Thursday, February 10, 2005

More on Hoppe and Churchill

One of the sad things about the Hoppe case is that we have no absolute record of what he said. No one in the class took precise notes, and he doesn't have the speech on record. A little in conflict with his claim that he's given the same basic introductory speech for 18 years, but whatever.

What struck me from this recent conservatve Las Vegas newspaper article was where it tries to defend his comments, first by saying

Very young and very old people, for example, tend not to plan for the future, he said. Couples with children tend to plan more than couples without. As in all social sciences, he said, he was speaking in generalities.

(The "very" on young and old people is a new iteration I hadn't heard before. I guess the paper assumes it's safer to say that, since no one considers themselves "very" old). But the "only generalization" caveat is interesting given that they then say

He said there is a belief among some economists that one of the 20th century's most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, was influenced in his beliefs by his homosexuality. Keynes espoused a "spend it now" philosophy to keep an economy strong, much as President Bush did after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Did Hoppe say Bush may be a homosexual, and this is a way of interpretting his post-911 actions?! That's hilarious. Again, it's a pity that we don't have the full notes. And here's another reason pundits should shy from defending economists on the merits of what they say, and try to just stick to abstract academic freedom. (Even if he didn't say Bush is gay, I'd love to see Hoppe's defenders remember to quote that he claims "Bush is short-sighted" to their freeper supporters.)

In Churchill, politicians are making significant progress towards getting his Chair revoked and his butt fired because a) he claims to be an Indian on his resume and does not have the evidence to back that up and b) has shown pretty lazy scholarship (bordering on plagiarism and negligence) in previous work about early American's attack on Native Americans. And the Colorado legislature and governor are now going over the U. Colorado's budget with a fine tooth comb, since they feel disgust at funding a system that made this professor.

Resume and work sniffing, or budget analysis aren't free-speech prohibition per-se, since they would only create a result (one hopes and supposes) if they found actual malfeasance that should change. A lie on a resume, plagiarism, or non-accountable funding procedures are things that should be stopped regardless. But then this quickly becomes the equivalent of a cop not pulling anyone over for speeding until he sees a guy with a "Bush Lied People Died" bumper stick. Selective enforcement of laws with special selection aimed at people who upset you is precisely the sort of "chilling of free speech" that that the Supreme Court said was beyond the line. But then what about when it's journalists entering the frey - they don't have to follow the first amendment, and if they ferret out a violation and report it, then why shouldn't government authorities follow up?

Except now, especially if you approach a 1984 system where everyone is breaking a rule some of the time (which isn't that odd considering: taxes, immigrant labor, traffic violations, resume exaggeration, fake ID's, etc) the government can indirectly but strongly punish someone for what they say. Imagine a world where DailyKos and Instapundit have the ability to conduct IRS audits (it's just information, after all). How do we solve this?

You might expect this anti-Constitution blog to just decide that free speech is overrated and these institutions should just deal with the consequences. Not really, I find free speech and many things related to it (like academic freedom) to be very important, but a) I don't trust our society to be held back from doing what the popular will wants when it wants to punish speech and b) I think we need to learn how to respect the speech of others on our own and not because of artificial constraints.


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