Thursday, August 17, 2006

Be Careful What You Wish For

     You know the rest of the title quote. "Because Republicans just might get it." In the July/August Issue of "Washington Monthly", Alan Wolfe wrote a piece called, "Why Conservatives Can't Govern". This piece was widely talked throughout the summer, mainly because of its stunningly obvious, yet largely unspoken thesis. That is, Conservatives can't govern because their basic philosophy is that government doesn't work. Read the piece - it's very interesting.
     Since liberal Democrats ruled the country for something like 40 years, Republicans have formed themselves into the party of opposition. The Conservative wing (which has recently gone wacko, BTW) became extremely strong. Among its tenets: government should butt out. Less is More, at least when it comes to government. Of course, a nation of 300 million people needs a government. And a nation of 300 million people that is highly sophisticated, with some of the best transportation systems, mandatory schooling, and well-run cities needs more government than you'll get in, say, Lebanon.
     "All Politics is Local", said Tip O'Neill. And today's article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution does not disappoint. Under the headline, "Tech students endured threats in free speech crusade" (free login), Andrea Jones tells the sob story of Conservative Georgia Tech students Ruth Malhotra and Orit Sklar. Ruth and Orit sued Georgia Tech to remove an anti-harassment rule for Tech's dormitories. The rule barred verbal assaults and harassment in Tech's common living spaces. Ruth and Orit, two of the people for whom the rule was originally designed, fought to have it struck down in the name of free speech.
     Hey, maybe they're right. The rules were put in place originally because "good old boy" group were harassing women and minorities, hoping to push them out of what had been all-male, all-white schools. By the way, today, Georgia Tech is less than 28% female and less than 25% non-white. This in a country in which 51% of the general population is female and nearly 37% is non-Hispanic White. Just saying. Anyway, maybe Ruth and Orit are right. The country was built on free speech. If women and Blacks can't handle the pressure, they shouldn't be in school in the first place, right?
     So it should be no surprise that after they win their court battle, and Tech is forced to repeal their anti-harassment rule, Ruth and Orit are...harassed! Surprise! Congratulations, ladies. You've gotten what you wanted. Except... you didn't really want this? You wanted to harass dirty liberals and those Southeast Asians that keep populating your dorms? Not good, White American red-blooded Conservatives? Better call the newspaper. Conservatives broke government again!
     Just as a note... Ruth Malhotra is a self-described "conservative Christian". Orit Sklar's name sounded familiar. When I looked her up, I remembered why. I'm embarrassed to report that she's the President of the Georgia Tech Jewish Student Union, an organization I helped found in 1997-98. Oh well. I can't be responsible for my successors. Imagine how Bill Clinton must feel right now.


Ben said...

My understanding is that the two students were upset that their protests and posters and such were getting taken down by the administration, but the administration was ignoring the much more personal attacks made against the students. In other words, they were selectively deciding who got free speech and who doesn't. Even beyond that, a plain reading of the original speech code, like most such codes, goes completely against the 1st Amendment. But a lot of people only like the 1st Amendment for their own speech, and ignore it for others.

scorcho said...

Hey, Scott, haven't posted here for a while, but this caught my eye: "The Conservative wing (which has recently gone wacko, BTW) became extremely strong. Among its tenets: government should butt out. Less is More, at least when it comes to government."

This was once the belief of the GOP, when I still considered myself a republican. Now that they've decided to replace objective government with christian-based government, they've not only defeated what normal republicans once sought in representation of the people, but also given it a flavor that's put a bad taste in my (and others') mouths.

As far as the tech case, I've heard only a little about it, but I will say this - any woman who decides to protest "The Vagina Monologues" to illustrate free speech should be slapped. Great work stepping on years of equality for women because no one came to your stupid "AA" bake sale.

Otto Man said...

Conservatives are the ones who insist government doesn't work, and then get elected and prove it.

daniel ehrenreich said...

I don't see why this subject is so hard for liberals.

1. free speech for everyone on every topic.
2. free speech does not mean there will be no reaction or criticism. It means there will be no GOVERNMENT action in response(or action by governmental proxies such as public universities).
3. in a free society, responsible adults should meet speech they disagree with, with speech or other LAWFUL responses such as boycotts or even ostracism, but not with illegal reactions like vadalism, assault or direct threats of violence.

It's so sad that I know this comment will likely be met with pure vitriol (and maybe a little vulagrity). I hope for a reasoned response, but I'm not holding my breath. It's so frustrating that I can never get into any good debates with hardcore liberals. It would greatly interest me if any liberals would be willing to take time off from patting themselves on the back for their "enlightened" views and actually thoughtfully engage the other side.

And by the way Scott, this jew is very proud of Ms. Sklar.