Select Page

Should the New York Times Hire a Radical?

If you find yourself in a room full of politically minded people and want to get everyone shouting quickly, start talking about the state of prestige-media opinion writing. Progressives and conservatives are both sure that their team is being systematically excluded from the op-ed pages of gatekeeper institutions like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Atlantic. Each side thinks the other is grossly over-represented. They can’t both be right—so who is? Lately, a new argument has emerged from the progressive side of this debate: if these publications want political diversity, they should get it by hiring opinion writers from the far-Left, not the Right. The far-Left’s story goes like this: after the Trump election, men like New York Times opinion editor James Bennet and Atlantic editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg concluded that coastal media elites lived in an echo-chamber that blinded them to the views of many Americans. Seeking to correct this, they hired conservative opinion writers like Bret Stephens and Kevin Williamson—despite the fact that these Never Trumpers don’t actually represent the views …

The post Should the New York Times Hire a Radical? appeared first on Quillette.

The Importance of Cultural Nationalism in an Era of Distrust

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” ~Mark 12:31 “My brother before my cousin. My cousin before my neighbor. My neighbor before my countryman. My countryman before a foreigner.” ~Arabic proverb  We are living in an epoch of escalating distrust. Whether within nations, international unions of nations, or trade deals, we are growing increasingly suspicious that others are free-riding and not holding up their end of reciprocal bargains. Germany thinks the economic laggards within the E.U. ought to step up. Some E.U. nations, meanwhile, think Germany is using its control over the union to keep prices in developing markets artificially inflated so that German exports will not be at a competitive disadvantage. Trump is tired of our NATO partners not pulling their weight. All over the first world, concern is growing that immigrants are not truly committed—or constitute an outright threat—to the nation-states that host them, and are either leeching away jobs or state benefits. Muslims suspect the West of imperialist aggression while the West suspects Muslims of being potential jihadists in-waiting. Distrust between rich …

The post The Importance of Cultural Nationalism in an Era of Distrust appeared first on Quillette.

Postmodernism and the Decline of the Liberal Arts

The ‘liberal arts’ were so named for their orientation towards free thought, and the foundational claim that they existed to enrich the lives of free people. They are, in other words, dependent on the open-mindedness of individuals wishing to develop their knowledge and understanding by exploring thousands of years of history and literature produced by human civilisation. Despite this, universities in recent years have seen a rapid decline in the reputation and value of liberal arts degrees. Whereas once an education in literature and philosophy was highly revered in academia, setting the world at its students’ feet, today a liberal arts education is widely regarded as a useless endeavour for aimless students, which offers no clear path for the future. This development can, in large part, be laid at the feet of the ever-increasing influence of postmodernism, a superficially attractive philosophy often used to promulgate political and cultural ideas. Courses that have embraced a postmodern viewpoint tend to harshly ostracise any conflicting perspective, thereby eroding the intellectual freedom upon which the liberal arts had hitherto …

The post Postmodernism and the Decline of the Liberal Arts appeared first on Quillette.

Sports Betting Decision and Federalism

Last week the Supreme Court struck down provisions of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) that prohibit state authorization and licensing of sports gambling schemes. SCOTUS held that this statute violates the Constitution’s anticommandeering rule. The New York Times sums up the import of the decision as follows: The decision seems certain to result in…
Read More »

Kelly Sadler and a Loss of Perspective

Kelly Sadler, the Special Assistant to the President’s Office of Communication, has become the latest protagonist in our national ritual of excoriating individuals for inappropriate statements. As of this writing, the Trump administration still refuses to fire Ms. Sadler or apologize for her dismissal of Senator John McCain’s opposition to CIA nominee Gina Halper because “he’s dying anyway.” Sadler’s statement reminded me of anthropologist Ernest Becker’s observation that we are psychologically and emotionally built to deny our own mortality. The relatively younger and presumably healthier special assistant dismissed the ageing senator fighting terminal cancer, apparently oblivious to the fact that she too is dying. She found a position of relative power over McCain based on her temporary good health and wielded it against him. Her words provided her, if only for a split second, with an illusion of invulnerability. Pointing out the psychological and evolutionary motives behind Kelly Sadler’s words is not just existential philosophizing. We all live in the shadow of death. Sadler might have been killed in a car accident the same day …

The post Kelly Sadler and a Loss of Perspective appeared first on Quillette.

