Let us very briefly address the wrong argument that “Bias against conservatives works like any other prejudice.”
That is the headline of Megan McArdle’s latest column, in which she puts forth the idea that “what conservatives are saying about media bias sounds a lot like what liberals are saying about race and gender — and vice versa.” She hastens to add that “I’m comparing the group dynamics, not proclaiming that bias against conservatives is exactly morally the same as systemic racism and sexism.” One might conclude that if the column is merely making a disinterested, anthropological observation that “group dynamics” of two things are similar without passing any judgments on the morality of those dynamics, it is scarcely worth reading. In this, one would be correct. But of course McArdle actually does have a moral and political argument to make:
[Conservatives] spend the first few decades of their lives in a left-skewed educational system, and the rest consuming cultural products made by liberals, so that liberal cultural hegemony barrages them daily with their “otherness.” Which is how they can sincerely feel powerless despite holding a great deal of political power.
This ought to give conservatives some insight into what the campus left is saying about race and gender...
As for liberals: Well, guys, check your privilege. Try to really imagine what it might be like to have a conservative identity when cultural products almost all skew liberal. That is, to be one of the few acceptable villains for all the movies and jokes and television shows. To see your viewpoint systematically excluded and slighted. To have your daily life, your beliefs, routinely handled with ignorance and insensitivity.
Being “conservative” is an ideology. Unlike race and gender and sexual persuasion, it is an intellectual choice. It can be changed at any time. Also— more to the point—unlike race and gender and sexual persuasion, an ideology such as conservatism makes claims about how others should be treated. This is why it is a proper target of examination and scorn.
A person having a different skin color does not materially affect you. A person being a different gender does not materially affect you. A person having a particular sexual orientation does not materially affect you. But a person who holds an ideology that says that, for example, the public should be free to discriminate against people in your particular demographic category, or that society should be bent so that we all serve the whims of the extremely wealthy, can certainly materially affect you, particularly if that person is attempting to spread that ideology so that it becomes more powerful and therefore gains a greater ability to exert its influence over your life. And that is exactly what is happening in the cultural spaces about which McArdle is whining. The “marketplace of ideas” that makes up the sort of cultural space that McArdle is demanding access to is not one in which all ideas good or bad are supposed to float forever in stasis. It is one in which ideas are supposed to constantly evolve and progress based on mutual criticism. It is amusing that “conservatives” will strenuously argue that people who find homosexuality (an inborn trait, not a choice) to be immoral should be free to discriminate against gay people, then also argue that people who find modern “conservative” ideology (an intellectual choice) to be immoral are obligated to practice ideological affirmative action to allow those they believe to be immoral to spread their views more widely. One might suspect that such arguments are driven by petulance and self-interest more than high-minded appeals to human dignity.
The fact that Megan McArdle seems to have a secure job for life at the highest level of the elite media despite the quality of her work goes to show that the exclusion of conservatives is not as bad as she thinks.