Endarkenment: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and the Attack on Free Speech
Date Written: 26/05/2017
Year Published: 2017
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20979
Many today find the idea of free speech appalling -- an awful fact to those who believe in freedom, quaint as it sounds. Left-liberals agitate to prevent disagreeable expression. Their masked street allies physically attack those who engage in it.
Postmodern thinking booted reason in the 80s and 90s, says Baer. Before that, to the dismay of some, good sense held sway in the academy. The shift entailed favoring "personal experience and testimony" over "reason and argument". About this, Baer is not so much disappointed. Nor is he worried about the related recent censorial turn of campus protest. To Baer, this "should be understood as an attempt to ensure the conditions of free speech for a greater group of people, rather than censorship" because "speech that invalidates the humanity of some people" itself restricts free speech. He doesn't explain how disagreeable speech keeps some people from talking. We are meant to take his word for it. Further, he says, we should not be worried about privileging personal experience over reason and argument. This despite the obvious potential for manipulation inherent in the former's "powerful emotional impact." Rather, we should be strong (or weak) and "resist the temptation to rehash these debates." In other words, shut up and don't worry your pretty little heads.