Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Claiming “Free Speech” as an Excuse to Censor
Higher education’s suppression of speech is well-publicized. But in an odder and less well-known twist, campuses are increasingly co-opting the language of free speech and using it to justify censorship. One example: The designated “free speech zones” that exist on roughly 1 in 10 U.S. college campuses, according to a report released last month by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.The writer, Jillian Kay Melchior, is an Political Editor at Heat Street, which does an excellent job of reporting on censorship on college campuses.
The very existence of a “free speech zone” suggests that students’ expression is limited elsewhere on campus. And even in the “free” zones, administrators often restrict who can speak, when and for how long.
Dozens of universities have also used the language of free speech to justify trendy “Language Matters” or “Inclusive Language” campaigns. The point of these programs is to condition students to wince away from words and phrases deemed offensive, instead using politically correct substitutes.
Among the campaigns’ common targets are “hey guys” and “man up” (too gendered), as well as “crazy” (inconsiderate of people with mental illness) and “lame” (disrespectful to the disabled). Ironically—and insidiously—these “inclusive” language campaigns seek to exclude opposing political or cultural viewpoints. It’s an attempt to ban not only words but also thoughts.
The University of Northern Colorado’s “Language Matters” campaign last year warned students not to say “All lives matter.” The dean of students, Katrina Rodriguez, defended the program in an email last June to Heat Street, where I am political editor, saying it was “about being mindful about how words can affect others and the conversations provide an opportunity for individuals to understand why particular language may be hurtful to someone else in our community of learners.”
She continued: “We believe that fostering dialogue on a college campus so that multiple perspectives are explored and debated is the essence of free speech.”
The inclusive-language campaigns at the University of Wisconsin’s campuses in Milwaukee and River Falls have also discouraged students from saying “illegal immigrant” or “illegal alien,” because either term “fixates on legal status instead of people as individuals” and “asserts that only certain groups belong in the U.S.”
UW-Milwaukee even included “politically correct” on its list of disfavored terms, arguing that it “has become a way to deflect, say that people are being too ‘sensitive’ and police language.”
Which brings us to the warped idea that by suppressing “dominant” voices, universities actually further free speech. Katherine Kvellestad, a University of Pennsylvania student, recently used a version of this argument to defend students who wanted a portrait of Shakespeare removed from the English department. The students also pushed for an English curriculum with fewer white, male writers.
“I think, in a way, the whole PC culture idea can almost promote free speech because there are a lot of people who have been marginalized in the past,” Ms. Kvellestad told Heat Street during a phone interview in December. “So it’s kind of free speech in a different sense, that we’re giving credence and voices to voices that we were not hearing.”
One of Ms. Kvellestad’s fellow Penn students made a related argument in a Jan. 11 op-ed in the student newspaper, claiming that his white professors’ refusal to censor class content had hindered his ability to learn. Sophomore James Fisher described how one Penn professor showed depictions of slavery and let students make comments Mr. Fisher considered “ignorant.” He told the professor that “what he was doing was traumatic to me . . . [so] I would not allow him to continue.”
The professor, Mr. Fisher wrote, “then used the argument that, in order to make the class a ‘safe space,’ he had to protect the voice of all students in class. . . . So, because my professor wanted to protect the voices of the white students who benefit from black oppression, the oppression unfortunately continued.”
In “Politics and the English Language,” George Orwell describes how the misuse of language can lead to messy thinking—and how, even worse, intentionally imprecise language can soften or obscure abhorrent ideas. He anticipated a world in which administrators, professors and students demand the right to act as censors even as they claim to venerate the right to unrestricted expression.
Monday, January 30, 2017
Marquette Bureaucrats Conspire to Undermine Ben Shapiro Speech, Encourage Fraud
Of course campus leftists don’t like the fact that conservative Ben Shapiro is speaking on campus. But how far are they willing to go to undermine him?
And are Marquette officials willing to conspire to encourage fraudulent activity to undermine him? The answer is “yes.”
