Monday, December 12, 2016

Limiting Free Speech Means Shutting Up Conservatives

I'm not old enough to remember the "free speech movement" of the 60s, but I was taught by people who lived through it.  I was taught to cherish free speech--and the rest of the Bill of Rights--as evidence of the goodness of America's body politic.  We are a nation where everyone has a right to speak up, to have a say.

So idealistic.

The epicenter of the free speech movement was America's universities, led by UC Berkeley.  Nowadays, it's our universities that are at the forefront of stifling free speech.  They designate Orwellian "free speech zones", craft Orwellian "speech codes", refuse to allow conservative speakers on campus, cut funding for conservative student organizations.  They are climates where the presumption is that everyone is liberal, and anyone who isn't is a, well, pick your favorite -ist (racist, sexist, etc.).

It's gotten this bad:
A group of Washington State University professors have decried “discourses of free speech” in an open letter to the campus community, suggesting such defenses of the First Amendment hurt “marginalized students"...

The scholars go on to suggest more must be done to crack down on what they consider hate speech and acts, telling the campus community that the defense of freedom of speech and freedom of expression is harmful...
If, only 20 years ago (that's during Bill Clinton's presidency), you predicted that, you'd have been laughed out of the room.  It was inconceivable then.

A recent report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reveals:
Major findings from Spotlight on Speech Codes 2017 include:
  • 39.6 percent of surveyed institutions maintain severely restrictive, red light speech codes—a nearly 10 percentage point drop from last year’s 49.3 percent.
  • Of the 449 schools surveyed, 27 received FIRE’s highest, green light rating for free speech. This number is up from 22 schools as of last year’s report.
  • Twenty schools or faculty bodies in FIRE’s Spotlight database adopted statements in support of free speech modeled after the one adopted by the University of Chicago in January 2015...
As the report details, however, there are still serious threats to free speech on campus:
  • 237 schools surveyed received a yellow light rating (52.8%). Yellow light policies restrict narrower categories of speech than red light policies do, or are vaguely worded in a way that could too easily be used to suppress protected speech, and are unconstitutional at public universities.
  • Of the institutions surveyed for this report, roughly 1 in 10 have “free speech zone” policies—policies limiting student demonstrations and other expressive activities to small and/or out-of-the-way areas on campus.
  • Hundreds of colleges have implemented bias reporting systems to solicit reports of bias on campus, which most universities explicitly define to encompass speech protected by the First Amendment. FIRE will release detailed metrics on these systems in the coming days.
You never hear of liberal viewpoints being  suppressed, only conservatives.  And schools are very accepting of all students, as long as they aren't conservative:
People who study patterns of discrimination talk about behaviors like “othering,” about marginalization, and about microaggressions. But in my experience, these behaviors are prominent in the world of academia, and they’re often aimed at conservative or libertarian students and faculty who depart from whatever the current left-leaning orthodoxy is.

When professors or administrators act as if Trump and his supporters are uniquely evil, as opposed to simply one political coalition, they are engaging in “othering.” The message is that Trump — and, more significantly, his supporters on campus — aren’t really members of the community in good standing. They’re a dangerous “other” who must be closely watched, carefully scrutinized, thoroughly stigmatized, and maybe shunned.
One wonders how long taxpayers will continue to fork over billions to fund such un-American institutions.

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