Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Discussion in the Comments Spills Out Onto the Blog Itself! Free Speech Rights on Campus: How Much Free Speech is Too Much?

There's an interesting discussion going on in the comments from my last post. I thought I'd bring it out into the daylight for today's post.

Heath started things off by asking what the limits of free speech rights were, especially on college campuses. Here's a taste:
"It's the Liberal New York Times University, folks, and it's ridiculous. Did the Dems forget that "liberty" has the same root word as "liberal"? I mentioned this to Paul the other day, and he retorted with "but, would you think it was right if a neo-nazi hung a swastika on campus?" Would I think it was right or would I think they should have the right? I don't think it's right. I do think they should have the right."
I said that it is a college's right to restrict certain kinds of speech in order to maintain a safe, unintimidating learning environment. A sample:
"I actually do think students should have the right. But students all over the country already have the right to say racial slurs and unfurl a big Nazi flag out of their dorm room windows at every college in the country. But the institutions who house or seek to educate those students, have the right then to say they can't do that without consequence. They have the right to expel those students, or call the police to charge them with hate speech, should the circumstance warrant. If the question is should students have the right to say racial slurs and hang racially offensive banners WITHOUT PENALTY, than I would say no."
An anonymous commenter wrote back with this:
"Shouldn't all potentially offensive material be penalized, as well? Why stop at things that are only racially offensive? Everything is offensive to somebody, who gets to decide what people are allowed to say or what banners can only be hanged WITH PENALTY? Is it as simple as mob rule? Should all minority opinions be shouted down or physically stomped by the angry majority?"
A sentiment Heath echoed with his response. To these rebuttals I am a little stumped, I have to say. I've been trying to come up with a well-reasoned answer for anonymous's slippery slope argument, and it's impossible without sounding like an elite and a prig. It's not near as fun to argue against some forms of speech as it is to argue for all of it. But I don't think it's an all or nothing proposition. If a public college bans KKK members and neo-Nazis from demonstrating on campus does not mean they are also banning all other forms of speech. It would appear that when a college does restrict speech on campus, it is when hatred against a particular minority is what fuels that speech. Though even that policy, as mild as it might appear on the surface, can be misused by overzealous university officials.

Heath mentioned a libertarian professor named Alan Charles Kors. He wrote a book called Shadow University. You can read the first 10 or so pages of it here, on Amazon.com. You can read most of something called 'The Water-Buffalo Incident" in these pages. The incident was this: a guy at Penn state was writing a paper in his dorm room. Outside, below his window, a sorority was being loud and distracting. He leaned out and told them to be quiet. Five minutes later, after they hadn't quieted down, he leaned out again and said, "Shut up, you water buffaloes!" The loud sorority girls were black, and he was accused by the school of violating Penn's "racial harrassment policy". The author, Kors, ends up being the kid's advisor in the matter, but the free sample of his book ended and I don't know what happened to the guy. (But I do wonder if Kors would be as outraged if the kid had actually called those girls by an actual racial epithet instead.) A similar incident, though fictional, is the basis for a Philip Roth novel, The Human Stain -- a professor asks about a couple of absent students he's never even laid eyes on before and calls them "spooks". Turns out the students were black and he's forced to resign for being a racist. Another example: Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard University, suggested in a speech that part of the reason women are underrepresented in the math and science fields may have to do with biology. It took a year or so, but he was eventually forced out for having said it. The faculty gave him two or three votes of no-confidence.

But are these examples the exception or the rule? Are universities in this country, in their zeal to provide a safe and unintimidating learning environment for ALL students, repressing the free speech rights of the FEW beyond all reason? Besides a series of antecdotal evidence, I don't think it is happening, but maybe I'm wrong. It seems to me that, more often than not, most universities are tolerant of free speech -- but when the university perceives that some minority groups on campus are being persecuted for race, creed, or color, they do step in to enact penalties. Sometimes they do so overzealously (as with the water-buffalo kid), but instances like that, I think, are the exception to the rule. Am I the only guy out there who isn't a total libertarian on free speech? Anyone want to chime in?

But anyway, well-reasoned points by both Heath and anonymous. Thanks for the good comments. More tomorrow.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

Again -

You guys are missing the entire point.

Its not a liberal versus republican issue. Never was. It's about Power and Profit.

These so called "liberal" professors, the good ones are about doing 3 things.


1) Puncturing the myths created by our nation state, which there are many and which most people adore and willingly promlugate.

2) Researching, analyzing the current system and finding, offering and developing alternative models to organize society under in order to promote the welfare of the human race and its survival.

