A free and frank exchange of ideas
Speech code blue
[A classroom at the University of Northern Virginia at Condo Corners. Five students around 20 years of age sit in classroom. chairs — EVAN, wearing a “Students for Life” sweatshirt and khakis; JASON, wearing a striped rag-knit tunic and salmon shorts; HESTIA, wearing a frat shirt and a hobble skirt; GWYNETH, wearing a short cable sweater dress with a ribbed neck; and CHAD, wearing something that looks like an SS uniform but without insignia. At the head of the class at a desk is PROFESSOR MUNSON THRUM, 40ish, in khakis, desert boots, and an untucked denim work shirt with pearl buttons, wielding an unlit Meerschaum pipe.]
THRUM: Alright, citizens, are you ready to speak some truth?
[Kids all make positive noises, HESTIA goes “woo-hoo.”]
[Kids cheer and applaud.]
Wasn’t that something. What a brave girl. I hope no one is too offended that I called her girl?
That’s just biology. She’s a girl. Not yet full in the hips, small busted. Girl. But she’ll be a woman soon. [Sings a little.] “Girl. You’ll be a woman soon.”
Yeah, Emma did us all a service. Word’s getting out, people. The university system is just a consensus factory. Not UNVCC so much, thank God, and I hope you don’t mind my reference to the Almighty. We’re one of Reason magazine’s top freedom schools in the nation. Isn’t that worth a little applause?
[Kids give a little applause.]
Now we do have a certain Black Lives Matterish lady professor, who shall remain nameless, representing the cancel people. Let’s just call her Madame Afro-Pik.
[Kids laugh knowingly, except for CHAD, who is silent.]
But you know what? That’s good. Because we thrive on diversity here — true diversity. We may not give it tenure, or an office with floorboards that don’t smell. But they can be here, if they really want to be. OK! Time to engage in a little First Amendment Therapy! Who wants to get the ball rolling? Hestia, I see your hand up.
HESTIA: OK, so you know that convoy in Washington that’s protesting vaccine mandates? Which I don’t think I agree with, whatever, but I think it’s their right? I got on Twitter and, God! So many people were making fun of them just because they’re like working class!
[The others nod.]
THRUM: How were they making fun of them for being working class?
HESTIA: Like saying they’re stupid, and that there aren’t any mandates anyway, what are you talking about, why are you saying you want to hang Fauci, and what do you hope to accomplish.
EVAN: Tscha! That’s so smug and elitist.
HESTIA: I know, right!
THRUM: You have to remember that people of my generation experienced the same thing when the elitists tried to force us into labor unions and we said uh uh, take that commie garbage to Russia. [Small pause.] Russia was the enemy then. Not that we’re against the Ukranians, either! But we certainly don’t want to cancel the Russians. That’s very important. Jason! What’s on your mind?
JASON: Yeah, well I don’t know whether you know this but yesterday I got thrown out of Earl’s Coffee Hub because I wouldn’t talk to this female barista like she’s a guy.
THRUM: Of course we know about it, Jason! It’s already been in National Review, The Daily Caller, Fox News, and of course on Rumble, GETTR and Gab.
[Confusion among the kids.]
You guys didn’t know this?
GWYNETH: I don’t really follow the news.
EVAN: Me neither.
HESTIA: What do you mean, “like a guy,” Jason?
JASON: You know, that pronoun bullshit.
[JASON shoots THRUM a look.]
THRUM: Feel free to swear, Jason. Feel free. Fuck yes! Fuck, hell, damn, shit!
[The kids laugh.]
Just [looks around], this is our secret, right? Your parents are touchy about it. And I can’t — I don’t want to hurt their feelings. So. Jason, you stood your ground, great. Called a she a she, did you?
JASON: Yeah, I did. [Sheepishly] I called her a bitch, too. But that was only after she told me to call her he. I told her it was disgusting and she totally flipped out.
THRUM: That’s what happens when you speak truth to power, Jason.
JASON: And then she expected me to tip her!
THRUM: A lot of people don’t like it when you tell it like it is. But you’ve got to be strong, Jason. Stay after the session, maybe we can hook up with some of my friends from the Becket Fund and make these cancel people let you back into Earl’s. Maybe even get an apology. Hey, Chad! Glad you finally made it to session. I was wondering when you would. So, now that we’ve warmed up the room, what’s on your mind? What truth do you want to share?
[Pause. CHAD shifts in his chair.]
CHAD. You were talking about Otamabwe.
THRUM: Was I? No. No, you know I don’t talk about the other professors. Not by name anyway.
[A few kids giggle.]
CHAD: I knew who you were talking about. [Looks around.] I think we all knew who you were talking about.
THRUM: No, you’re mistaken, Chad. Speaking in a derogatory manner about other professors is against the school’s [makes air quotes] “code of conduct.” Which I don’t agree with, but I follow it.
CHAD: You’re afraid I’ll rat you out, aren’t you? For breaking the code?
THRUM: Alright, Chad, that’s enough.
CHAD: I was right. You’re afraid.
THRUM: OK, Chad, get out.
CHAD: Now who’s cancelling who, Professor? Who’s the canceller now?
THRUM: [Grandly] There are limits! We have to demonstrate respect for other viewpoints. I don’t say we have to have respect for them, but we do have to demonstrate it.
[With the stem of his pipe THRUM points to the door.]
Come back when you learn how to show respect.
[CHAD shrugs, stands.]
CHAD: I’m not afraid. The simian Otamabwe has no place in this school, nor any school. The jungle is where she belongs. And we will see to it. [Looks around] You don’t even know what “simian” means, do you? Just as well. Go on playing your free speech games. But you are all afraid. I’m not afraid. I say what I please to whoever I please —
[He fixes THRUM with his gaze.]
— and I don’t pretend to have respect.
[CHAD walks out. Pause.]
THRUM: So! Who wants to talk about Joe Rogan?