Category Archive 'Free Speech'
27 Sep 2019

Yale Political Union’s Liberal Party Changes Its Name and Flees Union Over Insensitive Free Speech Policies

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The Yale Political Union in 1973. I was there.

The YPU’s Liberal Party (dating back to the Union’s founding in 1934, which had McGeorge Bundy, Dick Posner, John Kerry, and Jorge Dominguez for Chairmen) has recently (in a fit of honesty) changed its name to the “Socialist Party,” and its current chairman announced today that it’s quitting the Yale Political Union because the Yale Political Union (O! God! O! God!) allows members of the Party of the Right to say flaming un-PC things, and has no mechanism to punish WrongSpeech.

Chairman Ian Moreau explains why the lefties are seceeding:

The debate over the Union’s usefulness has long been rumbling within our Party. For years now, the Union’s debate format has rendered the meaningful development of political beliefs nearly impossible. The quality of student speeches varies wildly and a few unfocused questions at the end of each speech limits direct engagement with a speaker’s arguments. The ideas that members espouse, however, can be even worse. Just last year, members of the Union stood behind a podium to spew blatant transphobia and question whether women should have the right to vote, all without reprimand. In September 2017, the Party of the Right released a whip sheet in which they referred to Indigenous people as savages. Not a single individual was formally censured.

Such incidents have unfortunately become commonplace within the Union and have wrought significant damage on our Party. Members of marginalized communities — the people who are crucial to building an authentic Left — don’t wish to sit through the needless denigration of their identities nor should they be required to in order to participate in spaces like ours. We have watched as the constant debasement of low-income people, people of color, women and queer folks has led both members and potential recruits to distance themselves from Union and therefore from us. Although our Party has made our concerns explicit and sought reform innumerable times, the structure of the Union itself has made it resistant to change. To be clear, this is not an issue with the current Union leadership; the problem is institutional, not personal.

By leaving the Yale Political Union, we hope to revitalize our Party and construct a better leftist space for future generations of Yale students. We will welcome the people we need to create the networks necessary for thoughtful activism and solidarity-building. We will cultivate a stronger sense of love and community amongst ourselves in order to ensure that our friendships last long after we leave this university. And, perhaps most importantly, we will think, interrogate and theorize as we fight for a better Yale.

We will no longer settle for the detached debate that defines the Yale Political Union. The political nature of our university, of our world, demands to be squarely grappled with. It is not enough to question the Canon, debate the research or criticize the corporation, for intellectual engagement alone will not suffice. Real leftism is bold and unyielding in its battle for greater justice for all people. As conscious inhabitants of this Ivory Tower, we are obligated not only to envision a brighter future, but also to take part in its creation.

RTWT

Being Leftist today means that you cannot “meaningfully develop your own political beliefs” in an atmosphere that exposes them to different beliefs.

24 Sep 2019

He Writes Book Defending Free Speech… His Book Gets Banned

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Today’s world keeps turning into a cautionary dystopian novel.

Quillette:

I recently completed a book defending free speech. Emerald Press scheduled it for publication but then decided not to proceed. Here’s what it said about the book in Emerald’s September 2019 catalogue:

In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor
Author James R. Flynn, University of Otago, New Zealand

Synopsis: The good university is one that teaches students the intellectual skills they need to be intelligently critical—of their own beliefs and of the narratives presented by politicians and the media. Freedom to debate is essential to the development of critical thought, but on university campuses today free speech is restricted for fear of causing offence. In Defense of Free Speech surveys the underlying factors that circumscribe the ideas tolerated in our institutions of learning. James Flynn critically examines the way universities censor their teaching, how student activism tends to censor the opposing side and how academics censor themselves, and suggests that few, if any, universities can truly be seen as ‘good.’ In an age marred by fake news and social and political polarization, In Defense of Free Speech makes an impassioned argument for a return to critical thought.

I was notified of Emerald’s decision not to proceed by Tony Roche, Emerald’s publishing director, in an email on 10th June:

    I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor. Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. By the nature of its subject matter, the work addresses sensitive topics of race, religion, and gender. The challenging manner in which you handle these topics as author, particularly at the beginning of the work, whilst no doubt editorially powerful, increase the sensitivity and the risk of reaction and legal challenge. As a result, we have taken external legal advice on the contents of the manuscript and summarize our concerns below.

    There are two main causes of concern for Emerald. Firstly, the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. For example, one test is merely whether it is “likely” that racial hatred could be stirred up as a result of the work. This is a particular difficulty given modern means of digital media expression. The potential for circulation of the more controversial passages of the manuscript online, without the wider intellectual context of the work as a whole and to a very broad audience—in a manner beyond our control—represents a material legal risk for Emerald.

    Secondly, there are many instances in the manuscript where the actions, conversations and behavior of identifiable individuals at specific named colleges are discussed in detail and at length in relation to controversial events. Given the sensitivity of the issues involved, there is both the potential for serious harm to Emerald’s reputation and the significant possibility of legal action. Substantial changes to the content and nature of the manuscript would need to be made, or Emerald would need to accept a high level of risk both reputational and legal. The practical costs and difficulty of managing any reputational or legal problems that did arise are of further concern to Emerald.

    For the reasons outlined above, it is with regret that Emerald has taken the decision not to publish your manuscript. We have not taken this decision lightly, but following senior level discussions within the organization, and with the additional benefit of specialist legal advice. I realize that this decision will come as a disappointment to you and hope that you will be able to find an alternative publisher with whom to take the work to publication.

RTWT

HT: Bird Dog.

19 Sep 2019

Snowflakes Melting Again at Yale

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Laurie Santos, new “Head” of Silliman College, famed for teaching an extremely popular course on Happiness.

The Yale Daily News reports that a Yale junior’s Instagram quip has the campus again in a turmoil over Free Speech, with many students demanding punishment, Silliman Head Laurie Santos promising action and then crawfishing, Peter Salovey timidly defending Free Speech, and faculty arguing.

All this ICE but no detention centers in sight,” read the caption, beneath an Instagram photo of a Yale junior smiling amid a backdrop of snowy mountains.

Was the gaffe a distasteful joke or an affront to undocumented immigrants? Yale administrators and faculty disagreed. Screenshots of the post — a play on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and ice itself — quickly went viral on social media. Students denounced the junior for joking about the plight of undocumented immigrants, who sometimes spend weeks and months in border detention facilities. Tweets criticizing the post received thousands of likes and more than 900 retweets. One student said he is “glad to see that Yale is still prepping for the future generations of Kavanaughs.” Others urged their peers to email the head of the junior’s residential college, psychology professor Laurie Santos and demanded consequences for the junior. …

As emails requesting the student to be held accountable for his Instagram post inundated Santos’ inbox, the Silliman Head of College responded to at least one student’s call for action against the junior.

“I have now heard about this incident from many, many students,” Santos wrote in the email, which was obtained by the News. “I’m upset that a member of my community would post something like this and I will take action on it. I will be bringing this up with the proper channels.”

While some students said they appreciated Santos’ note, many members of the University community voiced concerns about the email’s implications on whether administrators and faculty members have the jurisdiction to regulate students’ speech.

English professor David Bromwich said the idea that the junior “should somehow be punished, or cited to justify a reprimand, seems a clear overreach of authority.”

“[Of] course the result [of Santos’ email] would be to chill speech generally,” Bromwich said. “People say silly things like this all the time, on campus and in everyday life elsewhere. Will you install microphones in the potted plants and try to catch them all?”

In an interview with the News, Chairman of the Institute for Free Speech Bradley Smith said Santos’ email is “absurd and anti-liberal.” The email sends a message that students now have to be extra careful to not upset others and “gives a license to social justice warriors to pick on students they don’t like,” Smith said. He added that free speech is not only about a lack of censorship, but also about an open attitude of accepting controversial ideas.

In an email to the News on Wednesday, Santos said in hindsight, she “would have worded things differently to make it clearer that what I wanted to do was gather more information — that was the action I had in mind.” …

Salovey did not comment on whether he had spoken with Santos about her handling of the matter.

