controversial speakers are an opportunity for debate and discussion, not endorsements. Nevertheless, the headlong rush toward ideological purity seems to be winning the day. A comprehensive study from last year shows that the number of such incidents has risen dramatically in the past 15 years. Here is the disturbing conclusion from that research:

"A faculty that is hostile to the mere presence of oppositional, inconvenient, or unpopular speakers and beliefs will likely be less adept at teaching students the values of critical thinking, open-mindedness, and free intellectual inquiry that universities are supposed to embody. Students who refuse to hear opposing viewpoints will be less likely to learn critical thinking skills and less able to defend their own beliefs once off-campus. Moreover, disinvitation efforts may be fueled by a campus climate that encourages disregard for free speech rights, as suggested by the correlation between successful disinvitations and restrictive speech codes."

Not surprisingly, the most disinvited guests are right wing conservatives. Leading the pack are former president George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Ann Coulter. But established liberals are in the cross-hairs too, an inevitable consequence of the slippery slope of censorship. There is no end point other than totalitarianism.

Students at UC Berkeley voted to disinvite Bill Maher. The petition to do so justified this action by claiming that, "Bill Maher is a blatant bigot and racist who has no respect for the values UC Berkeley students and administration stand for. In a time where climate is a priority for all on campus, we cannot invite an individual who himself perpetuates a dangerous learning environment."

Once the principle is established that censoring speakers who hold offending views is acceptable, there is no barrier to pushing such suppression into the realm of real oppression. Promoting tolerance by becoming intolerant is ultimately unsustainable. We can see an analogy in what happened during the Civil War. The Confederacy held that states had a right to secede from the Union. But the very idea of withdrawing from the Union led to the potential disintegration of the coalition of states founded on the idea of secession. By war's end, two southern states threatened to secede from the confederacy. The right to secede could only lead to the balkanization of separate states because secession is inherently self-destructive. Suppressing speech is equally untenable, leading inexorably to an intolerance indistinguishable from the hate it is meant to eradicate.

I despise George Bush and Condi Rice; I have nothing but disdain for Ann Coulter. But trying to muzzle right wing nut-bags is not a solution. The opposite is true; censorship only gives them strength. Instead, we must give them enough oratorical rope to hang themselves. Let them spew their hate and bigotry. Let them expose their war crimes in public forums. Let them degrade themselves with their xenophobia and racism. Let them embarrass themselves in trying to rewrite history. Let these monsters speak, and let the whole world see them for what they are. Free speech is the oxygen feeding the fire that will destroy the ugly ideology of the right. Let them speak, and then conquer them with logic, reason and fact.

History is on our side; liberalism is the ideology that has advanced the human condition. Without liberals the concepts of human rights and civil liberties would be nothing but pipe dreams rather than broadly accepted global principles. Without liberals we would still be a colony of a distant king.

As is still the case in much of the world, in the United States we would have unsafe and unhealthy working conditions, and young children laboring in horrible circumstances. Blacks and women could not vote, mixed-race marriages would be illegal, gays would be second-class citizens, women would have no control over their own reproductive destiny. The air we breathe and water we drink would be polluted.

The history of human progress is the history of liberalism. Suppressing speech is an act of desperation that does nothing but undermine the righteousness of liberal thought. Open debate can only strengthen our position; we have nothing to fear from the corrupt ideology of right wing extremism. Let everybody have their say; we only gain by doing so.

Return to Liberalism

Fighting intolerance with intolerance is self-defeating. Denying opponents a chance to express opinions openly will backfire. In suppressing offensive speech, we become what we abhor. Let us take back liberalism and renew our commitment to the full flowering of freedom of expression, including speech we do not like.

Let us save liberalism and stop this accelerating trend of silencing those with whom we disagree. Let us return to the proposition that the way to combat hateful speech is not with suppression, but with more speech, having the confidence that truth and justice can at least sometimes prevail if given a chance to flourish in the open.




Dr. Jeff Schweitzer
 is a marine biologist, consultant and internationally recognized authority in ethics, conservation and development. He is the author of five books including Calorie Wars: Fat, Fact and Fiction (July 2011), and A New Moral Code (2010). Dr. Schweitzer has spoken at numerous international conferences in Asia, Russia, Europe and the United States.Dr. Schweitzer's work is based on his desire to introduce a stronger set of ethics into American efforts to improve the human condition worldwide. He has been instrumental in designing programs that demonstrate how third world development and protecting our resources are compatible goals. His vision is to inspire a framework that ensures that humans can grow and prosper indefinitely in a healthy environment.Formerly, Dr. Schweitzer served as an Assistant Director for International Affairs in the Office of Science and Technology Policy under former President Clinton. Prior to that, Dr. Schweitzer served as the Chief Environmental Officer at the State Department's Agency for International Development. In that role, he founded the multi-agency International Cooperative Biodiversity Group Program, a U.S. Government that promoted conservation through rational economic use of natural resources.Dr. Schweitzer began his scientific career in the field of marine biology. He earned his Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. He expanded his research at the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of California, Irvine. While at U.C. Irvine he was awarded the Science, Engineering and Diplomacy Fellowship from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.Dr. Schweitzer is a pilot and he founded and edited the Malibu Mirage, an aviation magazine dedicated to pilots flying these single-engine airplanes. He and his wife Sally are avid SCUBA divers and they travel widely to see new wildlife, never far from their roots as marine scientists..To learn more about Dr Schweitzer, visit his website at http://www.JeffSchweitzer.com
.

