The Moroz Family – From the Soviet Union to the Liberal Gulag

A case of overreaction

A case of overreaction

It is said that if you are a young conservative you have no heart, and if you are an old liberal, you have no brain.

As a 46 year old Liberal, I take offense at half of that, but I would not wish to stop anyone from saying it.

Unfortunately, I feel like an endangered species – the Liberal who embraces dissent and debate. As a Liberal, I have always valued education – as I look at places of education as places where we manufacture Liberals — by educating people. To me, wide open and robust debate and the revelation of knowledge will inevitably drive one to the Liberal view – but to get there, we must tolerate views with which we disagree.

I realize that this may not always be the case. But, I have sufficient confidence in my views that I enjoy seeing them challenged, confronted, and either torn down, reconstructed, or galvanized in the fire of intellectually rigorous discussion. If they can not survive this crucible, then they merit their place on the trash heap.

Unfortunately, my view of places of learning as the font from which free speech flows is showing its rust and stretch marks. Now that people (I guess) who are of my like views are largely in charge of education, the prevailing view is to end the debate. Declare victory. The discussion is closed.

A burning example comes to us from Philadelphia, within a stone’s throw of Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. There, Michael Moroz is the son of Soviet immigrants. I interviewed Michael’s mother, who told me that they left there because they wanted their son to be able to grow up with freedom. Freedom to speak his mind without concern that saying the wrong thing would mean that the state would come down on him. She believed our marketing materials for "The American Way."

She now believes that America did not come as advertised.

Michael is a high school student at Central High School in Philadelphia, and is also the managing editor of his high school newspaper, “The Centralizer.” He recently wrote an article called “A Case of Overreaction,” which criticized the Black Lives Matter movement.

I didn’t particularly agree with the article, but I found it to be well written and well presented. It was originally printed alongside an article that supported the BLM movement. Two opposing points of view, presented to the reader – who is left to decide which is more persuasive. This was the marketplace of ideas in action.

But, the Regressive Left does not want debate. The Regressive Left does not want, nor tolerate, a marketplace of ideas. The Regressive Left leaves no room for dissent. The Regressive Left does not want a free press, just public relations for them. You’re either with them, or you’re “a racist.”

Michael's fellow students took to social media to try and convict him, all in one movement, of his treasonous thoughtcrimes. They posted that someone ought to shoot him. There were calls that he must be “dealt with.” One wrote that “[he thinks] his white privilege will keep him from getting ‘popped.’” Even an alumnus proudly wrote, “Black students at Central will handle their business.”

Michael's fellow editors then censored his article, “If an article comes across as insensitive, and the Central community would rather have it taken down because of this, then the article will be taken down.” Remember, only Moroz’s article was censored for being “insensitive.” Meanwhile, the counterpoint – the “politically correct” perspective was not. Enter the state — administrators backed the decision. (source)

One would expect that the principal would clamp down on threats of violence against a student in his care. After all, if we condone censorship in the name of "sensitivity", then certainly we would do the same when calling for the boy's safety to be compromised. One would perhaps expect the Principal to even call for a “safe space” for a minority view like Michael’s to be able to flourish – even if only to be rejected.

Instead, the principal seems to have sided with the censors, although three of the students issuing specific threats were, ultimately, disciplined. (source) The student paper’s faculty advisor promoted someone else to serve alongside Michael as managing editor and then stripped him of the right to access the paper’s accounts. Moroz claims his faculty advisor admitted to diminishing his authority because the paper was “receiving email requests from media.”

Moroz’ parents left the Soviet Union because they did not want to have their son grow up in a country that suppressed and intimidated disfavored political views. They moved to America – Philadelphia no less – so that they could live in a country where dissent and diversity of thought would be welcomed.

Moroz got a little trip into the mentality that his parents sought to escape. He had the wrong politics, and thus he was subject to harassment, intimidation, and a different set of rules than if he would just be a good boy and get in line with the favored viewpoint.

Of course, in Soviet Russia, hyperbole rhetoricals you. And here, the KGB did not kick down his door and whisk Michael off to the Lubyanka building. Nobody froze to death in a gulag. So, I'm not in a state of panic for him. But, this is how it begins. We don't wake up one day, and overnight, you're not allowed to have a dissenting viewpoint.

No, first they come for the conservative students, and maybe you don't speak up because you're not a conservative student… Michael was subjected to a hail of abuse and genuine threats, with those who should have protected him complicit, even if they were not active participants. (Although, I would say that every adult should have stood up to protect him).

I wouldn't be half as outraged if Michael simply suffered social ostracism for not conforming to his peers' prevailing views. Sometimes, thinking a little different than everyone else means you have to take a little shit. But, that's when the adults are supposed to step in and act like referees – keeping the game fair (at least as long as Roger Goodell isn't involved).

But, when the administration condones it, even tacitly, something is damned wrong. When the rules for one side of the debate permit censorship in the name of "sensitivity," but the other side of the debate is licensed to speak, something is terribly wrong. When a student gets death threats for an article in a student newspaper, and every single teacher in that motherfucking school was not standing next to him, supporting him, then the place should be razed to the fucking ground, and every teacher in the place marched out into the fields to grow rice until they drop from exhaustion. Fuck them.

That school "license[d] one side of a debate to fight freestyle, while requiring the other to follow Marquess of Queensberry rules." See R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377, 391 (1992) That's not how we do it. At least, that's not how we are suppose to do it.

Imagine if Michael had written a piece supporting gay marriage, transgender rights, racial equality, or some other happy liberal view, and he found himself attacked and threatened by bigots of the opposite view. Would the result have been the same? I think not.

