I'm prompted to write this week by the recent kerfuffles surrounding Professors Jordan B. Peterson (University of Toronto), and Bret Weinstein (Evergreen State College). I'm also informed by Professor Yuval N. Harari's Sapiens: A Brief History of Human Kind.
Professor Harari suggests that there is a continuum between religion and ideology, suggesting that either are just a set of shared myths. We build our societies and states around certain shared sets of ideas.
In our American case, our shared beliefs—political at least—are enshrined in our constitution. Informing this is a certain Christian tradition, and the moral and ethical code that it carries with it. I'm reminded of Franklin's emphasis on thrift and industry and respect, a rather simple elegance informing our dignity.
The part relevant to this discussion is the First Amendment:
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Assuming Professor Harari's premise is correct, we have made a religion of our freedom to embrace our own beliefs, and share our own thoughts. As I see it, this amendment was written to concretize our creed "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
So why does this show up here? It seems some of us have forgotten our roots. The people screaming against Professors Weinstein and Peterson are demanding that their positions be “respected,” but wish to do that by creating and enforcing codes and thoughts and practices directly abridging the freedom of speech of the next person.
In Professor Peterson's case, it is worse. Those who claim to be the victims of Peterson's speech have the ear of Prime Minister Trudeau. For Professor Peterson, there is a real threat that his incautious choice of words will have criminal consequences. There's a fair argument to be made that we are not far behind, regardless of our constitutional protections.
Those protesting professors Peterson and Weinstein think that we ought to protect them from being offended, that we should be forced to respect what they believe, but that's simply not how our system operates.
It's time we take a stand. You, snowflake, are welcome to advocate all you want to be called ze or for a white-free day on your campus. What you are not welcome to do is command that I call you ze, or not show up because I am too white for your political purposes.
You may argue for a different world order, but that's not what the rest of us signed on for.