Free Expression and Self-Censorship on Campus

Yves here. Rajiv Sethi wades into the overheated debate on “free expression” (as opposed to the related “free speech” which protection from government restriction on speech, which BTW is subject to some carveouts). Even though Sethi is normally measured, this strikes me as a (not surprisingly) carefully formulated piece.

For a refreshingly blunt contrast, see Stop Demanding Dumb Answers To Hard Questions: Demanding Short, Dumb Answers About Hate Speech Makes You A Useful Idiot For Bigots by Ken White, referred by Paul R.

By Rajiv Sethi, Professor of Economics at Barnard College, Columbia University. Originally published at his website

This is a challenging an perilous time for leaders of American universities. But along with the challenges come opportunities, and wise decisions made at this juncture can build and solidify reputations.

Here, for example, is David Lat writing in his newsletter in March 2023, months before the current crisis:

In the world of campus free-speech issues, certain pronouncements have acquired canonical status. There’s the Kalven Report (1967). The Woodward Report (1974). The Chicago Principles (2014).

And now we have a new addition to their august ranks: the Martinez Memo (2023). This is what leadership looks like.

Jenny Martinez was Dean of Stanford Law when she issued the ten-page memo referenced by David. She has since been appointed provost of the University, and in collaboration with Stanford’s new president Richard Saller, has issued a statement that makes a clear and concise case for institutional neutrality.1

Neutrality (in the context of higher education) refers to the principle that universities should “generally refrain from taking institutional positions on complex political or global matters that extend beyond… the operations of the university itself.” This was the central message of the Kalven Report, which the Saller-Martinez statement (implicitly) endorses, and on which it builds.

The Kalven Report is admirably brief, and its core claims are contained in the following extract (emphasis added):2

The mission of the university is the discovery, improvement, and dissemination of knowledge. Its domain of inquiry and scrutiny includes all aspects and all values of society. A university faithful to its mission will provide enduring challenges to social values, policies, practices, and institutions. By design and by effect, it is the institution which creates discontent with the existing social arrangements and proposes new ones. In brief, a good university, like Socrates, will be upsetting.

The instrument of dissent and criticism is the individual faculty member or the individual student. The university is the home and sponsor of critics; it is not itself the critic… if it is to be true to its faith in intellectual inquiry, [it] must embrace, be hospitable to, and encourage the widest diversity of views within its own community… [it] cannot take collective action on the issues of the day without endangering the conditions for its existence and effectiveness…

The neutrality of the university as an institution arises then not from a lack of courage nor out of indifference and insensitivity. It arises out of respect for free inquiry and the obligation to cherish a diversity of viewpoints. And this neutrality as an institution has its complement in the fullest freedom for its faculty and students as individuals to participate in political action and social protest. It finds its complement, too, in the obligation of the university to provide a forum for the most searching and candid discussion of public issues.

The Saller-Martinez statement adds an interesting twist to the Kalven reasoning, and this relates to the interpretation of silence (emphasis added):

In recent years, many universities have gotten into the habit of issuing frequent statements about news events. This creates a number of difficulties. The decision to take a position about one event or issue yields implications for silence with regard to other issues; given that different subsets of a campus community may be more or less affected by particular issues, this inconsistency is felt acutely. It can enmesh universities in politics and create a sense of institutional orthodoxy that chills academic freedom. In addition, crafting each message is challenging, from gathering facts and context on complex issues at the speed of online media and the news cycle while also walking a line between platitudes and overly political positions.

Over the past couple of months this challenge of crafting messages has led to repeated updates and clarifications, with each new declaration igniting more fires than it extinguishes.

While the Kalven report addresses institutional neutrality, the Chicago Principles are concerned with the freedom of to take public positions on controversial issues without fear of official sanction (emphasis added):3

Because the University is committed to free and open inquiry in all matters, it guarantees all members of the University community the broadest possible latitude to speak, write, listen, challenge, and learn… it is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive. Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.

The freedom to debate and discuss the merits of competing ideas does not, of course, mean that individuals may say whatever they wish, wherever they wish. The University may restrict expression that violates the law, that falsely defames a specific individual, that constitutes a genuine threat or harassment, that unjustifiably invades substantial privacy or confidentiality interests, or that is otherwise directly incompatible with the functioning of the University. In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University. But these are narrow exceptions to the general principle of freedom of expression, and it is vitally important that these exceptions never be used in a manner that is inconsistent with the University’s commitment to a completely free and open discussion of ideas.

