Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,095
    Likes Received:
    5,304
    Location:
    California, US

    Defending free speech on college campuses

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Steerpike, Apr 5, 2016.

  2. Lewdog
    Offline

    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2012
    Messages:
    7,530
    Likes Received:
    2,826
    Location:
    Williamsburg, KY
    This is the PC era, petty crap.
     
  3. Raven484
    Offline

    Raven484 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Messages:
    535
    Likes Received:
    266
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    These are the people that will be running the country in about 20 years. You think nothing is being done now, wait until you see the mess they make. This is what happens when everybody gets a trophy, even last place.
     
  4. Robert Musil
    Offline

    Robert Musil Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    319
    Likes Received:
    222
    Location:
    USA
    I dunno. I really think people tend to overstate the amount of free speech that was ever allowed on college campuses. Try and organize a BDS action, or even just anything pro-Palestinian, and you'll see what I mean.

    Another example I can think of just off the top of my head: when former Bush administration OMB director Mitch Daniels became governor of Indiana, he tried to prescribe what could and couldn't be taught at public universities in a way that struck many as political:

    https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/07/17/e-mails-reveal-mitch-daniels-governor-tried-ban-howard-zinn-book

    This isn't good, when it comes from either the left or right, but free speech doesn't exist in a vacuum. Before we get to "provide a space for free thought", universities have to accomplish several other, more important missions. They have to justify their existence to the people who fund them, whether those people are state legislatures or tuition-paying students (or parents) or alumni. They have to teach people stuff--which is the exact opposite of free speech, when you think about it, unless you think that making up your own facts is a protected act of speech. The "protect free speech and thought" piece of modern universities has always been incidental, and has been cast aside many times for many different reasons. So this isn't really anything new, and it's certainly not the threat to democracy a lot of people seem to think it is.
     
    Samurai Jack and BayView like this.
  5. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying here. After I decided to write an Israeli immigrant character, I started to look into how Israel is viewed in the west, and it was starting to seem more and more like it's really the right that's standing by Israel while the left is taking Palestine's side, among them news and editorial outlets like Al Jazeera and the Young Turks that are popular among young people (especially TYT).

    Considering how left-leaning I've understood many university campuses in the US actually are, is it possible they're allowing freer anti-Israel, pro-Palestine speech than before? Basically seeing Palestinians as an oppressed, displaced group would fit in with the rest of the narrative that revolves around e.g. BLM and LGBTQ+ rights. Despite the stand
    University of California took as regards anti-semitism.

    From Huffington Post:
    Anti-Semitism Is A Big Problem At American College Campuses, According To New Report
    And there have been anti-Israel protests on campuses. According to the report:
    Here's an article about an "Apartheid" week at Northwestern University:
    Existence as resistance: SJP hosts Israeli Apartheid Week.

    And from the New York Times:
    I take these actions are allowed on many campuses? Or what do you mean by "you'll see what I mean"?

    Not that I mean to divert the discussion, I don't want and am not equipped to debate the conflict itself. Just trying to look at this from the free speech perspective, and whether some speech is considered freer on campuses.
     
  6. Robert Musil
    Offline

    Robert Musil Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2015
    Messages:
    319
    Likes Received:
    222
    Location:
    USA
    You are correct, @KaTrian , that there is an active anti-occupation and BDS movement on many campuses in the US, and it's allowed to exist, have events, and in some cases it's even been successful in getting student or faculty senates to pass pro-BDS resolutions.

    However, the OP wasn't (as I read it) so much about certain kinds of speech or organizing being banned outright, as it was about certain groups of students or professors trying to shut down certain arguments by saying that they are in some way outside the realm of acceptable discourse--the linked article mentioned the recent incident at Emory where students argued that someone chalking the word "Trump" on a sidewalk was antagonistic toward minorities, for instance, and should be considered something like hate speech.

    Similar arguments have been used against pro-Palestinian speech for years. Any criticism of the Israeli government will be met by a very well-organized and vocal response that labels it as anti-Semitism, regardless of what was actually said. This is as true on college campuses, perhaps more so due to the greater amount of pro-Palestinian organizing, as it is true anywhere else.

