Tuesday, January 27, 2015

No, Jonathan Chait, the language police are not "Marxist"

In general, I agree with Not a Very P.C. Thing to Say: How the language police are perverting liberalism. It includes bits like this example of identitarians who are not even willing to allow free speech in free speech zones (which is consistent with their faith, of course: people who oppose sin wouldn't tolerate "sin zones"):
Last March at University of California–Santa Barbara, in, ironically, a “free-speech zone,” a 16-year-old anti-abortion protester named Thrin Short and her 21-year-old sister Joan displayed a sign arrayed with graphic images of aborted fetuses. They caught the attention of Mireille Miller-Young, a professor of feminist studies. Miller-Young, angered by the sign, demanded that they take it down. When they refused, Miller-Young snatched the sign, took it back to her office to destroy it, and shoved one of the Short sisters on the way. 
But Chait falls for the conservative claim that the language police is "Marxist". It's not. Marx praised the free press, and many Marxists remember that today. (See "Marx hated press freedom? Er, I don't think so. He was its most passionate champion" by Brendan O'Neill.) The authoritarian desire to police language is not political; it's just authoritarian.

ETA: If language policing is Marxist, Reverend Bowdler was a Marxist. Language policing owes far more to middle class notions of what one may say than to politics.

ETA 2: Best reaction to Chait so far: I don’t know what to do, you guys | Fredrik deBoer