The Evil of Name-Calling

Merriam-Webster defines name-calling as “the use of offensive names especially to win an argument or to induce rejection or condemnation (as of a person or project) without objective consideration of the facts.”

James V. Schall, S.J., who served as a professor at Georgetown University for thirty-five years, wrote,

The basic principle of civilization is the Socratic norm that it is never right to do wrong. The corollary of this principle is that nothing evil can happen to a good man.

The Socratic norm has been turned on its head. Today people believe they have the right to do wrong. Evil is happening to good men and women.

I have written that the Constitutional right to freedom of speech is a fundamental tenet of all healthy discourse. The right to speak freely and discuss all sides of an issue is fundamental to our personal, professional and political growth and progress as a society. The ability to freely discuss social, economic and political issues facing our nation is what is proper and appropriate to do from our house to the White House.

The Evil of Name-Calling

Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Amy Wax asked the question: Are We Free to Discuss America’s Real Problems? During a speech at Hillsdale College Dr. Wax noted:

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with plenty of lip service being paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them. 

The op-ed mentioned by Dr. Wax was published in the The Philadelphia Inquirer titled Paying the price for breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture. The op-ed was coauthored Dr. Wax and Mr. Larry Alexander. They wrote:

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

These problems are certainly worthy of academic research that lead to lasting societal solutions. It is here when the Socratic norm was turned on its head, when evil happened to Dr. Wax and Mr. Alexander.

Dr. Wax and Mr. Alexander then got “controversial” by suggesting:

The causes of these phenomena are multiple and complex, but implicated in these and other maladies is the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture.

That culture laid out the script we all were supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These basic cultural precepts reigned from the late 1940s to the mid-1960s. They could be followed by people of all backgrounds and abilities, especially when backed up by almost universal endorsement. Adherence was a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains, and social coherence of that period.

[ … ]

All cultures are not equal. Or at least they are not equal in preparing people to be productive in an advanced economy. The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants. [Emphasis added]

It was the statements following “all cultures are not equal” that the name-calling began from friends and faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. How could these learned people talk about Plains Indians, some working-class whites, the anti-acting white rap culture of black and anti-assimilation of Hispanic immigrants that way?

Objective Consideration of the Facts

Rather than considering the facts presented by Dr. Wax and Mr. Alexander thereby beginning a meaningful discussion and conducting research to determine the validity of these statements in search of lasting solutions, academia turned on them. Dr. Wax discovered:

The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large.

[ … ]

What those of us in academia should certainly not do is engage in unreasoned speech: hurling slurs and epithets, name-calling, vilification, and mindless labeling. Likewise we should not reject the views of others without providing reasoned arguments. Yet these once common standards of practice have been violated repeatedly at my own and at other academic institutions in recent years—and we increasingly see this trend in society as well.  

Name-calling has become the soup du jour when discussing race, creed, citizenship, morality and politics

Both side are hurling slurs.

What makes one side right and the other side wrong are the facts.

If the statement, “The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits, prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-“acting white” rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants” is factual then the next step is to find solutions.

If further research determines they are not factual then of course the real truth must be revealed so that, again, solutions are found.

For you see name-calling is evil because it stops efforts to determine the facts. Name-calling ends any and all efforts to find solutions to basic societal problems. If these societal problems persist then the culture collapses from within. What follows is pure evil.


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1 reply
  1. rblack
    rblack says:

    A lot of the problems with children stem from changes to schooling engendered by the Department of education starting in 1979. This department and its rules should be eliminated for its pernicious effects on education, but no one seems to recognize it.


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