The Corporate interests of the world (US/UK) are getting much better at creating vehicles for their interests - think tanks like Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, American Enterprise Inst, National Endowment for Democracy, not to mention the corporate sponsorship of research on college campuses under the "liberal" guise of sustainable development, medical research and other PC buzz words (genetic decoding) are slowly usurping the role of that public institutions in privatizing all aspects of life. Religion and the corporate media is reinforcing the ideological bases for these insidious attacks.

Democrats are Republicans are Democrats. They are one in the same, differing on a few social issues. Both stand for the status quo, the complete dismantling of our social safety net in service to corporations and capital interests.

If anything, the Dems have given in to a sort of PC factionalism/balkanization of identity politics that has made it easy for the right to divide and conquer. I agree with Todd Gitlin on this fact. We need a massive alternative movement surrounding economic and class issues - not just at times frivioulos social concerns that already have the sympathies of both political sides.

Did any of you realize that we as a democratic society are not set up to be completely owned by a few individuals - but rather, any findings, research, etc. should be given up to the public good, so that others may build upon it?

Were you not aware that ABC and other affiliate cable programmers have to purchase the right to exhibit their propaganda on "our airwaves" ? That's right, we own them and the government sells these contracts for close to nothing and yet the people collectively have to fight for ever dwindling monies for public TV/and media. We vote for a board (FCC) that regulates the airwaves for the public and time and again they are bought and sold to the highest corporate bidder. Remember, last year when Michael Powell (former head of FCC) was willing to allow an increase of ownership by private individuals of multiple TV stations, radio and newspaper in the same location? Clearchannel? Good competitor or product of lobbyist cronysim? That is what I call totalitarian.

And yet, these very same inidividuals and groups, who have infilitrated all aspects of society, have the gaul and nerve to say that university professors are biased!

Give me a fucking break. If anything, they realize that this is the last sanctuary for the free mind and they utterly despise it. So, they do what they do best, play the victim and then make it a "mainstream issue" to be debated.

Anonymous said...

As for the petty argument -

Americans have not come to terms with their history nor their past and believe that PC liberal laws are going to stop the hate speech.

Americans have to come to terms with the fact that they have committed genocide against the Native -American population, built American power by slave trade and that racial antagonizations are the product of class relations under our current system. If anything, these class relations are stoked and perpetuated by the ruling class.

The greatest fear would be and always has been a united working class in America standing up for their basic rights, regardless of color or creed.

I don't spend my time arguing over this minutia, because there is a deeper, historical, systemic problem at work.

-- PAPA

blankfist said...

Look! It's a double post by Papa! Sweet.

Peggy said...

Thanks for blogging earlier in the day. I love it!! I can actually read your blog the same day you post it.


xoxoxo!

blankfist said...

Eeeeeew, gross, CDAs! Cyber Displays of Affection.

noahkey said...

http://www.ifilm.com/ifilmdetail/2658805

I suggest you look at this. Makes sense to me.

And jesus, Papa, you don't really talk like that do you? Reading your posts sometimes feels like reading stereo instructions.

BOC

harwell said...

Man, you guys move fast...

In regards to the question of why should universities limit free speech restrictions only to speech deemed racially offensive, the answer is that they don't. Speech which is offensive to a particular gender or sexual orientation isn't tolerated either. And nor should it be. Here's an example of why this is important: when I did my student teaching at Miami I had a student write a paper about tolerance in some regard that I don't remember now. But with each paper, the students were required to turn in a writer's memo where they sort of explained why they picked their topic, what they think they did well, what could use some tweaking, etc. So, this particular student wrote a pretty impressive and passionate paper that promoted tolerance. But in his writer's memo he made a comment about how you could walk past someone on campus and tell whether they're gay or not. This student isn't a homophobe and I didn't feel this warranted any type of punishment, not even as far as his grade was concerned. But I sure as shit told him that this particular statement was at odds with the rest of the paper and could very well be considered offensive and was kind of a boneheaded thing to say, not to mention completely without merit.

This is the kind of discrimination I think plagues are country now and a good reason why certain things are limited and others aren't. I heard a comedian say that political correctness has turned racists into poets. The problem with this is that people then don't even realize they're being racist or sexist or homophobic. Their intentions are good, but language DOES matter. If the brain works and the pen or tongue betrays it, then that's unfortunate. Teaching young people - and that's what college is for - to make their words reflect their beliefs is something that will benefit them in more ways than just decreasing the chances of them being accused of being racists. If they intentionally say racist things, then that's another matter and one that has no place in Education. An institution can not promote any type of hate or discrimination, period. That's why these restrictions exist. If people are taught to hate then it stands to reason they can be taught not to hate. The fact that some things are allowed and others aren't is simply the nature of language. It changes and evolves and must be taken on a case by case, word by word basis.