Growing Up in a Progressive Utopia

I grew up in one of the most progressive societies in the history of humanity. The gap between the rich and poor was tiny compared to the current gulf between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ we find across much of the West. Access to education was universal and students were paid to study and offered free accommodation. Healthcare was available to all and free at the point of use. Racial tensions were non-existent, with hundreds of different ethnic groups living side by side in harmony under the mantra of ‘Friendship of the Peoples.’ Women’s equality was at the very heart of Government policy. According to the prevailing ideology “all forms of inequality were to be erased through the abolition of class structures and the shaping of an egalitarian society based on the fair distribution of resources among the people.” You are probably wondering whether the idyllic nation from which I hail is Sweden or Iceland. It was the Soviet Union. In modern Britain the top 10 percent earn 24 times as much as the bottom 10 …

The post Growing Up in a Progressive Utopia appeared first on Quillette.

The Emergence and Rise of Postmodern Conservatism

Few things agitate today’s intellectually informed conservatives and classical liberals like postmodern theory and its concretization in identity politics. In an article for the National Review back in 2014, Victor Hanson of the Hoover Institute compared postmodernism to “poison,” and decried falling standards of “truth and falsity.” Jordan Peterson has characterized postmodernism as dangerous, and identity politics as a kind of self-pitying victimization. In my home country of Canada, Rex Murphy of the right leaning National Post has characterized movements oriented around identity politics as “intolerant” and their participants as a “mob.” In Britain, Roger Scruton accused postmodern intellectuals of destroying “high culture” be effacing aesthetic standards. And so the litany goes on. It would be impossible to itemize the details of all these varied criticisms here. Instead, I will summarize them before moving on to the main topic of this essay: the emergence of postmodern conservatism and identity politics. The locus of many conservative criticisms of postmodernism seems to be twofold. Firstly, conservatives are concerned with the theoretical consequences of postmodern theory. In less sophisticated critiques, …

The post The Emergence and Rise of Postmodern Conservatism appeared first on Quillette.

Understanding Victimhood Culture: An Interview with Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning

Bradley Campbell, Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, and Jason Manning, Associate Professor of Sociology at West Virginia University, have been described as “prophets of the academic world” by psychologist Jonathan Haidt, and their new collaborative work The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, “a book of revelations,” by the sociologist Donald Black. The two sociologists have aimed to supply us with an empirical sociological analysis of the recent moral conflicts that have erupted on U.S. college campuses—and the extent to which these conflicts are spreading outwards into mainstream society. After reading the book, I reached out to the American sociologists to interview them about some of the key themes of their book, and also to gain insight into some recent cultural trends that were not covered.  What follows is a transcript of our interview conducted via email. I. Three Moral Cultures Claire Lehmann: Just briefly for our readers who have not read your book, can you explain the main differences between the dignity, honor and victimhood cultures which you …

The post Understanding Victimhood Culture: An Interview with Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning appeared first on Quillette.

Washington, DC: Where Torture is More Forgivable Than Harassment

Less than a month ago, President Trump’s nominee for the VA head chose to withdraw his name from consideration as allegations mounted—which he vehemently denied—of his having created a “toxic” work environment and assorted other peccadillos. Meanwhile, most of us have lost count of how many members of Congress have resigned due to allegations…
Read More »

Can Liberalism Survive?

The political situation throughout Europe and North America has become increasingly volatile. For decades, a pro-business centre-right and a pro-labour centre-left have combined to dominate politics in most Western countries, allowing for a steady political situation with only modest changes between election cycles. Yet in recent years, this stability has come under pressure. Deutsche Bank’s Populism Index, updated after the recent Italian election, indicates that voter support for populist parties across key European countries is at its highest level since World War II, at over 30%. The Timbro Authoritarian Populism Index is more modest, measuring populist support last year at around 20%, having doubled since 1980. These figures might even underestimate dissatisfaction with the status quo. During the 2016 U.S. election, both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders ran distinctively anti-establishment campaigns from within the established parties, meaning that voters didn’t need to shift parties to express their dissatisfaction. Trump has continued much of his anti-establishment rhetoric even after becoming president, and the Democratic Party has seen a surge in more left-leaning candidates who are convinced …

The post Can Liberalism Survive? appeared first on Quillette.

