Losing more slowly: an OUTLAW’s lament
As a follow-up to Dan’s piece on the (ironic, surreal, and — let’s just say it, profoundly Orwellian) shouting down of a “conservative” speaker looking to address the question of hate speech, I’d like to offer a few observations: first, students are taught, from early on in their writing and literature courses, that they, as readers, control meaning.
So it follows that, acting through that particular linguistically faulty hermeneutic (drink!) lens, their idea of how interpretation works allows them not only to determine what is “hate speech,” but it further permits them to attribute that hate speech to the utterer whose intent they have ignored in favor of their own, all the while pretending that they are doing a service, policing the world of evil speech and creating a space of “tolerance” — while what they are in fact doing is servicing an anti-intellectual and decidedly anti-American view of speech.
Like “tolerance,” the word’s meaning has been inverted — to be tolerant is to make sure nobody feels offended, unless that person is himself a hater (“I am intolerant of intolerance!”) — and, on the conservative side of the ledger, we’ve allowed such a faulty paradigm to gain purchase by blaming people like Bennett or Rush Limbaugh for being “impolitic” when we should have been standing up for their right to make legitimate arguments based on conservative principles.
This is what our “realism” has wrought.
There’s a lesson in this, but — for fear of my own ostensible allies labeling me some sort of extremist or cultist — I won’t lay it out any further than I already have. After all, I don’t want the defeatists who believe leftist speech paradigms are some sort of force of nature — some metaphysical universal that is merely being reflected onto a cave wall — to have to waste any more time on posts that “don’t help us get Republicans elected.”
Of course, having Republicans elected as mere foils in a progressive system is, I think, a Pyrrhic victory, but hey, at least we can gloat that “our side” is in charge for a bit — even if “our side” differs from “their side” only to the degree with which they sell out the principles upon which this country was founded in order to enjoy the spoils of power.
Because make no mistake: the current view of how speech and interpretation works necessarily results in meaning being nothing more than a function of power.
And if we aren’t willing to fight that — if we aren’t willing to fight the advantage that group meaning has over individual meaning, thanks to having conceded that there is no standard from which to judge meaning other than the whims of interpretive communities — than we have surrendered the very linguistic safeguards that make individual rights possible.