A leftist staffer from Marquette’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies found out about Shapiro’s talk, and phoned “one of the directors of diversity on campus.” She was told to reserve a seat online, and then not go to the talk, in order to “take a seat away from someone who actually would go.”
The same staffer responded to a comment by Susannah Bartlow (who was fired in 2015 from her Marquette job for approving a mural honoring a black militant cop killer in a Marquette office), noting that someone who is not a student could register as a student and take a seat from somebody who might want to come since “they can’t tell, quite honestly.”
Marquette’s MotivationOne might at least credit Marquette for allowing Shapiro to speak (but how much “credit” should a university get for allowing free speech on campus?), but in fact the Facebook post asserts that Marquette let him speak “because of the backlash DePaul University had with not allowing it.”
In other words, Marquette bureaucrats, in their hearts of hearts, would have liked to forbid Shapiro speaking, but were worried about the “backlash.” Simply wanting diverse opinions to be heard was not something they much cared about.
Young Americans for FreedomYoung Americans for Freedom, the student group sponsoring the event, knew about this last Thursday, but held off publicizing it, instead taking it to Corey Lansing of the Office of Student Development. That office has not responded.
Lansing did not respond to an e-mail from us asking what the status of the case is.
Marquette employees (the staffer from Marquette’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Studies and “one of the directors of diversity on campus”) should be fired for encouraging fraudulent behavior in order to sabotage a campus speaker.
But given Marquette’s tolerance of assaults on free speech from the left, we don’t expect that to happen.
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Fake News: Marquette Tribune Recycles Discredited Rumor about Scott Walker and Marquette
Walker was once a student activist himself, and attended Marquette University for a time in the late 80s. There are disagreements as to why the future governor left the university shy of graduation, but one thing is clear: his time here was spent climbing the ranks of MUSG and building a political platform for himself.What the story refers to is a claim, by leftists, that Walker was expelled from Marquette because of fraud in a student government election.
This, in fact, was debunked long ago. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel investigated the claims, made by partisan Democrats, that Walker “either dropped out or was forced out” of Marquette because of some scandal. Marquette, citing student privacy laws, refused to comment without Walker’s permission. Walker gave that permission to Marquette, and the paper reported:
“Gov. Scott Walker was a student at Marquette from fall of 1986 until spring 1990 and was a senior in good standing when he voluntarily withdrew from Marquette,” the university said in a statement.Thus the implication that Walker might have been expelled or forced out of Marquette because of some scandal is bogus, and the claim was debunked back in 2013.
That means that no conduct issues, academic or otherwise, blocked Walker from continuing in school at the time of his departure, MU spokesman Brian Dorrington told us in early December 2013.
When we asked Dorrington whether any conduct issues were on Walker’s earlier school record, he said Walker would have to permit release of that information. Walker did so in response to our request.
“Governor Walker was in good standing each term while he was enrolled at Marquette University and when he left Marquette University,” Associate Vice Provost Anne Deahl said in a letter. “Governor Walker was not expelled or suspended from the university at any time.”
The Marquette Tribune has thus engaged in irresponsible journalism, probably as the result of a liberal bias.
Will they issue a correction? We shall see. The default position of the mainstream media (the folks Tribune staff are in training to join) is to stonewall.
Step by Step: Liberals and the Trump Election
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Is Disrespecting the President OK? Hypocrisy Run Amok
For years, we were told that criticizing the occupant of the White House was “rank disrespect,” as Jonathan Capehart wrote in the Washington Post. Opposition to the sitting president was very likely motivated by racism, Charles M. Blow mused in The New York Times. “Openly defying and brazenly disrespecting your president, while hoping that he fails, is not called patriotism … It is called treason,” insisted one particularly moronic meme by Occupy Democrats.But with Trump:
But a few years of experience can have a wonderfully transformative effect on political culture. One election later, and Americans who once insisted that saying mean things about an elected official was unseemly and unforgivable have rediscovered the liberating potential of dissent.
