SL 695

Rather shocking views on free speech by college students, according to a new survey by Brookings.

“..many students have an overly narrow view of the extent of freedom of expression. For example, a very significant percentage of students hold the view that hate speech is unprotected. In addition, a surprisingly large fraction of students believe it is acceptable to act—including resorting to violence—to shut down expression they consider offensive. And a majority of students appear to want an environment that shields them from being exposed to views they might find offensive.”

Loving this mid-century line of furniture at Target.

A slightly unhinged professor at Illinois refused to give his lecture slides to a kid with a disability and gets taken out of the classroom. Not sad.

Graduate programs have become a cash cow for colleges, says NPR. Yes, says me. We know that. So does NYU.

Should little kids still be playing football?

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58 thoughts on “SL 695

    1. I’m not much moved by the gender difference. I’ll bet the female percentage would go way up if it were asked: “A student group opposed to the speaker complains to the administration, which shuts down the speaker . . .”

      1. y81,

        I’m much more concerned about people chomping at the bit to see their political enemies violently put down. It’s a really troubling vital sign for the country for there to be such a large minority who are comfortable with it.

        I suspect the gender difference is because women are more realistic about how they personally would fare if violence were deployed against them or if they were to attempt to use violence.

      2. Amy: I’m not sure what you’re saying, but I am actually less troubled by people who are moved to individual violence in a political cause (since such violence can be resisted) than by people who invoke the power of the state to suppress their opponents (since the state possesses both overwhelming force and a monopoly on the lawful use of force).

        Of course, maybe I just feel that way because I’m a boy.

      3. y81,

        I’m more concerned about individual violence because it takes a lot fewer people to arrange and it’s less possible to prevent or stop.

      4. Basically, sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me–having a talk cancelled or a group not given the same protections as other groups is annoying, but getting hit by a young zealot with poor impulse control could lead to death, brain damage, or life-long disability.

        As the Polish proverb goes, a thrown stone belongs to the devil.

    1. You have to watch the documentary about the guy who cheated the one Koch by selling “Thomas Jefferson’s” wine that he made in his basement with a laser printer and a jug of Carlo Rossi (or whatever). Funniest thing I saw in a while.

      1. And you think theft and fraud are funny because it was done to someone of whose politics you disapprove? Why?

    1. Have you seen the study reported in the New York Times? https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/19/sports/football/tackle-football-brain-youth.html?_r=0

      In phone interviews and online surveys, the researchers found that players in all three groups who participated in youth football before the age of 12 had a twofold “risk of problems with behavioral regulation, apathy and executive function” and a threefold risk of “clinically elevated depression scores.”

      1. Could be a correlation fallacy. You have a kid who is already kind of hyper/ADHD, and you put him in sports to work off the energy. We tried all sorts of things with E.

      2. It wasn’t sports, it was football. I suppose a good comparison group would be karate, tae kwan do (sp?), swimming, and other sports families with ADHD kids turn to. I’ve noticed formerly football-inclined families in this area turning to youth lacrosse in recent years, rather than football.

        My impressions, though, have long been that the kids whose families signed them up for youth football were not any different than boys whose families did not sign them up for youth football. In other words, they did not, as a group, fit the stereotype of the “dumb jock” in elementary school.

        I don’t find any good reasons to allow young children to play tackle football.

      3. Wendy said:

        “Could be a correlation fallacy. You have a kid who is already kind of hyper/ADHD, and you put him in sports to work off the energy. We tried all sorts of things with E.”

        Yeah.

      4. Cranberry said:

        “I don’t find any good reasons to allow young children to play tackle football.”

        How common is tackle football before 12, though?

  1. I believe in free speech (not an absolutist; I don’t think spraying swastikas on synagogues should be protected, and I find slippery slope arguments to be fairly brain dead), and I am very worried about violence silencing people. That said, *no one* has the right to give a lecture at a university. That is not free speech, that is an honor. Private universities especially are not public spheres in the same sense that even public universities are. Charles Murray at Middlebury, or Chelsea Manning at Harvard are not really “free speech” issues.

    Secondly, protest is also free speech. I have zero tolerance for violence, but I also have zero tolerance for brutal crackdowns of peaceful (even if rowdy) protest. Free speech doesn’t mean the right to not have your speech challenged.

    1. B.I. said,

      “Private universities especially are not public spheres in the same sense that even public universities are. Charles Murray at Middlebury, or Chelsea Manning at Harvard are not really “free speech” issues.”

      A lot of controversial speakers are there because student groups invited them. So you have to make a distinction between somebody being brought onto campus by university employees or as a university employee versus being invited to speak by a student group.

      1. Sure, but getting invited to speak at a private gathering and then uninvited isn’t a “free speech” issue. It’s an issue of norms and etiquette and values, sure, but it seems like an institution-internal fight. Like, if some faction of Harvard doesn’t want person X to speak there and another faction does, that’s a Harvard issue, not a constitutional issue. That people completely unaffiliated with Harvard care so much about Harvard internal issues makes me suspicious of their motives for complaining.

