17. There Is No “Free Speech Crisis” On Campus – and the Latest in Fox News vs Democracy
Lily and Thomas dissect the “free speech crisis on campus” discourse. The pervasive “free speech crisis” narrative wants us to believe that liberty and freedom in this country are being threatened by “woke” radicals imposing an ever-more authoritarian “cancel culture,” a culture of censoriousness on college life and on the nation in general. According to a never-ending barrage of op-eds and editorials in leading mainstream papers, this is a national emergency in desperate need of intervention. But not only does this diagnosis stand in stark contrast to what we actually experience on campus (we are both college professors, after all, so we can report from the front lines!). We also dive into the survey/polling data as well as the anecdotes that self-proclaimed free speech advocates present as supposedly irrefutable evidence – and it simply does not hold up to scrutiny. Moreover, the “free speech crisis” discourse is entirely ahistorical, conveniently ignoring that the same complaints have been advanced by conservatives for decades – and that mainstream outlets have elevated these resentments to the level of a national moral panic before, notably in the “political correctness” craze of the early 1990s. So, what is actually going on here? The country is in the midst of a profound renegotiation of speech norms and of who gets to define them. And that can be a messy process at times, making a lot of people, especially those in elite positions, uncomfortable. But it’s not “cancel culture.” In a multiracial, pluralistic society, it is necessary. And from a democratic perspective, it is progress. – Finally, we talk about the latest revelations coming out of the ongoing Dominion Voting Systems defamation lawsuit against Fox News: We discuss the relationship between Fox News and the conservative base; the ways in which Fox News can amplify reactionary resentment, but is beholden to what the base wants; and the rightwing media machine as an integral part of the reactionary political project, something to which there is simply no equivalent on the “Left.”
This episode was produced by Connor Lynch
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