Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on September 29, 2011

in Hubris and humility

… is from today’s column by George Will:

Fond of diversity in everything but thought, a certain kind of liberal favors mandatory harmony (e.g., campus speech codes). Such liberals, being realists at least about the strength of their arguments, discourage “too much” debate about them (e.g., restrictions on campaign spending to disseminate political advocacy).

(My only dissent is that I refuse to call such closed-minded believers in their own capacity to order other people about “liberals.”)

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Stephan September 29, 2011 at 8:10 am

What about the GMU speech code? Are you revolting against it? The FIRE website displays for GMU a red light? A red light university has at least one policy that both clearly and substantially restricts freedom of speech.


PS: I also note the “Vending Sales and Solicitation Policy” — free trade on the campus is severely hampered by GMU bureaucrats.

Curt Doolittle September 29, 2011 at 8:36 am

a) He doesn’t make the rules for GMU.
b) Free speech is a property of public, not private venues. It is preferable that private venues (organizations and land) experiment with different regulations on behavior. In public one must leave the polity, in private one must simply go to a competitor. Free speech then, when applied to the private venue is a RESTRICTION on freedom. Freedom is not an absolute good (despite what the rothbardians would argue) it is a utilitarian good.

Daniel Kuehn September 29, 2011 at 9:57 am

Not sure if this is where you were going with (b.) or not, but GMU is a public school. My Virginia tax dollars go towards restricting speech at GMU, and as Don suggests in the post – this is disconcerting. A private university with these restrictions is disconcerting too, but somewhat less so and for different reasons.

Curt Doolittle September 29, 2011 at 11:44 am

I thought that the comment was general, and I meant to address it generally. Possibly co-opting the argument. Not meaning to. :)

Invisible Backhand September 29, 2011 at 10:54 am

“…and my university signed a contract with Coca-cola banning the sale of competing products on campus.”


kyle8 September 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm

It is obvious you are wasting your time here, you must at once subject these horrible capitalists at your university to the full force of your wit and lofty arguments. Good Speed!

Seth September 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm

Which policy specifically disturbs you the most?

Methinks1776 September 29, 2011 at 8:29 am

My only dissent is that I refuse to call such closed-minded believers in their own capacity to order other people about “liberals.”

This is where the more accurate “libtard” comes in handy.

morganovich September 29, 2011 at 10:32 am

seriously. i got a HUGE taste of this while attending brown.

i remember freshman year, there was a big issue on sexual assault policy. a large group of women were upset and militant on the issue. the deans offered to have an open town hall meeting on the green to hear their concerns.

a large group of women cam, dressed in red, and with whistles. they shouted their grievances, then blew their whistles when anyone else, including the deans who the were allegedly there to speak with tried to speak.

then, when the deans got disgusted and walked out, the women in red raged about how they were not listening and took it as proof they were not interested in a dialogue.

it was a real eye opener for me.

there is an enormous amount of tyranny of the other side masquerading as liberalism in the world.

most worrying, its practitioners rarely have any idea they are doing it. i’m sure Torquemada was convinced he was right and others wrong and undeserving of a hearing too.

Dan H September 29, 2011 at 10:42 am

When logic and reason fail, shouting down the opponent is all they have. It’s in their DNA. It’s their way of FORCING you to believe what they say, like if they can just shout louder, they can get their point across.

Fred September 29, 2011 at 10:44 am

Persuasion is hard. Force is easy.

Everett September 29, 2011 at 11:12 am

Dan, little children stick their fingers in their ears and yell, “I can’t hear you, ad nauseum, ” when they don’t want to hear the truth. Unfortunately so many still behave the same when they reach a legal age.

vikingvista September 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Especially when you are incapable of rationally persuading even yourself. When emotions are what persuade you, anger is the response to those who request reason.

Methinks1776 September 29, 2011 at 11:30 am

What kind of grievances could they have had? I mean, was the sexual assault policy “you break it, you buy it” or something?

morganovich September 29, 2011 at 11:58 am

i don’t really remember to be honest. i think it may have had to do with the ability to “give consent” when you are drunk.

i remember that being a big issue freshman year. the new rule was that if you were intoxicated, you could not give consent, and therefore any sex with you was rape.

given how much college sex takes place between 2 drunken (and willing) participants, i fear that, by definition, there was an enormous amount of mutual sexual assault.

i never really did hear a good way to determine which of the 2 drunken cohibitators was at fault (nor, for that matter, a good way to objectively determine what “drunk” was)

Dan H September 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

If the definition of “not being able to give consent” is that they wouldn’t have given consent if they were sober, then I have a lot of guy friends who have been victims of sexual assault at the hands of some “big” ladies.

g-dub September 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I see how I am a victim for the first time in my life.