The school should have protected him the same as if he were supporting gay marriage and he received threats for that view. Give him the same shield as if he were promoting racial equality, and racists threatened him. There is no hope for any of us if we teach that 1817 year old that if he does not get in line with the politically approved doctrine, that we adults condone death threats and violent harassment.

Michael’s entire faculty should have stood up, unequivocally, for his freedom of expression – even if they despised his views. There should have been no question that the trash that threatened him lost all moral authority when they opposed him through intimidation. The entire faculty should have stood up for him.

But that didn’t happen.

Because that’s not the way things are handled anymore. We have "safe spaces." But not for conservatives. We have a culture where victimhood is currency, and the crybaby is king. We have an intellectual environment where if you dissent from Liberal orthodoxy, you are a sexist, a racist, you're mansplaining, whitesplaining, or simply worthy of being killed… or at least threatened. After all, you're wrong, and "they" know it. What use is there for debate or dissent? Let the letter writing campaign begin, because the victims will now be the victors, and to the victors go the spoils.

And funny enough, those who would threaten Michael or tacitly condone the threats are also the first who would screech for remedial racism in the name of "diversity." Meanwhile, they want anything but "diversity." There will be one way of thinking. There will be purity of philosophy. You must follow the approved orthodoxy or things can go very badly for you.

That is not what education is about. That is not what America is about.

Mr. Moroz, I promise you, not all of us adhere to this view. We didn't sell your parents a bill of goods. Its just that somewhere along the way, after they got here, we changed and fucked it all up. Some of us want to change it back, and I think there is still time.

Last 5 posts by Randazza

Comments

  1. Anon Y. Mous says

    Great piece!

    I think the current state of the Left can be traced back to the civil rights movement and affirmative action. Instead of embracing King's desire that all of us be judged by the content of our character, the philosophy of special rules for special people was adopted. And, although it started with the Left, all too many on the Right have gone along rather than face the charges of racism, sexism, etc.

    What we have now is a logical outcome. We have to move to a place where everyone is treated equally under the law. We have never actually tried it in this country, but I think it might just work.

  2. Castaigne says

    But, that's when the adults are supposed to step in and act like referees – keeping the game fair

    I must disagree with this. Life is not fair. Things are not meant to be kept fair. And that leads to…

    When a student gets death threats for an article in a student newspaper, and every single teacher in that motherfucking school was not standing next to him, supporting him, then the place should be razed to the fucking ground, and every teacher in the place marched out into the fields to grow rice until they drop from exhaustion.

    With which I must also disagree. The faculty in that school should do exactly what their bosses tell them to do, so long as it is not illegal. The teachers are employees; the boss commands, the employee obeys.

    The school should have protected him the same as if he were supporting gay marriage and he received threats for that view.

    I must also disagree. Caselaw has established you don't have the same free speech rights at schools that you do in the public arena. Essentially and practically, free speech at a school is treated no differently than free speech at the corporation – the bosses determine what speech is acceptable and what is not, so long as the law is obeyed.

    Now, we can have long discussions about whether that's right or wrong, whether it should change, yadda, yadda. But it doesn't matter. That's how it is right now. The school – and administrators thereof – have the authority to determine what speech is promoted. They have that legal right. So if it's legal, it's legit.

    My recommendation, then, in order to meet your expectations of what the school should and should not do, is to make it law that they shall act thus and so.

    Michael’s entire faculty should have stood up, unequivocally, for his freedom of expression – even if they despised his views. There should have been no question that the trash that threatened him lost all moral authority when they opposed him through intimidation. The entire faculty should have stood up for him. But that didn’t happen.

    No. One, there is no such thing as "moral authority", as morality is whatever you decide at the moment. Two, the entire faculty did what they were told – and that is their job. The role of the employee is obedience. Obey without question. Obey without hesitation. It's not because of safe spaces; it's because of administrative policy. It's because of rulings from above. It's because it's what the bosses want.

    If you want things to change, Mr. Randazza, you need to a) change the rules and b) change the bosses. But don't blame the employees for obeying. That's their job and they'd like to continue to put food on the table.

  3. Michael Heaney says

    Ah another missive to declare that the quality of ideas is not important, only that we never, ever, ever tell someone else that they're wrong.

    Nevermind that bigotry is a demonstrably irrational and destructive concept, the quality of the idea isn't important, the results of its implementation aren't important, the only thing that seems to matter anymore is a zealous approach to freedom of expression where a person's right to say something without being told they're wrong by anyone, ever, is the only thing of social value anymore.

    Well, pardon me if I disagree. Certain ideas are no longer worthy of constant debate, indeed they do not enjoy it. We've established the Earth is not flat, there is no basis for continued debate. We have established that vaccines are not just a hoax, and indeed those claiming to contest the idea have nothing except for well debunked nonsense to support their side.

    Occasionally it's worth while to point out a claim is wrong, even destructive. As significant as it is that a government respect and protect freedom of expression, this should never, ever be translated into declaring that no one should ever call someone else's bad idea wrong.

    What is, of course, especially disturbing/disgusting is that the social squelching of unpopular ideas has taken place regularly across the US for its entire history, from the media to the government to industry to yes, universities and colleges and yet despite the constant presence of this behavior, it seems like nobody noticed or cared until they started deciding bigots and racists were becoming victims of it. What the hell is up with that?

    I dunno, when Clark left I was sort of hoping nobody would be rushing to fill his shoes. The last thing we need is another uninformed echo box bawling about "safe spaces." Could you maybe put even a little effort into jumping onto a less manufactured or exaggerated bandwagon?

  4. T says

    This entire post is excellent. Really great work.

    Ken made a wise choice when he suckered you into associating yourself with this blog.

