On the Silliness of “Safe Spaces”

Visitors will enjoy this clip of Van Jones in discussion about “Safe Spaces” at the University of Chicago. My comments follow it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zms3EqGbFOk&t=23s

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In this brief and passionately expressed clip, Van Jones makes the time-honoured distinction between disagreeable words (which are non-physical acts), and disagreeable or abusive physical actions used against people with whom you may disagree.

He was reinforcing the old jingle we learned as kids: “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

However, the modern liberal dispensation has exerted itself to dissolve this important distinction, and with devices such as Human Rights Tribunals and anti-hate legislation, has blurred it completely, and has thus opened the door, once again, to the presence of thought-police in the ostensibly freedom-loving nations of the West. This signals an enormous historical shift in the political ideology of such nations, though for now it remains well-camouflaged by the language of … rights and freedom.

Anyone who has lived under an intentionally totalitarian system is quite familiar with how the loss of the words/actions distinction is the first signal that some power-group — in our case the liberal left – has already gained control over the levers of public speech, and is already using the blurring of the important distinction between words, sticks, and stones – to argue that a word IS a stick or a stone. Inevitably, as night follows day, they then authorize themselves to argue that a word is an act of hate, intimidation, or violence, and use laws and punishments to stamp out resistance to their preferred progressive ideology. This conversion of words into stones, concepts into things, is already penetrating beyond the mouth and into the mind. The next target is thought control. There are legions of intellectual-sanitation officers already arguing that each one of us is a living engine of “micro-aggression.” Social damage is done every time we open our mouths. So, just a pitter-patter of deadly little dogmas away — is thought-control and compulsory national re-education programs for all the people.

Amidst the people themselves? There begins a moral and intellectual life of silence, or at the least, of inauthentic and dishonest social interactions with others who, it is feared, may be policing them to judge if what they thought were just words are maybe, possibly, sticks and stones, and who seek to shut them up and punish accordingly.

I think Van Jones, an articulate leftist, came out in support of maintaining the words/actions distinction because his deepest instincts correctly informed him that otherwise, no one, left or right, is safe.

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