“I would like to take this opportunity to underscore that Yale is committed firmly to free expression,” Salovey said. “To learn, to create knowledge, to teach and to improve the world, we must engage in the exchange of ideas freely, especially when we disagree with one another. I have always encouraged members of the Yale community to participate in open discussions because the answer to speech that offends us is, most often, our own speech.” …

Thomas Kadri GRD ’23 — who is a fellow at the Yale Information Society Project — added that while people should have the right to speak freely, free speech does not mean that people cannot criticize others if they dislike what is said.

“That said, it might also be worrying if many students ‘fear’ the ‘consequences’ of expressing their ideas and opinions,” Kadri added. “Quite how worrying it is would depend on a few things, I think. Are their fears reasonable? What do they actually fear will happen — criticism, social ostracism, bad grades on assignments, worse job prospects?”

American Studies professor Matt Jacobson said that while the University may have some work to do, feeling uncomfortable is “emphatically not a ‘free speech’ issue of the constitutional sort.” Self-censorship is different from government censorship, and is in some cases “an organic response to the contending interests and the internalized dissonance brought about by social change and societal polarization,” Jacobson said.

He added that even if the climate issues on campus are very real and need to be addressed, it is important to recognize that there is a concerted effort on the right to use free speech as an instrument to advance a particular agenda, such as framing discrimination of ethnic, religious and racial minorities as freedom of expression.

RTWT

06 Aug 2019

Not a Fan of Campus Speech Codes

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Hugh Cecil, Baron Quickwood 1869-1956

I think that controversy, particularly acrimonious controversy, is one of the privileges of a civilized life.

16 May 2019

America: Now a Polish Joke!

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Information Liberation:

The Swedish car company Volvo this week shared two similar looking ads on Facebook — one to their main page and one to their Polish page — which had one glaring difference.

In the post on their main page, the ad showed two [Interracial] homosexual men holding hands in front of a little girl driving a Volvo toy truck.

The ad copy reads: “Focus on your career, or your family? From now on you can do both at Volvo Cars, because we offer employees within the EMEA region six months of paid parental leave, regardless of gender. …

In the comments, Volvo posted a message saying they’re deleting all negative comments which violate their “social media house rules.”

The ad on Volvo’s Poland page featured a straight couple with a little boy in the Volvo toy truck.

The comment section was filled with Poles laughing about the difference between the two ads.

———————————–

I saw this originally on the Chateau Heartiste blog last night. A few minutes later, when I came back to that blog to capture the image of the ads, I found this:

If you have a blog on WordPress.com, I strongly recommend that you get yourself a new hosting service, one without political opinions and “Terms of Service.” WordPress.com, just like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, will punish you for WrongSpeak.

14 Feb 2019

Millennial Snowflakes at Yale Apparently Need a Professional “Cool Aunt/Uncle” Whom They Can Run to Whenever They Feel “Unsafe” or “Uncomfortable” on Campus

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Snowflakes at Wellesley reacting to 2016 Election returns.

My blood boiled this morning when I read this reply to a question on Quora:

TheFire.Org asked, rhetorically:

Is the reaction of Yale University students against professor Erika Christakis email the signal of the start of the steep and rapid decline of Yale and its motto of truth?

——————————————————-

Cathy Xue, Silliman ’19 replied:

During the 2015–2016 school year, I was a freshman in Silliman College, where Erika Christakis was Associate Master (the position of “Master” has since been re-titled as “Head of College” or “HoC”). *Mrs. Christakis’ decision to express her opinions on free speech and Halloween costumes in an email the students of Silliman College, **/where she occupied a position of authority/**, was inappropriate. *I do not doubt that if she instead published her statement in a more general forum, for example as an op-ed in the /Yale Daily News/, that the reaction would not be as intense.

Basically, *Erika Christakis failed her duty as Associate Master by sending that email*, and this upset a number of students in Silliman College and in the broader Yale community. At Yale, the role of (Associate) Master/HoC is one of social and community leadership and support — kind of like the cool aunt/uncle for the 400 or so students under their watch. Erika Christakis was supposed to be someone that Silliman students could feel comfortable approaching if they felt unsafe or uncomfortable on campus. Instead, she indicated to her charges that she valued the principle of free speech and intellectual discussion over the very real personal hurt that insensitive language or other expression (like Halloween costumes, for example) might cause.

