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Education Censorship Politics Your Rights Online

How Free Speech Died On Campus 530

Posted by timothy
from the marching-band-refused-to-yield dept.
theodp writes "The WSJ catches up with FIRE's Greg Lukianoff and his crusade to expose how universities have become the most authoritarian institutions in America. In Unlearning Liberty, Lukianoff notes that baby-boom Americans who remember the student protests of the 1960s tend to assume that U.S. colleges are still some of the freest places on earth. But that idealized university no longer exists. Today, university bureaucrats suppress debate with anti-harassment policies that function as de facto speech codes. FIRE maintains a database of such policies on its website. What they share, lifelong Democrat Lukianoff says, is a view of 'harassment' so broad and so removed from its legal definition that 'literally every student on campus is already guilty.'"
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How Free Speech Died On Campus

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  • Coporate Influence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by qw(name) (718245) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @12:34PM (#42020069) Journal

    It's all because of greed. Universities have adopted corporate tactics to become and stay "more competitive in the marketplace" and that means shielding themselves from lawsuits and making themselves more appealing to donors.

  • Typical.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drewsup (990717) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @12:41PM (#42020115)

    So in order to not offend ANYONE, NO ONE is allowed to say ANYTHING.
    This goes right along with sports where there is no winner\ everyone gets a trophy to PC playgrounds with no jungle gyms.
    I weep at what has happened to my country in the past 30 years. I think it's time to start again from scratch.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @12:43PM (#42020141) Journal

    Nice ad hominem. Instead of reading the source and arguing with the points made, you drool on yourself and blabber on about Murdoch.

    The fact is that free speech in America has been getting more and more curtailed. Some in a very overt manner (free speech zones). Some in a softer manner (How DARE you suggest that affirmative action is racist, you racist). But the US is not as free as it used to be. No, we are nowhere near a totalitarian state. But freedoms do not go away overnight. If we continue to let the slide continue, we'll be closer to the totalitarian state. Freedoms are hard to get back once they've been ceded.

    But thanks for your idiotic response. If anything, it was a nice foil.

  • Re:Typical.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by reboot246 (623534) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @12:47PM (#42020189) Homepage
    It starts with assaults on free speech, but it ends with destroying the most basic of freedoms - the freedom to fail.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 18, 2012 @12:49PM (#42020215)

    Posting anonymous so I don't lose my mod points.

    > Instead of reading the source and arguing with the points made ...

    Everyone here, please read this. This is part of the problem. "If my guy does it, you're just overreacting if you disagree," and "if their guy does it, it's automatically suspect, move along, nothing to see."

    Forget political parties. Forget Democrat or Republican, or WSJ vs. NYT. If speech is being curtailed, that should concern you.

    Example: friend of mine works with my wife at the Social Security Administration, where the rules are so byzantine, they can mean anything you want them to this week. This friend jokes that says things like, "my, you're looking remarkably neutral and androgynous today." It's fun to watch their puzzled expressions as they try to decide whether it's a compliment, an insult, or something that merits a formal EEOC complaint.

    Freedom of speech means FREEDOM OF SPEECH. As the Supreme Court of the US has ruled many times, even OFFENSIVE speech must be protected. Even speech with which you might personally disagree.

    This should concern every one of you, regardless of your ideological bent.

  • wrong premise (Score:1, Insightful)

    by kenorland (2691677) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @12:51PM (#42020241)

    The premise that anybody should be able to say anything on any campus is wrong, legally, philosophically, and historically. Universities are (for the most part) private institutions, and they can decide what speech is permissible on campus and as part of the educational experience. Good universities will, of course, try to present a wide range of viewpoints, but what they present and how they present it is still up to them. Nor does it seem to me that this has changed a great deal over time. Even in the 1960's, people were protesting and getting arrested because their views differed from those of the institution; if they had agreed, there wouldn't have been any need for protest. Publicly financed universities face a special problem, in that tax dollars may not be used to promote religion and that there are a few other restrictions. That's OK: if you don't like those restrictions, don't attend a public university. That's also why public universities should probably also be only a small component of the overall mix of educational institutions.

    Rather than making all universities some kind of free speech compromise in which everybody can say anything except when it offends anybody, we should have a diversity of public and private institutions based on many different viewpoints and ideologies, and people pick and choose the institutions that they think meets their requirements.

  • by brianerst (549609) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:00PM (#42020319) Homepage

    Please. It's because universities are overwhelmingly run by a single ideology (in this case, leftism, but in another time or universe, rightism). Combine a monoculture of 'correct' thought, a hypersensitivity to hurting any favored/traditionally disenfranchised group's feelings and (as you said) fear of lawsuits and the professional outrage club and you get these codes. The fact that university faculty are usually the strongest supporters of and agitators for these codes should be shocking, but sadly it isn't.

    Corporations generally don't care at all about what you say - they just want your money. It's really only the content industry (MP/RIAA) that wants to throttle speech - ISPs and other non-content groups have been fighting a losing battle against them for years. The internet is brought to you by corporations and for the most part all they care about is charging you for the delivery of bits - the default attitude of nearly all of them when the MP/RIAA started its little crusade was to ignore them or fight back against them. They've added DRM and the like grudgingly at best - it's a cost and a headache to them and pisses off their customers.

  • by RobertLTux (260313) <robert@nOSPAM.laurencemartin.org> on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:08PM (#42020375)

    so if you are using your personal computing device you need to go off campus to post your opinions??

    also btw you are using the normal WRONG reading of the first amendment.

    this should not be used to force me to be atheist.

  • by fermion (181285) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:08PM (#42020387) Homepage Journal
    Whine Whine. It is so much like the entitled to whine because they cannot have their people come in and tell the peasants how horrible we are. Nothing changes. The christian conservatives feel they have the responsibility to tell us we are all going to hell if we don't believe they way they do, to tell us that we can't have sex with whom we want when we want, to tell us that we can't buy drinks on Sundays, or that we have to sit and listen respectfully while they pray, but when we want one thing we are being 'emotional'.

    To make matters worse, if someone wanted to show that being gay was a normal productive life choice, they would say it violated their religious liberties. But if they want to bring in a women who condones murder,compares liberals with murders, and has called for the assassination of the president, they say we are being intolerant and politically correct.

    Really, when I was back is school it was the Christian conservatives, those fragile flowers that would faint if a poem had the word fuck in it, or if they saw a couple guys kissing, or had the leave the classroom when we discussed classic american literature because it was the devils work, these were the people who create censorship on americans campus. They would bring in the child molesting priests to cry foul. They would bring in the ministers to deny women proper care and choice because the only way they could hope to get a wife was to knock her up and make her dependent. It was sad.

    And I am sure the comments are going to prove my point, because I am not hating any one here. Everyone has a right to express their opinion and try to have a life that fits with their values. But it was never the liberal groups who were trying to cut funding for the legal conservative groups. And it was never the liberal groups trying to foce everyone to pray, or waste their time listening to others pray. We held our events and if you did not want to go, then don't.

    Here is how screwed up these people were. We were in a conservative state in a somewhat conservative city, but a city that was diverse so people pretty much let everyone do what they do. These wingnuts were so extreme that created their own campus newspaper because they couldn't stand to be in the same room with liberals. And I disagreed with most of the official newspaper, it was conservative. But if these people could not get thier way they did not know how to compromise, so they took their toys, found a sugar daddy, and built their own compound where they would not have to deal with anyone who was different. And evidently that is what they still do, crying when someone calls them on their hypocristy.

  • by kenorland (2691677) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:09PM (#42020395)

    The fact is that free speech in America has been getting more and more curtailed.

    "Free speech" means that the government doesn't punish you for what you say. Legally, free speech has been increasing steadily: you can say things now about sex, politics, and religion that would have landed you in legal trouble half a century ago.

    But "free speech" doesn't mean that you can say anything anywhere without consequences. Your fellow citizens can still punish you for what you say. Business can refuse to deal with you. Liberal universities can kick you out for spewing Christian fundamentalist nonsense, and Christian universities can kick you out for spewing progressive nonsense. That's what living in a free country means. And thanks to the Internet, we have more opportunity to engage in free speech than ever before.

    The sky isn't falling on free speech; quite the opposite, free speech is legally protected than ever before and there are more venues for it than ever before. The only thing anybody might reasonably complain about is that tax dollars are used so widely to support one or the other viewpoint indirectly. That's not new, but that kind of (unconstitutional) government support has shifted from conservative causes to liberal causes. The answer is not to shift it back, the answer is to eliminate such government involvement.

  • Re:Hate speech (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Smallpond (221300) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:09PM (#42020397) Homepage Journal

    This article appears to be bitching and moaning about the fact that hate speech has been universally recognized as out of the scope of free speech. Ann Coulter is generally regarded amongst the cognoscenti as a purveyor of hate speech, not free speech. I fail to see how denying her an audience of like-minded listeners could possibly be bad in any way.

    "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war."

    Anyone who supports this Islamophobic nutbag is a like-minded nutbag who is not welcome on any university campus. Her ideas practically beg to be suppressed, so why should she be surprised when it happens? Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    If she is wrong, let her speak and then rebut her remarks. Any suppression of free speech is a mistake. Her "like-minded listeners" will hear her anyway. I don't object to letting her speak. What I object to is "journalists" who report her garbage as though it is coming from a respectable source.

  • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:21PM (#42020497)

    Speaking of corporations, what the heck is up with the summary: "how universities have become the most authoritarian institutions in America"??

    Hmm... the MOST authoritarian institutions in America. A little hyperbole? I suppose it depends on how you define "institution." If you mean "institution" as in "institute" which often implies a research organization, the claim is probably trivially true, since universities are probably the most common independent research organizations in America.

    But that's a dumb reading. So if we interpret "institution" in the broader sense of an organization created for a particular purpose, how about... I don't know... the TSA, the military? They aren't "authoritarian" at all... [\sarcasm]

    Or, for that matter, most corporations that have at-will employees. How many places could you keep your job if you acted in your workplace like many college students act on college campuses?

    The article identifies a real issue, but colleges are now the MOST authoritarian organizations in the U.S.? Hardly.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:24PM (#42020515) Homepage Journal

    Any "university" or "college" that can't tolerate non-PC opinions isn't a college at all. Instead, it's an indoctrination center. Which, apparently, is fine with you, as you support the goals of the indoctrination.

  • by chmod a+x mojo (965286) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:29PM (#42020563)

    Yeah, well, the site is retarded. They rated my University "red" because we have policies in place to prevent discrimination and hate speech. Heaven forbid the poor racist bastards would get punished if they make some other student who just wants their own educations life a living hell. Same with the sexual harassment codes. Nope, we have to get up in arms just cause you can't derogatorily call that black dude a nigger or the Chinese chick a chink, and damn it all who gives a shit what that chick thinks... we all know they just want the cock, am I right? Seriously, ro read what they have "issues" with the "openness" of the speech with the University of Wisconsin, it's a damn joke.

    As long as you are not intentionally being offensive you can chalk messages on the sidewalk... just provide the chalk, no need for permission - this includes political views, religious views, and pretty much anything else you want. Same with dorm rooms, you want to post intentionally offensive stuff on your dorm room? Post it on the inside of the door, the harassment codes specifically state that as a matter of fact.

    Shit, we just had an annual remembrance get-together remembering when a bunch of student had a huge protest in the 60's that had hundreds of arrests and over a hundred expulsions. The school provided funds to something that basically was just rubbing the schools face in the dog shit.

    TL;DR: site was shit, just a bunch of whiny idiots complaining because they can't be racist / sexist / harassing anyone anywhere.

  • by durrr (1316311) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:35PM (#42020613)

    Stop promoting your personal view on slashdot and start commenting on your own site.
    Hypocrite douchebag.

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:38PM (#42020647)

    The conservative media doesn't report the news anymore. They take statements out of context and generate their own version of news.

    Not so very different from Slashdot.

  • by Dragon Bait (997809) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:38PM (#42020655)

    "If my guy does it, you're just overreacting if you disagree," and "if their guy does it, it's automatically suspect, move along, nothing to see."

    Except, you and the guy you are supporting are completely wrong about what's going on here. This really is a Murdock propaganda piece. Look, sometimes a person is reliably and consistently stupid and evil. This means saying "oh, I'm sure Ghengis isn't riding towards those young girls to be nice to them" is not prejudice, just justifiable wisdom. Now your point would be really great if this was an exception. But let's see what I find if I look it up.

    Even a blind pig occasionally finds acorns. My oldest made the comment that "children are nothing but a black hole of need." Some PC idiot said "you can't say that, that's racist." The teacher walked by and told her that she wasn't to make such racist comments in the future (and threatened her with explosion).

    Universities are no longer liberal institutions where ideas can be freely discussed. Idiocy and censorship do abound. But feel free to shoot the messenger and ignore the problem.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:38PM (#42020659) Homepage Journal

    "Taxpayer funded" means almost nothing in this context. Many, even most, students are "paying customers" who have the right to use the resources for which they are paying.

    Neither the university, nor the public, has the right to curtail those rights by claiming that the internet belongs to them. In fact, they only own a few pieces of gear that interface with the internet.

  • by kenorland (2691677) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:45PM (#42020723)

    Tax payers pay for a large part of these universities, that's what makes them public universities. If you don't like the restrictions that come with that, attend a fully privately funded university; there are enough of them around, and they can adopt whatever policies they like.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:47PM (#42020735) Journal

    It's basically a bunch of crybaby Republicans whining about how unwelcome on campus their harassment of women, minorities, gays, muslims, any anyone else not like them is.

    Freedom of speech isn't free anymore when you stop crybaby Republicans from whining.

  • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@ n e tzero.net> on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:47PM (#42020737) Homepage Journal

    Note that the 1st amendment also says that the government can't prohibit the free exercise of religion either, including its expression through speech and the press. There is a world of difference between a student or ordinary citizen expressing themselves in a voluntary manner (aka offering a prayer right before a test on their own or holding a prayer vigil on Christmas Eve in a public area... even on public property) as opposed to having the government mandate that you must pray to a certain god or have tithing extracted from your paycheck as a tax.

    I don't have a problem with a student setting up a web page expressing their religious opinions using government funds... as long as you offer that same opportunity to all of the students on a reasonable basis to express whatever their opinion is including having no opinion or even being against organized religions in general. The problem is the censorship, and this attitude that religious expression is something that should be feared.

    I think it would even be healthy to have a "debate corner" on a college campus where any student could express any political opinion they may have... including "hate speech" full of bigotry, sexism, and racism. If you think some sort of speech should be censored, you definitely don't understand the purpose or the philosophy behind the 1st amendment and why it was ratified in the first place. Suggesting that university websites, dorm doors, or even bulletin boards should be off limits to religious expression completely misses the mark... especially at a public school. Private schools have a little more latitude to ban some forms of speech as there is a contractual relationship to even attend. It definitely shouldn't be the other way around.

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @01:56PM (#42020817)

    If they're public universities, strong restrictions on free speech on campus are a consequence of restrictions on the use of public funds and resources to promote personal political and religious views.

    Is muzzling free speech, simply because some find it offensive, not also promoting a personal political view? How can people speak of "tolerance" when they're unwilling to tolerate free speech on campus? Does it strike anyone else as ironic that those who hold "tolerance" in such high regard are amongst the most intolerant of speech that doesn't comport with their world view and ideological sensibilities?

  • bollocks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:04PM (#42020891) Homepage Journal

    The Wall Street Journal has become about as responsible a news source as Glenn Beck's "the Blaze". It used to be that their hard news was spot-on but their editorial pages leaned Right. Now, their hard news leans way Right and their editorial pages are full-blown kookie wingnut.

    David Horowitz and his little pantload salon have a lot of influence over at the new, improved, Rupert Murdoch Wall Street Journal. He's a shitty academic who now has a permanent hard-on for all of higher education because he was basically laughed out of the business (his bleak student evaluations were purely coincidental, he claims).

    The WSJ is a big proponent of for-profit higher education. They're trying to get their Mitts on the for-profit colleges the way the Washington Post got into the higher ed biz via Kaplan. Beware of anything the Wall Street Journal has to say about education.

    There has never been so much diversity of political points of view on college campuses in the US. Unlike the 70's, all ends of the political spectrum are represented. You can find conservatism unlike ever before. Hell, you can't walk three steps without tripping over some Right Wing or libertarian prof with a handful of his students complaining loudly about how viewpoints like his cannot be found anywhere.

    In fact, it's surprising how much of an organized, concerted effort is being made not to increase the diversity of opinion, but to silence Left Wing points of view. There are a bunch of very well-funded groups (most of which involve David Horowitz at some level) who are targeting speech with which they disagree.

    With guys like the WSJ, there is one rule: It's ALWAYS projection.

  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:07PM (#42020919)

    The writer is selecting the parts that support the thesis, but says nothing inaccurate. The policy does in fact threaten sanctions for a "condescending sex-based attitude".

    a) the writer says it is considered harassment to hold a "condescending sex-based attitude." where actually harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual conduct which is related to any condition of employment or evaluation of student performance. So the writer is actually saying something "inaccurate"

    b) I can't see any sanctions clearly linked to not being "sensitive" which is the only context where this occurs. Now, I am not a lawyer, so I'm quite willing to bow to your 'expert' opinion, however please do explain how you parse the policy so that you see sanctions linked to a "condescending sex-based attitude". I have no doubt that my fascination will be fully aroused by your explanation.

  • by Stiletto (12066) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @02:10PM (#42020949)

    So, basically, it went like this:

    College Republicans: We're inviting Ann Coulter onto campus to do her hate-schtick show.
    University Officials: Go ahead, but you're making yourselves look like douchebags and this university look like a circus.
    College Republicans: Uhmm.. OK, she's dis-invited.
    College Republicans to the Wall Street Journal: WAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH! THE COMMUNIST LIBRUL UNIVERSITY IS CENSORING OUR FREE SPEECH!!!! WAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

  • by Mr.CRC (2330444) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @04:32PM (#42021927)
    Isn't that the whole point?
  • by superwiz (655733) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @05:45PM (#42022391) Journal
    ANY law is only as potent as the enforcement mechanism. How many students can afford to sue to enforce contract laws and start their careers with a law suit demanding the right to slur casually?
  • by p51d007 (656414) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @05:53PM (#42022439)
    The "free thinking" radicals of the 60's counter culture movement, are today's 50 & 60 year old "professors" in most major institutions. Couple that with the ideology they have pushed in primary & secondary schools over the last 25 years, and they have melded the minds of today's 20-30 year old adults into believing that free speech is only free as long as you believe what they believe. If not, you are to be told you are a __________(insert favorite PC term), and need to be silenced. Until THAT ideology is removed, and the so called political correctness "movement" is contained, nothing will change it.
  • Re:Yeah! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by sjames (1099) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @05:54PM (#42022447) Homepage

    Yet in this one instance, it has a point. Even the right wing has freedom of speech.

    In fact, the greatest damage moderates and left-wing could do to the right wing extremists is to invite them to freely speak their minds. The resulting spew of homophobic, sexist, and racist non-sequiturs would likely shift most people just a bit to the left.

  • Re:Yeah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @08:56PM (#42023441)
    I have many views that you would probably label as right-wing and extreme, and yet I'm not the slightest bit sexist, racist, or homophobic. Will that truth affect your gross caricaturizations in the future? Probably not.
  • However.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pastafazou (648001) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @09:23PM (#42023555)
    And, in fact, the greatest damage moderates and right-wing could do to the left wing extremists is to invite them to freely speak their minds. The resulting spew of sexist, anti-Semitic, elitist, racist, and hate filled non-sequiturs would likely shift most people just a bit to the right.
  • Re:Yeah! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sg_oneill (159032) on Sunday November 18, 2012 @09:26PM (#42023569)

    In fact, the greatest damage moderates and left-wing could do to the right wing extremists is to invite them to freely speak their minds. The resulting spew of homophobic, sexist, and racist non-sequiturs would likely shift most people just a bit to the left.

    The problem with this view is that its logical, but it also doesn't really work like that. Humans have awful psychology when it comes to political views and crowds. If you have a large group of people chanting racists slogans, very quickly people around them , onlookers, can find themselves chanting along, and believing those slogans and not asking themselves why. The cronulla riot in australia left many people who had joined in the racist violent asking themselves "What the hell did I just do? I dont understand it? I was just in cronulla for shopping and next thing I'm in a crowd of people bashing lebanese shopkeepers". The inverse of this is the "spiral of silence" effect where once a view becomes popular, everyone starts changing their view to the popular one because its popular, and the less popular view becomes more and more rare and dangerous to express.

    Finally there is a large part of the population that research shows find themselves attracted to angry conservative type opinions and actually become MORE attracted to the opinion when evidence of its incorrectness is presented. Witness the absolute insanity of the anti gay-marriage league, or the "teach creationism in schools" league. It seems the more evidence as to why these guys are loons is presented to them, the more it convinces them that evolution/climate-change/drug-reform/gay-marriage/etc is some sort of evil communist plot.

    There are so many sociological factors involved with why people adopt political positions that are not at all related to rationality or free/open speech.

  • Re:Yeah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by samoanbiscuit (1273176) on Monday November 19, 2012 @04:15AM (#42025165)

    Maybe you should go back to grade school and learn the meanings of words like "tolerance" and "silencing". My assertion is that there is are reasons why blacks, gays and women are not voting for conservative candidates, and these reasons are not attached to any sort of "librul media propaganda". Maybe they think being treated like full human beings is worth more than getting tax cuts for rich people?

    Also, given the results of the election, it would seem these "minorities" aren't so "minor" after all. Maybe the GOP planners and leaders will realize there are more human beings in the USA than just the white straight male ones.

  • Re:Yeah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 19, 2012 @08:58AM (#42026217)

    ... angry conservative type opinions ... evidence of its incorrectness ...

    got bias much?

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