Methinks1776 September 29, 2011 at 2:47 pm

That rule sounds like a great way to get back at boys who don’t call you after.

Stone Glasgow September 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm

The man is faulted if they are both drunk.

Methinks1776 September 29, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Of course, Stone. We womyn can’t be held responsible for our own actions. After all, we’re a beleaguered 51% minority.

kyle8 September 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Increasingly the Left uses the exact same tactics as the Brown shirts.

g-dub September 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm


Fred September 29, 2011 at 8:37 am

“being realists at least about the strength of their arguments”

Does this mean they recognize that their arguments are weak and based upon emotion instead of reason, and will fail if subject to rational debate?

kyle8 September 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm


dsylexic September 29, 2011 at 8:38 am

er,what about property rights? dont gmu-tards or libtards have the right to restrict speech or business on their property? unless ofcourse we are not speaking of private property here.i dont know if campuses in question are private property or not

Dan H September 29, 2011 at 9:42 am

GMU is a public university.

Libt September 29, 2011 at 8:40 am

They are simply preparing the students for the real world, where “speech codes” are also going to become the norm.

SweetLiberty September 29, 2011 at 9:25 am

Debating a liberal is like punching an indestructible Bozo Bop Bag which bounces back smiling after every hit. It might be good exercise, but you’ll never win the fight. The reason for this is because both the liberal and the Bozo’s heads are filled with the same gaseous substance.

Fred September 29, 2011 at 9:39 am

That’s because liberals don’t think.

As a liberal about an issue and they’ll respond with “Well I feel that….”, or when asking you about an issue they will ask “How do you feel about…?”

They never say “Well I think…” or ask “What do you think…?” because they don’t think and don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Fred September 29, 2011 at 9:39 am


Daniel Kuehn September 29, 2011 at 9:58 am

Let’s not generalize from speech codes to liberals here.

SweetLiberty September 29, 2011 at 10:11 am

Just my own personal experience.

Ken September 29, 2011 at 10:17 am


SL wasn’t talking about speech codes, just the ridiculous arguments “liberals” bring forth. For example, the argument that since treating people differently based on skin color is wrong, we’re going to treat people differently based on skin color, but call it affirmative action, so it’s okay (see UC Berkley Young Republicans). Or how about how important democracy is, but the next few elections should be suspended so the liberals in congress can enact the agenda they want without fear that voters will “hold it against them, whatever decisions they make” (see North Carolina Democratic Governor Bev Perdue).


Fearsome Tycoon September 29, 2011 at 11:37 am

Who runs the universities?

Anotherphil September 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Why not, speech codes are nearly entirely the product of liberals (in the modern colloquial sense-i.e., leftists).

g-dub September 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Debating a liberal is…

Futile. One of the definitions they gratuitously grant themselves is that of being “open minded.”

My anecdote, almost without exception (for years on end) is that they are remarkably close-minded.

Perhaps the conclusion is that there would not be any “liberals” if they were open-minded. I *was* one. Thanks to Dr. (Mr.?) Krugman, I am no longer a liberal.

vikingvista September 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

What was the reason for your conversion?

g-dub September 30, 2011 at 8:36 pm

As a “progressive/liberal” I felt I needed a better analytical foundation for my existing beliefs (for the purpose of conversation and debate). One place I thought I should go for that was to “liberal” economists, like Krugman. So I read some Krugman stuff (the ’90′s), and some econ101 style stuff, even though I’d already had micro and macro in college. I went in with a strong bias.

In the course of that, Krugman would mention people like Friedman, and others, iirc. I had the bright idea that I should actually study what the “people who were wrong” (like Friedman) had to say so I could better refute it. Well that was the beginning of the end, so to speak — it was all a cascade from there. People like Friedman and Hayek were clearly superior thinkers to Krugman, et al. (I also realized that Krugman was very superficial if commenting on anything the least bit outside his specialty.)

I was also studying some history and scraping around the edges of law too, and that too swayed things.

