Diogenes: Repressive Tolerance

Diogenes was a Greek philosopher and one of the founders of Cynic philosophy. He believed that virtue was better revealed in action rather than theory. He used his voice to criticize the social values and institutions of what he saw as a society whose values had regressed. The character of Diogenes will be used in the Scope to maintain the anonymity of the author in editorials such as this one. Maintaining the integrity of our paper is something that we treat with the utmost respect. I have chosen to publish this anonymous article, but with that, the responsibility of the content falls on me, the editor. While we may or may not agree with what the writer states, I stand by their article and take full responsibility for it. KG

 

Repressive tolerance. It’s an expression first coined by German philosopher Herbert Marcuse, describing how societies that pride themselves on being “tolerant” of different races, colors, and religions end up being very intolerant of any or all political positions that stand in their way. American schools, from Corvallis High School to college campuses around the country, are increasingly institutionalizing left-wing ideas and becoming hotbeds of repressive tolerance as a result.

Just hours after the tragic killing of seventeen students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, familiar political battle lines immediately began to be drawn. Those on the left, finding a fresh new set of activist faces in Cameron Kasky, Emma Gonzalez, and David Hogg, pushed for gun control measures. They attacked bogeymen: the National Rifle Association, and Florida Senator Marco Rubio. At a town hall hosted by CNN a few days after the attack, Rubio and NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch faced so-called “tough questions” that were essentially personal attacks. One survivor compared Rubio to the shooter simply for accepting donations from the NRA: “Senator Rubio, it’s hard to look at you and not look down the barrel on an AR-15 and not look at Nikolas Cruz”. I support their right to say that, even though it is comparing a sitting United States Senator to a mass murderer. It is that student’s freedom of speech.

A 2017 survey of American college students conducted by the Brookings Institution found that the younger generation was becoming strikingly hostile to one of the most basic American institutions—the right to freedom of speech. Fifty-one percent of American college students believed that it was acceptable for student groups to shout down controversial speakers and prevent them from getting their points across. Nineteen percent even supported the use of violence to suppress such speakers. And it is not like this has not been done—groups like Antifa have staged violent counter protests that have blocked conservatives from their speaking events on campus. Ann Coulter’s planned speech at the University of California—Berkeley (the so-called “birthplace of the free speech movement”) was shut down in April 2017 due to threats of violence against her speech. This is a “heckler’s veto”, an unconstitutional shutting down of speech simply due to the violence of protestors.

Corvallis High School is a politically homogeneous place. It exists in a city that gave Hillary Clinton a 68 percent to 17 percent win in 2016, and, in a campus survey from 2016, just 14 percent of students backed Donald Trump. Following Parkland, school administration took a number of steps to institutionalize the left-wing political reaction. During the walkout, students were not marked as absent and teachers left to “supervise” the students. Make no mistake, the school took steps to ensure that these students were able to voice their left-wing opinions. But what if the walkout had been organized by a pro-life group? A gun rights group? Would there have been such support then?

We live in Corvallis. Those on the left do not have to fear about having their opinions shot down, ridiculed, or blocked because they are in the majority. But what if you lived in King County, Texas, where Hillary Clinton garnered just three percent of the vote? Democratic ideas would no longer be in the majority. Would you still support the right of the majority to shut down the minority’s opinion? As Voltaire is quoted as having said: “I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to my death your right to say it.” I think this is a good philosophy for all of us to live by.

 

Repressive tolerance. It’s an expression first coined by German philosopher Herbert Marcuse, describing how societies that pride themselves on being “tolerant” of different races, colors, and religions end up being very intolerant of any or all political positions that stand in their way. American schools, from Corvallis High School to college campuses around the country, are increasingly institutionalizing left-wing ideas and becoming hotbeds of repressive tolerance as a result.

Following the Parkland shooting, school administration took a number of steps to institutionalize the left-wing political reaction. At a March 8 school board meeting, the board unanimously approved a measure to support the protesters on the grounds that not doing so might have a “chilling effect” on those deciding to protest. Shouldn’t the school district encourage students to attend class? During the walkout, students were not marked as absent and teachers left to “supervise” the students, costing valuable instruction time for the students who chose not to walk out, and spending our taxpayer dollars to pay for teachers to attend the protest. Furthermore, School Board Chair Vince Adams is quoted in the Gazette Times as saying: “I’m very excited to see students working towards something I believe in.” That you believe in?  Would the school board still support student activism if it was for something that they personally disagreed with?

We live in Corvallis, a city that gave Hillary Clinton a 68 percent to 17 percent win in 2016, and, in a recent campus survey, just 14 percent of students backed Donald Trump. Those on the left do not have to fear about having their opinions shot down, ridiculed, or blocked because they are in the majority. But what if you lived in King County, Texas, where Hillary Clinton garnered just three percent of the vote? Democratic ideas would no longer be in the majority. Would you still support the right of the majority to shut down the minority’s opinion?

To maintain the one-sided discourse present in cities like Corvallis, students increasingly are advocating for illegal activity. A 2017 survey of American college students conducted by the Brookings Institution found that fifty-one percent of American college students believed that it was acceptable for student groups to shout down controversial speakers. Nineteen percent even supported the use of violence to suppress such speakers. All of these actions are illegal—shouting down speakers using violence is prohibited by the Supreme Court in Gregory v. Chicago. And this has been done—groups like Antifa have staged violent counter protests that have blocked conservatives from their speaking events on campus.

Essentially, there are two possible ways for the school board to stay consistent on this issue. First, the board could pass a resolution supporting all protests. But then any student could give “political activism” as an excuse to skip any class they want. Running late? I was protesting, I’m excused! The other option would be to condemn all protests. This, however, risks running afoul of students’ right to free speech, established by the Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines. The school district has put itself in a pickle between two subpar options. But they must choose one.

Comments are closed.

WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: