Free Speech

Jerry Coyne is upset again:

This is reprehensible, unconscionable, and ridiculous. Yesterday’s New York Times reports that Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, which was planning to award an honorary degree to author and anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali—one of the bravest women on the planet—has cancelled those plans.

The best part is when he concludes, “I am ashamed that my fellow liberals, who prize freedom of speech and the right to dissent, nevertheless suppress that freedom by bowing to Muslim pressure.”

For now, let’s ignore how Coyne is treating his “fellow liberals” is if they have free will and whether something called “free speech” can exist among entities with no free will. Instead, notice how Coyne abandons scientific thinking. He has a belief – “my fellow liberals prize freedom of speech.” They do? Seriously? If they do, how does Coyne explain his “fellow liberals” cancelling those plans? People who truly do PRIZE freedom of speech don’t behave that way.

What’s more, Coyne even has to admit the following: “And the only organization willing to employ her is the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which is a great shame, for to many people that conflates her message with darker currents of American conservativism.”

Oh, the shame. But professor, pause for a moment and ask – Why is it that the only organization willing to employ her is the conservative American Enterprise Institute?

So here we have a scientist confronted with data that conflict with his cherished, precious belief about liberals prizing freedom of speech. Will he modify that belief in light of the evidence? Of course not. Belief stands as is; evidence swept down the memory hole.

Besides, there is nothing shocking or surprising about this event. After all, not too long ago the same liberal Jerry Coyne didn’t seem to PRIZE freedom of speech when it came to another speaker. Here is what Coyne wrote:

Carson’s also opposed to gay marriage, which why some students and faculty walked out of his presentation. Fine: he has the right to express his views, and academics have the right to walk out silently. But what is wrong here is that a respectable university chose as its commencement speaker someone committed to a profoundly misguided view of biology. He is antiscientific, except, perhaps, in the operating room.

Yes, Carson worked his way up from a horrible background (raised in Detroit by a single mom) to a position of prestige and accomplishment, and yes, he’s been a role model to black students. But none of that, to my mind, outweighs his profoundly creationist views. He certainly shouldn’t be barred from speaking because of his faith, but the officials who pick commencement speakers should have excluded him because his view of science, based on lies, is hardly exemplary of an institution devoted to learning. Truth outweighs inspiration.

Y’see how it works. Coyne had his rationalization for opposing free speech, just as Brandeis University has its rationalization. As we all know, these folks champion free speech… long as they agree with it.

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5 Responses to Free Speech

  1. Luis says:

    Coyne fought to ban Eric Hedin from teaching Intelligent Design at Ball State University and won. He also fought to have a plaque taken down from the Natural History Museum that mentioned ‘God’s Creatures” and won. He is only an advocate of free speech as long as it confirms his views.

    In some ways, I don’t like it but it does stop people from teaching their kids things like Adam and Eve were playing with meat eating dinosaurs.

  2. Karl Grant says:

    Well, the reason Brandeis revoked their honorary degree to Ayan Hirsi Ali is because she is a war monger and opposed to curtailing civil liberties herself. Just look at her interview in “Reason” magazine a few years ago:

    Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?

    Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that. You stop the symbol burning and the effigy burning, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.

    Reason: Militarily?

    Hirsi Ali: In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.

    And I especially like it when she says western democracies ought to follow the example of dictatorships:

    Hirsi Ali: All Muslim schools. Close them down. Yeah, that sounds absolutist. I think 10 years ago things were different, but now the jihadi genie is out of the bottle. I’ve been saying this in Australia and in the U.K. and so on, and I get exactly the same arguments: The Constitution doesn’t allow it. But we need to ask where these constitutions came from to start with—what’s the history of Article 23 in the Netherlands, for instance? There were no Muslim schools when the constitution was written. There were no jihadists. They had no idea.

    Reason: Do you believe that the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights—documents from more than 200 ago—ought to change?

    Hirsi Ali: They’re not infallible. These Western constitutions are products of the Enlightenment. They’re products of reason, and reason dictates that you can only progress when you can analyze the circumstances and act accordingly. So now that we live under different conditions, the threat is different. Constitutions can be adapted, and they are, sometimes. The American Constitution has been amended a number of times. With the Dutch Constitution, I think the latest adaptation was in 1989. Constitutions are not like the Koran—nonnegotiable, never-changing.

    Look, in a democracy, it’s like this: I suggest, “Let’s close Muslim schools.” You say, “No, we can’t do it.” The problem that I’m pointing out to you gets bigger and bigger. Then you say, “OK, let’s somehow discourage them,” and still the problem keeps on growing, and in another few years it gets so bad that I belatedly get what I wanted in the first place.

    I respect that it needs to happen this way, but there’s a price for the fact that you and I didn’t share these insights earlier, and the longer we wait, the higher the price. In itself the whole process is not a bad thing. People and communities and societies learn through experience. The drawback is, in this case, that “let’s learn from experience” means other people’s lives will be taken.

    Reason: When I read Ian Buruma’s review of your book in The New York Times, I felt he wasn’t being fair to you when he wrote that you “espouse an absolutist way of a perfectly enlightened west at war with the demonic world of Islam.” But maybe that’s a pretty apt description of what you believe.

    So use military force to suppress people you don’t like and invade countries simply because you don’t like the majority of their citizens? Rewrite the Bill of Rights to to revoke freedoms from groups you don’t like? She certainly sounds like Coyne’s golden girl alright.

  3. The Deuce says:

    Well, the reason Brandeis revoked their honorary degree to Ayan Hirsi Ali is because she is a war monger and opposed to curtailing civil liberties herself.

    Of course, there’s always an excuse. Leftists are in favor of free speech unless it’s “beyond the pale” or “violates civil liberties” (where “beyond the pale” turns out to mean anything in opposition to leftist views, and the recognition of every deviation leftists like is a “civil liberty”).

  4. BenYachov says:

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an ex-Muslim turned Atheist who criticizes Islam & Jerry freakin Coyne has a problem with Brandeis University awarding her an honorary degree?

    It’s like being told Kirk Cameron was upset Liberty University was planing on giving Mike Huckabee an honorary degree?

    Did I wake up in the Twightlight Zone? Where the frak is Rod Serling?

  5. labreuer says:

    Those quotes of Ayan Hirsi Ali by @Karl Grant remind me of the caricature I have:

         (1) Muslims believe you get social order by coercion and power and submission.
         (2) Christians believe Jesus died because of the desire for social order.

    Whether or not (1) is correct, it seems a decent model of the words quoted. If we do not use force, they will use force and kill us. And Christianity with its Mt 20:20–28 and Jn 13:1–20 is said to be ‘just another religion’ along with Islam…

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