  5. Michael Heaney says

    I think it's also worth pointing out that most campuses with a "safe spaces" policy are all inclusive. The spaces are for anyone wanting to have a place where contentious subjects aren't being expressed. This includes blacks, whites, conservatives, liberals, christians, muslims, etc. The point is to have a place where you can go and not have someone trying to pick a fight with your person or ideology, and it's for everyone.

    This is kind of what I mean by, "uninformed," in my earlier post. There's a lot more declaration in your article here than there is informed or justifiable declaration.

  6. T says

    P.s. I always take great joy in watching the usual suspects trip over each other to prove Marc right by explaining why it really is just dandy to censor ideas they don't like, because unlike their slow witted and meanie headed opponents, their views are actually true, just, and noble. (Which, naturally, is why they must be zealously sheltered from competition with "inferior" ones…)

  7. martin says

    The Centralizer

    The name is fitting – obviously a nod to Frank Zappa's Central Scrutinizer from Joe's Garage.

  8. Allen says

    Well, pardon me if I disagree. Certain ideas are no longer worthy of constant debate, indeed they do not enjoy it. We've established the Earth is not flat, there is no basis for continued debate. We have established that vaccines are not just a hoax, and indeed those claiming to contest the idea have nothing except for well debunked nonsense to support their side.

    Of course, there's a difference here. Debate on those topics are permitted, and if you know where to look, you'll see proponents of these views attempting to make their case. Rather than being shut down, they're simply ignored. No censorship, freedom of expression, and yet there is no meaningful debate.

    I'd argue that the only ideas no longer worthy of constant debate are those people are unwilling to debate.

  9. Dan says

    I think the article [the boy wrote] is crap. [Your article is killer, Marc.] I mean it was written OK, but the content is so trite. Plus he thinks the "Gentle-Giantedness" line is super clever, and it isn't. But hey, if everyone agreed with it, it wouldn't be an op-ed. The reaction is what's truly shocking.

    They could cold-shoulder him at the lunch table. They can uninvite him from bowling, or whatever they're doing. They can whisper that he's a racist. They can say he's a racist to his face. They just can't make death threats!! There's no blurry line here, it's pretty damn clear.

    I agree with Marc, the teachers should have been defending him. If they disagree with his views (which I'm sure they do) they can have their classes discuss the topic. Show why he's wrong, have the students figure it out and prove it to themselves. To do this you have to at least entertain the possibility that he's right. In fact, the individual sentences in the article were by and large true. What they really want is to dispute the thesis, and if you want to do that you can't just dismiss everything he said as racist rantings. This may strain the brain, but that's how school is supposed to work. Don't just tell him he's wrong and punish him for it. That's the opposite of teaching.

    There's something to C.'s argument that the teachers are employed by the school and have to toe the line. But there's a thing called tenure which I'm sure some of their teachers have. The whole idea of tenure is it gives you some freedom to push the envelope and do the right things for your students. At the very least, TENURED faculty should be lining up to defend him.

    ….Lol @ the guy who thinks the name of the high school newspaper is obviously a nod to Zappa…..

  10. Seth says

    @Michael Heaney, There's no problem with telling someone he's wrong. Saying "You're wrong, and here's why . . ." is fine.

    Telling someone he's wrong by threatening to kill him is a crime. It's too bad that the school encouraged that crime.

    Meanwhile, we've seen that "safe spaces" are only safe for some people and only disallow some forms of bigotry. Anti-semitism in so-called "safe spaces" is quite common.

  11. Kyle says

    There are still a few of us liberals that aren't completely craven and deranged. I hope we reach a breaking point relatively soon. This fascist policing of ideas, and mass public shaming over non-conformance is somewhat counter-productive from a pragmatic point of view anyways. Who has ever been publicly pilloried online, and then went on to change their mind and take up their tormentors cause in the privacy of the voting booth? I doubt many. Though on the other hand the vitriol could discourage others to speak out on a subject, and affect it that way. It is all quite maddening.

  12. joshuaism says

    I read the article Moroz wrote for The Federalist. It was okay. But the piece he wrote for The Centralizer was hackneyed, cliched drivel. Note that Moroz purposely tackled "hands up, don't shoot!" based on a nominally false narrative, but he completely ignores "I can't breath!" which is just as essential to BLM, and is not an incident that is so easily waved off as being fake. The reality is that BLM brings up both because even if "hands up" didn't apply to "Saint Michael of the Gentle Giantedness", it is an issue in a number of other blue on black shootings.

    And I would hardly call the article that appeared alongside his a worthy counterpoint. "A Cause and a Voice" (p. 5) also failed to bring up "I can't breath". Is it because Jamie Razler was given fewer column inches to make his point? Or was it because it was just a setup piece for "A Case of Overreaction" to overreact to?

  13. mcinsand says

    >>Unfortunately, I feel like an endangered species – the Liberal who embraces dissent and
    >>debate.

    Unfortunately, I feel like an endangered species – the partisan who embraces dissent and debate.

    FTFY.

    From what I've seen, 'liberal' and 'conservative' have no attached philosophical underpinning any longer; those are just synonyms for left loyalist or right loyalist. And, the farther a person leans, the less tolerant that person will be to any honest debate. "You're not drinking every drop of our Kool-aid?!?!? You're obviously one of them!"

  14. Hasdrubal says

    I'm curious if there are links between how politically incorrect opinions are handled in some circles today with how the soviets worked around the time of the Russian Revolution.