A Soldier’s Duty and Moral Injury

It’s tempting to say that the most important thing about US Marine veteran Christian Ellis is that he had an opera written about him. Few people can make that claim. Unfortunately, his story is far too complex and troubling to be reduced to any one factoid. Ellis is openly gay, did three tours of Iraq, fought both battles of Fallujah, and came home wracked with grief and guilt, sitting with his back to walls in restaurants scanning for hostiles and avenues of egress. The arc of his transformation from Marine to civilian to artist does more than operatically highlight the horrors of war. It also challenges much of the basic narrative that we’ve come to accept about the mental suffering of combat veterans, over half a million of whom have been diagnosed with PTSD in the United States alone following their return from Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres of war since 9/11. At the same time, his story also deeply implicates the society on behalf of whom this suffering is endured, a civilian world that …

The post A Soldier’s Duty and Moral Injury appeared first on Quillette.

The Student’s Dilemma: Conformity or Education

Every year on university campuses across the country, students like me navigate a variety of disciplines in pursuit of numbers that will open the door to our career of choice. Whether we yearn for a high grade point average (GPA), a high grad school test score, or a high paying job, numbers are what matter to those of us who see university as an important gateway to future happiness and prosperity. However, in certain disciplines, it can be difficult to reconcile this aspect of the student experience with the freedom to pursue our studies in a spirit of open and disinterested inquiry. In the liberal arts programs in particular, activism and ambition can conflict so that students must choose between writing what they think and getting the grades they want and need. Of course, this ought to be a false dilemma. That it exists at all raises troubling questions about academic liberty—a cornerstone of any educational institution—and what a university education is actually for. Although most schools continue to affirm free inquiry as central to …

The post The Student’s Dilemma: Conformity or Education appeared first on Quillette.

A Hidden Cost of Inflation

One hidden cost of inflation is that it makes an increasingly large share of cash holdings and transactions subject to government surveillance.

Wrongspeak

Wrongspeak is an all-new podcast featuring two Toronto-based political commentators committed to telling stories about “the things we believe to be true but cannot say.” Its mission is to push listeners past received wisdom, follow the evidence, and open up a fearless but constructive dialogue on important issues. Jonathan Kay is the Canadian editor of Quillette, is a former engineer and lawyer, a best-selling New York Times-reviewed book author, and a political commentator whose work appears regularly in Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs, CNN.com, and Canada’s National Post. Dr. Debra Soh is a former academic researcher with a PhD in sexual neuroscience who contributes to Quillette, Canada’s Globe & Mail and Playboy. Introductory episodes include: — “James Damore’s Inconvenient Brain,” featuring a revealing interview with the controversial ex-Google engineer, alongside a close look at the actual science behind his infamous “Google Memo” on how gender plays out in the tech field; — “The Shepherd Effect,” which introduces global listeners to the fascinating saga of Canadian graduate student Lindsay Shepherd, as well as surprising interviews that cast fresh …

The post Wrongspeak appeared first on Quillette.

The Racism Treadmill

The prevailing view among progressives today is that America hasn’t made much progress on racism. While no one would argue that abolishing slavery and dissolving Jim Crow weren’t good first steps, the progressive attitude toward such reforms is nicely summarized by Malcolm X’s famous quip, “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress.” Aside from outlawing formalized bigotry, many progressives believe that things haven’t improved all that much. Racist attitudes towards blacks, if only in the form of implicit bias, are thought to be widespread; black men are still liable to be arrested in a Starbucks for no good reason; plus we have a president who has found it difficult to denounce neo-Nazis. If racism still looms large in our social and political lives, then, as one left-wing commentator put it, “progress is debatable.” But the data take a clear side in that debate. In his controversial bestseller Enlightenment Now, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker notes a steep decline in racism. …

The post The Racism Treadmill appeared first on Quillette.

