Professors from several institutions spoke about the growth of viewpoint intolerance in a panel event at New York University on Tuesday evening.
April Kelly-Woessner, a political science professor at Elizabethtown College, explained that historically, the more educated a person, the more tolerant they were to a diverse array of viewpoints. Kelly-Woessner went to argue that academia in the 21st century has gone against that historical trend.
Kelly-Woessner also spoke about influential leftist thinker Herbert Marcuse, whose doctrine of “repressive tolerance” is reflected in the modern attitudes towards offensive speech. Marcuse argued that tolerance in a civil society cannot be extended to those that are intolerant. I wrote about this topic for Breitbart News in April. I argued then that this method of thinking on expression leads to the tyranny of the anointed — the concept that there exist individuals wise enough to appoint themselves the arbiters of tolerant and intolerant speech.
Samuel Abrams, another panelist and a political science professor at Sarah Lawrence College, cited research on the authoritarian impulses of today’s students. Abrams argued that young Americans have especially authoritarian attitudes when it comes to responding to ideas with which they don’t agree.
Nadine Strossen, a New York Law School professor, argued that “one person’s hate speech is somebody else’s cherished speech.” Strossen, who was also the first woman President of the ACLU, also argued that speech deemed hurtful may serve as a catalyst for dissenters to engage in more speech.
You can watch the entire event here.