    I'm not very well versed on that part of Russian history, but my understanding is that "soviets" were basically local councils where, let's call them stakeholders, met to discuss relevant issues and make decisions. If I'm remembering Battleship Potemkin correctly, the sailors formed a soviet to air their grievances and that's how they eventually decided to mutiny. Once the soviet made a decision, that had sort of the rule of law, I think. My understanding was that they were sort of like Athenian democracy (everyone can vote) through the lens of Marxist egalitarianism. However, while egalitarianism was the goal, there was definitely a dominant ideology, and I'm pretty sure they used some sort of tactics to enforce or at least encourage ideological purity.

    (I'm also thinking the Bolsheviks eliminated the soviets wherever they couldn't subvert them.)

    But, I'm wondering if this current version of groupthink enforced through peer pressure with at least tacit official sanction is similar to other movements in history?

    Then again, maybe we'll get an Makhno's corollary to Godwin's law stating whoever mentions the Russians loses, too, but with more emo?

  15. TimothyAWiseman says

    @Michael Heaney

    Ah another missive to declare that the quality of ideas is not important, only that we never, ever, ever tell someone else that they're wrong.

    That seems to be the opposite of what Marc is saying. Not only is he not saying we should never tell someone they are wrong, he is telling a lot of people they are dead wrong in a rather vulgar way. He isn't even saying we shouldn't telling Moroz he is wrong. He is, however saying that we need to tell people they are wrong without threats of actual violence and should consider long and hard before removing someone from their position (especially as a newspaper editor) just because we think they are wrong.

    Well, pardon me if I disagree. Certain ideas are no longer worthy of constant debate, indeed they do not enjoy it. We've established the Earth is not flat, there is no basis for continued debate. We have established that vaccines are not just a hoax, and indeed those claiming to contest the idea have nothing except for well debunked nonsense to support their side.

    Whether something is worthy of debating with someone depends on whether you care what that person believes. If I how found someone that actually thought the earth was flat and I cared about that person, I would start showing them the evidence, not try to silence them. Even an idea that is simply not worth your time to debate is best responded to with methods other than threats of force or physical harm.

    What is, of course, especially disturbing/disgusting is that the social squelching of unpopular ideas has taken place regularly across the US for its entire history, from the media to the government to industry to yes, universities and colleges and yet despite the constant presence of this behavior, it seems like nobody noticed or cared until they started deciding bigots and racists were becoming victims of it. What the hell is up with that?

    Sadly, you are right. But those of us serious about Free Speech rather find those to be black marks in American history, not something that suddenly became wrong. We should be trying to do better, not saying that it has always been like that and moving on.

  16. says

    To those of you who think that Moroz' initial article was crappy or trite, please try and remember that a) that isn't the point, and b) he's a high school kid. I challenge you to show me something that you wrote in high school that was super mature and insightful. But, back to a) — that's not the point.

  17. says

    Instead, the principal seems to have sided with the censors, although three of the students issuing specific threats were, ultimately, disciplined.

    This seems to be a trend, Marc: you briefly acknowledge facts that undermine your thesis, but they appear as the back half of a sentence in the fourteenth paragraph.

    We have an intellectual environment where if you dissent from Liberal orthodoxy, you are a sexist, a racist, you're mansplaining, whitesplaining, or simply worthy of being killed… or at least threatened.

    And you're not even subtle with the false equivalence. For a vaunted free speech advocate, you're sure quick to put namecalling in the same list as death threats.

  18. joshuaism says

    @Marc Randazza

    I've got no doubt that butt-hurt reactionaries have engaged in a bunch violent and counterproductive rhetoric. But so what? That is something you are going to encounter regardless of what your opinion is, regardless of how well you've presented it, and however trivial the topic your opinion is on. There are a million assholes on the internet. Assholes of all races, stripes, and creeds. When your opinion hits the internet, expect blowback. But despite all of this bloviating, not a single hair on poor little Moroz's head has come to harm. He hasn't gone underground or entered the witness protection program. He hasn't even had to repudiate and apologize for his opinion. Hell, he's been given another platform to double down on. Sounds like he has just reaped the rewards of his free speech, and that is more free speech (both pro and con).

    You are absolutely right that poor writing is the hallmark of high school journalism. And perhaps the weakness in Jamie Razler's counterpoint can be attributed to that. But it seems just as likely that Managing Editor, Michael Moroz, picked or edited an opinion piece that would be as easy to destroy as a straw-man. We've only heard one side of this story, and it is entirely possible that school officials pulled Michael Moroz's piece not because of the heckler's veto but because of the underhanded, hack job editing and editorializing of a grandiose race bater.

    I don't care that Michael Moroz got his feelings hurt. All I see is another whiner crying for a safe space. But whether it is on the left or the right, you need to just grow up and learn to deal with the dangerous world of ideas. Don't spew your shit unless you can take other people's shit. Until Moroz suffers actual harm or a credible threat, I don't see what the issue is. We can't even be sure that these empty threats are representative of the dialog that his piece has caused. We've just heard his claims.

  19. Castaigne says

    @TimothyAWiseman:

    If I how found someone that actually thought the earth was flat and I cared about that person, I would start showing them the evidence, not try to silence them.

    Why? You can't argue with crazy. It's like trying to convince a Young Earth Creationist that the world isn't 6000 years old. Don't waste your time. Just move on. Use your energy and time for something that will actually accomplish something.

    ===

    @joshuaism:

    Until Moroz suffers actual harm or a credible threat, I don't see what the issue is.

    Pretty much this. Those students issuing actual threats were disciplined. The rest was just the usual aggro nonsense that all humans bleat.

    Although, I do wonder when actual violence went out of fashion. Beat-downs do wonders for one's sense of propriety.

  20. Seth says

    @joshuaism Do you propose the same standard in all cases? When there's a racist comment made, do you say that it doesn't matter if it's only a comment and nobody was physically assaulted?