    And occasionally the response does go farther than just (usually false) claims of anti-Semitism. Witness the recent case of Steven Salaita, who had an offer of employment as a professor withdrawn at the last minute pretty much explicitly because some donors to the university were unhappy with his criticism of Israel during the last Gaza war.

    My point is, if you think it's an overreaction to claim that writing "Trump" on a sidewalk is hate speech, it's hard to not see the tactics used by pro-Israel groups as a similar overreaction. But everyone is up in arms about the Emory thing, and no one's ever heard of Steven Salaita.
     
  7. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    Both sides of politics should be able to speak their minds and people who get banned from college/university talks like Gemraine Grier shouldn't be. She said some transphobic shit. But you know what? That's exactly why we need to talk to her. Debate with someobody who disagrees with you, especially in the really frustrating way, is the most productive because there's much more to gain. SJW civil rights extremist just want to talk to a mirror. It's silly. It's not what civil rights activism should be like. Freedoms are not absolute and they never will be. There will always be cases where we have to limit freedom. But lettign be bigoted is necessary. Otherwise we're getting too controlling. If they make public inciteful vilifying speeches I would say that's arrest worthy, because it's creating violence, but everything else should never be grounds for punishment. No matter how stupid or disgusting it is. I also think that article has a good point about making people fragile. Growing up in a house, a school, and a college/university where people argue is good for you. It teaches you how to deal with those situations. Both emotionally and in your argumentative skills. Being free from criticism feels good but I think it's actually self-harming. You won't notice all of your own failings without someone to help you realize where you go wrong. That is my opinion on this subject.
     
  8. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    The challenge I personally see in these types of cases is how to accurately interpret the situation. I read these NY Times article and Daily Kos articles about Salaita to get some idea of the controversy, and he seems to have suffered the fate of many a Twitter activist who've decided to take a political stand in just 140 characters. Tweets leave a lot to the readers' imagination and interpretation. Even on this forum I've found it difficult to gauge the tone and meaning behind people's posts or struggled to express myself clearly but concisely. He posts a short tweet that makes him come across uncompromising, callous and zealous instead of someone one could have a rational, factual discourse with. The people who were against hiring him probably refused or didn't even realize to look beyond 140-character splashes of fear and worry he has over civilian casualties, as I think this statement implies from the NY Times article:
    The tweets appeared possibly more uncompromising and zealous due to the limitations of the platform. He wouldn't really wish all West Bank settlers would go missing, right? That'd make him the kind of person who values the lives of innocent Palestinian children over innocent Israeli/Jewish children, and that's sick, and a hundred Operation Protective Edges won't justify that kind of reaction. But sure, you could say the trustees overreacted, and this way barred him from spreading his opinions on campus. You could say they were thin-skinned, but I kind of see it similar to BLM: like blacks, Jews have been oppressed, persecuted, and discriminated against throughout history -- hell, the Holocaust happened -- so the line between legit criticism and anti-semitism may blur, just like with BLM supporters the line between racism-motivated police brutality and regular police work may appear blurrier to them than to someone impartial and unaffected by the ills of the society in question.

    There are some YouTube videos about Salaita controversy, but it hasn't been tackled by the usual pro-free speech channels I've seen talking about e.g. the Trump 2016 thing.

    Whether or not this kind of speech policing is old hat on campuses doesn't really matter. It still worries me, even though I'm not directly affected by it. Young people should hear different opinions in academic settings and then be allowed to make their own judgment and side with the cause they believe in. They should also be allowed to discuss and share them in class. This is also the reason why I think campuses should allow e.g. feminists who question rape culture to speak to their students or atheists who are critical of islamism (yes, I'll call it an -ism here because I specifically refer to the ideological side instead of the religion as a whole, the one even Obama acknowledged in his speech after, was it San Bernardino? Although he didn't name it) to speak to or teach their students. I loathe the silencing tactics of whichever-side, like trying to silence someone by claiming the mere presence of a person whose opinions you disagree with causes you so much emotional distress it's plain violence to allow that person to speak. Case in point: Edinburgh University student Imogen Wilson accused of violating ‘safe space’ rules for raising hand during meeting (this is from the UK, but both UK and US campuses have this 'safe space' thing going on).
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  9. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    Really the issue is bullshit definitions of safe space. Disagreement is not a threat. That article shows how degraded some of us are becoming than we can't handle "gestures that denote disagreement." When it gets to that level, it's not about human rights or respect, it's about pandering. It's self-interested double-standards. People like in those cases need to get over themselves. URGH. :supermad::supermad:
     