I never found a “perfect ideology,” but the balance of it swayed very strongly to more free markets, and a stark acknowledgement of the “problems of politics” (public choice). Thus my overall direction is presently and distinctly to much less government than that which exists.

That’s the short story, anyway. Thanks for the leads Dr. (Mr.?) Krugman!

g-dub September 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm

I just remembered that I would also lurk on the sci.econ newsgroup. …trying to remember… David Friedman would post there. An econmist named Ed Flaherty. Who else? There was a guy with the handle “Grinch,” who was Jim Glass, a lawyer from NYC. (I think he did the blog scrivener.net, but I didn’t find that till years later, and I couldn’t confirm for sure it was “Grinch.”)

Anyway, just watching the back and forth, none of the really sound thinking was from “leftists.”

vikingvista September 30, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Interesting. Thanks.

erp September 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

Hard to debate when your opponent can hold opposite and opposing opinons at the same time. Whiplash is painful.

vidyohs September 29, 2011 at 10:18 am

If Will’s is accurate in his quotes and assessment of Frank’s past and current positions, it just confirms what I have long said, “There is no such thing as a socialist (looney lefty) intellectual.” Many of the loonies are quite brilliant in fields other than politics, business, and social organization. I have known many that make outstanding doctors or engineers, but they too exhibit that broken brain feature of the socialist believer than prevents them from dealing with politics, business, and social organizations with pragmatic honesty. A looney is basically intellectually bankrupt in any arena involving politics, business and social organization.

A devout belief in socialism makes a person self-censor in rejecting or avoiding thought that does not conform to the socialist scriptures. A socialist believer is thus prevented from true intellectual exercise because of the basic dishonesty in that self-censorship. True intellectual exercise means accepting the conclusions that rational and methodical thought brings, even if it overturns previously held beliefs. I have never seen, heard, or read the words of a looney lefty that shows he can do that. Patrons of this Café see this displayed daily by the looney trolls that come and puke their idiocy all over the blog.

We do have hard evidence that socialism fails, has failed, and until mankind’s basic nature is fundamentally changed from within, socialism will always fail. A looney lefty, rather than face the truth of that, comes up with the school yard rebuttal of “Naa Naa, your free market fails also”, never understanding that he is comparing hard evidence against the socialism to no evidence on the free market side, as there is no evidence in recorded history that true global or even regional free markets were ever the policy of the day. When it is pointed out that what we do have is evidence in recorded history that the more loose the restraints on markets, the more the people benefit in wealth and in numbers of people enjoying the wealth.

A true intellectual should be able to weigh the entirely negative evidence against the consistently positive evidence, and come to a rational conclusion to go with the consistently positive.

Then the Bwaney Fwanks of the world raise their ugly heads and do their utmost to seize political power to force the people to all suffer the misery socialism brings, because it is justified in their broken brains that if one person is miserable, then all people should be miserable. Just as it is equally just in their broken brains to express their hate of private property to claim that as long as one person in America has money, we all have money.

As to intellectual debate, we only have to look at the increasing calls for banning of free speech that the looney left has raised regarding things such as climate change causes, oppositional (to the looney left) radio and TV programs, debt as income, the right to work, and now their own beloved democracy, etc. et. al. What true intellectual meets dissent by attempting to cut out the tongue of the dissenter?

Socialist, the looney left, the regressives, are sick people determined to bring Nazi style policies against dissent to their belief. A logical extension of what I see as the sum of their beliefs can only be to handle dissenters in prison camps, and at a minimum deadly neglect of the prisoner’s nourishment and health, and at a maximum direct elimination of “undesirables”.

SweetLiberty September 29, 2011 at 10:26 am

You clearly need to be re-programmed. Please stay where you are and an official representative will escort you to a reconditioning center where you can be taught to feel why you are wrong.

vidyohs September 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

Hah, give me some specifics and I’ll hang around, something like height, weight, 3 pertinent measurements, and age (must be between 45 and 64), ownership or association with a likker store.

Satisfactory reply determines my willingness to be readjusted.

Oh, did I tell you I am a country boy? :-)

SweetLiberty September 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Height: 6′
Weight: 195
Age: 46
Hair: Brown
Beard: Trim

Oh, did I tell you I am a happily married hetrosexual city boy? :)

vidyohs September 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm

LOL LOL LOL, ooooouch! Why did my memory tell that when you appeared on this blog you said you were female? This’ll teach me to pay closer attention.