Libel of Jordan Peterson by the Forward—A Story of Journalistic Failure

On Friday, one of the preeminent Jewish magazines, the Forward, published an article by Ari Feldman titled “Is Jordan Peterson Enabling Jew Hatred?” accompanied by a picture of Adolf Hitler giving the Nazi salute next to Peterson. The Forward explains Vox-style: “Jordan Peterson is a public intellectual adored by neo-Nazis, white supremacists and conspiracy theorists. The neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer called [him] ‘The Savior of Western Civilization.’” What did Peterson do to become, according to the Forward, comparable to Hitler? In a recent blog post addressing anti-Semitism in the alt-right, Peterson “attributed [Jewish] influence to Jewish intelligence—an old anti-Semitic dog whistle.” Peterson’s willingness to answer questions about “Jewish success” and his interest in IQ literature is “suspicious” said Deborah Lipstadt, who also said that Peterson’s statements on Jewish intelligence reminded her of Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whom the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as ‘the neo-Nazi movement’s favorite academic.’ (This is despite Peterson linking to criticism of MacDonald’s work within his blog post on Jewish intelligence.) Ari Feldman appears to be …

The post Libel of Jordan Peterson by the Forward—A Story of Journalistic Failure appeared first on Quillette.

Glamourising the ‘Childfree Life’ Ignores Reality for Most Childless Women

Twenty-five years ago, I made the decision to marry the man I love. I was 23 when I packed up my life in Montreal and moved to New York City for him. I had yet to actually meet this man, but as I drove down the I-87 to my new home, I was confident that I was headed exactly where I always expected to be: in love, married, and a mother. And on my first job interview in New York City, I even inquired about maternity benefits. After all, I was expecting twin girls. To clarify, I wasn’t pregnant. But since I was 10-years-old, I imagined that one day, I’d have twin girls – despite no familial history of twins. But as the years in New York went by and I remained single, I eventually let go of that dream. I didn’t care if I had three boys. I just wanted to be a mother. Ultimately, I let go of that dream, too. I’m now 49, still single, and on the other side of hope …

The post Glamourising the ‘Childfree Life’ Ignores Reality for Most Childless Women appeared first on Quillette.

A History of the Struggle for Gay Equality: Civil Rights or Counterculture Movement?

The history of the gay rights movement in the United States is fascinating, and its progress raises an interesting question about the nature of its activism. Has the struggle for gay equality been primarily a universalist drive for equity and civil rights, with the inter-related goals of individual liberty, respect, and freedom from persecution? Or is it a social justice movement driven by a countercultural constituency intent on separating itself from mainstream culture? The answer is that the gay rights movement in the United States is a complicated combination of both perspectives. To date, the successes of the gay rights movement in the United States have been laudable. The repeal of laws that criminalized homosexual sex was a significant gain. As a consequence, gay people can now live openly and are free to marry. It is true that elements of anti-gay prejudice linger, mainly among the ranks of the religious and the socially conservative. It also remains the case that only a patchwork of laws exist across the 50 states prohibiting discrimination in employment on …

The post A History of the Struggle for Gay Equality: Civil Rights or Counterculture Movement? appeared first on Quillette.

Biosocial Criminology and the Lombrosian Paradox

Last October, Quillette published an article by Hal Conick, crisply abridging Robert Sapolsky’s biologically based argument for criminal justice reform. Sapolsky, a neurobiology professor at Stanford University, has spent his career researching a range of topics including neuronal degeneration, infraspecific dominance hierarchies, stress, and violence, especially in relation to the behaviour of primates.  Over the years, Sapolsky has found that much of the antisocial behaviour we see and criminalize in human beings manifests similarly, biologically speaking, in our hominid relatives. Coupled with his extensive training in neuroscience, Sapolsky has used the findings of this simian research to argue for shifts in criminal justice policy—from the current system, which relies on an esoteric conception of ‘free will’ that can be needlessly retributive, to a system emphasizing public safety. In his 2017 book Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, Sapolsky argues that “you can’t begin to understand things like aggression, competition, cooperation, and empathy without biology,” a caveat he quite rightly issues, “for the benefit of a certain breed of social scientist who …

The post Biosocial Criminology and the Lombrosian Paradox appeared first on Quillette.

The Elites and Inequality: The Rise and Fall of the Managerial Class

In analysing the political upheavals across Europe and America in the past several years, it has become customary to talk about ‘the elites’ and about ‘inequality’. This article will explore both concepts in political and socio-economic analysis, and posits that certain elites in the West need narratives of inequality to maintain their stranglehold on power. It concludes by suggesting that we are witnessing the passing of an old and increasingly irrelevant class of elites, whose wild attempts to cling onto the old order will see them lash out in unpredictable directions. When the political left talk about elites, they typically refer to ‘the haves’ (as opposed to the ‘have nots’), that is the top 1% of income earners, a concern which has a legacy in outmoded and demonstrably incorrect Marxist analysis. Thus, here in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn’s far left Labour party routinely trot out the old line that ‘the rich keep getting richer while the poor are getting poorer’. However, even The Guardian – albeit through gritted teeth – pointed out in 2017 that …

The post The Elites and Inequality: The Rise and Fall of the Managerial Class appeared first on Quillette.

