There’s a duplicitous game of sleight-of-hand that is taking place in discussions about freedom of speech in academia and the public square.
Here’s how it works: at first, a person fishes for controversy by saying several things that they know will offend people. If this garners enough attention, then the process recurs organically — say, whenever a politician wants to reference the controversy as a coded dog whistle to their base, or when a teaching assistant replays a recording in class because she thinks the discussion is interesting and challenging.
And the moment the people targeted by that discussion get angry and protest, they’re described not as being upset about the content of what is being said, but rather their protest is reframed as opposing freedom of speech itself. Whether you see that as accidental or deliberate probably depends on how cynical you are about the whole issue. Continue reading Free Speech, When The “Debate” is You (and You’re Not Invited)