To follow Jeff Schweizer on Twitter, please click here.

For Jeff Schweitzer web site, please click here.

Below link to Amazon for Jeff Schweitzer's latest book.


TO FOLLOW WHAT'S NEW ON FACTS & ARTS, PLEASE CLICK HERE!




 


This article is brought to you by the author who owns the copyright to the text.

Should you want to support the author’s creative work you can use the PayPal “Donate” button below.

Your donation is a transaction between you and the author. The proceeds go directly to the author’s PayPal account in full less PayPal’s commission.

Facts & Arts neither receives information about you, nor of your donation, nor does Facts & Arts receive a commission.

Facts & Arts does not pay the author, nor takes paid by the author, for the posting of the author's material on Facts & Arts. Facts & Arts finances its operations by selling advertising space.

 

 

Browse articles by author

More Essays

Jun 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "Confronting our complex history and ultimately embracing a more equitable, balanced, and humble culture may be a tall order in these fractious times. But that makes it even more imperative that we fully reckon with who we are and who we are capable of becoming."
Jun 11th 2021
EXTARCT: "A further health benefit of hiking is that it’s classed as “green exercise”. This refers to the added health benefit that doing physical activity in nature has on us. Research shows that not only can green exercise decrease blood pressure, it also benefits mental wellbeing by improving mood and reducing depression to a greater extent than exercising indoors can."
Jun 10th 2021
EXTRACT: "“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress,” Mahatma Gandhi said, “can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” If we apply that test to the world as a whole, how much moral progress have we made over the past two millennia? ...... That question is suggested by The Golden Ass, arguably the world’s earliest surviving novel, written around 170 CE, when Emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire. Apuleius, the author, was an African philosopher and writer, born in what is now the Algerian city of M’Daourouch."
Jun 4th 2021
EXTRACT: "Research we’ve done, which looked at 37 adults with type 2 diabetes, found that over two weeks, prolonged sitting was associated with high blood sugar levels. But we also found that when people stood up or walked around between periods of sitting, they had lower blood sugar levels. Other studies have also had similar results."
May 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Paul Van Doren's legacy lies in a famous company, and in his advice to young entrepreneurs to get their hands dirty, and to know what goes into making what they are selling."
May 19th 2021
EXTRACT: "May 7th marked three hundred and ten years since the philosopher David Hume was born. He is chiefly remembered as the most original and destructive of the early modern empiricists, following John Locke and George Berkeley." .... " Shocking as it may (and should) sound, Hume is implying nothing less than that the next time you turn the key in your car ignition, you are as justified to expect the engine will start as you are in believing it will turn into a pumpkin. For there is a radical contingency that pervades all our experience. We could wake up tomorrow to a world that looks and behaves very differently to the one we are in now. Matters of fact are dependent on experience and can never be known a priori — they are purely contingent, and could always turn out different than what we expect."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: " The sad reality is that the Mizrahim (Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent) were discriminated against from the day of Israel’s inception, whose Ashkenazi (European Jewish) leaders viewed them as intellectually inferior, “backward,” and “too Arab,” and treated them as such, largely because the Ashkenazim agenda was to maintain their upper-class status while controlling the levers of power, which remain prevalent to this day." ..... " The greatest heartbreaking outcome is that for yet another generation of Israelis, growing up in these debilitating conditions has a direct effect on their cognitive development. A 2015 study published in Nature Neuroscience found that “family income is significantly correlated with children’s brain size…increases in income were associated with the greatest increases in brain surface area among the poorest children.” "
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "We all owe Farah Nabulsi an enormous debt of gratitude. In a short 24-minute film, The Present, she has exposed the oppressive indecency of the Israeli occupation while telling the deeply moving story of a Palestinian family. What is especially exciting is that after winning awards at a number of international film festivals​, Ms. Nabulsi has been nominated for an Academy Award for this remarkable work of art. " 
Apr 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "When I crashed to the floor of my home in Bordeaux recently after two months of Covid-19 dizziness, I was annoyed. The next day I collapsed again. Now I was worried. What I didn’t know was that my brain was sloshing around inside my skull, causing a mild concussion. Nor did I know that I was in for a whole new world of weird and wonderful hallucinations."
Apr 13th 2021
EXTRACT: "Overall, our review has found that there isn’t evidence to back up the claims that veganism is good for your heart. But that is partly because there are few studies ....... But veganism may have other health benefits. Vegans have been found to have a healthier weight and lower blood glucose levels than those who consume meat and dairy. They are also less likely to develop cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. "
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Pollock’s universe, the universe of Mural, cannot be said to be a rational universe. Nor is it simply devoid of all sense. It is not a purely imaginary world, although in it everything is in a constant state of flux. Mural invokes one of the oldest questions of philosophy, a question going back to the Pre-Socratic philosophers Parmenides and Heraclitus – namely, whether the nature of Reality constitutes unchanging permanence or constant movement and flux. For Pollock, the only thing that is truly unchanging is change itself. The only certainty is that all is uncertain."
Apr 8th 2021
EXTRACT: "Many present day politicians appear to have psychopathic and narcissistic traits too. It’s easy to spot such leaders, because they are always authoritarian, following hardline policies. They try to subvert democracy, to reduce the freedom of the press and clamp down on dissent. They are obsessed with national prestige, and often persecute minority groups. And they are always corrupt and lacking in moral principles."
Apr 6th 2021
EXTRACT: "This has led some to claim that not just half, but perhaps nearly all advertising money is wasted, at least online. There are similar results outside of commerce. One review of field experiments in political campaigning argued “the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero”. Zero!"
Mar 30th 2021
EXTRACT: "The Father is an extraordinary film, from Florian Zeller’s 2012 play entitled Le Père and directed by Zeller. I’m here to tell you why it is a ‘must see’." EDITOR'S NOTE: The official trailer is attached to the review.
Mar 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "Picasso was 26 in 1907, when he completed the Demoiselles; de Kooning was 48 in 1952, when he finished Woman I.  The difference in their ages was not an accident, for studies of hundreds of painters have revealed a striking regularity - the conceptual painters who preconceive their paintings, from Raphael to Warhol, consistently make their greatest contributions earlier in their careers than experimental painters, from Rembrandt to Pollock, who paint directly, without preparatory studies."
Mar 26th 2021
EXTRACT: "Mental toughness levels are influenced by many different factors. While genetics are partly responsible, a person’s environment is also relevant. For example, both positive experiences while you’re young and mental toughness training programmes have been found to make people mentally tougher."
Mar 20th 2021

The city of Homs has been ravaged by war, leaving millions of people homeless an

Mar 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "There are two main rival models of ethics: one is based on rights, the other on duties. The rights-based model, which traces its philosophical origins to the work of John Locke in the 17th century, starts from the assumption that individuals have rights ....... According to this approach, duties are related to rights, but only in a subordinate role. My right to health implies a duty on my country to provide some healthcare services, to the best of its abilities. This is arguably the dominant interpretation when philosophers talk about rights, including human rights." ........ "Your right to get sick, or to risk getting sick, could imply a duty on others to look after you during your illness." ..... "The pre-eminence of rights in our moral compass has vindicated unacceptable levels of selfishness. It is imperative to undertake a fundamental duty not to get sick, and to do everything in our means to avoid causing others to get sick. Morally speaking, duties should come first and should not be subordinated to rights." ..... "Putting duties before rights is not a new, revolutionary idea. In fact it is one of the oldest rules in the book of ethics. Primum non nocere, or first do no harm, is the core principle in the Hippocratic Oath historically taken by doctors, widely attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher and physician Hippocrates. It is also a fundamental principle in the moral philosophy of the Roman statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero, who in De Officiis (On Duties) argues that the first task of justice is to prevent men and women from causing harm to others."
Mar 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "Several studies have recently compared the difference between antibodies produced straight after a coronavirus infection and those that can be detected six months later. The findings have been both impressive and reassuring. Although there are fewer coronavirus-specific antibodies detectable in the blood six months after infection, the antibodies that remain have undergone significant changes. …….. the “mature” antibodies were better at recognising the variants."
Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Like Shakespeare, Goya sees evil as something existing in itself – indeed, the horror of evil arises precisely from its excess. It overflows and refuses to be contained by or integrated into our categories of reason or comprehension. By its very nature, evil refuses to remain within prescribed bounds – to remain fixed, say, within an economy where evil is counterbalanced by good. Evil is always excess of evil." ....... "Nowhere is this more evident than in war. Goya offers us a profound and sustained meditation on the nature of war ........ The image of a Napoleonic soldier gazing indifferently on a man who has been summarily hanged, probably by his own belt, expresses the tragedy of war – its dehumanization of both war’s victims and victors."