  21. Dan Weber says

    As long as we're making stuff up:

    "Eh, there will always be assholes, so why worry about stamping out racism."

  22. Tim! says

    @Castaigne: I think you missed one of the operative parts of TimothyAWiseman's statement: "[if] I cared about that person." I'm not going to waste a bunch of time trying to convince a random stranger of the truth. But I am willing to invest that time to educate my nephew or my father or my friend.

    Re: your first comment early on: I have to say, your authoritarian outlook continues to give me the jeebies. Absolute and strict obedience is absolutely not the foundation of employment. I am a skilled professional, hired to get a job done. It's not my boss's place to tell me how to get that job done. That's why he hired me, because I know how to do the job. If my boss tried to tell me how to do my job, expecting unquestioning obedience, I would cheerily tell him to go fuck himself. Then most likely go find a different job where my skills, knowledge, and agency are respected.

    If my boss tells me to break the law, my first responsibility is to the law, not to the job. "Just following orders" has been debunked for longer than I've been alive.

  23. says

    I don't use the word "liberal," but "left-liberal," of myself. That said, I label myself as a "skeptical left-liberal," including of claims of left-liberalism. I am most skeptical of those related to the New New Left, social justice warriors, etc.

  24. whatever says

    @joshuaism: I think the actual harm suffered by Moroz is the censorship, no? (the article was pulled). The adults (the administration) should have stood by him and said no to the censorship. And yes, it *is* their duty to stand up against censorship (even if it's not in their job description).

  25. BadRoad says

    @Castaigne

    Now, we can have long discussions about whether that's right or wrong, whether it should change, yadda, yadda. But it doesn't matter.

    Um… I think Marc is engaging in such a discussion. If you don't think that matters, why are you wasting your time here?

  26. MelK says

    Wasn't just 'the article was pulled', either. Removal from the editorial position based on "media inquiries". IE, "we're punishing you because you drew attention with your article that we are not willing (or perhaps prepared) to deal with."

    In the same way the teachers didn't risk their jobs to stand up to the administration, the administration did not risk their positions by standing up to the public.

  27. Mike2Alpha says

    There are two assumptions that every censorship advocate makes. The first is that they will always agree with what the censors find objectionable. The second is that they are right in the first place.

    For the first, I direct your attention to February of 1956 and Issue 33 of an anthology comic called Incredible Science Fiction. Specifically to a story printed within: Judgement Day! written by Al Feldstein and drawn by Joe Orlando.

    Without getting too far into a description of the story, Judge Charles Murphy of the Comics Code Authority demanded Judgement Day! be changed because it involved a discussion of racism and a black man – a black astronaut, in fact – in a position of authority. He had no grounds to demand that under the code's guidelines; he just did because he felt these things were objectionable.

    I bring this up in relation to my first point because there's a simple question I want to ask. Imagine someone who would support Judge Murphy's attempt to force EC Comics to censor that story. Can you honestly imagine that person being equally happy with Central High's decision to censor Moroz's article? Without that person having undergone a transformative revelation about the injustice of racism, I mean?

    Which leads me directly into my second point. There was a time when saying "a black man is capable of being the equal of any white man" would be considered offensive. Now, most people (I hope) would consider that to be so obvious it doesn't need saying. And we got that way because people kept saying it in different ways until they convinced the rest of us.

    Since then, a black man's been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He's been Secretary of State. A black woman has been Secretary of State. A black man is the President at the time of this writing. And it happened because people stood up for what they believed in. They said unpalatable things. Some of them died for it, and the fact that they did will be our eternal shame.

    The problem with censorship is that you won't always agree with the censors, and even when you do, you won't always be right. So bring on the B.o.B.s and the Roosh Vs and all the others. They may be ignorant, possibly mentally unbalanced, and thunderous douchebags, but I'll take them if that's the price we pay for getting our Famous Fives and our Martin Luther Kings.

    (Also, I loved the "raze it to the ground and make the teachers grow rice" bit. T'was a real Frank Slade/Scent of a Woman moment there.)

  28. MaxZ says

    Extreme lefty type Liberal here. This article is brilliant. If we start punishing people for views we disagree with (short of genuine threats) then we become the enemy. Leave the intolerance to the right where it belongs.

  29. Dan Weber says

    Now, this quote is real and meant non-ironically.

    "Beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong."

  30. joshuaism says

    @Seth and Dan Weber
    I think we should only call out hate speech if it is endemic or we are in a position to influence thought against it. I'm not saying if you ignore it it will go away, but rampaging against it just drives people deeper into their misguided beliefs. Gentle mocking might be useful.

    @whatever and MelK
    As I said, Moroz may have abused his position to construct a straw-man for himself to tear apart. As weak as Moroz's piece was, the counterpoint to his was even weaker and bore most of the burden of explaining what the Black Lives Matter movement is even about. If this was the case, it makes sense to put a chain on Moroz. He's shown he's not responsible enough to work as an editor and needs more training in how to publish the best paper he is capable of. If his opponent had been made to present a better argument, Moroz might have even been able to write a better counterargument.

    If the goal was actual censorship though, the effort clearly failed and I'd hope the administration and the haters have learned their lesson and make efforts to avoid the Streisand effect in the future. But we've only heard from Moroz why Moroz thinks he was censored and lost his position.

  31. Gordon Billingsley says

    You have not described "regressive liberals." What you have described are conservatives who have adopted former liberal viewpoints (which is, at least, some progress). Now, they defend those stances in the same conservative manner with which they defended what once were ideas that deserved to die. It should not be all that surprising that this is an abuse of liberal ideals.

