David Berlinski gets to the heart of the matter in a new ID the Future podcast with Jonathan Witt: “What we’re seeing on the campuses is a kind of hysterical religious revival without religion,” aimed at suppressing all forms of speech deemed as deplorable by the Left. That explosion is the subject of the new documentary No Safe Spaces, starring Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla.
Discovery Institute president Steve Buri was on hand for the Hollywood premiere of No Safe Spaces, and he contributed these photos (below) of the event, which came on the heels of the national premiere in Phoenix, AZ. It’s been a huge success.
Mann’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, CA, where the premiere was held.
The Darwin Debate
Obviously, this is a subject that bears directly on the Darwin debate. Evolution skeptics were the canary in this particular coal mine: before the present anti-free speech movement on campuses emerged several year ago, from Evergreen State College to U.C. Berkeley, Darwin-doubting scientists had already been feeling the burden of suppression for well over a decade. Stephen Meyer, director of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, is among the prominent cultural and academic figures who appear in the film, alongside Jordan Peterson, Alan Dershowitz, Ben Shapiro, Cornell West, and others.
Dennis Prager (r.) with director Justin Folk (l.).
The documentary is currently in a limited national release, and you can find the nearest theater to you on the film’s website. Get tickets in advance, since the theater will likely be packed, as it was in Hollywood. In Phoenix, No Safe Spaces set a record, according to Fox News: “the only documentary that earned more from one screen on an opening weekend was Michael Moore’s ‘Sicko’ in 2007.”
“Yale Did Nothing”
One story the documentary tells is about Yale professor and (now former) administrator Nicholas Christakis. You remember him: he was surrounded, insulted, and shouted down by students who had been triggered by a memo his wife wrote that seemed to minimize concerns about culturally offensive Halloween costumes. The episode was caught on video.
The most remarkable thing, as David Berlinski points out in the podcast, is that Christakis was “not defended by the university. I found that astonishing. The students should have been expelled, instantly. It’s what would have happened before 1963, ’64. At Columbia, for example, if you behaved that way with respect to the dean of students, you were simply expelled. There was no administrative laxity. Yale did nothing.”
Christakis’s recent book, Blueprint, makes the ironic case that evolution has programmed us to be just lovely: “transcendently and inherently good — … we’re genetically wired for it, thanks to a process of natural selection,” as Frank Bruni summarized in the New York Times. Berlinski detonates the book, gently, in a chapter in his own new book, out this week, Human Nature. Poor schnook, as Berlinski might say of the humiliated Christakis, to make such a case so soon after being by pummeled by what David B. calls “adolescent hysterical reptiles” and then hung out to dry by his university.
I asked Steve Buri if he thinks events like Christakis’s public shaming are just isolated blips on the cultural screen. Hardly, says Buri: Follow the news. Just the other day, student journalists at Northwestern University abjectly apologized to “marginalized” students. What had the journalists done wrong? The “marginalized” young people, whatever exactly that means, were among the protesters at a speech by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The student paper, The Daily Northwestern, published photos of the protestors — remember, this was a public event — which made the marginalized students feel traumatized.
The student journalists, in other words, were apologizing for committing journalism. Buri notes the irony that Northwestern is home to a highly esteemed school of journalism, the Medill School, which to its credit released a statement regretting that “journalism is under assault” on campus.
It’s not just journalism, of course. Free speech, free thought, more broadly are imperiled. In fact, the setting where free speech is most important — the university — is also the place where it is most in danger. No one understands that better than Darwin skeptics and proponents of intelligent design. They’ve understood it for a long time.
Photo credits: No Safe Spaces website (at the top); Steve Buri (below).