Also, the negative reaction didn’t occur in a vacuum — other events had already fueled discussion and unrest about racism on campus.

And unconditional emotional support is more important to them than Free Speech.

I’d say: Yale made a huge mistake whenever it started admitting these kinds of spoiled, entitled, sensitive blooming plants.

The Master (Bugger that “Head of College” nonsense!) of a Yale Residential College, I have news for you, Snowflakes, was never intended to be the “Cool Aunt/Uncle” meant to be used as a crying towel at all.

College Masters, in my day, were older male faculty members of distinction whose role was approximately that of the British Viceroy of some minor Imperial Colony. He received a suitably impressive residence and an expense budget. His role was to preside as Master of Ceremonies over regular significant events, to represent the college officially, and to exist remotely, floating above the daily life of the college, as a benign tutelary deity, capable of dipping into that special budget under his control to bestow special favors, a celebratory dining-hall feast, a high-end table soccer game for the Common Room, special funding for the print shop or the wood shop.

The actual administrative work of the college, the disciplinary role, the shit work generally was all handled by the Dean, an humble graduate student type, only a bit older than the undergraduates, who was burnishing up his resume with an eye to future university administrative grandeur at some rinky dink institution far away from Yale.

The College Master could be relied upon to smile benevolently in your direction and to acknowledge you with a “Hullo!” or “Good Morning!” when passing by, but no one, in the pre-millennial Yale, would have dreamt of running crying to the College Master that his feelings had been hurt, Boo hoo!

Nobody, in the old days, old enough and smart enough to get into Yale could possibly have been imagined to consider himself “unsafe” or “uncomfortable” as the result of some other student or students wearing Halloween costumes.

In the old Yale, the natural response to some inadvertent insult, would have been to shrug it off. The natural response to a deliberate insult would have been to retort with a wittier and more devastating response.

15 Nov 2018

Snowflakes & SJWs Upset: Satirical Flyers Posted on Yale Cross Campus

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According to the Yale Daily News, mocking African-American group poses is “racially provocative.”

The Oldest (and seriously competing for Left-est) College Daily was outraged.

The Yale Police Department is investigating reports from Yale students who witnessed two masked people post racially provocative flyers on bulletin boards around Cross Campus on Tuesday night. …

Yale students took photos of the posters, removed them from the bulletin board, replaced them with messages of support for people of color and reported the incident to Yale student life staff and the YPD on Tuesday night. The flyers depicted the symbol of a “White Students’ Union of Yale” and quoted slavery advocate and class of 1804 graduate John Calhoun — the former namesake of what is now Grace Hopper College. The quote reads, “In looking back, I see nothing to regret, and little to correct.”

YPD officers are currently reviewing camera footage to identify the perpetrators, Goff-Crews told the News. … The department has also stepped up its patrols in “sensitive areas on campus,” including the center of Yale’s campus, where the incident occured [sic].

“I find the sentiments signified by these flyers deeply troubling, and I want to be clear: hate is not welcome on our campus,” Salovey wrote in a campuswide email. “As I have said in the past, the answer to speech one finds repugnant is more speech. [Flyers aren’t speech? Quotations from Calhoun aren’t speech? – JDZ] I have no doubt that the members of the Yale community will respond to expressions of hate, racism, and exclusion on this campus with even stronger affirmations of our values—and a renewed commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive community where all people are welcomed.”

In the email, Salovey confirmed that the perpetrators violated a University policy which only permits registered student organizations to post flyers on campus [Oh, my! that is an expulsion-worthy offense for sure. –JDZ].

Yale has notified the Southern Poverty Law Center — which monitors hate groups in the U.S. — and the Anti-Defamation League — a Jewish group that fights anti-Semitism and bigotry — about the incident, according to Salovey’s email. …

On Tuesday night, a student posted a photograph of the flyer on the popular Facebook group “Overheard at Yale,” prompting heavy backlash against the perpetrators among commenters.

Students and alumni interviewed by the News condemned the flyers. Prior to Salovey’s email, at least two individuals told the News that they contacted Salovey’s office calling for the University to respond to the incident.

