Is "Free Speech" Code for Racism and Sexism?

An argument that it is not. Some evidence:
In my estimation, few things divide the right as much as traditional gender roles. The divide is not just ideological, pitting traditionalist social conservatives against right-leaning libertarians, but also generational. As the gay marriage debate showed, a typical Baby Boomer and a typical Millennial, right or left, hold vastly different views about the shifting norms of gender and sexuality.

Polls strongly suggest that the right has achieved nothing like consensus on these issues. Of course, public-opinion data typically measure the beliefs of Americans as a whole, not those of intellectuals in particular. Still, it is telling that 55 percent of Republicans favor women taking on combat roles in the military, one of the starkest departures from traditional gender roles in our society.

Lots of other survey data reveal similar lacks of consensus.

In one survey, Pew reported, “About two-thirds of Democrats who say men and women are basically different in how they express their feelings, their approach to parenting, and their hobbies and personal interests say these differences are rooted in societal expectations. Among their Republican counterparts, about four-in-ten or fewer share those views.” In another Pew study, when Republicans were asked about changing gender roles, 36 percent said they’ve made it easier for women to lead satisfying lives, 32 percent said they’ve made it easier for parents to raise children, 53 percent said they’ve made it easier for women to succeed at work, and 26 percent said that they’ve made it easier for marriages to be successful. Twenty-six percent of Republicans said the country hasn’t gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights.
Nevertheless, it is true (as the argument he is countering goes) that much of the effort at suppressing free speech is pointed at arguments that there are innate differences between groups. I think that the sexes are obviously, truly innately different; the real issue is what to do about it, rather than whether or not it is the case. There's a better question about what is commonly called "race," but it's hard to know what to make of it because people who set out to study it are hounded out of the academy.

Some questions are dangerous, of course, but the basic question -- are there such differences? -- is surely worth asking. Even if the answer is "yes," as it is with sex, there remains a wide open field of possible answers to the following question about what to do about those differences.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

There is a reason why those questions are not asked. It is because the people who want it to be about societal expectations suspect strongly - and accurately - that the scientific evidence is going to go against them. Therefore they have to head off the debate before it gains traction and people actually ask themselves the relevant questions. They insist that the science is biased and culture-driven before it is even heard. They argue with insult, threat, bullying and other social enforcement. They wouldn't do this if they thought the science were going to go their way.

Christopher B said...

I'm pretty sure that 66% of Democrats believing in traditional gender roles vs 40% Republicans is culturally conservative blacks and hispanics who otherwise identity as Democrats.

raven said...

It has been replaced with with activist version- Free Screech.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Side note: The New England Patriots are clearly fond of this year's Georgia team, and a few Georgia families may be checking up on Foxboro this tear.

I think we did very well.

Grim said...

Wise decision. That Georgia team was pretty good.