A new leftist rule on speech is announced, along with a new protected victim class

Lately it has been Shock and Awe time for liberalism, meaning that liberals are putting us into a state of shock and awe. Every day now, liberals announce some new principle, policy objective, or non-negotiable ethical standard that goes beyond anything that has been heard before. The latest is from President Joel Seligman of the University of Rochester, who denounced one of his professors, Steven Landsburg, for siding with Rush Limbaugh in the Sandra Fluke controversy. Seligman wrote,

I was deeply disappointed to read UR Professor Steve Landsburg’s recent blogs praising Rush Limbaugh for a “spot-on analogy” with respect to his offensive remarks about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke (although Landsburg parted company with Limbaugh for calling Fluke a “slut”). Landsburg went further. He stated that Ms. Fluke’s position deserved “only to be ridiculed, mocked and jeered.” He further stated that the right word for her position was “extortionist,” characterized those who disagreed with his view as “contraceptive sponges,” and added that there is nothing wrong with being paid for sex….

I am outraged that any professor would demean a student in this fashion. To openly ridicule [sic], mock, or jeer a student in this way is about the most offensive thing a professor can do. We are here to educate, to nurture, to inspire, not to engage in character assassination.

To which Ann Althouse, quoted by James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal, retorts:

To openly ridicule, mock, or jeer a student in your classroom may be one of the most offensive things a professor can do, but when a student is a political activist who testifies before a congressional subcommittee on a specific policy question that you disagree with, it’s not that horrible to blog about that.

Taranto continues:

To put it another way, Landsburg has ethical obligations to his own students, and perhaps to other students in his department or at his university. But all such obligations are based on his institutional relationship to those students. Seligman’s shot at Landsburg is the equivalent of saying it is unethical for any physician to criticize Fluke’s political activism because she is a “patient.”

So here is the Seligman Rule, which we never heard before: Students—all students in America (or rather all leftist students in America)—are sacred. No professor at any university in America may mock or ridicule any leftist student at any university or graduate school or professional school in America, regardless of how ridiculous or tyrannical that student’s position is, and even if that student is a 30-year-old career political activist who was pushing her ridiculous and tyrannical position before a committee of the U.S. Congress.

Landsburg is a tenured (and evidently prominent) professor, and Seligman made clear that Landsburg had the right to express his offensive views. But, as Taranto points out, non-tenured professors, graduate instructors and others are not so protected from the Seligman Rule.

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Laurence B. writes:

Seligman’s comments are ridiculous, but they do give one the opportunity to observe the liberal mentality at work.

Sandra Fluke was born in 1981. She is almost 31 years old. She is not some doe-eyed, empty-headed (debatable) 18 year old, ready and willing to have her opinions and judgments shaped by her professors. Sandra Fluke’s formative and innocent years are behind her. She may be a law student, but she’s at an age when she could just as well be one of those “nurturing, inspirational” professors. After all, she seems to be inspiring enough other activists out there.

Seligman’s ignorant comment betrays his idea of what a student should be: a malleable and non-moral agent that he and his colleagues can shape to their liking while pulling a six figure salary. It does not matter that Sandra Fluke doesn’t fit his model. As far as Seligman’s liberal mentality is concerned, Fluke is just an extension of the faceless, soulless academic fodder, and he has to protect and patch up that idea wherever it starts to erode. If a Rush Limbaugh starts asserting that Fluke is promiscuous, and that her promiscuity should be frowned upon, that means Fluke (aka standard student) is a moral agent, which would mean that Seligman actually does have a responsibility to demonstrate virtue and truth to her.

LA replies:

“Seligman’s ignorant comment betrays his idea of what a student should be: a malleable and non-moral agent…”

Wow, you’re right. Seligman views all leftist students the same way that liberals generally view favored minorities (as described in my “three character script” of liberalism): as non-moral agents who exist only to be protected by the good, liberal whites from the oppressions and cruelties of the evil, non-liberal whites. Nothing is expected of her. She is only a victim, a member of a protected class. Therefore her actions and positions, no matter how egregious or absurd, cannot be negatively judged.

LA writes:

I don’t know what Landsburg meant by his statement, attributed to him by Seligman, that there is nothing wrong with being paid for sex. If he did say it, he’s evidently some kind of libertarian. But as wrong as the statement is, it’s not relevant to the present issue, because Seligman did not chastise him for it, but rather for his statement that Fluke deserves to be mocked and ridiculed for her idea that Georgetown University should pay for all her birth control pills.

Ken Hechtman replies to LA:

I didn’t see the original Landsburg post, but he may have meant that the left shouldn’t try to have it all ten ways at once on this issue. We do look a little bit silly promoting sex workers’ rights, and then clutching our pearls when one of our people gets called a colloquial expression for “sex worker.”

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 09, 2012 06:13 PM | Send

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