Gunning for philosophy

I generally become speechless, if not also apoplectic, when confronted with the gun mongers and their rhetoric. But this is America, so my tongue is often tied. Case in point: Texas.

The benighted legislators of the Lone Star state passed a law that allows for students and faculty to carry “concealed” guns on college campuses. It becomes effective this August 1. Now, I find it impossible to see the logic of commingling guns with schools. It’s like trying to discover an intelligent office holder in Texas. Oxymorons, while rare in civilized society, are evidently abundant in entire states, especially in the South, where all of the species’ worst aspects inhere.

A graduate student in philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, the state capital, tried to be reasonable in the face of the new law. She penned an objection in her initial reaction. Today, she writes for the New York Times on the subject.

In general, we do not feel apprehension about the presence of strong people in spaces reserved for intellectual debate (although we might in other contexts — a boxing ring, say, or a darkened alley), but we do feel apprehension about the presence of a gun. This is because the gun is not there to contribute to the debate. It exists primarily as a tool for killing and maiming. Its presence tacitly relates the threat of physical harm.

As for debate, the University of Houston promulgated some pedagogical guidelines:

“be careful in discussing sensitive topics; to drop certain topics from curriculum; [to] not ‘go there’ if you sense anger…”.

Conservatives loathe critical thinking and liberal minds in general (liberal in the very literal sense). They have therefore sought to exclude or limit topics to which they object. In the South state boards of education work hard to purge curricula of facts, choosing instead to promote a kinder, gentler approach to slavery, lynchings, and the whole concept of the Confederacy. Further, the reactionary mind rejects “political correctness,” believing that men should dominate women, whites should rule, and people of color should live elsewhere.

One consequence of the campus carry law is to stifle intellectual debate. The bible may be safe. But beware the evolutionists and philosophers.