        Obviously, violence is illegal and should be treated as such. But a university has a right to decide not to have someone speak, even if they’ve already extended an invitation. (I think it’s wrong and possibly unethical, in some cases, but it’s not illegal or unconstitutional.)

        Once you start getting into actual contracts, I think the situation is different. The woman whose admission was withdrawn *after* she’d accepted, and Sulaita (sp?) seems like examples of contract violations to me, which is different. At that point you’re getting into legal obligations and real-world harms.

      2. B.I.: I’m not “unaffiliated” with Yale. Or Berkeley. Why don’t you tell us which universities you are “affiliated” with, and refrain from “suspicious” comments on all others?

        Note that MH says that I obsess about Yale, which is just an isolated case. B.I. says it’s suspicious if I comment about another university. That’s why I don’t take their comments seriously.

      3. I mean, I can interpret your obsession with Harvard as a way to deflect from the fact that your party elected a mentally-impaired white nationalist who is actively courting nuclear war with North Korea, or I can assume what happens at Harvard genuinely keeps you up at night.

    2. I’m not sure what the “public sphere” means. Universities like Yale or Middlebury are not government institutions subject to the First Amendment. However, they purport to be liberal institutions which value free expression and diversity of opinion. Obviously, a private institution could have a rule that only Christian groups may invite guest speakers, or only Democratic groups, or the like, but it would not then be a liberal institution, nor could it claim to value free expression.

      1. Universities also value rigor, discernment, and intelligence. They do not invite David Irving or Lyndon Larouche or the guy ranting on the street corner who compares circumcision to alien abduction. There is *nothing* about free expression or diversity of opinion that says you have to tolerate any and all thought, no matter how stupid, discredited, and morally bankrupt. Harvard could invite OJ Simpson to give its commencement speech. They could invite David Duke as a Kennedy Fellow. They could skype in Anders Breveik to teach a course in modern 20th century literature, or give an honorary doctorate to Putin. They *don’t*, because they value their scholarly and general reputation among peers, and they try to avoid giving honors to obviously undeserving people. We can argue if they give honors to the right people (I don’t think they do), but there is simply zero argument that anyone person deserves an honor from Harvard and being denied that opportunity is a violation of constitutional rights.

      2. As someone who complains about falling standards, I’d assume you’d care about academic rigor, and I’d assume you’d prefer people whose work is intellectual garbage not be honored by a university. If you’re more than happy with openly idiotic work as long as it’s done by a white man, then I’d assume your problem with hiring diverse faculty actually isn’t in the quality of their work, and you’re using “rigor” as a fig leaf.

  2. Free speech doesn’t mean the right to not have your speech challenged.

    This is what I’ve found to be so annoying about rightwing free speech advocates when I interact with them on a one-on-one basis. Usually what they mean by “free speech” is “I get to be an enormous asshole and you have to sit and take it without questioning me.”

    1. I guess given the contents of the story it would have been in poor taste to make a joke, but I have to say I’m disappointed by the headline.

      1. Tulip said:

        “Because when I had posted on him before I was told that sending him to prison would not accomplish anything.”

        I don’t know if people remember this, but in Weiner’s first or one of his first go-rounds with getting caught, there was another young girl among the people he was sexting. I forget what the circumstances of that were, but there was probably some deniability (and I think the girl and her family did not wish to become involved), so that aspect never went big.

        It looks like less and less like an accident that he finds himself perving on underage girls.

  3. If I ask my sister to give a toast at my wedding, and then the night before we have a falling out and I tell her she’s no longer welcome to give at toast, it is not a “free speech” issue.

    If it turned out she had an affair with my cousin’s husband, and in the middle of her speech my cousin stands up and calls her a floozy, it is not a free speech issue. If my cousin marches out in the middle of the speech, or holds up a sign that says my sister slept with her husband, or pickets the speech, it is not a violation of my sister’s right to free speech. My sister does not have a constitutional right to give my wedding toast with a polite and quiet audience.

  4. Tomorrow night my department is sponsoring a relatively major lecture, which if I am very, very lucky will bring in about 150-200 people. I’ve spent at least 40-50 hours over the last year planning the thing, from contract to advertising to reception planning to run-up events to writing my introduction to figuring out who should be photographed with whom, with the help of a highly capable admin who has spent at least that much time (and dealt with various less capable people). The lecturer is handling his own travel and has been very organized and cooperative, and I think will do a great job. But there’s still the possibility that there will be 40 people, half of whom are students who are there for extra credit and have to be hissed at not to text, and we will unable to get the powerpoint to work on his computer or either of the two backup computers I plan to have there. Or his car breaks down on the drive.

    I’m too tired to even formulate my point, but it’s something like, hosting a lecturer is a miserable experience even in the best of circumstances, so why would a university do this in the worst of them?

    1. I don’t understand why everyone is so willing to believe the worst when it comes to speech on campus and so unwilling to believe that rape and racism are common on campus.

      1. Wendy said:

        “I don’t understand why everyone is so willing to believe the worst when it comes to speech on campus and so unwilling to believe that rape and racism are common on campus.”

