If a young man finds his job personally distasteful and morally objectionable, it seems to me the psychologically healthy and ethically correct thing to do would be to resign. Continuing to do the work and accept a paycheck after publicly declaring one's abhorrence for the task seems a bit unscrupulous.
I was therefore surprised that when Alec Kerr lamented having to facilitate the publication of what he considers hate speech, he did not conclude with the announcement that he was leaving the position. If that obvious solution has occurred to him since the appearance of his attenuated argument for greater censorship, I'm not aware of it.
His complaint arose from having to lay out the editorial page, and he cringed particularly at having to handle "blatantly bigoted language."
I will admit that I've seen some conspicuously unfair cultural stereotyping in this newspaper, but it doesn't always come from conservative correspondents. Contributors as punctiliously progressive as Alec occasionally seem willing to dismiss whole classes of people by belief, age or even color — so long as that color is white.
Twenty-one months ago, in fact, Alec himself stigmatized white men collectively in a column of his own. He was apologizing then, too — for being a straight, white male. Then he made a sweeping generalization about all "older white men in positions of power," basing it entirely on the response he assumed such men would make to his declaration.
Never having held a position of any real power, I considered myself exempt, so I didn't take that personally. Besides, it's perfectly human to overlook the evidence of your own prejudices when you're so busy declaiming self-righteously about everyone else's.
This time, he was out to define the extraordinarily narrow limits he would impose on public speech. He betrayed a particular aversion to opinions with which he disagrees — which, like a good progressive, he demonizes by deploying the familiar arsenal of nuclear accusations.
He specifically asserted that questioning the precept of systemic racism actually reveals racism, and I suppose his witch-dunking logic applies even to Black scholars such as Shelby Steele and Walter Williams. Should you adhere to the antediluvian folly that there is actually a difference between men and women, Alec would label you "sexist," and if you persist far enough into the dialogue, he would write you off as "transphobic."
Doubt the dogma, and you're dog meat. Perhaps one doesn't even need to say anything to meet Alec's definition of hate speech. After all, the latest cardboard-slogan wisdom from the front lines insists that "silence is violence."
Given his own way, Alec would not publish divergent opinions. He would instead "inform the public" and "shape the debate." What possible debate could there be, with a narrow-minded editor prohibiting anything approaching dissent?
Alec's preference for the ominous combination of propaganda and censorship precisely replicates the principal media practices of all the worst totalitarian regimes of the past century. That he should be so oblivious to glaring trademarks of authoritarian control does not speak well for the academic standards of our common alma mater, where the curriculum was already fragmenting into trivia by the time I graduated.
Equally illiberal apostles of progressive doctrine have been trying for weeks now to persuade this newspaper to "cancel" its more skeptical columnists, including me. Most of them lack the excuses of inexperience and educational decadence that may help explain Alec's myopic partiality for fascistic ideological control. They're old enough to know better, but mendacity or mental deterioration still leads them to call themselves liberal.
The coercive suppression of unpopular ideas is as old as the history of philosophy. Two and a half millennia ago, Socrates was condemned to death for refusing to recognize the official gods of Athens and for corrupting the minds of his students with such impiety.
Galileo fared only slightly better. The Roman Inquisition convicted him of heresy for espousing the Copernican theory that Earth revolves around the sun. After debasing himself in a public apology like those demanded by today's wokerati, he was silenced through permanent house arrest.
In each case, popular faith in a dominant philosophy was preserved against challenges by squelching the challengers. That has always been the favorite method of defending theories that even believers recognize as intellectually vulnerable.
William Marvel lives in South Conway.