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Repressive Tolerance: “Once they get you to change your language, you have now complied with their ideology”

Repressive Tolerance: “Once they get you to change your language, you have now complied with their ideology”

My interview on Fox News Digital about word policing: “It’s just a way of imposing their political viewpoint on everybody… It is simply a power play.”

I was interviewed by Fox News Digital on the issue of speech policing, and the implications for society.

Here are excerpts from the article, Colleges only getting worse by ‘manifesting authoritarianism’ with ‘word policing’, professor warns:

Cornell Law Professor William A. Jacobson warned that colleges and universities are “manifesting authoritarianism” by removing “problematic” words and firing staff that don’t abide by left-wing ideologies.

Jacobson said he believes the increase in stories about word-banning on college campuses is a manifestation of what is referred to as “repressive tolerance,” wherein tolerance serves to preserve a repressive society by neutralizing opposition to impose forms of authoritarianism.

“They monitor your language, they get you to use language that only they approve, and once you’ve done that with somebody, once you’ve done that with a campus, that’s enormous control,” he told Fox News Digital.

There are numerous examples of colleges attempting to change the language of faculty and students, according to Jacobson. He pointed to the implementation of author Ibram Kendi’s antiracism agenda in staff training sessions as one of the more recent examples.

* * *

Jacobson said the removal of the words “illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” from the college curriculum and its perceived negative connotations among faculty and students is a perfect example of how university debates have been skewed and truncated.

He said that administrators and faculty who advocate for open borders do not want the words “illegal” or “illegality” applied to people who illegally cross the border.

Jacobson also claimed that the people engaged in word banning on campuses come almost entirely from the left, utilizing speech control as a “power play.”

“They don’t really care about the origins of these words. They don’t really care about the history. It’s just a way of imposing their political viewpoint on everybody,” he said.

Numerous other stories of word-banning at colleges have cropped up over the last several months, which Jacobson predicted was a sign that things on college campuses are “only going to get worse.”

* * *

While he noted that a confluence of factors has impeded the free flow of ideas at colleges, Jacobson pointed to the introduction of “microaggressions” as the most negative concept in the last decade.

A microaggression is a term for when verbal, behavioral or environmental “slights,” whether intentional or not, communicate hostile or negative attitudes towards “stigmatized” and “culturally marginalized groups.”

“It turned everybody into a potential victim. Everybody’s potentially offended regardless of the speaker’s intention,” he said.

* * *

“There are very real-world consequences,” Jacobson said. “And it only takes one professor being disciplined or fired, or one student expelled to scare thousands of students, or hundreds of faculties. It creates a very chilling effect.”

Here’s the video interview, which was edited down from a longer interview:

Video Transcript (auto transcribed, may contain transcription errors):

I think this is a manifestation of what is referred to as “repressive tolerance,” where in the name of tolerance, they actually use it to assert authority and control over people. They monitor your language, they get you to use language that only they approve. And once you’ve done that with somebody, once you’ve done that with a campus that’s enormous control, who gets to decide what words are offensive, who gets to decide what is hate speech? And in each of these cases that have been covered in the news in the last multiple years, you see that there is a particular political viewpoint attached to them. Once they get you to change your language, you have now bought into, you have now complied with their ideology.

You never know what word that’s commonly used. Completely uncontroversial is all of the sudden going to get you in trouble. Is all of the sudden going to get you called a bigot or a racist? Even though three days ago that word was perfectly normal.

This is not the Soviet Union where you rat out your neighbor because they committed some offense. If administrators were to send that message, I think a lot of that would stop. Unfortunately, administrators tend to send the opposite message, which is that monitoring your classmates’ speech is an appropriate thing.

I think that the argument that just because you’re not going to jail or you’re not being fired or you’re not being kicked out of school because you said a word that six months ago was considered completely normal and now is not. I think that’s a dodge. I think that’s evading the issue. We’re talking about a campus culture here and we’re talking about a culture which only tolerates, for the most part, left wing political viewpoints and the policing of words is part of that repressive culture. So it it feeds off each other.