In a word, the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission.

As a corollary to the University’s commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

This last quoted paragraph addresses the so-called heckler’s veto, which is the central concern in the Martinez memo. Recall that Jenny Martinez was the Dean of Stanford Law at the time, and the language and focus of the document reflects this:

Law is a mediating device for difference. It therefore reflects all the heat of controversy, all the pain and suffering, and all the deeply felt moral urgency of our differences in position, power, and cherished principles. Knowing all of this, I believe we cannot function as a law school from the premise… that speakers, texts, or ideas believed by some to be harmful inflict a new impermissible harm justifying a heckler’s veto simply because they are present on this campus, raised in legally protected speech, and made an object of inquiry. Naming perceived harm, exploring it, and debating solutions with people who disagree about the nature and fact of the harm or the correct solutions are the very essence of legal work. Lively, candid, civil, and evidence-based discourse in disagreement is not just positive for our community, constituted as it is in difference, it is a professional duty.

Many institutions (including my own) are now contemplating wholesale adoption of the Kalven Report and the Chicago Principles. Some critics allege that doing so at this precise moment—when every public statement seems to be creating and compounding problems—is an opportunistic attempt to avoid trouble. Even if that is the case, however, I feel that this criticism is wrong-headed. A public commitment to institutional neutrality is not easily reversed, even if the temptation arises in the future.

That said, adoption of the Kalven Report and the Chicago Principles will do little to promote the thriving and fearless intellectual discourse that these documents sought to engender. A much deeper and more intractable problem is that of self-censorship, which is only tangentially related to university neutrality and a commitment to free expression.

Self-censorship arises because one is concerned with one’s reputation. A key factor giving rise to it is what Glenn Loury called the ad hominem inference in a paperpublished three decades ago.4 When making any public statement, we convey more than its literal meaning. We also communicate something about our values and commitments. And the inferences people make about our character depend, in part, on the values and commitments of others making similar statements. If all those making anti-Zionist statements are thought to be anti-Semitic, while those making pro-Zionist statements are thought to be anti-Arab racists, then these beliefs will become self-fulfilling prophecies. Only those who are comfortable being viewed in this way will continue to speak; the rest will remain silent. Nuanced discussion of pressing public policy issues will evaporate, and we will be left with little more than slogans and ad hominem attacks.

There is little that university neutrality and commitments to free expression can do to interrupt this dynamic. Something more is required. For a start, it is necessary to get some understanding of the range of unexpressed opinion. This can only be done through mechanisms that are credibly anonymous. If it is found that the gulf between expressed opinion and held opinion is large, institutions have to find a way of narrowing it. And if it is small, reflecting an absence of viewpoint diversity, the problem is even more daunting.

Our great universities have come under withering criticism recently, but they remain the envy of the world, and have survived serious challenges before. They will adapt. But it won’t happen overnight, and it will require much more than an adoption of principles and a declaration of commitments.

1 It would not surprise me in the least if Jenny Martinez were named the next president of Penn, if she has any interest at all in the position.

2 It is worth noting that the Kalven committee of seven included the eminent historian John Hope Franklin, a graduate of Fisk and a professor at Howard before being recruited by Chicago in 1964. Like the mathematician David Blackwell, whose influence on economics has been profound and enduring, he entered academia at a time when few faculty positions outside of HBCUs were open to African Americans. Blackwell and Franklin overlapped at Howard for many years, though I don’t know whether they interacted with any frequency.

3 Among the authors of the Chicago Principles is the economist Marianne Bertrand, perhaps best known to those outside her discipline as an author of the pioneering resume study. One of my earliest posts (long before Substack existed) discussed a working paper version of that paper.

4 Glenn and I discussed this paper at length on an episode of his podcast back in 2014, in the wake of a previous war between Israel and Hamas. Notice how much technology has changed in less than a decade—we had to record audio and video in separate files which were later merged, and Glenn is holding the receiver of a landline phone.

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  1. DJG, Reality Czar

    Hmm. Neither this post by Rajiv Sethi nor the linked post at Popehat by Ken White mentions the treatment of Matt Taibbi (in particular) and Michael Shellenberger in similar hearings before the House.

