When Empathy Shuts Down Debate: A Review of ‘Freedom From Speech’

The ‘care ethic’ leads campus activists and administrators to squelch uncomfortable speech, with few limits. And that impulse is increasingly global, new book says.

The Tyranny of the ‘Care Ethic’
While Lukianoff asks readers, many of whom are likely to be conservative, to welcome liberals who value free inquiry and debate as allies, he takes aim at a likely root cause of the problem: “empathy.”

Less than Human 
Review: Freedom from Speech by Greg Lukianoff
Lukianoff’s description of liberal morality provides a useful paradigm for understanding assaults on freedom of speech, especially in liberal epicenters like most universities. It does not always hold up—progressives champion graphic and explicit art, for example, that make people uncomfortable—but the morality of empathy helps explain a lot.

But this explanation, while sympathetic and surely often correct, misses a much darker aspect of the left’s social agenda.

The left feels empathy for people, but that empathy is not guided by any sense of what is right and good for people. Like Bill Clinton, the empathic left merely “feels their pain” and wants to end it.