Political Correctness/Totalitarian Humanism

Is the New Political Correctness Already Dying?

Let’s face it. “Social Justice” is the new social conservatism, the Comstockery, the Prohibition movement or the Moral Majority of the 21st century. It’s time for all serious radicals to toss it in the garbage can.

By Jonathan Chait

New York Magazine

The bizarre Title IX investigation of Northwestern professor Laura Kipnis represents a milestone in the growing awareness among liberals that the left’s approach to identity has gone badly astray. The notion that Kipnis’s essay ridiculing the campus sexual atmosphere was not merely misguided, but an act of gender discrimination, crossed a threshold of ridiculousness. The absurdity of the proceedings was compounded, Erik Wemple reports, when Kipnis’s “faculty-support person” briefed their colleagues about her bizarre ordeal, and that person also became the subject of Title IX discrimination charges, the classic witch-hunt logic by which anybody who questions the fairness of the accusations becomes the subject of more accusations.

But what does the episode tell us? It does not show that the Constitutional right to freedom of speech faces a serious threat. The proceedings against Kipnis were dropped, and it’s impossible to imagine that a court could have sustained any formal sanctions against her on the basis of writing an op-ed column, because of, you know, the First Amendment.

What’s important, rather, is that Kipnis’s antagonists believe that she deserves to be punished by the university administration for writing a column they didn’t like. The official demand of mattress-bearing protestors was “a swift, official condemnation of the sentiments expressed by Professor Kipnis in her inflammatory article” on the grounds that the offending column “has caused tremendous hurt to members of Northwestern’s community.”

The move to sanction Kipnis was not a misguided one-off, but the natural expression of a worldview that I described in a story earlier this year about resurgent political correctness. This is a set of illiberal social norms that have spread throughout much of academia and some virtual communities in social media.

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