  32. kishke says

    Mr. Moroz, I promise you, not all of us adhere to this view. We didn't sell your parents a bill of goods. Its just that somewhere along the way, after they got here, we changed and fucked it all up. Some of us want to change it back, and I think there is still time.

    Maybe not all of you, but most of you in education and universities. Clean house in those professions, and possibly you have a chance "to change it back." Otherwise, forget it.

  33. Stacy says

    The point that I'm surprised nobody has brought up is that the example being set here (and to be fair to Central High, it's been set at least since I was in high school in the early 90s) is that your free speech exists at the sufferance of The Man, and if s/he has a problem, your speech simply goes away. That's deeply illiberal, and in my opinion is the single greatest cause of the Soviet-like political environment on college campuses today. Indoctrination is the opposite of education.

    The school administrators should apologize to Moroz, and the school should implement a class in free speech, conducted using the Socratic method. I'm aware it will be hard to find a qualified instructor. It's worth the effort.

  34. I Callahan says

    I don't care that Michael Moroz got his feelings hurt. All I see is another whiner crying for a safe space. But whether it is on the left or the right, you need to just grow up and learn to deal with the dangerous world of ideas. Don't spew your shit unless you can take other people's shit.

    I'm wondering if you even bothered to read the article. You see, it's not about taking other people's shit, it's about school hierarchy taking one side over the other because they don't agree with the other side. It's about letting kids decide that it's OK to threaten someone's life because you don't agree with them. You see, if we were just talking about a debate between the pro-BLM and anti-BLM students, you'd have a point. Alas, you don't.

    Until Moroz suffers actual harm or a credible threat, I don't see what the issue is. We can't even be sure that these empty threats are representative of the dialog that his piece has caused. We've just heard his claims.

    Uh, I'd say that threatening someone's life is credible. Unless of course you're advocating that we wait until the kid's killed before we do anything. But hey – that would stop him from talking at all. What a bonus! I'm starting to notice a pattern. Also, when it comes to any bugaboo from the left side (he raped me, he sexually harassed me, etc.), we have to believe any unsubstantiated claims. How about being fair?

    Look, if you think his ideas are bad, then say so. What you did was basically condone physical threats on a high school kid because you don't agree with him.

  35. Jody says

    Good article. I could do without the F bombs
    Vulgarity is beneath the dignity of a civilized society
    Check out a very good at read:
    The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech
    by Kirsten Powers

  36. Dan Weber says

    I miss "the remedy to bad speech is more speech." It seems we are moving to "the response to bad speech is FIND A WAY OF PUNISHING THE BAD-SPEAKER."

  37. Chip Daniels says

    I would like to join this Regressive Left. Do they have meetings, and wear armbands?

    I know they exist since the title is Capitalized; If it was just a few people acting like dicks, well, then they wouldn't be graced with a Capitalized Name like the Regressive Left. The story would just be, "In a school in Philly, these people acted like dicks and..."

    I mean, we have witnessed rightwing militias actually stage an armed takeover of a federal facility. But they aren't as interesting since there exists no such taxonomy as the Armed Right, or Violent Right, or even the Treasonous Right.
    So really, they are just anomalous individuals, representative of nothing larger.

    But yeah, this Regressive Left- they sound ominously cool. I bet they drive limos with those little flags on the fenders.

  38. Matt L. says

    There will always be tension between Education, particularly in an institutional setting, and Freedom of Thought. Schools are first and foremost places of compulsory indoctrination (they always have been and always will be). They exist to instill knowledge in students. In the modern era, we've added "critical thinking skills" to the mix, but the main work of students remains fact memorization and rote learning. We expect for constitutional and cultural reasons that diversity of thought in political matters will be given special significance in this framework, but we implicitly acknowledge that it is by no means as valued in virtually any other context covered by education.

    We would not, for instance, find it discriminatory for a student to face repercussions, by way of bad grades, remedial coursework, etc., were he to hold fast in a belief that 2+2 = 5; much less would we be inclined to protect the employment of any teacher who routinely taught the incorrect answers to arithmetic problems. If right answers and wrong answers cannot be a basis of teacher and student performance, then there is no measuring stick according to which it can be evaluated.

    But there are no right or wrong answers to political questions, you say? Everyone believes otherwise, whether they acknowledge it or not: e.g., Marc saying above "[t]o me, wide open and robust debate and the revelation of knowledge will inevitably drive one to the Liberal view." Marc, would a student, having participated in a wide-open and robust debate and having by your lights lost, be a better or worse student if he or she persisted in the beliefs her or she held prior to their coming under examination?

    The answer for some, and I suspect Marc would be among them, may be "neither," since they would rate the performance of the student based on their participation in the discussion, not the content or value of their contributions, but it's not clear how easy that principle is to live by as an educator. Many would let their priors slip into the analysis. It therefore follows inexorably that some degree of political indoctrination and suppression of dissent will creep into education.

    So long as many educators are state actors, therefore, their everyday activities will be at tension with the First Amendment and we can rely only on malleable cultural mores concerning the higher purpose of education to protect ourselves from that, hoping that enough of them believe that only through the "crucible" of free expression will their personal ideas win out…or we can just re-privatize education and let people pick their flavor of indoctrination, where the 'best' forms will win out according to market forces.

    This of course excuses nothing these people have done. They offend my conception both of what is permissible as state actors in education and my conception of how education should be conducted (which agrees fairly well with Marc's to begin with, even if our politics do not align), but I don't see any way of preventing this sort of thing from occurring again and again to various students depending upon which direction the political pendulum is swinging without constant lawsuits or a concerted governmental effort to reform the culture of educators: neither of which seems likely.

