We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Many of the finest and most honest minds – conservative and liberal -- in and out of academia have argued, and sometimes succeeded, that campus speech codes often cross the line to suppression of First Amendment freedom of speech. The excesses in the wording of such codes, their arbitrary and often biased application, and the fear of usurping a constitutional right, together send chills up the spine.
Nonetheless, in court cases, private colleges have more leeway to enact speech codes than do public colleges, as they are not as subject to the First Amendment prohibition on government interfering with free speech. In the face of opposition to speech codes per se colleges, both public and private, have turned to anti-harassment policies. These seemingly turn the offense from the speech to the impact on those sensitive, and in effect make judging the offense even more subjective.Alongside, many campuses have instituted judgment procedures that deny those charged from confronting their accuser or, in some cases, even appearing to defend themselves. In many cases, those supporting such near star-chamber exercises in speech or behavioral prejudice are those judging for the kangaroo procedures. And, alongside these, liberal and leftist faculty have denied tenure or opposed research by those who have empirically challenged cherished thoughts or prejudices.
So, understandably so, any further enlargement of speech codes or definition of hate speech raises hackles among almost all those who have battled the present excesses. Further, most opponents have cause for little faith that in the prevailing leftist or hypocritical atmosphere on campuses that an enlargement to anti-Israel speech and actions that are anti-semitic would be enforced or fairly.
The occasion for the current discussion is the report by members of the University of California Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion task force on Jewish students (which I reported here). It recommends that a definition of anti-Semitism like that of the European Union be adopted to provide guidelines and current anti-harassment policies be enlarged to contain such guidelines.
Libertarian law professor Eugene Volokh, in opposition to the recommendation by the task force – from leaders of ADL and NAACP, still points out the elephant in the room. “[T]his is speech which does happen, which doesn’t generally lead to wide condemnation and counterprotests. The call for suppression by university, it seems to me, stems precisely from the fact that this speech isn’t suppressed by social pressure…” In other words, unlike speech and actions purportedly hostile to Blacks or Hispanics or gays, such equivalent or worse speech and actions against Jews or pro-Israeli students and faculty are not treated as seriously in the dominant left-leaning environment on campuses. Professor Volokh fears that such an enlarged anti-harassment policy, given the campus atmospherics, may lead to its use to further abuse free speech regarding other groups or causes.
These are, indeed, worthy arguments, paralleling many others. However, they still leave the elephant in the room, campus leadership ignoring or even encouraging vile anti-Israel speech and actions that are anti-semitic, and failing to enforce college rules that already exist to prohibit faculty use of college websites to promote such vileness.
Free speech advocates correctly assert that more free speech by those opposed to the anti-Israel forces is the best medicine. Many individuals and groups have used their free speech to expose such excesses. But, the offense persists, and as the task force report makes clear has created fear among pro-Israeli students and faculty and denial of academic and social opportunities.
The task force report just calls for exploration of reasonable guidelines, to “clearly define hate speech in its guidelines, and seek opportunities to prohibit hate speech on campus. The President should request that General Counsel examine opportunities to develop policies that give campus administrators authority to prohibit such activities on campus. The Team recognizes that changes to UC hate speech policies may result in legal challenge, but offer that UC accept the challenge.” U of C President Mark Yudoff summarily rejected the challenge: “I believe our current policies may go as far as they can, given constitutional limitations.”
This brings us back to the root cause, the runaway leftist environment on many campuses. No one expects that to change in any foreseeable future. Pro-Israeli students and faculty, and such taxpayers and tuition-payers, are on their own. Let’s, at least, hope that more see this challenge for what it is and step up their support for individuals and organizations that speak out against anti-semitism on campuses.
Speech codes, and "hate speech" are merely Leftist attempts to end speech that they don't like. Free speech isn't in it. They will never stop until they have eliminated any possibility of anyone disagreeing with them. Why they then feel so free to spout off volumes of hate is unsurprising, but factual.
Romney announced Ryan as his VP pick, and there were instantly tweets noting that Ryan's father had died young, and hoping that Ryan would too, wishing him dead and so on.
Is it only because Israel is widely supported by those on the Right, or is it the despicable older tradition returned?
The Elephant's Child
Good article. The "Star Chamber" analogy is right on. Any infringement on free speech or opinions is despicable. But schools compete with each other to become ever more dictatorial.
Regarding Volokh and his whole crew, they are carefully Libertarian. By 'carefully' I mean that they are all very ambitious. You can see it in their writing. So of course they will not say what really needs be said, in the forceful and blunt way that it needs to be said. They are afraid if they are too truthful, it might keep them from achieving their desires.
I am unimpressed with Eugene's timidity, and his co-bloggers are no different. But at least he and his crew aren't raving Leftists. I suppose that's something.
Dr. Everett V. Scott
Eventually, I hope that Jews will choose institutions that don't participate in the prejudice. Then northeast Asians will be next, and I think they will even more effectively, though quietly, pick places where they are welcome.
The colleges they choose instead will then have the best students, and a decade later, the prestige will follow. All it takes is courage.
The NW European-descended students, the remaining high-IQ group (though even HBD believers such as I put a lot of cultural weight into that), I have no hope for. They will slavishly continue to go to the most fashionable colleges, regardless of merit.
Assistant VIllage Idiot