There are instances where people are brought up, complaints are made to bias response teams, so uttering these words can have very serious consequences, particularly for students, but also for faculty. There are many examples in the past few years made even worse after the death of George Floyd, where faculty have been attacked, where faculty have been threatened with termination or where faculty have been terminated. And it only takes one professor being disciplined or fired, or one student being brought up on charges to scare thousands of students who are hundreds of faculty.

I don’t think that any of these instances reflect a true concern about the origin of a word or a true concern that the word itself is racist in some way. It is simply a power play.


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Words mean things….

    Unfortunately, to a leftist, they don’t mean the same things as they do to us.

    This started with the scam of calling conservatives “red” and democrats “blue”. The flipped “communist red” and “American true blue” on it’s head.

    How we collectively went for that scam is why we’re in the position we are today.

      The Gentle Grizzly in reply to | January 18, 2023 at 2:28 am

      We’ve been having our strings pulled since “Negro” was declared racist.

        Crazy. The master bedroom is now called the primary bedroom. As an EE by training, I wonder what they now call a JK Master-Slave flip flop.

          henrybowman in reply to walls. | January 18, 2023 at 7:37 pm

          A microchip aggression.

          Tionico in reply to walls. | January 18, 2023 at 7:53 pm

          Just don’t get caught with that microchip on your shoulder……. (or IN your shoulder. “they” would really own you then)

          Tionico in reply to walls. | January 18, 2023 at 7:59 pm

          Now you have ME petrified. Having been in the mechannocal trades for far too many decades I’ve no clue what might these days be the “right” term, er, squeeze me, I mean the CORreCt term, for that hydraulic cylinder to which the brakeing foot applies pressure to then transfer it to the wheel mechanisms, nor what to call the immediately forgoing component part. I know the term that’s been used since hydraulic brakes were invented…. but what now? Maybe we should even change the term used to designate motorsports competitions in one easy to say and remember word. “Race” somehow might no longer be appropriate.

          I say let them all fume.What are they gonna DO when they come to me and I tell them their MASTER cylinder is broke and needs replaced, and two of the SLAVE cylinders as well? Take their car to somewhere else who will use the same terms been in use for an hundred years? So WHO will be doing the discriminating then?

      Capitalist-Dad in reply to | January 18, 2023 at 9:41 am

      Yes. There was a time when election night maps displayed Democrat wins as red and Republican wins as blue. But then some producer in the statist media must have decided this was way too close to the truth, and the color coding flipped.

        Actually there was never such a time. The colors used to alternate every election. And not every network always used the same colors. In 2000 they just happened to be that way at all the networks, and all the talk about “blue states” and “red states” froze those colors in the public mind, so that in 2002 the networks all kept those colors for the midterms, and then by 2004 there was no going back. Everyone was talking in those terms, so if they did the usual thing and changed them, it would confuse people, so they decided not to.

          Deborahhh in reply to Milhouse. | January 20, 2023 at 10:42 pm

          The Presidential election of 1960 was the first year that the television networks would broadcast the elections results in color. The three networks agreed to display the incumbent party in blue, and the challenger in red.. Richard Nixon, as the Vice President, was the incumbent and identified with the color blue, and Kennedy for the Democrats was in red. Four years later, Lyndon Johnson was the incumbent so he was “blue” and Barry Goldwater was the challenger—in red.

          With few changes, this alternating method continued to be used right up to the election in 2000 between Al Gore—for the incumbent Democrats in blue and George W. Bush for the challenger Republicans in red.

          Because the results of the election took weeks confirm, the national media went wild with Red States and Blue States, with headlines that were all too easy (and lazy) to splash across the page and shout into the camera.

