Is Political Correctness a Two-Way Street?

Liberty Board

Aaron Hanlon, an English professor at Colby College, thinks that it is.

Here is a taste of his Chronicle of Higher Education piece, “Political Correctness Has Run Amok–on the Right“:

Take a recent incident at Liberty University. An evangelical pastor who was critical of President Jerry Falwell Jr.’s support for the Trump administration was removed from campus and threatened with arrest if he returned. When Falwell was asked about the situation, he replied, “If we allowed him to come on campus and protest uninvited, then the next group that comes in might be a violent group, and we’ve seen recently what that can lead to,” alluding to violent white-supremacist protests in Charlottesville, Va.

That justification is barely distinguishable from how a cautious university administrator might explain removal of a controversial right-wing speaker. But because high-profile opportunists like Richard Spencer, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Ann Coulter are right-wing figures hunting for disinvitations from the left, we form our impressions about what constitutes political correctness based on complaints from the right.

I have personal experience with the double standard we apply to political correctness. In magazine pieces and TV appearances, I’ve made arguments against giving people like Spencer, Yiannopoulos, and Coulter a campus platform. I’ve said something similar to what Falwell argued — specifically, that safety is an important precondition for teaching and learning.When a conservative Christian like Falwell makes that argument, the media give him a pass. But when a left-of-center professor like me says it, I receive death threats, and my college gets countless messages demanding that I be fired.

The implications of this double standard are twofold. One, it fuels confirmation bias by framing the left as the sole enemy of free speech when the facts say otherwise. Two, it makes those who have actual power to enforce speech complaints — and thus to actually chill speech — more likely to do so against left-leaning speech that runs afoul of right-wing political correctness.

Read the entire piece here.