Not even your owning or having an association with a likker store is enticement enough to make this hetrosexual country boy, swing any way but straight.

SweetLiberty September 29, 2011 at 2:12 pm

No worries.

Fearsome Tycoon September 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

There’s plenty of evidence on the free market. The more a country’s economy approximates a free market, the more prosperous it is. Sure, there’s no “perfect” free market, but a mostly free market with a business cycle is much preferable to the crippling starvation and medieval medical care you get in socialist countries.

vidyohs September 29, 2011 at 11:49 am

I think I said that. “When it is pointed out that what we do have is evidence in recorded history that the more loose the restraints on markets, the more the people benefit in wealth and in numbers of people enjoying the wealth.”

Are you one to quarrel with those who think exactly the same as you on the subject?

kyle8 September 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm

That argument will not work with a lot of people because of contradictions of definitions. For instance most of the Scandinavian nations went with cradle to grave socialism and for quite a long while they created a fairly prosperous society while they ate up the seed corn of their culture.

Of course they had almost a perfect set of situations. They, like the USA, emerged from WW2 with most of their economy intact. They started with small well behaved, well educated, hard working, homogeneous populations. And they didn’t have to spend much for defense.

Of course, now they are slashing programs and taxes as quickly as they politically can do it.

Likewise the USA would be held up by the left an example of a free market, but we have not had anything like a free market for many decades. In fact by some measures we are more socialist than most of the developed world.

These things make it difficult to make broad statements, unless you look closely at the evidence.

vidyohs September 29, 2011 at 2:01 pm

“because of contradictions of definitions”

Can you explain what those are?

Henri Hein September 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

Kyle, your description of Scandinavia is incorrect. It is true that the welfare state has reduced growth and progress to some extent, but it has not been ruinous, as you imply (“ate up the seed corn”). It is also incorrect to call it socialism.

While there is some pulling back, it is also a mischaracterization to say that “they are slashing programs as quickly as they can politically do it.”

I listened to the Garett Jones podcast yesterday. Towards the end there was an insight that in the current economy, while there are a large bulk of unemployed, most of them are poorly qualified. I thought at the time of the parallels to the Scandinavian economies. One drawback to the welfare state is large semi-permanent unemployment. In Scandinavia, as in the current US economy, the unemployed tends to be the least qualified (the least educated or those with the least relevant skills). Surely it is better if those people were also working, both for them and for the economies overall. However, it is a persistent libertarian myth that the situation is destructive.

vidyohs September 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

It is a hallmark of the socialist society to promote personal irresponsibility and pass the responsibility to the state. Consequently discipline, ambition, concern, consideration, motivation etc. et. al. go into decline. How rapidly the decline can depend greatly on where the high water mark was in terms of personal and public progress in character, wealth, ambition, and work ethic.

A large percentage of a population that is uneducated and thus unqualified for employment is the end result of the socialist policies in government, including government controlled schools.

It is no different in Scandinavia or any place where socialism has had its way for at least three generations.

Our three generations came with the baby boomers and you see where we are now.

Stone Glasgow September 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Meh, most of the private schools are providing junk educations and propagandizing about climate change as well.

Dan H September 29, 2011 at 4:48 pm


As the graduate of a private high school in 2005, I can confirm your statement to be 100% correct. Furthermore, it was a Catholic school, so I got a heavy dose of “social justice” indoctr-, err, umm, teaching as well.

Anotherphil September 30, 2011 at 4:44 pm

“For instance most of the Scandinavian nations went with cradle to grave socialism and for quite a long while they created a fairly prosperous society while they ate up the seed corn of their culture. ”

Indeed. And one can never be sure that their prosperity was the result of their politics, merely coincident to it or achieved in spite of the anchor of their politics. For that matter, they might have been “prosperous”, but it seems stagnant and sterile-without any great innovation.

We do know that their secular nihilism is virtually assuring that the Swede of the future is more likely to carry Arab or Middle Eastern DNA than be a Viking descendent.

Invisible Backhand September 29, 2011 at 10:56 am

This appears to be Russ’s source document for those who enjoy reading those things:


Greg Webb September 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

mandatory harmony

Progressive code words for their real goal – Government Officials decide, Citizens must comply. Or,to make it simpler for George, the King and his Lords decide and the Serf must comply.

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