Is There Room in Diversity For White People?

It’s tempting to snicker at snowflake culture, with its noisy campus gauntlet of trigger warnings, microaggressions, and in-your-face privilege-checking—but transpiring quietly off-stage at academia’s administrative levels is a far more sinister phenomenon undertaken in the name of one of society’s more theoretically desirable goals: diversity. Here a disclaimer seems in order. Regardless of political affiliation, fair-minded observers will concede that educational facilities for minorities have remained decidedly separate, and in no way equal, in the several generations since 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education. Such inequities naturally show up in college enrollment and performance: minority students who are products of inferior grade-school systems find it harder to negotiate the realm of higher education, in terms of both gaining entry and keeping up once they’re there. Accordingly, colleges have implemented various programs and protocols designed to boost campus diversity and help at-risk students feel more at home. Now, reasonable people can differ about whether academia, as the ancestral home of white guilt, has been overzealous at micromanaging outcomes. Significant race-based preferences remain widespread, and lawsuits continue to be filed …

The post Is There Room in Diversity For White People? appeared first on Quillette.

Two Arguments for Inequality

Social inequality is amongst the most contentious and prominent social issues in the twenty-first century. After declining significantly in the mid-twentieth century, inequality has now reached stark levels. A recent Credit Suisse report indicated that the globe’s richest 1 percent are on track to own half of the world’s wealth. In November 2017, Forbes reported that the three wealthiest Americans now own more wealth than the bottom 160 million. The disparity between those who have a great deal, and those with much less, has grown so stark that in his bestselling book Capital in the Twenty-First Century economist Thomas Piketty warned that we might be entering a new “Gilded Age.” It would be driven by a global class of individuals who enjoy vast inherited wealth, demonstrate little allegiance to the nation state and its tax laws, and commit themselves to further entrenching their social power. These prompts raise the question of what can possibly justify such stark inequities; especially in a global context where the World Bank estimates that in 2013 roughly 767 million individuals lived on …

The post Two Arguments for Inequality appeared first on Quillette.

Elham Manea: From Fundamentalism to Reform

In February 2015, the gaze of the international media was transfixed by the case of three Syria-bound British schoolgirls. Amira Abase, Shamima Begum, and Kadiza Sultana were all pupils aged between 15 and 16 at the Bethnal Green Academy in east London. Without warning, they abandoned their GCSE studies and fled the safety of Britain for life in the nascent Islamic State. The political and media class recoiled in shock and horror. Even though dozens of British males had already left to become militants in Syria and Iraq, the idea that apparently normal middle-class schoolgirls should be lured by a life of punishing austerity and violence struck a new nerve. The media reported on the story for weeks, and the girls’ tearful families made appeals before the cameras. By then, the trio had long slipped across the Turkish border into I.S. territory. They would not return. From central Switzerland, an Arab academic followed the story closely and now ponders its larger significance. Elham Manea is an associate professor in the Political Science Institute at the University …

The post Elham Manea: From Fundamentalism to Reform appeared first on Quillette.

Portugal Poised to Write Gender Fluidity into Law

On 13 April 2018, the Portuguese parliament approved Bill 75/XIII, the ostensible aim of which is to protect the rights of transgender and intersex individuals. Looking at the details, however, it’s difficult to say if it was really created to advance the rights of these people, or if it was simply cobbled together on some sort of whim. Portugal’s last parliamentary elections were held in September 2015, and a coalition of PSD (Social-Democrat Party) and CDS-PP (Party of the Social-Democratic Center) won the most votes, but failed to secure an overall majority. This allowed the country’s leftist parties (PS – Socialist Party; PCP – Portuguese Communist Party; PEV – Green Party; and BE – Leftist Block) to form a coalition government led by PS. The PS government has to make regular concessions to these parties because it needs their votes to pass new legislation. In the case of this bill, that wasn’t really the case, since Bill 75/XIII was originally proposed by the government itself. However, later drafts included recommendations from their far-Left coalition partners …

The post Portugal Poised to Write Gender Fluidity into Law appeared first on Quillette.

