Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Princeton Protest

I have spent a lot of time with our students over the last month, over exams, theses defenses, and watching them speak at public events and meetings. Rather impressive. Not exactly the indifferent children of the earth, as the Poet might say. Then I spot these Princeton students, brought to my attention by Maggie Gallagher. Oh well, back to reading The Elementary Particles.

Discussions - 5 Comments

Ashland Protests seem so much more enjoyably effective than dancing around on a street corner for a few hours.

Hmmmm, Students protesting an professor due to beliefs concerning religion. I remember something almost similar during my ashland experience, but bringing up contradictions gets us nowhere and I think that both this case and the other one the students are wrong. It fits in well with the witch hunt and group think mentality though, scary to see young kids so happy to adopt the principles of backhanded black balling. I watch that video and I see people who in ten years will be capable of sending dissenters to death camps. The fact that people react to dissent with outrage is very troubling. What the hell happended to being willing to fight to the death to defend someone's right to say things you don't agree with?

You make an interesting connection between the Princeton protests and The Elementary Particles (even if it were a mere offhand reference). Houellebecq's novel is disturbing. It gives an account of private life (in particular of sexual life) after all liberty is made secure, and nothing exists but my own attempts at self-creation. There is no major civil war, no great political unrest--indeed, there is general comfort. Yet life is incredibly sad and boring.

Will there be any more dancing and singing when everything I want to do becomes a right which is secured in the modern state? Will I even care? To quote Billy Idol, there's still "dancin' with myself."

It sounds like "protesting" at Ashland has become a lot more interesting and substantive than it was in my day. I hope, too, that it was also more effective. It was certainly directed at a more worthy and a more likely target.

All of this also reminds me of Gordon Lloyd's discussion (in his last podcast with Peter) about what they are doing in Philadelphia to memorialize and capture our past. As he noted, their monument to "freedom of speech" is a corner where any nut-job can stand up and ramble on about whatever strikes his fancy ad nauseum. It's not so much that there is anything wrong with such a place in its proper context . . . but hell, we've got an internet for that! In the place where the the highest achievement of republican deliberative democracy was achieved, I'd imagine there might be a better way to memorialize the achievement than to force people to ask themselves: "What were they thinking?!" But we forget that the thing that freedom of speech was most intended to protect was the necessary freedom for the vitality of thought--and not simple spouting off. You'd think we might consider teaching our young people to question whether they are working to be worthy of that freedom rather than an insult to it.

I went to Princeton and I've always been pleased that Professor George is there. 300 liberals, one conservative, that's fair.
Which prompts me to suggest a Book of the Week, quite pertinent, namely, my lively, smart and informative little volume titled THE EDUCATION ENIGMA--What Happened To American Education. On Amazon.

(My thought is we have to grasp what went wrong, starting with John Dewey, and then we can set about discarding all the flawed ideas--Whole Word, Reform Math, constructivism, and 25 more. For a condensed version of this plan, see "38: Saving Public Schools" on my site.)

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