During my time at Miami I taught a total of six classes over two years. The typical class had about 25 or 30 students. So, a conservative estimate is that I taught around 150 students total. Know how many of these were minorities? Three. That's it. And one of those dropped out. If you don't think that these students felt a noticable difference from their white classmates - especially at that age - I think you're fooling yourself. They can handle freedom just as well as they can handle their difference in this situation, but nobody should have to put up with discrimination in an educational environment and the institutions have to do their best to support this. There will be vague definitions of discrimination and what constitutes hate speech, sure, but I don't see how you can pin this on an institution or political party. As always, if anyone has a better solution I'm sure there are people willing to listen.

As for the uproar of colleges having nothing but liberal professors, I think you have to hand it to the Republican party for being able to spin a deficiency of intellectuals in their own party into a good thing...They do the same thing with the attacks against Hollywood. If more smart, creative people were republicans you can bet they wouldn't have as much of an issue with this. In fact, not only do they love having Hollywood types in their own party, they get them elected to office. And you Californians know how well Arnold's worked out...

Professors don't generally teach their politics. And if they do, clearly they suck at it or dipshit wouldn't be running the country right now and getting busted for approving leaks of intelligence to reporters (go check the headlines).

blankfist said...

It sucks that the guy who makes the most (if not the only) sense on that show was Zappa. But, Dems and Repubs would have you believe (much like that Lofton guy) that any sort of siding with "leave us alone" freedom is a mark of anarchy, and thus absolutism, and thus chaos. I heard Crane point the finger at me with the insinuation of anarchism, and like I've said time and time again, the line between Dems and Repubs is so thin I think it's nonexistent.

They're both cut from the same cloth of baseless self-righteousness.

Or, if you side with one view point held by the other party, then all of a sudden you are in with the other party in absolution. To Dems and Repubs, either you're absolutely, 100% with their cause or you are 100% against them. Now, that's absolutism.

Anonymous said...

The problem is capitalism - the system that pits human against human in all aspects of life, where there should be solidarity instead.

A system like this inevitably breeds intolerance, a type of relentless social darwinism where the basest of emotions are exploited for personal/private gain.

To me - most racism is based on ignorance - but today's version or form is quite complex - depending on a variety of factors that I think Harwell has done a good job of exposing to a point.

As Godard would say, "Culture is imperialism."

- P

blankfist said...

In regards to the question of why should universities limit free speech restrictions only to speech deemed racially offensive, the answer is that they don't.

Wait, wait, wait, I don't think anyone has posed this particular question, have they? Maybe Crane did, but certainly not me. On any account, Hardswell, I agreee (with three Es even!) that colleges and universities censor and restrict all forms of language that may be considered objectionable, whether that be racially motivated, sexist, or against a certain groups sexual orientation. I know this, and I think it is wrong, wrong, wrong. If your student from Miami wrote "I can tell who's gay and who isn't by just passing them in the hall", then he's being truthful and honest, which are characteristics I'd rather see in humans, no matter how offensible, than deceitful lies and false truths that aren't offensible. I agree with Kors, if you remove this freedom of speech, then you are saying to these groups of peopl that they cannot handle freedom. That they need the government's hand in protecting them from experiencing something that may offend them. I say government, because I'm speaking of public colleges and universities here.

Okay, sorry, I've been chatting away about this to some coworkers just now while writing this comment, and we've been debating for about two hours now, so I'm going to stop here, mid-thought, and end this comment. I know I didn't complete a thought, nor did I end in a good spot, but at least I'm ending it. Period!

Anonymous said...

As for the uproar of colleges having nothing but liberal professors, I think you have to hand it to the Republican party for being able to spin a deficiency of intellectuals in their own party into a good thing...They do the same thing with the attacks against Hollywood. If more smart, creative people were republicans you can bet they wouldn't have as much of an issue with this.

Now, now. That was a cheap shot, Shawn. How is it acceptable to make such a statement about republicans, but every other group has to be handled with kid gloves? Using your logic, you could also draw the conclusion that the black population has a deficiency of law-abiding citizens. There are more young black men in jail than college, after all. There are also far fewer women in the fields of science and math, does that mean they are less bright than men? On average, the typical republican makes more money than the average democrat, what exactly can we extrapolate from that? I dunno. I just think it's sort of bizarre the way so many libs will find a statement like "republicans are stupid" totally acceptable but at the same time believe a statement like "that guy looks gay as shit in those capri pants" to be hurtful and offensive.