The Illiberal Logic of Intersectionality

A spate of articles about intersectionality have been published recently—two at Heterodox Academy from Ian Storey and Chris Martin and another at the Atlantic from Conor Friedersdorf. These three authors seek to challenge what appears to be a reflexive hostility among conservative and centrist thinkers to the ideas of intersectional theory. Broadly speaking, they all agree that intersectional principles do not necessarily pose a threat to the free speech and that intersectionality is a useful conceptual framework, as it allows us to better understand the unique set of problems faced by people with intersecting identities (e.g. black women, gay Hispanic men). Storey and Friedersdorf, moreover, argue that the fact that campus activists have used intersectionality to suppress speech proves only that the tactics of the social justice movement can be illiberal, but not that the theory is itself at fault for illiberal activist conduct. Thought-provoking and insightful though their essays were, the claim that intersectionality can be fully separated from radicalism and opposition to free speech remains unconvincing. That is not to say that all …

The post The Illiberal Logic of Intersectionality appeared first on Quillette.

The Problem with Candace Owens

Dissent in the ranks of so-called “marginalized groups,” often viewed as natural constituencies for the left, rarely fails to draw a backlash from progressives and sympathy from conservatives. Recently, such a controversy erupted when rap artist Kanye West voiced support on Twitter for Candace Owens, an African-American conservative YouTuber and Donald Trump supporter. West’s tweet—“I love the way Candace Owens thinks”—was met with much wailing and gnashing of teeth on the left and much celebration on the right (partly out of sheer gloating at the left’s dismay). There has also been more thoughtful commentary, including a Quillette essay by Columbia University philosophy student Coleman Hughes looking at the ways in which standard left-of-center politics in America fail to represent the diversity of opinion in the black community. This is a healthy discussion. Unfortunately, in their understandable frustration with the social and racial orthodoxies that currently dominate liberal political culture, conservatives and libertarians risk embracing self-styled dissenters who are (to borrow a term from the social justice left) problematic allies. This is true of West, whose …

The post The Problem with Candace Owens appeared first on Quillette.

#126 — In Defense of Honor

In this episode of the Waking Up podcast Sam Harris speaks with Tamler Sommers about cultures of honor. They discuss the difference between honor and dignity, “justice porn,” honor killings, honor and interpersonal violence, prison and gang culture, co…

Life as a Kuffar: My Seven Lost Years in Kuwait

It’s December, 2017, and I’m awash in late-afternoon sunshine, sitting outside around a table with old friends and former colleagues. The setting is a farm in the agricultural sector of Kuwait. We’re drinking tea and maybe bootleg date rum, reminiscing. Some of us are smoking shisha. There are dogs at our feet. At night, the courtyard lights can be programmed to flash and glow in different colors. If you stand on the roof, you can see the oil fires burning at Burgan, the largest oil field in Kuwait. This is my first time back since I lived in Kuwait between 2006 and 2013, when I was in my thirties. It was a period during which I became uglier, angrier—and, finally, broken. I returned last year to see familiar faces and revisit old haunts. But I also came to figure out why I broke. Was it me? Or was it Kuwait? I find that some things have changed and many have not. That’s true of me. And it’s true of this country. It’s big things like …

The post Life as a Kuffar: My Seven Lost Years in Kuwait appeared first on Quillette.

Unpopular Speech and the Shaping of the First Amendment

American civil libertarians are justifiably proud of the broad set of rights that their country’s citizens enjoy, and the unique legal protections afforded to freedom of expression, in particular. A variety of judicial rulings throughout the twentieth century expanded the interpretation of the First Amendment to provide some of the widest speech protections in the Western world. Although exceptions exist for ‘obscenity’ and ‘fighting words,’ Americans may otherwise be as expressive or inflammatory as they please, so long as they do not espouse a direct incitement to imminent lawless action. However, rapid cultural shifts in recent years has prompted a greater willingness on university campuses to categorise and censor what is often referred to as ‘hate speech,’ which is muddying the lines around protected expression. Next year will be the 100th anniversary of one of the most famous cases in United States Supreme Court history, Schenck v. U.S., which, along with a lower court case two years earlier, Masses Publishing Company v. Patten, helped to formulate the modern interpretation of the First Amendment. In a …

The post Unpopular Speech and the Shaping of the First Amendment appeared first on Quillette.