I was going to write something about Jonathan Chait’s column on the resurgence of “political correctness,” but here are two people who do it a lot better:
There’s little I can say in response to this piece that wouldn’t merely be a variation on what I’ve already said before.
But I do want to note this important context: Chait et. al. have spent a very long time making a living treating defining the terms of debate as the debate itself.
And that’s why we get these petulant thinkpieces about “the nature of the debate” and tortured explanations about how what they do is speech, but what their critics do is something that endangers speech.
Chait is a professional gatekeepers, whose career is built upon having conversations he defines as important exclusively with people who view his being white and male as credentials, but don’t practice identity politics. Ahem.
And the thing about professional gatekeepers is that they get very miffed indeed when people start saying fuck the rules of sitting at your table; we’ll build our own table.
Oh the terrible rending of garments when you make it clear you don’t care about their rules of engagement for discourse, because their discourse is garbage.
Chait also seems to engage in some magical thinking about the curative powers of the “free market of ideas,” wherein more speech is always the cure for bad speech and therefore all speech must be protected (with the usual caveat about yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater, one presumes). I subscribe to that view myself, in the absence of a better one. But as always, there’s a difference between protecting speech and insisting that it remain free from criticism — even from harsh criticism that results in hurt feelings and blog-flounces!
And maybe it’s important to acknowledge that there will always be an imbalance in the free market model of speech, just as there is in the commodities market. I’m just as free to invest in political speech as defined by the Roberts Court as the Koch Bros. are; I just have a lot less to invest. And that matters.