          And that’s how it happened, and it looks unlikely that the media will ever go back to the original method of reporting election results.

      amatuerwrangler in reply to | January 18, 2023 at 10:06 am

      And the abandoning of “he” as an all inclusive pronoun, as when groups of both sexes were referred to, or in general language when a person’s sex was unknown or something applied to both. Its been “he or she” or “s/he” for more than 40 years, and now we do it out of habit, and if we do not we know to expect some level of criticism.

      Griz: I’m old enough to remember when you called some “black” to his face you had better be ready for a fight.

        Yur new mortal sin was failing to capitalise the term referring to colour. Lower case colour term is __________ (fill in the blank) whereas upper case colour term is now de rigeur.

        Not to worry. SOME big cheese will mandate we all change it again in a week or a year. Watch for it…….

    You not so rabid, Mr Wombat.

This is part and parcel of the Left persistently accusing the Right of what they are themselves doing. Language and deeds have lost their traditional meanings, for control and to avoid accountability.

I find they still understand when I call them assholes.

Attack the funding. Revoke the tax free status for any entity that chooses speech codes, censorship, suppression of expression over free expression. If these totalitarians want to do so they should be forced to pay for the privilege. Dry up their funding by taxing their institutions and their endowments and see how fast many of these academic grifters change course.

    Steven Brizel in reply to CommoChief. | January 17, 2023 at 10:52 pm

    I will never conform my language or values to the demands of the woke left

    Milhouse in reply to CommoChief. | January 17, 2023 at 11:49 pm

    Unfortunately you may run into first amendment issues with that. You can’t deny someone a government benefit that would otherwise be available to them, just because of their viewpoint.

    Of course in government schools that’s a double-edged sword — they can’t deny students an otherwise-available benefit because the student refuses to conform to their language preferences.

    The same courts that will enforce the first prohibition can and will enforce the second one too.

      CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | January 18, 2023 at 12:25 am

      In this example the govt isn’t compelling the speech of the institutions nor prohibiting the speech of the institution. The govt would simply be attaching a content neutral free speech condition upon receipt of tax free status. The institutions would remain free to speak whatever message they wish but wouldn’t be free to impose a speech code upon employees or Students that violate these folks rights of free speech.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Milhouse. | January 18, 2023 at 12:26 am

      It’s not a 1st amendment violation to sanction a government entity for behaving badly with regards to that same amendment (and by behaving badly, I mean violating that very right while using government-granted authority and finances).

      If you’re referring to Harvard and Yale types, you have a point there. However, you can absolutely scrutinize their endowments for unrelated means (which is something the government has looked the other way on for a loooong time).

        Tionico in reply to healthguyfsu. | January 18, 2023 at 8:08 pm

        but said gummit agency WOULD be violating MY freedom of speech/expression the instant they fire me or expel me from any such institution with the only cause of action being I failed/refused to make use of the designated pronouns or terms. they can define the standard, but they cannot FORCE me to violate my own.Nor can they deny me what is otherwise rightfully mine, nor force me to comply with THEIR stated preferences. I’ve been competent in the english language for twice as long as most of these yaywhoos so who is right?

      What if the gubbmint benefit was of questionable status to begin with?

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – – that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll nailed it in “Through the Looking Glass”

People can always make up new silly rules and try to enforce them as a new “community standard.” The solution is the trial by jury. So long as other students (or faculty) are finding the facts, people have a chance at fairness. The first thing that the Department of Education did was to insist that Title IX claims be decided by the Title IX Coordinator staff rather than handled by the prosecutor and hearing panels that decided everything else.

It really is so depressing


This is why, whenever possible, I refuse to use such terms as “COVID”, and insist on calling it Wuhan Disease, or the Wuhan Virus.

And why I resist using “Palestinian”, at least without scare quotes. Wherever possible I substitute “Arab”.

Likewise with those old bugaboos, “abortion rights” and “gun control”. I prefer “abortion control” and “gun rights”.

