Repressive Tolerance

R. Samples, a senior at the University of Alabama, has a great column in The Crimson White, UA’s student newspaper, declaring that the faculty should rescind their vote for a hate speech policy at UA.

He argues, using Thomas Jefferson, that bad speech can be overcome with good speech.

He also gives the background for a happening I have been unable to understand. Now I do.

“Herbert Marcuse, a Marxist theorist, wrote a famous article in the 1960s that advocated a “repressive tolerance” that would repress the Right and tolerate only the Left. Why college administrators and professors of all people would think that they had the right to engage in this kind of totalitarian thought control is beyond comprehension. These codes invariably are used to justify “malicious aggression” against those who do not conform to the narrow ideology of the campus Left. Labeling dissenters as “haters” or “harassers” is a cowardly and immoral way of avoiding real, substantive debate.”

This idea of repressive tolerance is what I see in hate speech policies everywhere. See this note on Canadian hate speech laws.

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