Culture Wars/Current Controversies

America’s Sexual Red Scare

By Matt Taibbi

Is sex “our era’s communist threat”? Author Laura Kipnis on speech, Title IX, and the degradation of intimacy in the pandemic era.

Unwanted Advances: Sexual Paranoia Comes to Campus, 2017

Love in the Time of Contagion: A Diagnosis, 2022

by Laura Kipnis

On March 18th, the New York Times published “America Has a Free Speech Problem,” an editorial wrapped around a poll, asserting roughly 80% of the country withholds opinions over fear of “retaliation or harsh criticism.” The piece prompted outrage from Twitter’s moral police — “arguably the worst day in the history of the New York Timescried blue-check analyst Tom Watson — some of whom claimed the article did so much to legitimize right-wing propaganda about speech suppression that the entire Times editorial board should resign or be fired.

A day before the Times editorial, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article by author and longtime professor Laura Kipnis called “Academe is a Hotbed of Craven Snitches.” My first question upon reading this disturbing piece was why the excellent word “craven” isn’t used more by writers. The second, after digesting the content — a litany of horrific scenes of students, administrators, and academics destroying each other’s careers and reputations, often over consensual, legal sexual encounters — is how anyone familiar with even a fraction of what Kipnis writes about could quibble with the notion that America has a “speech problem.”


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