..the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error.- John Stuart Mill, On Liberty
Almost 50 years ago, I was introduced to the work of a dead white cisgender male, John Stuart Mill. Mill’s seminal defense of free speech in On Liberty resonated with this young sophomore (wise fool) in Philosophy 101, so much so that I chose to study the economist/worldly philosophy in greater depth. As an upperclassman, I added economics as a second major, and, though I did not know it at the time, I had found in freedom and liberty my central organizing values and my career.
Mill is not taught much these days. He is a dead white guy for starters, and that is more than enough to strike him from the curriculum for the woke race and gender hustlers and groomers in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Stasi and Politburos that rule American Higher Education. If polls are to be believed, a majority of millennials and zoomers do not believe in free speech, preferring the government and Big Tech to censor “misinformation” and any viewpoint that might cause emotional distress. Rather than instruction on liberty and freedom, they received indoctrination on “safe spaces”, “hate speech” and “allyship.” Western civilization and liberty will be destroyed not by external foes like the Chinese Communist Party and Islamist Jihadis, but by the leftist long march to control our institutions and most especially the academy, where they have successfully burrowed in and poisoned the curriculum and minds of our young people.
The staggering hypocrisy of the left- freedom for me, but not for thee- has been on open display in recent years, with Big Tech censoring conservatives on Twitter and Facebook for revealing the depth of the Biden crime family and Fauci/public health mafia corruption. Billionaire woke oligarchs like Jeff Bezos of Amazon and the Washington Post dox the (female) creator of Libs of Tik Tok for simply posting the oh-so revealing narcissistic and nihilist selfie videos of woke teachers/groomers (crossing the National Education Association is probably as dangerous as disagreeing with the vaunted national intelligence community). The same oligarchs are outraged when libertarian oligarch/apostate Elon Musk (Mill is apparently still taught in some African-American immigrant cultures) attempts to impose freedom of speech and capitalist values on a publicly traded corporation. The fragile Twitter employees scurrying for a safe space from which to censor the unwoke peasants are quite the sight. It is an existential threat to Democracy!
Two things in recent years have made me extremely dangerous to the left. The first was cancer. Life threatening disease and grueling medical treatment have a liberating effect if you survive them. The second is impending retirement. The left has destroyed the academy’s commitment to truth and freedom, and most of the professoriate is either in agreement or too fearful to protest. My final service to the academy will be a counter-assault on the enemies of freedom. Perhaps we will start with mandatory trainings on John Stuart Mill.
Jon Reisman is an associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Maine at Machias. His views are his own. Mr. Reisman welcomes comments as letters to the editor here, or to him directly via email at [email protected].