On Wednesday morning, Gene Lyman ’92 also emailed Salovey’s office calling on the University to investigate the situation thoroughly, discipline any current students involved and “reassert Yale’s values as an inclusive and intellectually honest community.”

“Even if this should prove a hoax, or someone’s sick idea of a joke, I cannot emphasize enough how unacceptable the sentiment expressed in these flyers is,” Lyman wrote in the email to Salovey.

Lyman said he received a response from Joy McGrath, Salovey’s chief of staff, as well as Salovey’s email to the Yale community.

Sohum Pal ’20 sent an email about the incident to Salovey, Goff-Crews and Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun on Tuesday night. In his email, Pal called for the establishment of a Title VI office, which would enforce the federal law that prohibits discrimination based on race, ethnicity, color and national origin at educational institutions, and for a systematic change in University responses to grievances around racial discrimination. Pal said that the University should create a “mechanism for change” instead of releasing emails to “reaffirm its commitments.”

“Tonight, people put up these fliers around campus,” Pal wrote in his email. “I felt vulnerable — is it any surprise? My time at Yale has been many things — sometimes empowering, but more often I’ve been struck at how expendable students, faculty, and staff of color must be to the university.” Unlike Lyman, Pal said he received no direct response to his email.

Ashtan Towles ’19, a former peer liaison for the Afro-American Cultural Center, told the News that while the perpetrators remain unknown, the act was “done in cowardice,” comparing the masked individuals to Klu Klux Klan members who don masks to protect their identities.

“This incident is merely one of thousands through which white nationalists have attempted to stoke fear in Black communities, but I am always in awe of the resilience and pride that exists in the Black community at Yale,” Towles said in an email to the News.

According to Simon Ghebreyesus ’21, the sentiments of white pride in the flyers are a “sinister presence” for students of color to grapple with at Yale and across the country.

Epongue Ekille ’21 told the News that she had generally viewed Yale as a racially inclusive place but the flyer incident “negates it all.”

“It was both surprising and not at the same time. Although Yale is proud of its diversity, the matter of the fact is that the student population is majority white and wealthy,” Ekille said. “I’m not surprised that people who have these opinions exist at Yale, I’m just surprised that they would publicly advertise it.”

RTWT

Evidently, the answer to speech satirizing the rhetoric and poses of African-American Identity Group activists is not actually “more speech.” The answer is to publish hysterical news stories, to refer to the “repugnant speech” as “discrimination,” and “exclusion,” and “hate,” to suggest that it constitutes a possible violation of federal anti-discrimination law, and to treat it as a proper basis for investigation, notification of national left-wing speech and thought supervisory groups, and disciplinary sanctions.

How terribly cowardly it was of those right-wing students to conceal their identities!

17 Oct 2018

Chicago Prez Robert Zimmer Stands Foursquare for Free Speech

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Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago.

Good news for a change from Campus Reform.

The University of Chicago president defended his school’s commitment to free speech in an address to the City Club of Cleveland.

University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer said during a speech on Oct. 3 that “challenging one’s assumptions inevitably creates discomfort, but a discomfort that is necessary for growth, understanding, and achievement.” Zimmer continued by describing what he believed to be three contributing causes of a decreased commitment to freedom of expression across U.S. universities.

“Privileging feelings, to the extent that a child feels they are always entitled to feel good and comfortable, and that the world should be organized around this, is not helpful in this regard.”

“Some people are trying to keep certain views unexpressed out of self-righteous, moral, or political indignation, an agenda driven by such moral or political views, and comfort, arrogating to themselves and those they agree with the right of speech, while denying it to others,” Zimmer said, outlining the first cause.

The second contributing cause, according to Zimmer, is that universities are suppressing free speech in the name of fighting against the exclusion of historically marginalized groups. He makes the case that freedom of expression is necessary for fostering an environment of inclusion.

Zimmer cited “the privileging of feelings” as a third cause: “Privileging feelings, to the extent that a child feels they are always entitled to feel good and comfortable, and that the world should be organized around this, is not helpful in this regard. And what we are seeing in some cases within high schools and universities is an expectation, and then demands, for such privileging, and then the inappropriate acquiescence to such demands.”