If you believe that campus liberals are the epitome of modern intellectualism, I would disagree with you. Their seemingly unanimous progressiveness is just another example of groupthink. They, like most people, are totally lost and grasping for answers where there are none, so they look for an ideology that simply confirms their limited experience. If they were oil executives living in Texas, they'd be singing a different tune and following a different crowd. I think that conformity is pretty much inherent to human beings, that's the reason we all wanted those ugly red Air Jordans in the 3rd grade. Some may consider themselves above it, and proclaim themselves to be non-conformists, but they too are conforming to something, even if it's non-conformity.

I think few people, with the exception of the young and naive whose ideals have yet to be tested, vote the way they do because of some kind of selfless idealism. People vote in their own best interest, for purely selfish reasons. That's why a lot of rich guys vote republican, because they want to keep their money and republicans say they won't tax them. That's also why minorities consistently vote democrat, because the democrats pander to them and reinforce their fears that they are the victims of unfair policies. That is why block voting exists as a phenomenon, because of a herd mentality that all humans are guilty of.

Certain industries are dominated by conservatives, others by liberals, and if you want to succeed at your chosen profession, the best approach is to play ball and nod your head like a good little dipshit, it's as simple as that.

Liberalism is absolutely typical of young filmmakers, just as coservatism is absolutely typical of NASCAR dads. I find the Hollywood crowd to be neither especially bright nor especially creative.

harwell said...

"If your student from Miami wrote "I can tell who's gay and who isn't by just passing them in the hall", then he's being truthful and honest, which are characteristics I'd rather see in humans, no matter how offensible, than deceitful lies and false truths that aren't offensible."

I agree with this to an extent, Heath and this is why I didn't berate my student. I knew he was being honest and believed he COULD tell a person's sexuality just by looking at them, and like I said, I know he didn't mean this in a harmful manner. But like I also said - I think his honesty in this case is just a blanket assumption/generalization that he's been taught by the myriad of ways in which he's learned to identify homosexuals from all sorts of accurate and inaccurate sources. So my job then, as I saw it, was to enlighten him to the fact that unless he sees some hardcore gay action, his assumptions will never be 100% correct and could cause some embarassment, confusion, anger, etc. And, specifically as a composition instructor, assumptions and generalizations don't make for good arguments. Imagine writing a science paper and arguing that all trees are stupid. Not only will you piss off tree-huggers, but it's a lazy, lazy way to try and prove a point. So, honesty is great but it isn't always well informed. And education should be informative.

I also wanted to point out that isn't it a little odd that no one seems to be complaining about primary school's restricting or censoring students' right to free speech? Should first graders be allowed to get away with writing white power stories? No one should intervene? This kid's just being honest and we should respect that? Don't we spend more tax money on primary schools than secondary? (By the way, the issue of funding surely plays a large part in the reason there seems to be a majority of liberal professors and teachers. Just go ask some primary school teachers what they think of No Child Left Behind and you'll find a big reason why many vote Dem, or at least have voted Dem recently. As long as we spend more on defense than education the system will continue to see decline and teachers will continue to lose or leave their shitty paying jobs. I made much more as a glorified file clerk than I could have as an adjunct professor. This isn't right!)

"I agree with Kors, if you remove this freedom of speech, then you are saying to these groups of peopl that they cannot handle freedom. That they need the government's hand in protecting them from experiencing something that may offend them."

Sorry, but I think this is kindly ridiculous. Dude, LIFE is offensive in this country to many, many minorities (wonder why half a million are showing up to protest immigration reform???) and suggesting that curbing hate speech is somehow going to fool into thinking they live in a cloudy land of equality is just stupid (which I think you'd agree). Curbing hate speech is the LEAST - and I mean VERY LEAST - the government can do. You think a black woman would rather see a white lady lock her car doors as she passes than have the same white lady roll down the window, spit in her face, and call her a nigger bitch? She'd go home, wipe her face off, and think "Well, at least that cracker was being honest"???

Words hurt and it's not a matter of whether people can handle it or not. It's a matter of trying to erase it. Getting rid of hate speech is one tiny tiny step closer to getting rid of hate. Minorities don't need the government's hand in protecting them from the people, they need the people's hand in protecting them from the government and from dickheads and assholes. The most sensible way to do this and reach the most people at the best possible time is through education. This is when those "honesties" can be reconsidered and reversed. The government should absolutely play a part in this.

harwell said...

"I find the Hollywood crowd to be neither especially bright nor especially creative."

