The Latest Inanity: Science Can Measure Which Speech is Violent

Welcome to the latest leftist lunacy.

By William M Briggs Published on July 19, 2017

If psychologist Lisa Feldman Barrett is right, we should be able to find the precise combination of words that destroys a person’s telomeres. Words can shorten telomeres, she says. And when your telomeres “become too short, you die.”

Telomeres are little bits of genetic material capping off your chromosomes.

“Words can have a powerful effect on your nervous system,” she says in the New York Times. “Words can cause stress.” And stress shortens telomeres, and since shortened telomeres will kill you, “it seems that speech — at least certain types of speech — can be a form of violence.”

This has to be true. Every time I’m forced to listen to hip-hop, or to watch CNN carping about the super-duper double-secret machinations of Russia, or I’m made to read some asinine theory purporting to be science in a major newspaper, I can feel my life force ebbing.

It’s Science!

Barrett is trying to find a way to scientifically measure which speech is violent and which is merely, in her word, offensive. She thinks science can tell us the difference. That’s how she arrived at the idea that hearing certain word combinations will chip away at your telomeres until you keel over.

I can see it now. We take DNA samples from some kiddies, then strap them into a chair while white-coated scientists holding clipboards read to them words suspected to be violent. As a precaution, the scientists will wear earmuffs. We then measure the kiddie’s DNA after and correlate the amount of life removed with the list. Words with high correlation will be banned by government.

It won’t be words with ‘k’ sounds. Those are supposed to be funny. Science says so. Kite, quacky, zebeck. Those words probably grow telomeres, especially zebeck, which has the benefit of a hilarious ‘z’ sound. She doesn’t know it, but Barrett might inadvertently have stumbled onto the secret of eternal life.

We have to be careful not to make combinations of words too funny, though. They can kill, too, as this clip scientifically proves.

Anyway, Barrett is sympathetic to the brats at elite American universities who find any opinion but their own to be “acts of violence,” a.k.a. “microaggressions.” Since these by-definition uneducated children never learned their math, they do not realize that it takes one million microaggressions to equal one aggression. That means that even if Barrett is right and words can be violently harmful to human health, these kids are going to have to hear about 250 speeches by Ann Coulter until even one of their telomeres are shortened, assuming each word in each 4000-word speech is laced with telomere-shortening power.

Barrett says her science will “provide empirical guidance for which kinds of controversial speech should and shouldn’t be acceptable on campus and in civil society.”

It Only Applies to Conservative Speech, Because It’s Science

It is strange, though, and a phenomenon not yet explained by science, that only that speech which offends leftists is that which is classed as “violent.” Why it is so remains a mystery. But the scientific implication is clear: Leftists are hypersensitive and need the extra coddling that only science can provide.

Banning speakers who remind students of painful realities is therefore justified by science. Barrett says that “it’s reasonable, scientifically speaking, not to allow a provocateur and hatemonger like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak at your school. He is part of something noxious, a campaign of abuse. There is nothing to be gained from debating him, for debate is not what he is offering.”

Speech from the likes of Yiannopoulos is not “offered as a scholarly hypothesis to be debated,” but is “thrown like a grenade,” she says.

How About Just Staying Away?

Now this may be so. But it is a grenade with a wet fuse, and one that has to be leapt upon by willing bodies. Milo’s voice can’t carry beyond, say, fifty yards, tops. And that’s if he’s shouting. So students have to choose to draw close to him to hear his telomere-shortening speech.

Or — and follow me closely here, college students — they could stay away from him and save their telomeres!

Barrett at least, and surely some in her shivering audience, must have figured that last scientific point out for themselves?

No. No, she hasn’t.

She says we must “halt speech that bullies and torments. From the perspective of our brain cells [it] is literally a form of violence.”

Beware. She means literally literally.

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  • Gary

    What is “hate speech”? Its any speech that offends a liberal.

    • Elizabeth H. Vlocke

      ‘Hate speech’ ought to be defined simply as ‘speech that explicitly or implicitly incites violence against a person or a group of people.’ Societies have good reason to make such speech illegal. But all other speech—including that which expresses only hatred—should be free.

      • John Morris

        No, instead of inventing bogus new words and phrases we can just use the existing English Language words. I think the one you are groping around for is “incitement”… and you were so close. Hate isn’t and shouldn’t be criminal. Inciting violence is. I can hate your proggie disposable account hopping guts all I like and it ain’t criminal. Some philosophical systems hold that hate is “wrong” but wrong != criminal. Equally, I could very clinically and dispassionately judge you “oven worthy” and if I carry it out the lack of “hate” should neither excuse nor justify the act. Hope these examples illustrated the idea.

      • Az1seeit

        Um…so Barack Hussein “if they bring a knife, we’ll bring a gun” Obama would then be a hate speech-er? Frankly, I kinda don’t get it. Why is it any objection to the PCODJ – politically correct opinion du jour – is “hate speech” but all the breathtaking hateful rhetoric coming from the left against anyone on the other side…isn’t? Just askin’!

  • Rick

    Here’s an idea; why don’t we round up all of leftists (you can detect them by saying the words, “Get a job” while monitoring heart rate) and send them all far, far away where they never have to hear a conservative again. Say, Syria, maybe. Then they can live a long, happy life among the people that they love.

    • Elizabeth H. Vlocke

      After the political horrors of the twentieth century, unless we are discussing clear criminals, we would be wise not to use a phrase such as ’round up’ in reference to segments of the non-criminal civilian population, of any country.

      • Richard A

        Not to worry. He was talking about rounding up leftists.

  • Paul

    If you really want to make their heads pop let them know they are proving the Bible is true:

    “With the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach will be satisfied; He will be satisfied with the product of his lips.
    Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”

    Proverbs 18:20-21

  • Jennifer Hartline

    Absolutely outstanding, Mr. Briggs! Bravo!

  • GLT

    Science cannot determine that science is true.

  • Alice Cheshire

    Since the young lady assumed conservatives did not suffer from the same malady, she may shocked to find her study is true when all the hatred and anger flung at the right results in a new civil war. Conservatives are mocked and mistreated constantly. So it won’t be their fault. It will just be genetics and nasty words flung at them. You can’t blame anyone for exploding now. Thank you, Ms Researcher.

    • Andrew Mason

      Not such a young lady actually – she’s 54 according to Wikipedia. She’s also rather cloistered judging by her article – when teaching about eugenics she attempted to arrange a debate over certain races being genetically superior to others, but the students refused point blank. Why? The fact something is untrue doesn’t mean you can’t argue it. She had to invite a Black colleague to the class to debate, and they switched roles part way through. She references the incident as an example of how engaging a position you disagree with forces you to learn something about that position, which is a positive. By contrast it is bad to “… spend a lot of time in a harsh environment worrying about your safety” or with long stretches of simmering stress. The problem is how do you distinguish between something disagreeable you learn from, and something disagreeable that harms you? Could you not argue that homosexual rights activists are causing permanent and dangerous stress for Christians? Or how about the BLM types? Wouldn’t their presence in an area constitute serious safety concerns for White teachers and students ala Evergreen? Barrett supports banning ‘speech violence’ but the problem is defining speech violence – effectively hate speech, is a political act not a scientific one.

  • m-nj

    since no one else has said it… Our tax dollars at work? Rather, our tax dollars being wasted on nonsense pseudoscience research!

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