Because the moment you’re speaking their language you start thinking their thoughts. As Orwell told us 75 years ago.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to Milhouse. | January 18, 2023 at 3:34 pm

    Agreeing and building on that (try not to fall out of your chair in shock…)

    Using their language, you’re thinking their thoughts, with built-in carefully selected presuppositions, frames of reference, and modes of analysis. Look for the palmed cards. The Trojan-horse content *is the point* of crafting the chanted slogans: like”Orange Man Bad!” in Orwell, for example.

    Two recent-ish times in my occasional on-campus visits (to “open to the community” stuff — might as well get something out of my sunk cost with them.) Paraphrased:

    — Got snapped at when in post economic / business / tech event chatting, referred to celebrity-Jenner as “Bruce.”

    “It’s Kaitlin now!” Such vitriol. Such disdain. Little dog yappin, with borrowed gravitas.

    “Oh, yeah, right. (Glaring continues.) I became aware of that person when they won the decathlon — before even the reality TV show. They were on cereal boxes, actually. That’s just the name that comes first to mind; that’s what I recall first. But, right, same person.”

    (Glaring, now stunned, continues.)

    “So to the point, Jenner, that one, illustrates…”

    — “So, what should we do about racial (something, something, something, operationalized corrections to situation, analysis, or history, or something.)”

    “Oh, I try to think “ethnic” not “racial.”

    “What? What do you mean by that?” Oh, the hostility-wrapper that came in, escalated from the pro forma j’accuse of the previous.

    “Identifiable groups of people in some sense similar seems different from similar breeding. That seems a useful distinction. Right?

    “What?” (The stunned vague nod was priceless.)

    “Um, try this. I don’t think the amount of melanin in people’s skin has much to do directly with their economic performance, housing or job choices, to name a few. It does have a lot to do with how much Vit D they make. That’s not learned response, or the result of the society around them — it’s genetic. Even so, as a general rule, people with more melanin should probably supplement with Vit D, especially around here were the sun doesn’t like us.”

    “People tend to use “race” with biological and inherited differences and also outcomes, social conventions, histories; so “ethnic” vs. “race” to help separate the two. Ethnic binds better to causes and solutions too — candidate solutions, anyway.”

    Like public speaking, you don’t have a completely written script. You have riffs, with the required parts of the beats, and the crafted turns of phrase. With that you can riff in the moment, and hit the things you have to get exactly so.

My daughter has decided to reclaim the rainbow 🌈 for her kids…

I agree….

This is why I say “black” rather than “African American,” “illegal alien” rather than “undocumented worker,” and “mutilated man” rather than “transwoman.” Ditto with all the pronoun nonsense.

I refuse to cede language to the crazies.

    — and transvestite instead of transgender, and pedophile instrad of ANYTHING else.

      Transvestite and transgender are two different things. Most transvestites are cisgender heterosexuals, who merely happen to like wearing clothes traditionally associated with the sex they know they are not, and don’t want to be.

        henrybowman in reply to Milhouse. | January 18, 2023 at 7:42 pm

        Yes, and no. Many transgenders are merely transvestites because they haven’t really… committed. They claim to be women, but they haven’t “paid their dues.” Whether it’s cash or cold feet doesn’t matter to me.

          Milhouse in reply to henrybowman. | January 19, 2023 at 12:15 am

          No. Even transsexuals who have not had surgery, and even those who don’t even want surgery, are still different from transvestites because they identify as the opposite sex, or at least claim to. They pretend to themselves and others that they are the opposite sex. And they want to be the opposite sex.

          Transvestites don’t do any of that. They know what sex they are and don’t pretend otherwise. Transvestitism is simply a fashion choice. They like to wear clothes that are traditionally associated with the opposite sex. That is all.

          When you see a guy with a huge beard wearing a frock and high heels, he’s not pretending to be a woman. At most he’s role playing; at least he’s not even doing that. That’s not a transsexual.

          henrybowman in reply to henrybowman. | January 20, 2023 at 8:47 pm

          So then to recap, the difference between a born-as-male transvestite and transsexual (unaltered) is that one of them thinks he’s a woman and the other one doesn’t.

