The Tragic Death of Freedom of Speech and the Growth of Intolerance

From Psychology Today on July 2, 2009:

Only July 4, the United States will be celebrating Independence Day, the birth of our nation. Unfortunately, the greatest freedom provided us by this new democracy has been dying and few people seem to be aware of it or care about it. And many others are even cheering it on.

The democratic world has made “tolerance” its number one social goal. Nevertheless, this goal has been elusive, as victimized groups continue to lobby for laws that remove the stigmas against them, and educators, social scientists and parents continue to proclaim the horrors of bullying. Despite decades of diversity education, members of the various races congregate largely with their own kind in our schools and neighborhoods.

The truly ironic thing is that the most essential element of a tolerant society has been with us for the past two centuries, as it is also the central element of democracy, but we are slowly but surely killing it. That element is in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is called Freedom of Speech. We need to be allowed to say what we want, as long as our words don’t cause tangible harm to people’s bodies or property, or society will stagnate and we will be prisoners in our own skulls, only permitted to say things that the authorities approve of. Without Freedom of Speech, we would never solve problems that require abandonment of current ways of thinking. Without Freedom of Speech, the government could be as despotic as it wishes, killing off any protestors without impunity. Where the concept of Freedom of Speech is absent, people believe they are entitled to kill others who say things they find offensive. Without Freedom of Speech, we would literally be living in the Dark Ages.

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Inequality: Where Right and Left Agree

From The Daily Beast:

Harvard’s Robert Putnam and The Bell Curve author Charles Murray insist it’s time to save the American underclass.

Liberal Harvard professor Robert Putnam and self-described “Grinch” Charles Murray may be ideological opposites, but both agree it’s time to invest more in helping poor kids succeed.“I’m a libertarian, I don’t do solutions,” Murray said, partly for laughs, at a noontime discussion held at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. But he agrees with Putnam that that extracurricular activities should be free in public schools, that poor kids who do dumb things should get the benefit of the doubt like their affluent peers, and that pre-school is a good way to take poor kids out of a punishing environment even when, in his view, the outcome 20 years down the road doesn’t justify the expenditure.

“Government has a lot worse ways of spending my money,” he said.


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The Dalai Lama’s Daily Routine and Information Diet

From brain pickings, an interesting take on segregating the important from the unimportant:

To understand the Dalai Lama…perhaps it’s most useful to see him as a doctor of the soul.

Everything’s Awesome and Camille Paglia Is Unhappy!

From Reason (Hat tip, Instapundit):

Growing up as “a gender nonconforming entity” in Eisenhower’s America wasn’t easy for cultural critic and best-selling author Camille Paglia. Her adolescence in small-town upstate New York was marked by rejection, rebellion, and cross-dressing, all in reaction to the stultifying social norms of the 1950s and early ’60s. She would go on to become one of America’s most famous academics and cultural critics, an “anti-feminist feminist” and an incendiary atheist who once wrote that “God is man’s greatest idea.” From her perch at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts, Paglia has befuddled orthodox partisans and ideologues for decades.

So what does this tireless provocateur think of contemporary culture, with its openness to a wide variety of ever-proliferating gender, racial, and sexual identities? Not so much. Whether the subject is feminism or the fate of Western civilization, Paglia is no Pollyanna. In this wide-ranging discussion, she says decadence is upon us, higher education is going to hell, LSD destroyed the baby boomers, millennials are myopic, contemporary criticism has croaked, and Hillary Clinton might singlehandedly destroy the universe. Even Madonna, once Paglia’s ideal of sex-positive feminism, seems to have lost her way.

Does the celebrated author of Sexual Personae (1990) and Break Blow Burn (2005) have any reason to get out of bed in the morning? Does she have any hope at all? Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie sat down with Paglia in March to find out.

Read the whole interview at the above link.

Jeremy England, the Man Who May One-Up Darwin

From OZY, by Meghan Walsh:

Why you should care? Because this guy could change the way we think about evolution — and faith.

On a sunny afternoon, at a bustling cafe less than a mile from Stanford University’s Palo Alto campus and more than 5,000 miles from his home, an assistant professor from MIT is telling me about science. Very advanced science. His name is Jeremy England, and at 33, he’s already being called the next Charles Darwin.

Say what?

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Is Overpopulation a Legitimate Threat to Humanity and the Planet?

From The New York Times: Room for Debate—

recent Retro Report examines how the apocalyptic predictions about overpopulation made by the biologist Paul Ehrlich, in his 1968 book “The Population Bomb,” have not come to pass. Disease-resistant crops, improved health standards and a broader demographic shift from an agricultural society have kept the problem at bay.

But do we still need to worry about overcrowding? Is the threat of overpopulation overblown?

Quote of the day

Occupational licensing is always a tool to protect the connected from competition by the unconnected. It’s justified in the name of protecting consumers, but it’s never demanded by consumers, but by members of the industry being protected.

From Instapundit in regard to this.

Why Facebook Is the Junk Food of Socializing

The text from Nautilus:

Have you ever been walking in a dark alley and seen something that you thought was a crouching person, but it turned out to be a garbage bag or something similarly innocuous? Me too.

Have you ever seen a person crouching in a dark alley and mistaken it for a garbage bag? Me neither. Why does the error go one way and not the other?

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Reformers want to erase Confucius’s influence in Asia. That’s a mistake.

From The Washington Post, a piece by Michael Schuman, author of “Confucius: And the World He Created.” :

I was at breakfast here one recent Sunday morning with my 2011-12-07T101834Z_01_DBG208_RTRIDSP_3_CHINAwife’s Chinese American friend and her family when I mentioned that I had just published a book about Confucius. Next came the inevitable attacks on China’s most famous philosopher. Her father, a retired lawyer, criticized Confucius’s doctrine for leaving the Chinese victims of arbitrary government. By Confucius’s teachings, he complained, people were to abide by the sage’s ethical precepts with no method of enforcing them beyond moral persuasion, preventing proper rule of law from developing in China. Instead, everybody judges one another against Confucius’s unattainable ethical standards, creating a society of intrusive busybodies. “Confucius is to blame for everything wrong with China,” he said.

Continue reading Reformers want to erase Confucius’s influence in Asia. That’s a mistake.