        Well, the speech stuff is naked-eye visible. People are literally breaking windows and burning stuff down to prevent speakers from speaking, not to mention pepper-spraying and sucker punching bystanders.

        http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/01/us/milo-yiannopoulos-berkeley/index.html

        But yeah, I’m completely willing to believe that a guy who would pepper spray a bystander while hiding behind a mask would also be capable of rape or racial violence–a person who lacks inhibitions about violence and has a feeling of impunity caused by anonymity is likely to be violent wherever they can get away with it.

      2. “People are literally breaking windows and burning stuff down to prevent speakers from speaking, not to mention pepper-spraying and sucker punching bystanders.”

        That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The Milo thing is Milo-related. It’s Berkeley. It’s an extreme situation of the biggest alt-right asshole deliberately provoking the university with the most extreme history of left-wing activism. Yet now Free Speech is at risk at ALL college campuses.

        Meanwhile, on a random Collegetown street in Ithaca, a random black student gets beaten up by a random white student who is also calling him the n-word, but it’s #NotAllColleges.

      3. MH said:

        “Like this guy?”

        Yeah, like that guy, although there are circumstances where pepper spray or tear gas could be used appropriately and lawfully, either by police or by citizens acting in self-defense against attackers.

        But yeah, I would not expect a lot of sexual self-control or respect for other people’s personal physical boundaries from a person who goes around randomly pepper spraying bystanders. The young woman in my clip was certainly not “enthusiastically consenting” to being pepper sprayed in the face.

        I have to say that there’s not unlikely to be some misogyny in play when a lefty guy physically attacks a righty woman. In fact, I would suggest that these physical altercations can be an opportunity for a lefty guy to indulge forbidden urges to physically hurt women.

      4. Wendy said:

        “That’s a perfect example of what I’m talking about. The Milo thing is Milo-related. It’s Berkeley. It’s an extreme situation of the biggest alt-right asshole deliberately provoking the university with the most extreme history of left-wing activism. Yet now Free Speech is at risk at ALL college campuses.”

        “Meanwhile, on a random Collegetown street in Ithaca, a random black student gets beaten up by a random white student who is also calling him the n-word, but it’s #NotAllColleges.”

        Those two things are qualitatively and quantitatively different because the Ithaca story involves at most one perpetrator, rather than a large group of perpetrators acting in concert.

        However, I think you are correct that it’s definitely #NotAllColleges. It’s a handful of colleges that come up over and over again, like Middlebury (where Charles Murray and a liberal colleague were physically attacked this spring).

        http://reason.com/blog/2017/09/18/middlebury-college-will-cancel-speakers

        http://www.middlebury.edu/offices/business/scheduling/scheduling_policies

        “In those exceptional cases where this review indicates significant risk to the community, the president and senior administration will work with event sponsors to determine measures to maximize safety and mitigate risk. Only in cases of imminent and credible threat to the community that cannot be mitigated by revisions to the event plan would the president and senior administration consider canceling the event.”

        I skimmed the Middlebury policy and while I can see that it should be possible to cancel events under extraordinary conditions, at the same time, one doesn’t want to give the impression that all one has to do is act badly enough, and one’s political enemies will be banished from appearing on campus.

        On a lighter note!

        1. This came up when I was looking for Middlebury news:

        https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/college-game-plan/middlebury-college-bans-energy-drinks-linking-use-alcohol-sex-n526576

        Middlebury at least tried to ban Red Bull in 2016.

        2. I heard an amusing story from my husband on the way to lunch, related to the subject of #NotAllColleges. A new colleague recently walked into a classroom and found it full of an intimidating group wearing orange headbands. “Is this a safe space?” a member of the group asked.

        My husband’s colleague was unsure of what a safe answer was, but happily, it turned out that the group consisted honors students involved in a Nerf zombie battle, and they wanted to know if the classroom was a no-fire zone. What a relief! He told them he didn’t want any shooting in his classroom.

        So, it seems that “safe space” has completely different meaning in different contexts.

      5. Those two things are qualitatively and quantitatively different because the Ithaca story involves at most one perpetrator, rather than a large group of perpetrators acting in concert.

        Really? There’s no actual long, continuous history in which a white person attacking a black person is part of a larger whole bunch of racism?

        When it comes to violence against black people by white people, we’re supposed to pretend we all just popped into the fucking world as newborn babes in an untouched world without a past but the left wing has to be defined by whichever twenty-year decides to behave badly that week.

        This is why I always say the real problem with BLM and the like is that it makes white people sad.

      6. People who call up senior citizens and say they are from Microsoft could they please have your SSN and passwords to fix your computer have a form of moral reasoning less self-interested than that.

      7. FTR, the Ithaca story did involve a group of men beating up the victim.

        “As a group of four or five white men began to leave the driveway area of the student’s residence, the student said, they repeatedly shouted expletives and racial slurs at him.

        “They said ‘Fuck you, n—-r,’ over and over, as they were leaving,” he said.

        When the junior confronted them, “four or five of the guys came up and started punching me in the face repeatedly,” he said.”

        Just the one guy was arrested. I’m not sure why. Cornell is treating this as not a one-student problem.

    1. And good on him! Football deserves to die. What we told our #1, when he asked us when he could play football: “After you turn 18 and we can’t stop you”

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