    Anyone concerned with civil rights and civil liberties, rather than just the reputation of “great” universities and their commitment to endless upper-middle-class “dialogue,” would note that Congress is now engaged in new House UnAmerican Activities Committee behavior.

    Yes, punkinheads, it is Scoundrel Time.

    Let us not forget the Lavender Scare, which is one more basis of current behavior:

    I happened to watch a few minutes of Elisa Stefanik’s questioning. Magill, the now-former president of Penn, was indeed clueless and maintained a strange half-smile, which made her seem even less serious. I didn’t wait around for Stefanik’s questioning of Claudine Gay–I have witnessed plenty of untoward upper-class white-lady behavior around black women, and I think that Stefanik engaged in that.

    And then there is defender of civil rights and civil liberties, Foxx
    ‘Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), the chair of the panel, told the presidents that “institutional antisemitism and hate are among the poisoned fruits of your institutions’ cultures.”’

    Poisoned fruits? Hmmm. Sounds Lavender Scare-ish.

    But what Stefanik reminded me of most was the questioning by Debbie “Unindicted Co-conspirator” Wasserman-Schulz of Matt Taibbi, the same finger wagging, “yes or no” questions about free speech–and in Matt Taibbi’s case, Debbie’s very obvious attempts to justify the abuses of the First Amendment that he had uncovered. I was reminded of Epstein-Adjacent Non-Voting Delegate Stacey Plaskett and that so-called journalist line.

    This is McCarthyism and HUAC all over again.

    You can split hairs all you want, punkinheads, but the First Amendment’s history includes protecting some fairly odious people. Brandenburg case (Nazis and KKK). Near in Near v. Minnesota was an anti-semite, if I recall. The ACLU and the threatened Nazi march into Skokie.

    The endless wars have indeed come home. The wars in Russia and Palestine, as well as the sore losers Clinton and Trump, are all being exploited by the powerful to wreck free expression. The Senate just voted to keep U.S. forces in Syria, fer fook’s sake.

    What is to be done? Let’s not have a debate here in the comments section about voting for the lesser of two evils.

    At this point, Jill Stein and Cornel West and even RFKJr are looking damn good compared to endless Stefaniks and Plasketts.

    Because people have to work together to end Scoundrel Time.

    1. Bsn

      Keep in mind that presidents and deans of universities are most often hired for their ability to raise funds, not for their intellectual acumen.

    2. Vicky Cookies

      What is to be done, indeed? Lenin asked this long-form in 1902, of a substantially more informed, involved, organized – in short, more capable public and movement.

      H.G. Wells, in ‘The Fate of Homo Sapiens’ (1939) anticipates with often uncanny accuracy the manifestations of the social decay so crippling to political action. In its’ conclusion, exploring what society may look like if massive public education and re-orientation of action was not implemented, he writes:

      “A few secret doubters may exist, bookish, silent, hinting and whispering men -men, for a more “wholesome” use for womankind will leave women little time for reading – who will pore guiltily over the unfulfilled promises of a golden age to come, in the old books which men wrote when they still had pride and hope.”

      Now, I don’t take this as gospel – contrary to his prediction, women have more success in college than men – but many of his thoughts must be faced. I agree with him, for example, and not with Lenin, that what is needed is not vanguardist revolution, but serious public education, so that the NC comments section and similar bubbles don’t become just ‘secret doubters’, ‘bookish’, &c.

      Dr. West’s candidacy represents a tremendous opportunity for this. Yes, it’s an educational campaign, but the ripples from mainstreaming almost any of the causes he champions could be immense; they are, anyway worth trying. I’ve volunteered for the man on, now, three tickets, so I truly hope he gets some organization together.

  2. David in Friday Harbor

    This story has been the very first thing you see on the FailingNYTimes browser for days. No reporting on the thousands of children killed by American-made and paid-for bombs launched by Israelis carrying out the genocidal policies of their government. “Absolute dupes” as Ken White points out, since Democrats suck.