No, but they are rich. So why do they vote Democrat???

I just recently had the largest check I've ever recieved in my life slashed brutally by taxes. It doesn't change my beliefs, dude. (or dudette - who are you???) It also doesn't change the fact that Republicans in my lifetime have wrecked this country with debt, which does not help our economic viability at a time when the nations of Asia are poised to take our place from the throne.

"That was a cheap shot, Shawn. How is it acceptable to make such a statement about republicans, but every other group has to be handled with kid gloves?"

I know it was a cheap shot and one I enjoyed. I don't handle republicans with kid gloves because they're in power and the group they currently represent (according to your own demographic breakdown) has ALWAYS been in power in this country, and from the looks of it, always will be in power. Besides, I've been told they can handle the jabs otherwise I'd have to assume that they'll think I'm suggesting they can't handle freedom...

"People vote in their own best interest, for purely selfish reasons."

I half agree with that statement. Half of the people in this country vote in their own best interest. The other half vote Democrat. Zing!

"If you believe that campus liberals are the epitome of modern intellectualism, I would disagree with you."

I don't believe that campus liberals are the epitome of modern intellectualism, I believe the campus itself is the epitome of modern intellectualism, which includes all parties (even my conservative classmates - and yes, they exist at the graduate level and have a voice and even teach despite what we're hearing). If it's not coming from here, where is modern intellectualism coming from? The internet? Crane's blog? Even if you prove me wrong, SHOULDN'T modern intellectualism be coming from the systems of higher education???? If not, what the hell is it there for???

"Liberalism is absolutely typical of young filmmakers"

Again, why do you suppose that is? Really, I'm curious. Why do young people interested in being creative (whether they're creative or not), interested in potentially making large amounts of cash, interested in doing something that for better or worse carries with it a level of immortality (especially since the advent of dvd - those things'll last forever), why do they tend to vote liberal? What do we lack, since clearly we're voting for the losing team right now?

blankfist said...

Man, do I like this "anonymous" guy, and I hope he sticks around to give his input more often.

So my job then, as I saw it, was to enlighten him to the fact that unless he sees some hardcore gay action, his assumptions will never be 100% correct and could cause some embarassment, confusion, anger, etc.

Sure, enlighten him. I don't disagree. The debate has nothing to do with the giving of instruction, but rather about bowdlerism, and worse, restriction of speech. Teaching the kid he might be fostering feelings of resentment, even anger, from others is honest and encouraged.

And, specifically as a composition instructor, assumptions and generalizations don't make for good arguments. Imagine writing a science paper and arguing that all trees are stupid.

This analogy holds little relevance, if any, because composition papers can be filled with assumptions and generalizations, because composition papers can also be fiction. Science papers will never be fiction, unless you're a Korean scientist... ahem.

no one seems to be complaining about primary school's restricting or censoring students' right to free speech.

Primary schools are public schools with compulsory (or nearly compulsory) enrollment. Children are forced and entitled to this level of education, and I wouldn't debate whether the quality of education may be broad and homogenized as a result. Notwithstanding, college enrollment is elected, not necessary.

think a black woman would rather see a white lady lock her car doors as she passes than have the same white lady roll down the window, spit in her face, and call her a nigger bitch?

Freedom of speech does NOT involve spitting in someone's face, but even with the "spitting" part omitted, I think the argument is flawed. It focuses on how one's freedom may affect another's feelings. I mean, given that the example you gave is obviously extreme, I still think this is the price those willing to live with freedom are also willing pay.

On a side note, I love the Liberal "go to" illustration that always involves white calling black "nigger" or neo-nazis hanging swastikas or the KKK preaching hate. In their rose colored glasses, that seems to be the only true racism. And any other form of racism is "reverse racism", as if racism is your birthrite when born with white blood. Right. Right.

It's a matter of trying to erase it. Getting rid of hate speech is one tiny tiny step closer to getting rid of hate.

Yes, bowdlerism and restriction of speech. Bravo. How free is speech when it contains restrictions? Should the government award us with a list of "unobjectionable" words, being the supreme list of words we can use? How about in novels? Poems? Films? Should any offensible word be removed? Is that free speech? And is this restriction of free speech only relegated to anything objectionable to Minorities? Who decides which words go on that list?

Sure, you can say novels are different than public campuses, because they are, but I only use this example because you mentioned a white woman spitting on a black woman's face and calling her a nigger, and in no way did you intend that to be read as taking place on a campus, nor did you intend it to be a part of the current discussion, but rather it was your political ferver finding voice. And, well, thank God you have that freedom.

