Thursday, March 25, 2010

Social Justice means not having to respect free speech rights of others

I was appalled this morning as I was reading an article in the San Francisco Chronicle to find that the President of the UC (University of California) Students Association appeared before the UC Regents and defended the Irvine Eleven for shouting down the Israeli Ambassador as he tried to deliver a lecture on the UC Irvine campus.

Calling it an intolerable attack on free speech, Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake told the regents that "a great university depends on the free exchange of ideas. This is non-negotiable."

Yet, one by one the students disagreed.

Victor Sánchez, president of the UC Students Association, called the attempt to silence Oren "a social justice issue."

Here's a video of the disruptions. You might think, "Do I have to watch the whole thing?" Well, no, but it really does go on and on, interruption after interruption.

I was glad to see the reporter, Nanette Asimov, put a social justice issue in quotation marks. Who determines what is a social justice issue and when the social justice issue trumps free speech?

I had previously been moved almost to tears as I read the article in the Wall Street Journal in which we learned that Sergei Brin had been the motivating factor behind Google's refusal to participate in China's effort to silence dissidents.

Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin pushed the Internet giant to take the risky step of abandoning its China-based search engine as that country’s efforts to censor the Web and suppress dissidents smacked of the “totalitarianism” of his youth in the Soviet Union.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Brin, who came to the U.S. from Russia at the age of 6 in 1979, said the compromises to do business in the world’s largest Internet market had become too great. Finally, a cyberattack that the company traced to Chinese hackers, which stole some of Google’s proprietary computer code and attempted to spy on Chinese activists’ emails, was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

China has “made great strides against poverty and whatnot,” Mr. Brin said. “But nevertheless, in some aspects of their policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see the same earmarks of totalitarianism, and I find that personally quite troubling.”

I am sure that the Chinese officials view their behavior as socially just and the efforts of the dissidents as efforts to undermine the social justice institutionalized by them.

Then I started reading through the blogs I follow and found Greg Griffith at Stand Firm had posted an article on some gay activists in Boston trying to silence an ex-gay meeting in a church.

Tuesday afternoon, April 28, several major homosexual activist figures, including a prominent state employee, led a screaming demonstration to terrorize a downtown Boston church while it was holding a peaceful ex-gay religious training event inside. Using a bullhorn, they illegally trampled through an adjoining Revolutionary War-era cemetery in order to be directly outside the church's windows. Despite numerous apparent violations of the law, the Boston Police talked with them but refused to make any arrests.

Greg directed as to watch the video at "2:10 when activist Chris Mason holds up a bullhorn to a window with its siren at full blast." But the whole video is instructive as to the tactics of this gay group in Massachusetts.

I am connecting these three, what may seem as disparate, events because to me they show the movements towards and against totalitarianism occurring now in our country. I feel angry at the Irvine Eleven for their behavior but even more so at the UC Student Association President for excusing their behavior because he agrees with their cause. I so admire Sergei Brin for getting Google to stand up to the Chinese government for attempting to silence dissent. And I see the behavior of the gays in Boston as coming from the same place as the Irvine Eleven.

They think that since their cause is just, their tactics are acceptable -- Social justice by any means necessary. But if we lose our rights, like free speech, to implement "social justice", their is no guarantee that future leaders will agree with what is social justice. And those future leaders will not have to give those who see an alternative vision of social justice the free speech to articulate it.

This way leads to totalitarianism. And then won't these "useful idiots" with their utopian ideals of "social justice" be the next to go?

Anyway, that's what I was thinking as I read the news today.

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