And, where once Hollywood celebrities issued a thoroughly creepy “pledge to serve Barack Obama” when he took office as president, eight additional years of seeing the duties of that office exercised led us to singer Madonna saying she’s thought a lot about “blowing up the White House.”For the libertarians at Reason, it is a welcome change, since the notion that a strong, righteous president will set everything right in the country is a huge threat to liberty. When all your hopes are invested in the president, then you’ll condone illegitimate exercises of power. Remember Obama and his pen and phone.
Madonna made her comments at a massive Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration during which hundreds of thousands of regular Americans promised to resist the new chief executive before he’s even had a chance to start rivaling the damage inflicted by his predecessor.
It’s all such a welcome change.
And the “blow up the White House” comment by the ageing slut Madonna is, in fact, no real threat to the Republic. But then, neither was the stupid “birther” notion that Obama was born in Kenya. But please, let’s just have an end to the hypocrisy.
The Real Deplorables
Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Ben Shapiro At Marquette
An announcement from the Young Americans for Freedom:
On February 8th Young Americans for Freedom - (YAF Marquette) will be hosting Ben Shapiro, a prominent conservative lawyer, editor, talk show host, and speaker. Mr. Shapiro will be adressing campus culture, campus leftism, and will give his viewpoints on recent events on Marquette University's and other campuses. There will also be time for Q&A at the end.Funding for the Shapiro speech came from Young Americans for Freedom, but with contributions from Marquette Student Government and the Marquette Residence Hall Association.
There are a limited number of tickets available to the general public. You must regester for a ticket, and show proof of identification:
We encourage attendance from all political affiliations and hope that those we disagree remain respectful to Mr. Shapiro. We especially encourage those who disagree with his views to ask questions during the Q&A session at the end of the lecture.
Doors open at 6:00 pm.
Shapiro is an articulate conservative. In other words, the sort of person the campus left hates, and on various campuses the Social Justice Warriors have tried to shut him up. It will be interesting to see how Marquette leftists, who fully believe they have the right to suppress speech with which they disagree, react.
UpdateTickets for the general public are now all gone. But there is a possibility that Young Americans for Freedom will get a bigger venue, and people can put their name on a waiting list to get tickets if this happens.
Friday, January 20, 2017
Supposedly Pro-Trump Hoax Hate Crimes
Monday, January 16, 2017
Social Science and “Microaggressions”
Now, a scholarly article reviews the evidence and takes on the concept. The conclusions:
The microaggression concept has recently galvanized public discussion and spread to numerous college campuses and businesses. I argue that the microaggression research program (MRP) rests on five core premises, namely, that microaggressions (1) are operationalized with sufficient clarity and consensus to afford rigorous scientific investigation; (2) are interpreted negatively by most or all minority group members; (3) reflect implicitly prejudicial and implicitly aggressive motives; (4) can be validly assessed using only respondents’ subjective reports; and (5) exert an adverse impact on recipients’ mental health. A review of the literature reveals negligible support for all five suppositions. More broadly, the MRP has been marked by an absence of connectivity to key domains of psychological science, including psychometrics, social cognition, cognitive-behavioral therapy, behavior genetics, and personality, health, and industrial-organizational psychology. Although the MRP has been fruitful in drawing the field’s attention to subtle forms of prejudice, it is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application. I conclude with 18 suggestions for advancing the scientific status of the MRP, recommend abandonment of the term “microaggression,” and call for a moratorium on microaggression training programs and publicly distributed microaggression lists pending research to address the MRP’s scientific limitations.Of course, it is possible to say dumb and thoughtless things that demean (say) blacks or women or gays. But it’s also possible to do the same for Christians, or men, or whites, or Trump voters. The politically correct crowd that wants to protect politically correct groups are usually the same people who demean (macro aggress) against those latter groups.
