Saturday, May 13, 2017


Ulrich Baer's recent oped in the New York Times, "What ‘Snowflakes’ Get Right About Free Speech," argues that we live in a "changed world" in which SJW attacks on conservative speakers do not mean that SJW's are "overly sensitive snowflakes" driven by "paranoid intolerance." Au contraire! Baer sees liberators attempting "to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people." They are visionaries who should be thanked for "keeping watch over the soul of our republic." They are freedom fighters courageously revising "existing definitions of free speech to accommodate previously delegitimized experiences." What great insight, one naturally wonders, earned such high praise from New York University's Vice Provost for Faculty, Arts, Humanities, and Diversity? Trauma equals truth; speech is a public good. Welcome to the neo-Marxist philosophy of French post-modernist Jean-Francois Lyotard!

According to Baer, the "reflexive defenders" of an outdated notion of free speech -- the concept that truth emerges from vigorous debate -- must recognize the "new reality" in which free speech isn't "an unchanging absolute." Baer insists that a cultural shift and new understanding of "free speech" emerged in the 1980s and 1990s, which require "vigilant and continuing examination of its [free speech] parameters" to "legitimate" personal experience -- "especially traumatic experience." Voilà -- without the regulating hand of social justice activists, speech is oppressive. But wait, there's more! Baer writes that:
The idea of freedom of speech does not mean a blanket permission to say anything anybody thinks. It means balancing the inherent value of a given view with the obligation to ensure that other members of a given community can participate in discourse as fully recognized members of that community. Free-speech protections — not only but especially in universities, which aim to educate students in how to belong to various communities — should not mean that someone’s humanity, or their right to participate in political speech as political agents, can be freely attacked, demeaned or questioned.
Certain truths, claims Baer, have been silenced as a result of "the asymmetry in discussions between perpetrators and victims of systemic or personal violence." "Certain topics" can "restrict speech as a public good," such as "claims that some human beings are by definition inferior to others, or illegal or unworthy of legal standing." These claims can't be debated, "because such people cannot debate them on the same terms." Therefore, protests to disrupt the speeches of Murray, Milo, and others weren't censorship; they "should be understood as an attempt to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people." To allow those claims would be to "invalidate the humanity of some people." Besides, those peddling "hate speech" already have a platform -- the internet. Baer suggests that "a more sophisticated understanding" of free speech, "such as the one provided by Lyotard," will require the parameters of "public speech"  to be "continually redrawn to accommodate those who previously had no standing."

Baer's ambitions do not stop at the university's gates. His primary examples of asymmetrical silencing include, unsurprisingly, a list of white supremacists -- George C. Wallace, William Shockley, Richard Spencer -- and, of course, POTUS Donald Trump and HUD Secretary Ben Carson. Thus, Carson's claim that transgenders are "men and women in disguise" does not recognize them as "fully human." In like manner, Trump's campaign rhetoric challenges "the rights, both legal and cultural, of minorities to participate in public discourse." Trump's "insults are meant to discredit and delegitimize whole groups as less worthy of participation in the public exchange of ideas."

Lyotard's formula
Lyotard's formula represents an interesting innovation. His followers have cleverly mapped out a program for engineering new socially constructed truths. Social justice activists in the academy (like Baer), in the media, and on the streets are the engineers, construction workers, and foot soldiers. It's simple, once you understand the game. Claim to represent "social justice." Identify yourself as the champion of a "silenced" group and slander decent people as racists, bigots, and misogynists (make it up if necessary). Define speech as a "public good" -- a collective, rather than individual, right. Regulate the parameters of speech in the name of "inclusivity" and according to the premises of critical theory. Start with university speech codes, diversity, and inclusivity policies and expand into government via hate speech and anti-discrimination legislation. Exclude speech (conservative, Christian, and even secular humanist) that does not meet the SJW concepts of liberation and oppression. Discredit all meta-narratives as tools of oppression. Replace the meta-narratives with micro-narratives that project the evolving madness of the social justice movement onto all facets of learning -- line-by-line. Treat the claims of "traumatized" victims (brainwashed snowflakes) as the most sacred form of truth -- the truth of individual experience.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Do Lyotard's concepts measure up to cowboy standards? Let's see. 
Truth is that which is in accordance with fact or reality. God is the source and arbiter of truth. In contrast, Lyotard does not believe in absolutes. For him, truth does not exist in any objective sense. His "truth" is power. Lyotard's innovation is to treat the traumatized individual's personal narrative as the highest form of truth. To question the subjective perception of the individual is to "invalidate their existence, humanity, etc." Thus, reflective learning, institutional authority, science, history, social norms, etc. are treated as oppressive structures. This is, of course, insane. Psychology journals are filled with discussions of the various ways trauma can negatively effect mental health. Trauma can impair cognitive function and memory formation. Trauma is the root cause of a number of anxiety disorders. In severe cases, trauma can cause dissociation and psychosis.

