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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