Samatha Harris in Vox details the oh so odd happenstance that there seems to be a difference in the coverage of incidents and threats regarding speakers on college campuses.
By now, you’ve probably seen news accounts of the Weinstein, Murray, Coulter, and Yiannopoulos incidents. But here’s a story you’re far less likely to have heard of: Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Princeton professor, gave a speech late last month at Hampshire College in which she was highly critical of President Donald Trump. After the content of her speech hit national news outlets, Taylor received threats that led her to cancel several other speaking engagements, including one on a college campus, out of concern for her own safety.
And yet there’s been little of the news coverage or outrage from free speech advocates that these other incidents received.
The bottom line is when a conservative speaker is protested by the students at a college, conservative media make it a cri de coeur and cover it ad nauseum with their usual self-righteous faux outrage in order to show that it’s “liberal fascists” who are against free speech in this country and conservatives are a put upon and demeaned minority in academia if not America at large (like how Christians are under siege here). But when a liberal speaker is protested or receives death threats… crickets. If a liberal professor receives death threats in a forest and no one is there to report it, did it happen?
I have been repeatedly called “nigger,” “bitch,” “cunt,” “dyke,” “she-male,” and “coon” — a clear reminder that racial violence is closely aligned with gender and sexual violence. I have been threatened with lynching and having the bullet from a .44 Magnum put in my head.
Harris lists several reasons for this, but finally must oh so gently conclude that:
But finally, we cannot discount the possibility that there is also a double standard at play.
Much of the recent intolerance of campus speech has come from the left, and has been widely covered by conservative media outlets under the guise of a concern for the state of free speech on campus. Why, then, do these same outlets remain comparatively quiet when the intolerance for speech is coming from the right? Free speech is free speech, and if you believe that the right to openly express controversial political opinions is important, you should be as concerned about Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor’s right to free speech as you were about Charles Murray’s or Ann Coulter’s — and vice versa.
Yes, no shit, the conservative media has what fair minded people would call a double standard. They do not give two shits about disservices paid to liberals (in fact they kind of like it) and are all consumed with supposed injustices done to their tribe. Do not expect any fairness from them, that’s been evident for some time. No, it would be up to the so-called liberal media, which is legion and dominates our overall media landscape, if you believe the conservative media, and yet… crickets. Because once again we’re looking to the conservative media for our definitions of who is what and factually there is no fucking liberal media, period! What passes for media with a legitimate liberal/progressive bent (MSNBC in primetime, a couple of stations on Sirius, and a handful of magazines) is not interested in granular incidents of this person’s speech or that college’s protests. They don’t have all that many magazine pages or time on air to invest on small bore issues. They’re covering Trump, healthcare, voting rights, Russia and inequality, injustice and bigotry on a big scale like Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ struggles.
If there really were a liberal media like the conservatives claim, which fancifully includes all of cable and broadcast news other than Fox News and all newspapers and magazines that aren’t the Wall Street Journal and the Weekly Standard, then maybe there would be plenty of time and a vast array of voices that would pick up on a story such as Professor Taylor’s. Somebody probably should have. But it speaks volumes that almost nobody in national media did. And so yes, there’s a double standard on free speech issues. Because conservatives don’t really care about free speech and there is no outlet for this kind of story outside of the internet on the liberal side of the ideological aisle.