Anonymous said...

Now, now. That was a cheap shot, Shawn. How is it acceptable to make such a statement about republicans, but every other group has to be handled with kid gloves? Using your logic, you could also draw the conclusion that the black population has a deficiency of law-abiding citizens. There are more young black men in jail than college, after all. There are also far fewer women in the fields of science and math, does that mean they are less bright than men? On average, the typical republican makes more money than the average democrat, what exactly can we extrapolate from that? I dunno. I just think it's sort of bizarre the way so many libs will find a statement like "republicans are stupid" totally acceptable but at the same time believe a statement like "that guy looks gay as shit in those capri pants" to be hurtful and offensive.

+++Because Republicans stand for corporate interests over people's needs and for the most part they are for the ruling elite, secrecy and power and everyone despises that - for 2 reasons -

1) Because they wish to have the same power and can't achieve it through regular means, so many resort to crime, graft, lies, manipulation at the expense of others.

2) Want to change the world to a more egalitarian place.


If you believe that campus liberals are the epitome of modern intellectualism, I would disagree with you. Their seemingly unanimous progressiveness is just another example of groupthink.

+++You read too much Horowitz and watch too much Hannity. If you read my previous posts you will see that the "victim' approach taken by neoconservatives is the same used by protected classes. Your way of thinking permeates America and the media - not to mention universities and the globe. A bit of competition never hurt, huh? Or are conservatives scared of this? Or maybe their ideas are stagnate and bankrupt?

They, like most people, are totally lost and grasping for answers where there are none, so they look for an ideology that simply confirms their limited experience. If they were oil executives living in Texas, they'd be singing a different tune and following a different crowd. I think that conformity is pretty much inherent to human beings, that's the reason we all wanted those ugly red Air Jordans in the 3rd grade. Some may consider themselves above it, and proclaim themselves to be non-conformists, but they too are conforming to something, even if it's non-conformity.

++ "free-market democracy" is an ideology as much as christianity and stalinism, facism. The Neo-Cons entire strategy was based on an idea of remaking the world in reaction to China and Russia's growing importance.

I think few people, with the exception of the young and naive whose ideals have yet to be tested, vote the way they do because of some kind of selfless idealism.

++ Are you kidding me? Obviously you don't know your American history. Roosevelt saved capitalism with the Public works programs and the Neo-Cons aim to destroy all gov't social safety nets with deficit spending - leading us into a retread of the McKinnely Administration - where Robber Barons reigned supreme. Don't forget - in the end Reagan and Bush Sr. raised taxes.

**Not to mention, have you ever heard of corporate welfare or the military industrial complex? Obviously, you have no problem keeping a company afloat with your tax dollars if it means more jobs in India or China, versus paying a bit more to keep your water clean.

People vote in their own best interest, for purely selfish reasons.

++ Prove it - this is highly relative and you are making a blanket statement. Maybe you do this, but not me.

That's why a lot of rich guys vote republican, because they want to keep their money and republicans say they won't tax them. That's also why minorities consistently vote democrat, because the democrats pander to them and reinforce their fears that they are the victims of unfair policies. That is why block voting exists as a phenomenon, because of a herd mentality that all humans are guilty of.

++True to some degree - but Republicans are guilty of this just as much and if not more. They love to play the victim and have coopted every great grassroots tool in order to get their agenda across. Oh - how about Bush creating a brand new governmental office for a fictitious war on terrorism so that he could feed his weapons buddies. Or, our 500 billion dollar defense budget (excluding wars)? Bush is one of the great spenders in history - he makes a liberal blush and slowly conservatives have been turning on him.

Certain industries are dominated by conservatives, others by liberals, and if you want to succeed at your chosen profession, the best approach is to play ball and nod your head like a good little dipshit, it's as simple as that.

++ This era of groupthink is a phenomenon known to be caused by heirarchal structures. If you attend a liberal class, you might learn something about it.

Liberalism is absolutely typical of young filmmakers, just as coservatism is absolutely typical of NASCAR dads. I find the Hollywood crowd to be neither especially bright nor especially creative.

++ You are full of stereotypes. Liberalism is the corner stone of American democracy - a mixture of Ancient Greece and the French Revolution with a bit of Puritan thrown in for good measure.

You strive for "non-conformity" - but none of us will ever truly achieve it as long as we live in a world devised to push commodities onto us...

- PAPA

Let the debate really begin!

Anonymous said...

