Tyler Durden (the other one) talks about how free speech is increasingly becoming criminalized, and it’s absolutely true, of course. When someone can get jailed for “hate” speech (my favorite kind, especially when it pertains to politicians of all stripes and Marxist politicians in particular), and when simply wearing a T-shirt can get one into trouble (try wearing a MAGA shirt on the Berkeley campus, for example), it’s easy to prove Tyler’s thesis.
I have two anecdotes on the above, relating to my oh-so brief period as a full-time student at a four-year college. (I should mention up front that while U of North Texas is, by Texas standards, an island of PC and Green groupthink, it’s like Hillsdale College by comparison to Yale or Berkeley.)
Anyway, sometime during my second week on campus I was strolling towards the coffee bar at the student union building or whatever they called it, when I saw a small expanse of lawn, maybe forty feet square, in front of which was a small sign designating this lawn as a “free speech zone — permit required” area. I happened to see one of my professors walking towards me, and I stopped her.
“Am I seeing things, or is this the only place on campus where someone can make a speech? And you need a permit?”
“Uh huh,” she replied, clearly oblivious of the trap I was setting for her, “You get it from the Student Affairs office.”
“Doesn’t sound very free to me,” I observed. “If one has to get a permit to speak, it could, theoretically, be turned down?”
“Oh, they hardly ever refuse a speaking permit.”
“Hardly ever doesn’t really seem to jibe with free, does it?”
“Well, they try to avoid allowing anything that would rile up other students.”
“So if I stood up there, permit in hand, and started yelling that women and niggers shouldn’t be allowed to vote, there’d be repercussions?”
She flinched at the sound of the word “niggers”, which was my intention all along. “You’d probably be suspended!”
“So really, it’s not a free speech zone at all, is it?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Exactly how is it free, when I have to get permission to speak, the content is subject to penalty, and where I can speak is constrained by regulation?”
She had no answer to that, but walked off with a horrified look on her face. As did I. I can only imagine the discussion in the faculty lounge later that day. (Despite the evidence that I was a troublemaker, I still got an A for the course because after a few lectures it was clear, both to the prof and to the other students, that I could have taught the class. So why did I take the class, then? It fulfilled a stupid requirement, and as it was an easy A, it freed up time for me to concentrate on Post-WWII German Economic History, which was an absolute monster.)
The second of my many brushes with this free speech foolishness was when I saw a student, a young kid of maybe nineteen, wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt. As we were in a classroom waiting for the professor to arrive, I thought I’d have a little fun.
“Why are you wearing a Che Guevara t-shirt?” I asked.
He looked down, as though seeing it for the first time. “‘Cause it looks cool.”
“You mean, you like the design, or you approve of his revolutionary ethos?”
I think he was a little confused by the word “ethos”, but he replied, “Both. He was a cool dude.”
“You know he was a mass murderer, right?”
The little shit smirked. “He was doin’ what had to be done.”
“Killing his political enemies, without a trial or any legal procedure, just lining them up and mowing them down with a machine gun?”
The kid started looking uncomfortable. “He didn’t do any of that.”
“You know there’s photographic and documentary proof that he did, right? And you know one of his most famous quotes?” (Long ago, I’d taken the trouble to memorize this one, for just such an occasion.)
“To send men to the firing squad, judicial proof is unnecessary. These procedures are an archaic bourgeois detail.” I paused. “Still think he was a cool dude?”
The kid was saved further embarrassment by the arrival of the professor, but after the class another kid came up to me and said, “Dude! That was awesome! Can you write that down for me, what Che said?”
Maybe, just maybe, I prevented at least one kid from becoming a Marxist. At worst, I exposed the other kids in the class to the reality of Guevara’s barbarity. One at a time, folks; one at a time.