Steven Salaita on “Free Speech”

The pro-Palestinian college professor (now bus driver) who lost his academic career because he took the idea of “free speech” a little too seriously is probably better qualified to write about the issue than I am.

In short, free speech isn’t merely an ideal that allows everyone to have a say, commie and Nazi alike.  It is a politic, a sensibility, a custom, a rhetorical device outfitted to the reproduction of bourgeois common sense.  It elides the relationship of access with subservience.  It pretends to be a universal liberty while maintaining a slick ability to rationalize fine-tuned mechanisms of blacklisting and persecution.  It unconsciously facilitates the status quo.  The Nazi always comes out ahead in this arrangement.

p.s. Unlike Salaita, I like Ulysses Grant, Max Blumenthal and Matt Taibbi but the central argument of his essay is pretty sound. The idea of “free speech” is pretty meaningless outside of a political and economic context. So I guess we’ll just have to disagree on the 18th President of the United States.

4 thoughts on “Steven Salaita on “Free Speech””

  1. What of Steven Pinker? I criticized his “Pinker Platitude” about life getting better and better, and now I see something about him being “cancelled” – I just disagreed, I don’t need “rough justice”.

  2. OK but mutadis mutandis buddy.

    Oh, the white folks hate the black folks,
    And the black folks hate the white folks.
    To hate all but the right folks
    Is an old established rule.

    But during national brotherhood week, national brotherhood week,
    Lena Horne and sheriff Clarke are dancing cheek to cheek.
    It’s fun to eulogize
    The people you despise,
    As long as you don’t let ’em in your school.

    Oh, the poor folks hate the rich folks,
    And the rich folks hate the poor folks.
    All of my folks hate all of your folks,
    It’s American as apple pie.

    But during national brotherhood week, national brotherhood week,
    New Yorkers love the Puerto Ricans ’cause it’s very chic.
    Step up and shake the hand
    Of someone you can’t stand.
    You can tolerate him if you try.

    Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
    And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
    And the Hindus hate the muslems,
    And everybody hates the Jews.

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