  39. I Just Want to Breathe Again says

    My teeth still hurt from the use of the noun breath in place of the verb breathe halfway up the page. So painful.

  40. Castaigne says

    @BadRoad:

    If you don't think that matters, why are you wasting your time here?

    Because I choose to?

    ===

    @MelK:

    In the same way the teachers didn't risk their jobs to stand up to the administration, the administration did not risk their positions by standing up to the public.

    And in my opinion, rightfully so.

    ===

    @Mike2Alpha:

    And we got that way because people kept saying it in different ways until they convinced the rest of us.

    I would disagree with that assessment. The only way we got away from that thinking was by having statutes and caselaw crammed down people's throats until they got the damn message.

    ===

    @Dan Weber:

    "Beware of those in whom the will to punish is strong."

    I agree with that most heartily.

    In fact, I agree with what that expresses so much, I use it as the basis of my refusal of accepting authority. I always ask, "Are you sure you want me to do this? Are you sure?" I also always make it very clear how I will act if given said authority.

    If, after all is said and done, they still want me to take charge? There is no basis for complaint on how I rule.

    I miss "the remedy to bad speech is more speech."

    To be frank, I've noticed that the remedy is not a terribly effective cure, when all is said and done. It in no way eliminates or even retards the growth of bad speech.

    (And no, I'm not saying which speech is "bad" – that's a purely subjective POV.)

  41. Castaigne says

    @Tim!:

    I think you missed one of the operative parts of TimothyAWiseman's statement: "[if] I cared about that person."

    No, I didn't miss it. I wouldn't take the time to educate my friend, mother, or father. It's pointless. My own sister believes that the preponderance of cheese in American dishes is part of a plot by Chinese/North Korean Communists to make Americans fat and lazy prior to invasion. If I'm not going to take the time to educate her otherwise on that – and it would be useless to do so, as there is nothing that will convince her otherwise – I'm certainly not going to do it for other items.

    Re: your first comment early on: I have to say, your authoritarian outlook continues to give me the jeebies.

    Dear God, why? Did you never have authority in your life? Obedience to your parents, obedience to your teachers, to your pastor, something? At least, perhaps obedience to God?

    Absolute and strict obedience is absolutely not the foundation of employment.

    We're just going to have to disagree there.

    I am a skilled professional, hired to get a job done. It's not my boss's place to tell me how to get that job done. That's why he hired me, because I know how to do the job.

    I disagree. You were hired to DO the job.

    Let's say, for example, that you are an engineer. You're hired by me to do engineering work for me.

    Now, according to what you're saying, I should be able to plop you down in the lab and you'll engineer whatever I want engineered, to the specifications I desire, and have it look exactly how I want it to look. After all, you know HOW to do the job, right? So I just plop you in, your engineering skills take over, and you immediately produce what I want, how I want it, without me saying a word.

    Except that's not the case. I need to tell you what I want engineered. I need to tell you what materials I want used, how I want it to look, what specifications are needed. Then, after I feed you this data, your engineering brain takes over and you doot-doot-doot like the engineering robot you are and engineer what I want you to engineer.

    You are the hands. I am the brain. The hands do not override the brain, nor can the hands tell what the brain wants.

    Now, yes, there is a lot of hyperbole in that example, but it's useful in showing you the position. I mean, really, the only way you are going to know what to do without the boss telling you is by psychic powers – which don't exist.

    If my boss tells me to break the law, my first responsibility is to the law, not to the job.

    That goes without saying. I'm not referring to instructions to commit illegal actions. I'm referring to every day normal interaction between boss and employee.

  42. Dragoness Eclectic says

    Why? You can't argue with crazy. It's like trying to convince a Young Earth Creationist that the world isn't 6000 years old. Don't waste your time. Just move on. Use your energy and time for something that will actually accomplish something.

    @Castaigne, your mistake is assuming YECs and anyone else who holds weird beliefs is "crazy". Unless they are actually schizophrenic–and that's a brain chemistry problem–it's more likely that they are just profoundly ignorant, and have emotional investment in their beliefs. For example, YECs in the U.S.A. are usually also fundamentalist Christians who believe that their entire faith is founded on a literal interpretation of the Bible. They believe that if the Earth was not literally created in six days, that none of their faith is true, because Bible. Their entire faith and self-identity and emotional well-being is tied up in steadfastly believing YEC. From their point of view, they can't afford to even consider that the Earth might be ancient and evolution real, because they'd lose their souls.

    If, as the old saying goes, "It's nearly impossible to get a man to believe something when his paycheck depends on him not believing it", then how much more so when asking someone to believe something they think would destroy their soul to believe?

  43. Bill says

    @castaigne: You hire an engineer's brain, not his hands. And he may in fact have licensing credentials and be required to adhere to standards that your employment relationship does not supersede. It's not as simple as you seem to think. Speaking of which…

    A school/student relationship is not an employment relationship and First Amendment rules do indeed apply in schools. That's a complex issue with case law that probably starts with Tinker and moves through succeeding cases. Read up.

  44. Rich Rostrom says

    1) Maybe the essay wasn't particularly good, but Moroz is a high-school student.

    2) Do you think the objectors would be any less vehement if the article was good enough for the Harvard Law Review?

    3) The school authorities suppressed Moroz because his writing was "insensitive", i.e. a large body vehemently took offense. Does this concede a permanent heckler's veto? Or only for hecklers the school authorities agree with.

    4) Is all criticism of BLM immoral because racism? (Just because there is a real problem, not all advocates on the issue are honest.)