    As a Jewish-convert friend much smarter than me pointed out the other day, the only people currently calling for the genocide of the Jews are evangelical “Christian Zionists” following the false prophecy of Revelation, who think they will rapture up to heaven when all returning Jews who fail to convert to Christianity will be cast into a pit of fire. Charming…

    1. Vicky Cookies

      The other day, an article in the NYT, emblematic of its coverage of the genocide, described a family of American Jews discomforted by their liberal daughter’s opinion. Front page, and another half a page, complete with big pictures. “Another layer of pain”, one family member says regarding the fact that this young woman disagreed with her parents (American professors who moved to Israel) and wanted the terror-bombing of Gaza to stop. “Pain”? Elsewhere – not in the Times – we can read about people being made to have emergency surgeries performed on them without anesthetic, because the occupation is blocking supply, when they have access to a hospital which has not yet been bombed; that is pain.

      If I could stomach it, I’d go through the Times from Oct. 7th on and measure column inches dedicated to the (largely irrational) fears and feelings of American zionist Jews and Israelis as compared to those given to the material sufferings of Palestinians. It’s a large reason, I’d say, why rational discussion of the topic is difficult with the NYT/NPR liberal crowd.

      The NYT and PMC media generally have set the tone, and the terms, so that one has to first denounce (in the strongest possible terms!) Hamas, and say that Israel (whose borders, apparently, are the river and the sea, and not those set in 1967) has a right to ‘exist’ and to ‘defend’ itself before you can say what a shame it is that so many children are being killed. A recent, deplorable op-ed by failed politician Nicholas Kristof is an excellent example worth close reading.

      Proves Chomsky’s model, I think.

  3. Carolinian

    Universities were major incubators of the Vietnam protests and perhaps the result was a kind of “Powell memo” effect where the wealthy establishment decided they had to use their money to gain control of academia. In my town textile tycoon Roger Milliken gave money to a local college while insisting that all faculty members get a subscription to National Review. Then of course there’s the “Chicago school” which has done so much harm to our economics.

    One hopes per the above that this front in our class war does not go to the plutocrats but given that our leading universities are gateways to that same plutocracy this hope may be naive.

    1. Geof

      The university educated were more likely to support the Vietnam War, according to Jeff Schmidt in Disciplined Minds:

      On 15 February 1970 the New York Times reported the results of a Gallup poll on the war in Vietnam. . . . those with the most schooling were the most reluctant to criticize the government’s stand in Vietnam. There was a simple correlation (although only in part a cause-aud-effect relationship): The further people had gone before leaving school, the less likely they were to break with the government over the war.

      . . . Gallup’s survey . . .asked people whether they would favor or oppose the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Vietnam.

      Age didn’t affect the answers much. The ratio of those in favor to those opposed was about the same for young adults as it was for older people. But dramatic differences appeared according to formal education. Those with college educations opposed immediate withdrawal by more than two to one, whereas those not formally schooled beyond the elementary grades were evenly divided on the question. And high school graduates were in between.

      . . . In a study . . . sponsored by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, researchers found college graduates to be “more supportive, or ‘hawkish,’ than the rest of the population.” Even in 1968, a year of rising antiwar sentiment and militant actions against the war, people who had been to college remained less likely than others to criticize the U.S. intervention in Vietnam, the Carnegie study found.

      Of course some university students did protest the war:

      those who called for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops were seen as radicals—as critics of a lot more than the war. This explains, in part, the disparity between opposition and activism— why many opponents of the war didn’t speak out publicly. More students than workers were antiwar activists, even though workers who had antiwar sentiments far outnumbered students of all persuasions. Workers organizing publicly to get the United States out of Vietnam risked a lot more—namely, their jobs

      The university where I went to graduate school gained a reputation for being radical soon after it was formed, when it hired radical professors. Soon after, there was a faculty strike. The university responded by firing many of the faculty. Decades later the university administration still boasts of being a radical campus.

      Universities love to market themselves as radical critics of the establishment, in much the same way that advertising campaign claim that consuming their product makes one stand out as unique (just like everyone else – “think different!”). It’s a contradiction in terms: universities are the establishment. Their core function is to reproduce the ruling class.

      At best, universities function like the island in Brave New World where destabilizing freethinkers are isolated from the sedated wider society; their ideas are then captured and harnessed to the existing order. Or as Lampedusa put it in The Leopard (frequently quoted here on NC), “Everything must change so that everything can stay the same.” Herbert Marcuse knew whereof he spoke when he talked about repressive desublimation.

