The Wit and Wisdom of Cornellians

The right of Big Red Bears to babble shall not be infringed

The Wit and Wisdom of Cornellians

The right of Big Red Bears to babble shall not be infringed

“Weapon Control” and the First Amendment

Catharine A. MacKinnon is my hero because she clearly expressed in an article entitled Weaponizing the First Amendment: An Equality Reading why we should repeal the first amendment.

Once a defense of the powerless, the First Amendment over the last hundred years has mainly become a weapon of the powerful. Starting toward the beginning of the twentieth century, a protection that was once persuasively conceived by dissenters as a shield for radicals, artists and activists, socialists and pacifists, the excluded and the dispossessed, has become a sword for authoritarians, racists and misogynists, Nazis and Klansmen, pornographers, and corporations buying elections in the dark. In public discourse, with which these legal developments are tightly connected, freedom of speech has at the same time gone from a rallying cry for protesters against dominant power to a claimed immunity of those who hold dominant power. Thus weaponized, the First Amendment has morphed from a vaunted entitlement of structurally unequal groups to have their say, to expose their inequality, and to seek equal rights, to a claim by dominant groups to impose and exploit their hegemony.

In a university that is built on and that perpetuates slavery, the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment combined with content and viewpoint neutrality guaranteed by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment directly results in racist dog whistles and worse through sexual objectification and worse, to some electoral and other political assaults and invitations to violence.

As Mark Tushnet wrote, free speech has become conservatives’ darling. They have used it in the culture wars to challenge hate speech regulation and antidiscrimination laws

As our comrades at the Harvard Crimson note: ‘[f]ree speech’ is hate speech!

Crickets is not enough! At Cornell, [u]niversity administrators need to grow a spine and adamantly refuse to cede ground on free speech issues. They should stop saying “We believe in free speech, but…

We must give unlimited deference to emotion when it comes to people in historically marginalized communities. After all, the pain, trauma, or lived experience of those in historically-marginalized communities trumps any and all other forms of evidence and argument. In order to prevent speech that offends us, we must fight to eliminate free speech at universities as we work together to repeal the First Amendment and dismantle the racist, homophobic, transphobic, and xenophobic Constitution, which was founded on slavery and a commitment to racial inequality.

And who can deny the possibility that by chilling speech we may simultaneously be fighting global warming!

Mea Culpa

Before I was aware of the extent that we must eliminate all hateful and harmful language that is ageist, ableist, colonialist, culturally appropriative, gender-based, imprecise, institutionally racist, person-first, and violent, I would have said that the repeal of the First Amendment was killing two birds with one stone in fighting both hate and climate change. Now that I know more about hateful and harmful language that normalizes violence against animals, we will say that we will be accomplishing two things at once. That is, if the word accomplishing isn’t too close to the phrase hard work, which is a sign of white values.

In this KendiAngelonian world, I freely speak of my white privilege!

1 Comment

  1. Ralph Hammann

    Well-done! Remember that 1984 is a guidebook for how to live in a world where all are at peace.


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