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Jacob T. Levy @jtlevy
, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
I’ve made a lot of arguments in my life to people who didn’t want to hear them. I argued about sodomy laws and Bowers vs Hardwick with my grandmother when I was 15. Drug legalization, open borders, rejection of ideal theory, rejection of methodological individualism, &c &c. 1/
I’ve defended Black Lives Matter and attacked white supremacy in front of post-2016 mostly-GOP audiences.

I don’t think there’s anything—anything—on which I’ve gotten so much disbelief-that-becomes-near-anger as when I contradict the post-2014 Fox narrative about campus life. 2/
“You’re a university professor? How interesting! How brave you must be! Do the terrible students attack you like they do that nice young Milo?”
“No, it’s not at all like that. Not even a little. Here are some numbers, here’s some evidence, here’s how availability bias works...” 3
This REALLY SERIOUSLY bothers people. Like, I can see them trying to be restrained and civil with me even though as far as they’re concerned I’ve just emptied my bowels on the floor or something.

I don’t know what to make of it— why so much intensity about this in particular. 4/
It happens when I write, too— my Chronicle essay about free speech on campus got angrier feedback (and from off-campus people even though the Chronicle has a mostly on-campus audience) than my LAT op-ed describing Trump as a moral nihilist.

It’s worrisome. /fin
Well, PS, now that the thread blew up.

If you’re skeptical I invite you to browse the FIRE database:… FIRE specializes in this, and is, so to speak, professionally committed to the view that there’s a serious problem.

Then think about the numbers.
If you use the filters “from the left,” “on campus”— so not off-campus critics or conservative critics— the highest number of disinvitation attempts in a year is 34. The largest number of successful attempts to cancel a speech is 19 (of which 5 were Milo.)
The world of US universities includes tens of thousands of visiting speakers per year. Very possibly hundreds of thousands.
You know the “if it bleeds it leads” problem in local news— the coverage of rare murders distorts people’s impressions of the crime rate.
Apply the lesson.
Even if you think that Milo is an innocent good-faith contributor to discourse and that conservative media has been reporting in complete good faith, think of the numbers.
PPS, added to the main thread once rather than in a dozen subthreads.

Are the FIRE data self-interpreting? Are the numbers @JeffreyASachs presented at @NiskanenCenter some kind of devastating incontrovertible proof of something? No.

a *lot* of people's views on these questions are entirely anecdata-driven-- often pretty much the same three or four anecdata, overgeneralized into a picture of Social Justice Gulag U.

These data aren't *worse* than those anecdata, and it's odd to nitpick only the former. /fin
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