Further, the concept is used to silence perfectly legitimate statements that people have a right to make which some politically correct victim group is assumed to resent. At the University of California, an official list of microaggressions outlaws saying “There is only one race, the human race.” A sappy statement (although the sort one would expect from an old-fashioned liberal), but aggressive?
Likewise “America is a melting pot,” and “America is the land of opportunity.”
Aggrieved minorities, if they object to these statements, are free to argue with them. But if they demand they should be punished, they should be told to pound sand.
But on a university campus, with a swarm of bureaucrats committed to petting and pandering to the most aggrieved of politically favored groups, that’s not going to happen.
Sunday, January 15, 2017
Milo Yiannopoulos at Western Carolina University
So you should see what he actually says, rather than believe thumbnail descriptions of what he believes from politically correct leftists (or liberals).
Warning: the video contains one distasteful image, and quite a bit of course language.
Saturday, January 14, 2017
Obama’s Power Grabs: Soon in the Hands Of Donald Trump
Friday, January 13, 2017
Leading or Following? Democrats and Obama on Israel
So the question arises: are Democrats following people like Barack Obama, whose disdain for the Jewish state has been quite obvious, or does Obama’s disdain for Israel merely reflect a shift among Democrats generally?
Why Democrats should dislike Israel is something that needs to be explained. For most of the 20th century, Jews had the status of a politically correct victim group (although the term “political correctness” wasn’t in general use). Liberals prided themselves on opposing antisemitism.
So what has changed?
Essentially, there is been a shift in the axis of liberal identity politics. In most of the 20th century liberals proudly supported Jews, blue collar workers and Catholics was well as blacks. But blue collar workers and Catholics have moved in a conservative direction. Jews continue to vote Democratic, but now they are much harder to portray as a victim group. They have succeeded too well in American society, and discrimination against Jews is extremely rare.
So what victim group have liberals latched onto? The Palestinians. They can be portrayed as victims, while Israel is a successful, modern, affluent state.
Siding with people who really are victims is certainly a virtue. But liberals have huge trouble dealing with groups whose problems are of their own making. They continue to portray the problems of the black community as the result of white racism. But the things that most afflict black people are a 72% illegitimacy rate and an absurdly high rate of crime by blacks who victimize other blacks. Liberals want blacks to be victimized by other people, and are embarrassed by discussion of how blacks are victimized by the bad behavior of other black people.
Likewise with the Palestinians. Liberals can’t admit that they are victimized by their own unwillingness to accept the state of Israel, their own support of terrorism, and corruption among their own leaders. It can’t be that their own bad behavior is the problem, so somebody must be oppressing them. And that “somebody” is Israel.
Thus the intellectual bad habits of liberals in domestic US politics have spilled over into international relations.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
Slap on the Wrist: Trivial Discipline for Marquette Students Who Defaced Anti-Abortion Display
Marquette has failed to explain whether any punishment was meted out to the students guilty of the vandalism. They have not even issued any assurance that punishment would be imposed for an egregious infringement on free expression.
Now we know why.
An AdmissionYesterday, Marquette held a full-day “workshop” titled “Freedom Dreams Now: Whose Lives Matter? A challenge for academics.” Yes, it was as biased and politically correct as it sounds. But one particularly interesting session was a “faculty/student round-table.” One of the students, a black female, admitted she participated in the vandalism.
Actually, it was more than an admission. She outright bragged about her action, and felt it grossly unfair that a minor punishment had been imposed on her. She complained that an officer from the campus Police Department came to question her at her workplace.
Vandalism is a criminal offense, but multiple Marquette faculty intervened on behalf of the students, and there were no criminal charges brought. Rather, Marquette’s own internal student conduct process imposed a minor punishment: the students were required to write a three page paper on how they had acted irresponsibly in defacing the display.
The student on the panel refused to, saying “it’s finals week.” So did one other student. Both were thus put on university probation for a semester. Not suspension, but mere probation.