  10. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    I think that there are occasions--rare occasions--when such gestures are inappropriate enough to boot a person out of an event. But a meeting where the issue in question is being debated and voted on is not one of those occasions. I could see that yelling or throwing things or otherwise distracting from the current speaker would be grounds for booting someone out, but if silent gestures make one feel "unsafe" then one should not be attending a debate.

    (What are the occasions where the gestures are inappropriate? Occasions where group agreement is part of the definition of the meeting. For example, if a group of vegetarian activists want to design a campaign to reduce meat-eating, they don't want to waste time debating about meat-eating. Declaring the gestures to be "unsafe" still seems to be going a little far, but I feel that in that situation the group can make whatever rules of behavior they please.)
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  11. Samurai Jack
    Offline

    Samurai Jack Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    25 years ago I could be on a playground and call a guy gay, and we would fight because being called gay was an insult to the individual.

    Today I could be in a parking lot and call a guy gay, and someone will fight me because calling someone gay is offensive to humanity.

    At no point have I been able to call someone gay and not get hit. I've never had free speech.
     
  12. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    What? Why would someone still act like that? It's not an insult. In my primary school people did the gay as an insult thing, but I would think adults were usually more sensible on the matter. Especially not outright violence in response to a perceived insult. I know if someone called me gay, I would say something along the lines of "yeah, so?" Shaking my head. :bigmeh:
     
  13. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    I'm not getting your point here. Are you using the word as an insult or not? If you're using it as an insult, people are going to react to it as an insult.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  14. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    Well, I wouldn't care myself if someone meant it as an insult because it's not insulting. But I agree the post is confusing.
     
  15. Samurai Jack
    Offline

    Samurai Jack Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    There is absolutely nothing new about a group attempting to limit speech or expression, only the target of the speech or expression. Anyone who thinks this generation is overly politically correct is looking back on the previous generations and thinking they were overly racist. Anyone commenting on that or similar articles talking about the good ole days are delusional.

    Nothing has changed.

    We used to collectively hate black people. Or anything non-monogamous/heterosexual. Before that, women. Before that, Irish. Before that, Chinese. Before that, Native American. Today, it's religious ideology. Youth is intolerant of intolerance, and they are actively trying to use their power to silence people they disagree with... just like we kinda always have.
     
  16. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    Yes, and that's the point of this thread. Some people take civil rights and respect too far it and it limits rights and is disrespectful. I don't see why you are making that point. The whole discussion point is where the line is not whether there is one, we all get that there is. I also still don't understand your OP. Were you saying that people punch you for using gay as an insult? I very much doubt even a fervent SJW will do that. Has anyone actually done that to you?
     
  17. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    Your analogy still doesn't make sense. If someone hits you for what you say, that someone is likely to be arrested. So your claim about being hit makes no sense.

    If someone verbally objects to what you say, that person is using their free speech in response to your free speech.

    Neither of those have anything to do with the issue of being ejected from a gathering or a university due to free speech.
     
    Oscar Leigh likes this.
  18. Samurai Jack
    Offline

    Samurai Jack Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2010
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    101
    Location:
    Nashville, TN
    Fine, the analogy makes no sense.

    At the end of it all, somebody will always be pissed off by what other people say, and that somebody will use whatever force they can to limit speech. Old people did it, now young people are doing it, only difference being the targets and the type of force.
     
  19. Oscar Leigh
    Offline

    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2016
    Messages:
    4,425
    Likes Received:
    1,982
    Location:
    Australia
    But how many people go very far? I don't see what your point is. This thread is not about whether there are people who restrict or want to restrict for the sake of offense. We all understand that those people exist. Nobody is getting anything out of this. You seem to be angry at someone, but that someone is not here. Can we move on?
     
  20. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    And...so it's just dandy and let's not even try for free speech? Is that what you're saying?
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page