Again, why do you suppose that is? Really, I'm curious. Why do young people interested in being creative (whether they're creative or not), interested in potentially making large amounts of cash, interested in doing something that for better or worse carries with it a level of immortality (especially since the advent of dvd - those things'll last forever), why do they tend to vote liberal? What do we lack, since clearly we're voting for the losing team right now?

It's a good question. I think it's a combination of factors.

Part of the reason may be because there's a large and vocal contingent of minorities, women, and homosexuals in the entertainment world, disproportionate to that of other professions.

Perhaps a bigger reason is that entertainment is so youth-driven. To be considered "old" in Hollywood is to be a pariah, whereas youth is put on a pedestal. It's obvious who Hollywood is trying to impress: that surly teen with the iPod that pisses everyone else off. And as always the case with youth, there is a desire to upset the status quo, to be hip and edgy and subversive. The Alec Baldwin types, the really rich old celebrities, are just trying to remain relevant by proving that they're not like all the other rich old people, that they care about the little guy. Yeah right, Alec. How many homeless motherfuckers does he ignore every day while he's being shuttled to and fro in a limousine and buying evian water for his dogs, the hairy son of a bitch.

Speck said...

No way I reading ALL of that...including the blog.

Sorry Crane.

harwell said...

Ha - Heath just called me upset at my brilliant remarks to this debate he more or less started. He keeps saying the difference between primary and secondary schools in regards to speech limitations is that primary schooling is by and large required by the state, whereas secondary schooling is not. So, I said "Well, that's right. You can elect NOT to go to a college because of their speech restrictions." Then he said, "Uhh....hey, somebody's calling. I gotta go take this call. Uhh...later, dude." Right, Heath. Right...

To be clear, I don't favor any imposition of speech limitations to books, films, art, blogs, blogs about blogs, cartoons, porn, etc., etc., and I don't object to their appearance on campuses. I also refute the notion that this is somehow a double standard. My stance is that an institution of education has to take a position against hate speech. They have to have a policy stating that they will not tolerate hate speech, because the institution fails if it does not educate the message of tolerance. Sorry, but that's not an elective. You, as a student, don't have to buy it - but the institution can't afford not to make the attempt. They have to protect themselves and they have to protect their students (which Heath is right - it's not all about the n-bomb or KKK folks; the same policies restrict hate speech against whites as well.)

I will never be in favor of limiting someone's right of access to articles of hate speech. Again, I just don't believe educational institutions should make it their standard to allow such speech to take place in its classrooms or on its campus if it is done for the intentional purpose of causing harm. That is not consistent with a policy of education, and THAT is what we pay for with our tax dollars. I believe teachers should be allowed to teach Mein Kampf and anything else that includes articles of hate speech; but if they do it in a way that intentionally promotes hate speech then they deserve to be reprimanded. Like I said before, these things have to be dealt with on a case by case scenario, and it is my experience that this is how these things are largely handled at universities and colleges. I don't know of any school that won't allow a student to defend themselves in damn near any situation where the student is accused of some wrongful offense. I'm sure the water buffaloes guy even got a defense, and I don't find that example indicative of the system at large, just like I don't find this entire issues of speech restrictions to be going on at large all over the country. If it's happening, then prove it because YES it is interesting and curious if its true. But I highly suspect you will find these policies have been on the books at most colleges for decades and that they were not required to put them there, but did so to promote their own standard of excellence and ideas of education.

I guess the larger question I have for those who disagree with my argument is that how are these speech restrictions causing more harm than the harm caused to one student in one incident of hate speech? How many students are really having their rights stifled and their speech censored? Where are the boycotts? Where are the attempted suicides? We can identify the victims of hate speech; but who are the victims of restricting hate speech? (If you say "America" or "Freedom" then I'm not talking to you anymore. No abstracts.)

It's like the whole global warming issue. Even if it is a myth (which it ain't) how can restricting pollution be a bad thing??? How can trying to clean up the planet be something that people oppose? Even if it doesn't work, what have we lost??? I just don't get that...

Oh, last thing - the example about the two ladies was intended to counter your notion, Heath, that having people be honest in their ignorance is preferable to restricting the expression of their ignorance. I just don't buy that you'd feel greatful if you were the target of someone's expression of ignorance. If you'd like to go on campus and have someone call you a nasty cracker then let me know and I'll see if I can arrange it.

But until then, your barking at the wind.

harwell said...

"Part of the reason may be because there's a large and vocal contingent of minorities, women, and homosexuals in the entertainment world, disproportionate to that of other professions."

Are you serious? Come to Cincinnati, my friend. I see more black people on the bus than I see on all of network television combined...