          Smells like thoughtcrime/hatecrime to me. I don’t care how he thinks of himself, I can’t prove it either way, and it really doesn’t matter to me.

          I’m going to call em as I see ’em.

    I use the term “African American” to describe my neighbors who are Caucasian immigrants from South Africa.

      #FJB <-- Disco Stu_ in reply to BillB52. | January 19, 2023 at 5:40 am

      Oh yeah, like that Elon Musk guy. Being the wealthiest of our African-Americans (and not even a professional athlete).

If you can’t dominate a battlespace, you can alter the battlespace so it becomes one you can dominate. The exclusion or redefinition of certain words is meant to reduce the effectiveness of opposing thought by limiting its range and effectiveness in the intellectual battlespace or to drive certain thoughts/concepts/ideas from the battlespace altogether.

Whoever agrees to permit an opponent to alter the battlespace in this manner must understand acquiescence is a form of unilateral disarmament.

    BierceAmbrose in reply to DaveGinOly. | January 18, 2023 at 4:11 pm

    If you can’t dominate a battlespace, you can alter the battlespace so it becomes one you can dominate. ,,, Whoever agrees to permit an opponent to alter the battlespace in this manner must understand acquiescence is a form of unilateral disarmament.

    Nicely said. Imma steal that.

    This is the essence of Sun Tsu, that the biz-fan bois have never grokked at all. There’s a related inventory of “battlespace prep” schemes published in English under various titles, including “36 Classic Chinese Strategies.”

    This all resonates with Alindky’s infamous “Rules”, which are more like formula for generating tactics that work in a particular presumed situation — a battlespace where they fit. The fundamental move to vs Alindky’s formula is change the battlespace.

RepublicanRJL | January 18, 2023 at 6:05 am

In the time period around 2006, I joined a group called Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement and remained a very, very active member for several years. The term ‘illegal alien’ was never abandoned from our public discourse as pro illegal Democrats fought for public acceptance of ‘undocumented immigrants’. We never relented. Terry Gorman, a great friend and founder of RIILE, never let up and neither did the public. We were able to get Governor Carcieri to institute e-verify for state workers and contractors.

Never give the word changers an inch because they’ll define it a 12 units of a foot.

    To me, immigration implies a legal act. I don’t use immigration at all and prefer the word invader. When you come across the border illegally, you are invading.

      Milhouse in reply to walls. | January 18, 2023 at 12:19 pm

      Sorry, as a matter of Engish usage, you’re wrong. Immigration simply means moving ones residence into a country, regardless of how that is done.

      You would not deny that an illegal driver is still a driver, and an illegal bookmaker is still a bookmaker. So why deny that the same is true of an illegal immigrant?

      Close The Fed in reply to walls. | January 18, 2023 at 5:05 pm

      I call ’em wetbacks, and boy do people give me hell. Gotten bullied, thrown out of stores….

        Actually the gubmint did too, at one time. Eisenhower and General ‘Jumpin Joe’ Swing implemented Operation Wetback in the 1950’s to remove the “illegals” and deport to extreme southern Mexico to make jobs for returning GI’s after the war.

“Power” is a bogus concept, as if power were a thing you could steal, get or lose. A reification error.

Classically there is no such word. You have instead various things that “power” lumps together without any thought, namely officium, auctoritas, imperium and potestas. If you’re forced to say which you mean, your argument improves, though possibly not on TV.

Criminal Alien, not ‘illegal alien’
Mental impairment, not ‘trans’
American Marxist, not ‘liberal’ or ‘leftist’
Drive-by-media, not ‘mainstream media’

So what else is new? Universities as we have known them are done. They are all now dedicated to the neo-Marxist revolution, despite mission statements that might indicate otherwise, though my guess is that there are few that don’t explicitly advocate social “justice” activism. Time to build alternative institutions and do away with the myth that a degree is anything but a credential for doctors, lawyers, engineers, and teachers.