The University of Chicago president concluded his speech by stating that “creating a sanctuary for comfort is not fulfilling our responsibility. It is only through an environment of intellectual challenge and the free expression and open discourse that provides this challenge, that we are fulfilling our obligations to students, their future, and the future of our society.”

The University of Chicago has been known for its embrace of freedom of speech. It released a policy report in 2015, known as the “Chicago Statement,” which expressed the school’s commitment to the ideal. Since then, at least 35 schools have adopted the same policy, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

RTWT

HT: Glenn Reynolds.

Come on, Bonesmen, fire that weasel Salovey, double this guy’s salary and bring him to New Haven!

15 Oct 2018

No Free Speech in Scotland

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Count Dankula trains dog to be a Nazi video.

Making a supposedly humorous video showing you trying to get your dog to respond affirmatively to “Gas the Jews?” or to raise his paw when you say “Sieg heil!” is obviously very far from being in good taste, most people won’t even think this is funny, but should the government arrest and fine you for doing it? Most Americans would say no. If you agree, you’d better not move to Scotland.

Spiked reports:

In 1941, a dog in Finland sparked a three-month investigation by Germany’s Nazi government. Tor and Josephine Borg had allegedly trained their Dalmatian to raise its paw in response to the word ‘Hitler’. The German embassy dismissed Tor Borg’s claim that he had not intended to insult the Führer, perhaps due to his admission that ‘Hitler’ was now the dog’s nickname. In the absence of witnesses, the charges were eventually dropped.

It would seem that the present-day Scottish judiciary is more tenacious than the Third Reich. When Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was arrested in May 2016 for uploading a video to YouTube in which he teaches his girlfriend’s pug to perform a Nazi salute, few imagined the case would reach a court of law. The story seemed too absurd. In any case, it was surely unfeasible that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service would not intervene and prevent the Scottish legal system from becoming an international laughing stock.

Two years and thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money later, Meechan was convicted at Airdrie Sheriff Court and fined £800 for breaching Section 127 of the 2003 Communications Act. The guilty verdict was reached on the grounds that the video was ‘grossly offensive’, a wildly subjective formulation which could be applied to literally anything, depending on how and by whom it is interpreted. In this case, the determination was made by one po-faced judge alone, without a jury to make up for his lacking sense of humour. In such circumstances, a miscarriage of justice was always a possibility.

I visited Markus at his home in July of this year in order to make a documentary for spiked. I’ve long been fascinated by the case because it represents one of the more scandalous instances of the state’s ongoing adulteration of the principle of free speech. Prosecutions for jokes are not entirely new – an outrage in itself – but Markus’s case is so self-evidently preposterous that it merits particular consideration. Moreover, many in the media have made rash assumptions about his character and background, few of which, I was to discover, bear any relationship to reality. …

I asked various members of the public how they felt about the case. Virtually everyone I spoke to understood that the pug video was intended as a joke, irrespective of whether they found it funny or not. Of the roughly three million people who watched the video online, not one complained to the police – the investigation was only able to proceed because the authorities actively trawled for witnesses who would find the material offensive.

The subsequent trial has exposed a yawning gap between the general public and those who occupy influential positions in the media and the judiciary. It is a peculiarity of our time that policymakers and law enforcers apparently lack the basic nous to identify an attempt at humour when they see it, or, more worryingly, have such a degraded view of humanity that they believe that many will be drawn to fascism and criminality on the basis of a misinterpreted prank.

RTWT

HT: Jim Harberson.

22 Jun 2018

Leaked Memo Reveals ACLU Retreating on Free Speech

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Wendy Kaminer, in the Wall Street Journal, also reveals that the ACLU is now accepting the Hard Left notion that mere speech can inflict harm, even if one does not call someone pigeon pie and eat him up.

The American Civil Liberties Union has explicitly endorsed the view that free speech can harm “marginalized” groups by undermining their civil rights. “Speech that denigrates such groups can inflict serious harms and is intended to and often will impede progress toward equality,” the ACLU declares in new guidelines governing case selection and “Conflicts Between Competing Values or Priorities.”