      Universities may occasionally generate genuinely radical ideas and movements, but one must remember that they and the class they produce are essentially conservative. Wokeness is a current example of this: apparent radicalism that serves to divert and block challenges to the ruling class. How could it be otherwise when the major institutions from universities to the CIA to finance are part of (in a most felicitous phrase I recently encountered) the “woke establishment”?

      Of course free speech and expression are important. I don’t for a moment buy the cynical claim that they are “the master’s tools.” If one has the power to censor, one already has power, period. I just don’t buy take the establishment’s boasts at face value.

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for the very thoughtful reply. Of course I agree with you totally that especially the elite American universities have become upper class finishing schools in the great Oxbridge English tradition. But worldwide and historically there seems to be a trend where repressive governments will go to battle with students and your description of the current college world may have been a bit less true back in the 1960s.

  4. Joe Well

    Based on this, I can’t infer whether the neutral university would divest from and stop buying from bad businesses, or continue to finance evil. That is, when the university’s actual actions are at stake rather than just issuing statements.

    I guess part of the problem is that universities are such huge economic actors, not just the stage for debate.

  5. pjay

    This is, indeed, a “carefully formulated” discussion. Nice words, solid reflection on principles. But as usual in such pieces, something is missing. At the risk of over-simplifying, I’ll refer to the missing elephant in the room as the reality of *power*. In our society power mainly reflects *money*. Money talks; principles walk. Since wealth has been rapidly concentrating at the top, billionaires call the shots pretty much everywhere today. So if a couple of billionaires, say, “have one issue, and that issue is Israel,” they can shape foreign policy, as they did in Trump’s administration. They can shape what’s published in the media. And they can shape “free speech” policies on college campuses, as this example so clearly demonstrates. This is nothing new; wealthy donors have been influencing higher education forever. But as large universities have increasingly become extensions of the private sector, I think the principles discussed in this piece have become ever weaker.

    There are other elements of power missing in this discussion. For one thing, the despicable McCarthyist demonstration by Stafanik and her fellow witch-hunters of course had nothing to do with protecting Jewish students from anti-Semitism. As Ken White’s essay (cited by Yves above) makes clear, that was just an exercise in cynical right-wing demagoguery. NC readers know that, but this should become part of the discussion. Also increasingly problematic in any political discussion today is the little matter of *truth* – that is, are the *facts* being put forth by one side or the other accurate? Here even White is not so useful; he says there is “absolutely no doubt” in his mind that anti-Semitism is on the rise in this country. Well, there is doubt in my mind. Can we provide accurate data on this question? Is it a matter of certain groups feeling more uncomfortable? In the case of the Congressional farce, are demonstrations *against* genocide actually calls *for* the genocide of the Jews? What definitions and actions are we using to determine this? Etc. My own biased view is not, as the University Presidents (and this essay) seem to imply, that “free speech” means protecting ideas we might hate ourselves; rather, it is that Stafanik and her cohorts and the very powerful Israel lobby and the pro-Israel billionaires threatening to withdraw their millions from Ivy League campuses are *lying*. Oh, and the Israel Lobby itself, with its demonstrated power to smear, damage careers, and threaten the future prospects of students – not to mention drive Congressional action – is also a pretty significant missing element in this discussion.

    Much more to say, but this topic is just way too frustrating, and important, for the discussion to remain at the level of “high principle.”

  6. JustTheFacts

    If anything is demonstrated by the suffering in that part of the Middle East, it is that new thinking is needed, since the status-quo is intolerable. That in turn requires the ability to understand each side’s perspectives and grievances, which requires free speech, in particular in the places set up to be environments where only the fittest ideas can survive. Those preventing free speech are in effect that they do not want new solutions, but want to continue on their chosen path of repressing and/or eliminating the other side.

    It is deeply depressing how few people truly believe in the Western value of free speech encoded in the American first amendment, particularly those in power who are either tasked with defending it, or have most benefited from its fruits. It seems to only be a cudgel to brandish against one’s opponents. The very same people who were defending it against the wokes and cancel culture are now arguing against it and pushing for people to be fired now that their beliefs are at stake (e.g.) . It is bizarre that in a world in which more than half of us are only alive because of scientific discoveries (such as the “green revolution”), free-speech which is essential for scientific discoveries to be possible (since by definition they go against the status-quo), is held in such disregard.