Only God can legitimate one's existence. Our rights come from the Almighty. Government exists to secure those rights. In contrast, by seeking to "legitimate the existence" of others, Lyotard is claiming that a human being's worth, dignity, value, and rights flow from government. Lyotard's legitimation claim is a dominance strategy to assert power through the false claim of moral authority.

Free speech is a sacred, Constitutionally-enshrined, God-given, individual right (a concept grounded in the nation's founding documents, contested in case law, and clarified by the SCOTUS). By "free speech," Lyotard means a "public good" subject to regulation, such as official statistics, a government report, or a public road. This is the mechanism SJW's are using -- the collectivization of thought and speech -- to attempt to restrict legitimate campus speech. Media pundits are ramping up efforts to push this paradigm beyond the university (see this piece by the editorial board of the Washington Post).

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but speech will never invalidate my existence. By suggesting that speech can "invalidate one's existence," Lyotard is attempting to re-frame and restrict any legitimate challenge to the deranged individual's perception of reality. This is a common mind control tactic used by cults to inoculate members against evidence-based arguments, social norms, laws, and common sense. Also, Leotard's conflation of speech with violence does not meet the SCOTUS's standards of being a clear and present danger or incitement.

This is Marxism turned nihilism, and that is, in a general sense, how the New Left differs from the Old Left. Whereas the Old Left sought to replace the meta-narratives of Western Civilization with a new meta-narrative (dialectical materialism), New Left radicals use nihilistic arguments to destroy the "meta-narratives" (the Enlightenment, Christianity, capitalism), and replace them line-by-line with neo-marxist "micro-narratives" designed to undermine constitutional government, the Judeo-Christian worldview, and market economics. It's civilizational cancer. Like a psychopath, or someone suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder, they just want to see the world burn.

Lyotard was part of the the French post-modernist/post-structuralist (Derrida, Foucault) milieu of the 1960s/1970s New Left, which was, at times, critical of the Columbia/Frankfurt School tradition. Nevertheless, they were basically making approximations of the same argument -- the culture, values, and institutions that Western Civilization rests upon are evil and must be destroyed. Compared to his more celebrated counterparts, Lyotard flew under the radar. Upon closer examination, however, it would seem that Lyotard methodically trained a group of apprentices at universities across the U.S. We are now seeing the fruits of his labors.

To be clear -- I do not accept the unconstitutional premise that the individual's freedom of speech can be infringed upon by public, state-funded universities, or by government at any level. Speech is not a public good. Trauma is not truth. The individual does not have the right to overturn constitutional processes and law. Lyotard's hyper-empowerment of deranged individuals is a strategy designed to promote lawlessness and anomie.

Socialism is slavery masquerading as liberation from God and nature.

- The Cowboy Historian


  1. Suggesting that someone is disturbed (gender dysphoria) does not invalidate their humanity nor does it deprive someone of the right to participate in civil discourse -- if it did no one would be allowed to speak in the halls of Congress, most university faculty would be silenced, and everyone in Hollywood could only star in silent films. Typically, the more disturbed one is the louder they shout -- I offer SJWs in general as evidence of that conclusion.

  2. ...would love to see you on Twitter and Facebook where I can find you easily and repost to a broader audience. I am stalled in my dissertation proposal for the very same reasons you express, my unwillingness to go along with their narrative and pressure to inject that ideology into my work.

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