  45. M B says

    I dunno. I mean, according to the article the school took action against the people who made threats and took extra steps to ensure the kid's safety. Removing the article could be chalked down to the standard high school "don't ever make waves or be disruptive" policy. On the other hand, they did remove him as high school editor – which does seem fairly punitive. But then that could also be chalked up to the "we don't care about your views, we just don't ever want to have to deal with any controversy" policy that again, is most high schools.

    I'd say there's a better case for "liberal oppression" here than that whiny beauty queen law student, but I'm still not sure there's a winning case.

  46. Xaeo says

    PDF link to code of conduct

    Here is the public school districts code of conduct.

    As a public institution it's not as simple as "I'm the boss do as I say."

    They have to come up with a guideline for how their district will act, the entire district.

    The principal of the school is not the boss of the school, that is a grossly inaccurate comparison. This district has something called the "School Reform Commission" which is what heads the entire district. If anything, those are the people who should be being contacted about this negligence of one of their schools.

    @Castaigne
    I am a Buildings Engineer and I find that example to be just terrible. Sure it might fit for an Electronics Engineer or someone else in R&D where they are producing products, but even then there are many steps between the engineer and the person creating the product.

    An Engineer is not hired to DO the job, they're hired to do the DESIGN for the job. Key difference.

    I haven't heard of a client contacting an Engineer and giving us the exact specifics of
    A) what the materials will be
    B) How the building will look (unless it's an existing building)
    C) the specifications for the construction, materials to be used, and end use of a building

    Sometimes a client might know some of it (typically they have an idea of what it will be used for and a general idea for how it should look), but never all of it. If a client knew all of that, they wouldn't hire an engineer, they'd hire a construction crew.

    Because, y'know, those are the hands that build it, not the brain which designs it.

    Professionals do have a certain level of responsibility associated with them, an example is the doctors oath to not taking a life.

  47. Bryce says

    When a student gets death threats for an article in a student newspaper, and every single teacher in that motherfucking school was not standing next to him, supporting him, then the place should be razed to the fucking ground, and every teacher in the place marched out into the fields to grow rice until they drop from exhaustion. Fuck them."

    Preach it! Those words need to be written on a bronze plaque and installed permanently to the front of the school to greet every person that walks in.

    -b

  48. Tim! says

    @Castaigne: My working relationship with my boss works more like a discussion than a lecture. He may say "You should work on thing A using method X." I may come back with "Actually, thing B is higher priority for reasons 1 and 2, and when I do start on thing A I plan to use method Y because orangutan and iguana." He may then respond "No really, thing A is most important because 3 and 4, but you're right about iguana."

    As I said, if I found myself in a job where my boss said "No really, do thing A with method X because I am boss and therefore correct, obey me now" I would leave.

    Obedience is a fine attribute to instill in children who haven't learned about consequences. But once people have grown into their minds and obtained their agency, collaboration is vastly superior to strict hierarchical management.

    That's how the Japanese stomped the American auto industry. People are not robots, and the entire system works better when all the people comprising it are empowered.

  49. cat13 says

    but my understanding is that "soviets" were basically local councils where, let's call them stakeholders, met to discuss relevant issues and make decisions.

    Yes – in the beginning, before the civil war (1918). Then it quickly degenerated into "either red or dead". The Party took over and soviets were reduced to mostly decorative role (to vote unanimously for whatever the party "proposes").

  50. Mike123 says

    The pathetic Michael Heaney is an perfect example of the new world. The kid is bigoted because he says so. That really is the end of the argument for him.

    I come across people like this all the time in my work life. They are so mentally unprepared for any actual challenge that they crumble hilariously fast. Surround yourself with the "right" view and the actual world is a tough place.

    If things take another tumble like 2008/2009 economically I think the suicide rate amongst these mental midgets is going to skyrocket.

  51. Peter Gerdes says

    While I'm an absoluist about free speech, and agree that true death threats against Moroz should be denounced if not prosecuted, is this really a case of government assault on free speech? Do we really think that any of these death threats from other students were true threats or, it being highschool, were they more akin to a blog comment saying "you're an idiot and the world would be a better place without you," something to be discouraged but still merely counterspeech.

    Isn't a highschool paper more akin to a newsletter published by the EPA press office to inform other EPA employees of recent developments than individual speech? If it is truly government speech and Moroz is merely acting as an agent of the highschool administration in publishing it why shouldn't they be able to remove him from his job because they don't like the controversy he brought down?

    I mean if it's acceptable for the faculty mentor to CHOOSE the student who seems to write calm reasonable pieces rather than the student who writes racist inflammatory pieces to serve as paper editor why is it unacceptable to remove him. Its not like his appointment came with some kind of guarantee of tenure/editorial discretion. You can't have it both ways. Either this isn't censorship or every non-viewpoint neutral choice made by faculty in choosing how the school paper is managed is censorship as well.

    Something doesn't become censorship because you think the viewpoint being censored is reasonable. Imagine instead that Moroz came out as a virulent white supremacist. Is it your view the school would be obligated to distribute papers each week with white supremacist rhetoric as a result?

    Look, public schools inevitably enforce norms about what is and isn't appropriate viewpoints. I remember fighting with my highschool biology teacher over whether I could write papers opposing saving endangered animal X rather than supporting it (not because I believed it but because I'm disagreeable that way). Practically their operation requires allowing discussion on certain topics but restricting offensive views on things like race.

    The great thing about the modern age is Moroz can express his views to an even broader audience on his blog with no confusion over what is his speech and what is government speech.

  52. says

    To do this you have to at least entertain the possibility that he's right.

    And this is the skill that separates rational human beings from the Regressive Left (and its Right Wing equivalent). To sit down at the table with the thought in mind "ok, perhaps the square is a circle…"

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