    And when it comes to students, the demands to further restrict “codes of conduct” also demonstrates a remarkable lack of empathy towards a young somewhat molly-coddled generation which has been told it lives in a society that values every life, yet constantly sees the corpses of children buried in rubble on their mobile devices, not as the result of a natural disaster but because of human choices. Previous Western generations did not have to deal with this intensity or quantity of evidence proving the double standards or hypocrisy of so many institutions they were told to respect. This, and the resulting cognitive dissonance, can only diminish trust, which is the fabric of civilization.

    Nikki Haley, during the last GOP debate, seemed to think the solution is to censor social media better, in other words to get our cake (a youth that believes in the values we seek to inculcate in them) and eat it too (get support from the weapons merchants). It seems to me that a better policy would be honesty, and if we believe in the virtuous values we claim, to demonstrate it through our behavior.

  7. Feral Finster

    I find it rich that some random person expressing an antisemitic opinion and thus making a Jewish person feel unsafe is worse than what Israel and its American sponsor do to make people actually unsafe.

    I realize that the Jewish person is likely a white person living in a western country and therefore his feelings are a higher priority (even though he shouldn’t be made to feel unsafe, granted) than the actual physical existence of brown people somewhere, but still, it somehow feels “off” somehow.

    It’s like equating some random and understandably angry American Jew in 1945 calling for Germany to be razed to the ground with the machinery of The Holocaust.

  8. Grumpy Engineer

    I think the idea of a “neutral university” (per the definition in the Kalven report) is a good idea for the same reasons that I think the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United v FEC” was a bad decision. Universities aren’t people, just like corporations aren’t people. They are both instead large organizations populated by a large number of people who have can have widely varying opinions on various issues.

    So when a corporation or university “makes a statement” or otherwise expresses a belief, they’re actually expressing the opinions of a handful of upper-level managers or administrators who’ve decided to speak out about an issue. These individuals are often far removed from the details of day-to-day operations, and it’s almost certain that they didn’t consult the rest of the organization about the statements. [Did “the corporation” consult with employees, customers, and shareholders about the statement? Did “the university” consult with faculty, staff, students, and the parents/taxpayers who help fund operations about the statement? I somehow doubt it.]

    The net result is that a few upper-level people get to use corporate or university resources as their own personal megaphone, and everybody else is expected to toe the line. So while I have some sympathy for the university presidents who were recently subjected to Congressional interrogation (permitting protests against Israel was the right thing to do), it’s rather limited. After all, they’ve proven remarkably intolerant of “free expression” on other subjects, like with systemic racism, pronoun use, biological males in women’s athletics, etc. A guy named Philip Fry collected over 300 examples of people getting “canceled” because they offended somebody with some minor act or statement (, and over half of his examples are from academia.

    So IMO, universities need to make a decision. Will they embrace protest culture and let statements fly free and loose, or will they adopt the “coddling” mindset and protect people from opinions that might cause offense or upset? Whatever level of free expression they permit, the same rules should apply to everybody.

  9. H. Alexander Ivey

    Let me see: I’m supposed to have sympathy for 3 privileged women with solid careers being badgered by a 4th privileged woman? Oh, yeah, because our (US) universities are the best of the best and serve an undisputed role of prepping our future leaders. At a price and intake available to all citizens.

    Ah, hahaha. Yeah, right!

    The real play, from the Politico website:

    It settled a personal score the congresswoman had with her alma mater, which had all but disowned her in the wake of Jan. 6.

    Back then, in 2021, the dean of Harvard University’s school of government said the New York congresswoman’s comments about voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election had “no basis in evidence,” and the Harvard Institute of Politics removed Stefanik from its senior advisory committee.

    Be ready for more campus unrest, as a blogger on substack has noted – Israel’s Gaza actions have made it cool to be anti-establishment again. And as a person who was there at the last anti-establish period (the sixties), expect sit-ins, tear gas and riots when the weather gets better.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You should care. This is a ridiculous use of a Congressional hearing. If anyone can be abused, we all can be abused. You should be concerned about abuse of process at any level.

  10. Steve M

    This is where the Chicago Principles lost me:
    “In addition, the University may reasonably regulate the time, place, and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt the ordinary activities of the University.”

    Protest is one of the ordinary activities of a university. Disruption is part of the process of protest.

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