appeals to the white-racism hypothesisrncannot justify its continuance. Perhapsrnof even more vital significance than therndetails of the book’s argument, however,rnis the tone of its discussion. In an arearntoo often dominated by catch-phrasesrnand emotion, this calm appeal to reasonrnand fact stands out as a model of informedrnsocial analysis.rnDavid Cordon is a senior fellow of thernLudwig von Mises Institute. He is thernauthor of Resurrecting Marxrn(Transaction Books, 1990).rnSpeech forrnSpeech’s Sakernby Brian RobertsonrnFree Speech for Me—But Not forrnThee: How the American Left andrnRight Relentlessly CensorrnEach Otherrnby Nat HentoffrnNew York: Harper Collins;rn392 pp., $25.00rnOne of the unfortunate after-effectsrnof the so-called “Red Scare” of thernearly 50’s was the triumph of the “nornlimits” interpretation of the FirstrnAmendment, which has poisoned Americanrnpolitical thought ever since. It goesrnsomething like this: the McCarthyitern”reign of terror” permanently discreditedrnthe idea that you can suppress speech inrna free society, whatever the reason (inrnthis case political treason). Once yournstart to draw limits on free expression,rnwhether it be political, artistic, or literary,rnyou are setting up a situation in whichrnthe opinions and standards of the few arernimposed on the many. Only if everyrnmember of society has the freedom tornsay, write, read, or buy whatever he pleasesrncan we be assured of the access tornideas that is the guardian and embodimentrnof freedom. Words or images canrnnever harm people; only the attempt tornsuppress them can.rnIn this view, “expression” is construedrnso broadly that almost no behavior fallsrnoutside its purview; it encompasses everythingrnfrom pornography to flag-burning.rnThis absolutism with regard to expressionrn(which now holds sway at thernmajority of law schools and with a majorityrnof the Supreme Court) has its rootsrnin relativism: in a world in which truth isrnimpossible to determine, no idea mayrnbe safely forbidden. It follows that thernvitality of a culture can be measured byrnthe diversity of “expression” therein—rnone of the sillier liberal conceits.rnFor Nat Hentoff, the “no limits” theoryrnof speech is something of a creed. Inrnhis new book, Hentoff explores the currentrnthreats to this ideal of a tolerant, freernsociety. He finds—despite the book’srnsubtitle, which implies a rough ec|ualityrnof offenses from right and left—that thernvast majority of attempts to suppressrnspeech today come from a new generationrnof leftists committed to enforcingrnsensitivity, tolerance, and politically correctrnthinking by any means necessary.rnThe tendencies of the Religious Rightrndon’t even come close (indeed, Mr.rnHentoff has to resurrect the story of thernobscenity convictions of comedianrnLenny Bruce—who died over a quarterrncentury ago—to find a good example ofrnright-wing persecution). The fact thatrnthe existence of this new thought policerndoes not raise the ire of the very samerncrowd that goes ballistic when someonernsuggests taking hard-core porn off thernstands at the local 7-Eleven might leadrnone to think that many of them neverrnreally believed that stuff about freedomrnof expression in the first place—theyrnwere just using it for the purposes of secularizingrnthe culture. With Hentoff wernhave a genuine believer: an old-style FirstrnAmendment liberal who is consistent inrnhis application of the “no limits” theoryrnof speech, even when that means toleratingrnpolitically mcorrect viewpoints.rnThose who deny that we arc in thernmidst of a war over culture in this countryrnneed only read Hentoff’s book to berndisabused of that delusion. It is a collectionrnof tales from the front lines ofrnthat war, focusing on battles over freernspeech in academia and the public educationrnestablishment, where the stakesrnare highest. The picture that emerges isrnfrightening. Never has the intellectualrnatmosphere at our institutions of higherrnlearning been so stifling, and, as Mr.rnHentoff documents, it is perhaps mostrnstifling in the most elite of these institutions.rnToday, it is no longer Main Streetrnbut the Iv) League where one finds thernmost narrow-mindedness, conformity,rnand simple ignorance. It seems, fromrnMr. Hentoff’s account, that the youngrnpeople who populate these supposedrnbastions of free discussion and thoughtrnare so lacking in historical perspectivernthat they firmlv believe the solution tornthe world’s problems is to eliminate allrn”discriminatory” and “offensive” languagernfrom our cultural discourse, bothrnpublic and private. Fven tenured professorsrntry to steer clear of “controversial”rnsubjects for fear of being denounced asrn”insensitive” by zealous thought police (arnfear much more evident today than duringrnthe largely fictional McCarthyitern”reign of terror”).rnBecause radical feminism and multiculturalismrnare the reigning orthodoxiesrnat these institutions, what this sensitivityrnmeans in practice is an all-out assaultrnon the Western tradition in philosophyrnand morality. The extent to which theserninsidious ideologies serve as covers for arnshallow materialism just beneath the ideologicalrnsurface is truly extraordinary.rnAnyone who dares, for instance, to pointrnout that the feminist agenda of sex-without-rnconsequences has been a disaster forrnboth women and children, leading tornsoaring rates of illegitimacy, divorce, andrnabortion, can be dismissed as one whornwants to keep women from positions ofrnpower and influence. By successfullyrnputting such talk outside the realm ofrncivilized discourse, feminists are able tornignore the question of how much theirrnpolities are driven by a desire to avoid thernconsequences of irresponsible behaviorrnrather than by some altruistic concernrnfor women’s rights.rnLikewise, the battle over cultural diversityrnin the curriculum at elite universitiesrnoften obscures the fact that thernroots of the controversy are the quotarnpolicies of the schools themselves. Unfortunately,rnthe effect of admitting woefullyrnunprepared minority students inrnorder to meet quotas is not diversity butrnbitterness and resentment. When facedrnwith “core curriculum” courses that requirerna high degree of intellectual discipline,rnmany of these students are confirmedrnin their suspicion that the entirernuniversity system is stacked against theirrnsuccess and hence demand that otherrncultural perspectives be represented.rnThe real scandal is that so many universitiesrncave in to such bogus claims insteadrnof reexamining their own admissionrnpolicies. The fiction that thosernpolicies are motivated by a genuine concernrnfor the welfare of minority studentsrnis belied by the fact that so large a percentagernof blacks admitted to college inrnthis countrv drop out before graduating.rnAs Thomas Sowcll has suggested, thesern38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn