Ideology unbound

UC Berkeley faculty called for a Campus-Wide Boycott of Class to protest the visits of conservative speakers to the campus.

The faculty and staff who wrote the letter acknowledged UC Berkeley is "bound by the Constitution to allow all viewpoints on campus," but also said there are "forms of speech that are not protected under the First Amendment."

"We recognize that as a public institution, we are legally bound by the Constitution to allow all viewpoints on campus. However, there are forms of speech that are not protected under the First Amendment," the letter said. "These include speech that presents imminent physical danger and speech that disrupts the university's mission to educate."

If the Left now think they can determine the limits of free speech they are more trapped than empowered, captives of their own stare decisis. They are on a treadmill sometimes called a "national conversation" from which they cannot get off. Often when the Left talks about having a national conversation they mean the thoughts that occur to them and no one else. Then having adjudicated their own internal reflections they author what they regard as binding opinion on themselves and all the rest. As Mark Lilla told David Remnick in the New Yorker the only flexibility ever available to a progressive is tactical.

It’s important to speak truth to power out in society. We’re journalists, right? We need to write about this kind of stuff. But, when we go out on the stump, it makes no sense to call out to various groups, as Hillary Clinton did, and inevitably leave people out. ...

I want to get this across: we cannot do anything for these groups we care about if we do not hold power. It is just talk. Therefore, our rhetoric in campaigning must be focussed on winning, so then we can help these people. An election is not about self-expression. It’s not a time to display everything we believe about everything. It’s a contest. And once you hold power, then you can do the things you want to do.

Imprisoned by their own imperatives they arrive at policy positions -- such as limits on free speech -- which they regard as "settled" even though hundreds of millions may not even know what they are talking about. This insidious process of begging the question is typical of totalitarian propaganda which made abundant use of expressions like "undeniably", "unquestionably" or as "everyone knows" or their more modern equivalents like as "all decent people agree ...", "the science is settled" or "this is not who we are" to assume what must otherwise be proved. But it nevertheless compels obedience like a herd driving itself along.

This has the effect of positing a consensus which in fact may not exist. The inevitable outcome of a "national conversation" is conflict declared upon a population that may never have heard of the casus belli before. But it does more than that. In many cases it also creates its own anti-universe. The paradox Ben Shapiro represents is that he as an entity should not exist but inexplicably does. Yet he exists because he must. Many of most of the monstrous figures that make progressives physically sick  have their origin stories in the framing of the narrative itself.