This is presented as an explanation rather than a change of policy, and free-speech advocates know the ACLU has already lost its zeal for vigorously defending the speech it hates. ACLU leaders previously avoided acknowledging that retreat, however, in the apparent hope of preserving its reputation as the nation’s premier champion of the First Amendment.

But traditional free-speech values do not appeal to the ACLU’s increasingly partisan progressive constituency—especially after the 2017 white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville. The Virginia ACLU affiliate rightly represented the rally’s organizers when the city attempted to deny them a permit to assemble. Responding to intense post-Charlottesville criticism, last year the ACLU reconsidered its obligation to represent white-supremacist protesters.

The 2018 guidelines claim that “the ACLU is committed to defending speech rights without regard to whether the views expressed are consistent with or opposed to the ACLU’s core values, priorities and goals.” But directly contradicting that assertion, they also cite as a reason to decline taking a free-speech case “the extent to which the speech may assist in advancing the goals of white supremacists or others whose views are contrary to our values.”

In selecting speech cases to defend, the ACLU will now balance the “impact of the proposed speech and the impact of its suppression.” Factors like the potential effect of the speech on “marginalized communities” and even on “the ACLU’s credibility” could militate against taking a case. Fundraising and communications officials helped formulate the new guidelines.

RTWT

08 May 2018

The Intellectual Dark Web

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Bari Weiss of The New York Times takes a fearful peek down the rabbit hole of the Intellectual Dark Web.

What is the I.D.W. and who is a member of it? It’s hard to explain, which is both its beauty and its danger.

Most simply, it is a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation — on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums — that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now. Feeling largely locked out of legacy outlets, they are rapidly building their own mass media channels.

The closest thing to a phone book for the I.D.W. is a sleek website that lists the dramatis personae of the network, including Mr. Harris; Mr. Weinstein and his brother and sister-in-law, the evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying; Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and best-selling author; the conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray; Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist; and the feminists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina Hoff Sommers. But in typical dark web fashion, no one knows who put the website up.

The core members have little in common politically. Bret and Eric Weinstein and Ms. Heying were Bernie Sanders supporters. Mr. Harris was an outspoken Hillary voter. Ben Shapiro is an anti-Trump conservative.

But they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what’s politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought — and have found receptive audiences elsewhere.

RTWT

11 Apr 2018

“Free Speech” at Yale

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Woodbridge Hall, home of the Yale Administration.

How leftist exactly is Peter Salovey’s Yale Administration? So leftist that its representatives will strong-arm Yale students to prevent them from counter-demonstrating when a leftist pseudo-labor organization (i.e., a “union” of graduate students) stages a “strike” in order to shakedown the university.

Current undergraduate Esteban Elizondo describes “free speech at Yale” today in the Washington Examiner.

In April 2017, the Yale College Republicans and I organized a counter-protest against graduate students’ symbolic “hunger strike” for unionization. Our counter-protest was a barbecue right next to the grad students, but either a mistake was made or someone regretted sanctioning our event, because a few hours after the event was approved, I received an email from Holloway asking for me to call him. That is when he delivered his admonition to me.

During the barbecue, participants were actively forbidden by Director of Administrative Affairs Pilar Montalvo from engaging with the graduate student union, lest we be shut down. Montalvo’s office had a view of the protests, and when we disobeyed, she stormed out onto the plaza wildly, reiterating her threats. I later learned that it was Montalvo, who works in the Office of the President, who contacted multiple deans at Yale to pressure me to cancel the barbecue.

Regardless of who is ultimately right, it is important that campuses encourage controversial discourse. It is through these conversations that we seek out truth, and intellectual controversy should be an essential part of any university. Yale shamefully attempted to stifle a peaceful counter-protest at multiple levels and forbade two ideologically different groups from engaging with each other.

The larger message Yale intended to send us was clear: Certain discourse is forbidden on campus. Yale simply maintains the facade of free speech to pacify students and the press while intentionally fostering a campus with little ideological debate. Yale professors usually prefer classes without rigorous debate, and I noticed that, controlling for quality, students generally received higher marks when they conformed to the professor’s opinion.

RTWT

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