Sunday, March 11, 2018

Brooxplaining: Postscript

Riotous students, 15th century Paris?, via Times Higher Education.

Following up on yesterday's Brooks, from a Reddit thread on "self-authoring" exponent and Canadian psychology professor Jordan Peterson:

The freedom of speech we're talking about here isn't freedom of speech but freedom of business:
Peterson's freedom to take home $30,000 and more for an easy afternoon's work, which the angry emotions of a bunch of scraggy college students should not be permitted to interfere with. I'll bet he could do 20 of these a year, netting up to a million dollars in addition to his book royalties. Campus speech should be regulated not in terms of the First Amendment but the interstate commerce clause.

Paul Krugman, as he explained in a disarming account from his early days at Princeton, in 2003, used to make a killing giving talks to international bankers, like Hillary Clinton in 2013-14, but had to give it up when he joined The Times, whose ethics rules preclude taking speaking fees other than from "nonprofits that have no possible interest in influencing the content of the column." He seems to have gone almost entirely off the circuit even for the latter, though he still has a booker, the Leigh Lecture Bureau, which also represents Brooks, Nate Silver, and Malcolm Gladwell; it may be that, as a lifelong college professor, he could not be tempted by any amount of money to talk to students of a college where he doesn't work full time.

David Brooks, on the other hand, clearly does tons of college speeches, as does Bret Stephens (who has been known to run verbatim excerpts from them as columns, showing he's not as averse as you might expect to the recycling movement), and Thomas Friedman, whose exotic datelines used to signal the conferences he was keynoting around the world. He doesn't seem to do so much of the international stuff any more (can't find out where he was speaking when he was filing from Israel last month), but he's available, represented by Royce Carlton:

Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos, I imagine, are like rock stars blindsided by the end of the CD trade, forced by the economics of their lifestyles to more or less live full-time on the lecture circuit. (Milo's got a store too, with free shipping on apparel orders of $75 and up.) Actually I don't think either of them is getting a lot of gigs at the moment, but Coulter's always got a book in the oven, and Milo will surely be fine.

I really don't think well of school administrations inviting speakers and then disinviting them, or of students who really do shout speakers down or try to mob them, and I absolutely do think students should be introduced to and confronted with a variety of voices, at least the tiny minority of students who will go to any of these talks at all in a given year. Why not?

But conservative voices have become, in the end, too weak to care about. Freedom of speech isn't an important issue with people who have nothing to say. They don't challenge and they don't engage. They talk to themselves. They're incredibly repetitive. They emit slogans and laments.

You can learn a million times more from some standard undergraduate libertarian or Pauline Christian or Zionist in your dorm who's willing to argue with you than you can from a pep rally with Ben Shapiro. They're smarter than he is. Why pay $30,000?

Or, putting it another way, this, which has been going around all day giving people material to think about:

Read the whole thread, and comments, where you might run into some friends.

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