At the University of California, Berkeley, last week, Judith Butler said that while she considers herself to be an "advocate" of the First Amendment, the articulation of socially conservative viewpoints should be banned.
While most of Butler's speech was a meandering mess of faux-intellectual drivel, her conclusion was at least clear: She is not an advocate of the First Amendment.
Butler argues that unless we restrict speakers who reject the left's social ideology, "We should perhaps frankly admit that we have agreed in advance to have our community sundered, racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied, that we are, in effect, willing to be wrecked by this principle of free speech, considered more important than any other value."
First off, note that Butler takes as a given the notion that socially conservative speech splits apart a "community." Here we see the implicit understanding that a community is only defined by those who subscribe to the left's righteous orthodoxy. Just as socialists believe that economies must be shaped by the "community" of central government, Butler believes that united communities must be enforced by restricting speech to those who know-better. It's an understanding built upon simple personal arrogance, and nothing more theoretical than that.
As an extension, when Butler warns that countervailing arguments would mean "racial and sexual minorities demeaned, the dignity of trans people denied," she asserts that her subjective notion of what it is to "demean" is due coercive enforceability under law. Were Butler to have her way, we would see professors like Jordan Peterson and media commentators like Ben Shapiro (and myself) fined or imprisoned for our refusal to kneel to the left's ideological totalitarianism.
Butler's address was targeted at a university audience, but it's a slippery slope from banning socially conservative speech on campus and banning it everywhere else.
Yet the silliest element of Butler's argument takes root in her demand for protection against alternative views. Butler believes that if socially conservative speech is not banned, society will be "wrecked by this principle of free speech."
Butler would have us believe that society will fall if she and her ideological comrades-in-arms even sometimes hear conservative viewpoints. It's not just pathetic, it's a ludicrous insult to the tens of millions of Americans who have built safe, prosperous and happy communities on the back of their faith and socially conservative viewpoints.
Still, perhaps I'm giving Butler too much credit. The supposedly distinguished speaker isn't exactly a credible adherent to her proclaimed viewpoints. This week, reaching a pinnacle of hypocrisy, Butler wrote in defense of Turkish academics under threat from their mentally unstable president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan, having purged the government service of anyone suspected of dissent, is in the midst of purging academics not loyal to himself and his ideology.
Academics around the world, Butler said in that piece, must "defend our colleagues who are suffering state retaliation for expressing their dissenting view." It turns out, though, that she's a lot more like Erdogan than she is unlike him.