Trump refusing to coddle MSM by saying “anchor babies” after they requested he NOT do that was the spine the country needs.

@ Milhouse,

“Immigration simply means moving ones residence into a country, regardless of how that is done.”
We may not know if Juan Doe has moved his residence, is a temporary worker, or…. So “illegal alien” is more accurate.

Also, I am dubious about your explanation of Red and Blue states. It seems too convenient that it obscures the fact that Democrats lean Communist. Can you cite any references?

I say “Republican states” or “Democrat states” instead.

Also “homosexual,” not “gay,” “Lesbian,” or “LGBTQ.”
“Transvestite,” not “drag queen.”
“Black, Hispanic, Asian” etc., not POC.

“Speech suppression,” not “repressive tolerance!”

    Milhouse in reply to Tom Orrow. | January 18, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    It seems the history of color coding the parties is complicated. See here for instance.

    On your next point, “gay” has meant “sexually loose” since at least the 1880s (cf the “gay nineties”). It came to mean specifically “homosexual” by at least the mid-1930s. I have read a book published in 1930 that still used it to mean heterosexually promiscuous, but several movies from the 1930s (before censorship came to Hollywood) show the “homosexual” usage.

    What has changed in recent times is not that “gay” is used for “homosexual” but that it has lost its other meanings. It’s no longer used to mean “cheerful”, because people don’t want to invoke its sexual implications. One example I’ve come across is a performance from about 10 years ago of a children’s song first recorded around 1980. The original song has “to make us all so gay”; the more recent recording has changed it to “to make us all so happy”, with the tune tweaked so the extra syllable doesn’t sound like it’s been crammed in.

    henrybowman in reply to Tom Orrow. | January 18, 2023 at 7:56 pm

    According to one history, the networks used to use blue for whoever the incumbent was, and red for the other guy. During Bush/Gore, the incumbent was Clinton, so that’s what you got. And for some reason, when all the networks made their funny faces that year, they all got stuck that way forever.

Thanks, Milhouse. I see all these cases as the Left’s transformation of society, e.g. not “homosexual” (furrowed brow) but “gay” (who doesn’t want to be happy?)

Recently saw “The Gay Divorcee” with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. She didn’t seem promiscuous, but she sure could dance! Fun movie.

And the irony that “repressive tolerance” is Newspeak for
“speech suppression”.

    Milhouse in reply to Tom Orrow. | January 19, 2023 at 12:29 am

    Again, that’s just incorrect. The sexual meaning of “gay” is about 150 years old. The left didn’t do that. And the narrowing of the meaning to “homosexual” is almost 100 years old. The left didn’t do that either.

    And yes, the title of the musical “Gay Divorce” (later filmed as “the Gay Divorcée”) was probably intended as a subtle innuendo.

I’m sure even a cursory study of Marxist teachings and tactics will show language manipulation is simply another tool to sow dissention and confusion, particularly within Christian societies. Imagine the damage being done to kids who are told anyone can be any sex they want- or all of them.

Well, while we’re talking about how the left abuses language, here’s today’s entry.

In Germany, four federal states have reported “thermally reprocessing” a total of 17M+ expired Corona masks.

You may be more familiar with the process under its old term: “burning.”

Part of the fun of the ‘approved terminology’ (newspeak), is that when you are accused of using the ‘wrong’ term it provides an opportunity for the accuser to be required to explain the significance or distinction. In many cases, they can’t explain. And typically if you push the issue, they will either tie themselves in logic knots trying to conform to contradictions and ultimately flounder, or they will abandon their attack with a final ‘Because!’, which only ever indicates that don’t have the capacity to explain. Details on climate, gender, economics, religion, history, specific scientific studies, petroleum, nuclear energy, biology, etal., seem to fall by the wayside once you apply the slightest bit of pushback.

“How strangely will the tools of a tyrant pervert the plain meaning of words!”

— Samuel Adams