Marquette, in other words, treated a frontal assault of free expression as a minor peccadillo. If some conservative students had vandalized a “gay rights” display on campus, we can’t imagine any such lenient treatment.
Faculty ResponseRather appalling was faculty response toward this student and her vandalism, which was favorable. One female faculty member described the vandalism as “free speech” and expressed her joy at seeing the vandalized display. Other faculty expressed the hope that the incident would not appear on the permanent record of the student who spoke.
Of course, the expressed opinions of a few faculty may not have represented the views of everybody in the room, and indeed, the people in the room were probably heavily self-selected from among leftist politically correct faculty. But there can be no doubt that a considerable number of Marquette faculty welcome this suppression of politically incorrect opinions.
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Palestinians Celebrate Terrorist Attack
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Monday, January 02, 2017
Letter to the Editor: On Marquette President Michael Lovell
Essentially, fundamentalism is a form of fideistic, a priori conviction that one’s sect alone knows the absolute truth about the true and the good. Only in its confines is salvation to be found. The faithful cement their bond by the use of a special terminology: King James Bible only, which alone is inerrant, the Rapture, a literal six day creation and Sabbath rest, a young earth, of perhaps a very few thousand years, a second blessing, etc. Whatever the religious content, they alone know the absolute truth. Doubters and dissenters are purged through excommunication. In an earlier era, they were tortured into recantation or burned at the stake.
Yet Christian fundamentalism is far from being the only variety. It’s the only variety, however, it’s permissible to publicly mock.
The president of Marquette University, Dr. Michael Lovell, is a true believer belonging to a different, more recently developed fundamentalist cult. This is the dogmatic faith known as political correctness. It’s anthem, if it had one, would be, “Gimme That New Time Religion.”
The flock recognizes its members by Shibboleths bleated by its sheep who safely graze the fields of academia: diversity, multiculturalism, inclusion, welcoming, white privilege, hate speech, offensiveness, insensitivity, social justice, etc. Its priests and prophets are the administrators and elitist faculty of most universities. Its revivalist tents and temples are buildings funded by often out of touch alumni.
At Marquette, a prophetic provost presents the new Thou Shalt Not imperatives inscribed in tablets of stone: homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, heterosexism, sexism, classism, logophobia, eurocentrism, speciesism, lookism, oppression (of select self-identified victim groups), hegemony of Western Civilization, and so on. Here, too, doubters and dissenters are not tolerated. They are excluded as dangerous heretics from whom the faithful must protect their prospective converts. Widespread excommunication isn’t just medieval anymore.
The Cheryl Abbate case at Marquette was a morality play in which she was cast as a martyred Joan of Arc by Dr. Lovell. What heroic virtue, one may reasonably ask, is exemplified by one who silenced free speech in an academic setting? What was supererogatory about condemning the Magisterium’s teaching against homosexual acts as “homophobia”? On a questionably Roman Catholic campus, what was excellent in forbidding discussion of the natural law arguments honed by contemporary philosophers? Abbate corrupted by politicizing the Socratic Method. In this she sinned against philosophy, as did the Department Chair and others who supported her.
A well established, respected and tenured professor came under the ban for protesting this on his private blog. For supporting an undergraduate student wrongly oppressed by Abbate, Dr. John McAdams was condemned as a dangerous dissenter and anathematized. He was blamed for apparently hateful communications Abbate received. In other words, the guilt of others unknown to McAdams was imputed to him. Dr. Lovell ought to have been advised that the imputation of sins was only possible in the case of Jesus Christ. Only he was able to take on himself the sins of others, indeed, of the world.
The fundamentalism of Dr. Lovell and his politically correct cult is reminiscent of the religious zeal that led to the burning of heretics at the stake. It’s troublingly easy to visualize him, with grim satisfaction, setting the torch to the stake. These days, he can only torch the reputation of an accomplished professor. And this, of course, while whistling “Gimme That New Time Religion.”
(McCamy is a 1996 Ph.D. graduate of Marquette’s Philosophy Department)