And if I remember correctly, your original statement was about "YOUNG FILMMAKERS." I'll invite you to look at the class photos of '99 and count the number of minorities, women, and homosexuals. Let me know about those disporportionate numbers you come up with, buddy.

Captain Mike said...

These comments are so damn long and quote one another so frequently with so many numerated items, italicized words, stars, and asterisks that I can't fucking tell who is saying what anymore.

Until Crane puts up a new post, please feel free to peruse Moranadu. If you feel compelled to leave a comment, don't puss out with anonymity.

Anonymous said...

I will go ahead and chime in.. it’s been a very long time since I was on a campus and when I walked though the doors it was with a very unique incentive and that was keeping high enough grades not to go to Vietnam. So you know how old I am. I joke with folks who are identical in age and the view of college is near identical, and then they pulled the rug out and we were lumped into the draft anyway, then it was all how high was your draft number. So we had significantly different views of college.. too low a number and you needed to consider which service you were going to enlist in. (Our current VP a few years earlier than I got a marriage deferment, and our current pres got a cushy assignment in the Texas Air guard, never showed up for duty, and then avoided a medical exam so they would not find the cocaine in his blood.) but I digress. My point is we had a significantly different view of college thank most of you did.

We had a guy that shouted and I mean yelled at the top of his longs during the lunch hour, bible verses as well as warnings of our general damnation. Nobody shut him down, I feel certain that today this would not be tolerated at any university. Was I offended, no, slightly bothered but it became background and you eventually didn’t even hear it.

I know we had gay students on campus, they were quite open about it. It was not so much tolerated it was just there. I actually had to think about anybody ever saying anything. We did not have gay activist clubs, they were just other students and faculty and it was really quite boring.

There were teachers that taught history who were communist, we had fascists that taught political science, and liberal and conservatives even people firmly in the middle of the road. It was amazing complex mixture of people, students, faculty, advisors, and to a person unique in most aspects.

If someone had come on campus wearing a swastika on his shirt, marching between classes he might have been interviewed in the university paper but would hardly have been asked to leave school.

I think the intolerance for anything not entirely PC has so significantly changed the university today that students don’t really see the real world on a college campus any more but a sanitized version of life. Yes, we have been so careful to create this so called safe place, free of intimidation, controversy or realness that when these students walk out the doors of their hallowed halls, they are really not ready for a world that is full intimidation, controversy and challenge.

Nathan said...

This doesn't go along with the sea of comments so much as much as the original post.

What I don't much understand, have never understood and fail to sympathize with is how people are so fucking sensitive to a bunch of sounds that are strung together.

Now, don't get me wrong. I include myself in this group. When Speck used the word "waddle" in reference to my walking, I think it was pretty obvious to all that it hit a soft spot.

But in the end, they're just fucking words.

I would be willing to bet that if...oh I dunno...Heath went up to an african-american gentlemen and said, "Hey there, nigger!" and patted the man on the back in a friendly way, that it would be found as more offensive by the man AND all those within earshot than if Heath just punched the man in the face, without saying a word.

I don't get it. I've been yelled at by hippy feminists for calling my dog a bitch...when that's exactly what she is. Look that shit up in the dictionary, if you can see through your dred-locks, and if your petulli drenched stench isn't fogging your senses too much.

All people aren't going to like each other. That's just the way it goes. But it seems like people care so much about the fact that the people that THEY don't like anyway, don't like them.

It's becoming so much about what people SAY and even THINK when it should be more about what people DO.

sometimes they go hand in hand...sure. But once you start limiting freedom of expression, in ANY way, then the lines become too flexible.

So burn all the flags you want. Burn all the crosses you want too. Bust your your sheets and your swaztikas and goose-step to your hearts content. If you keep your hands to yourself, then you should say what you want.

The line should go back to being firm between what people say and what they do. Cause as of now we're having kindergarteners being suspended for telling other kindergarteners "I'll kill you"
Who hasn't said that? Who hasn't thought it?

Anyway..it's all a bunch of silliness

Craig Moorhead said...

No one will read this post, maybe, but that's fair considering I skipped a lot of posts to get down here.

The college campus free speech issue... Well, you chose to go to the college, right? You applied and they let you in. So why can't they make up the rules? If the government comes to my private house and says "Craig, if you call someone a water buffalo, we'll have to kick you out of the city.", that's unfair. But I mean, shit, if you don't want to play by school rules, leave the school. That's your option.

And maybe if I had had higher aspirations in college than making movies or getting laid, I'd feel more passionate about colleges limiting free speech. But I don't. You can say that the issue is bigger than that... but is it?

The other side of this slippery slope is REALLY letting ANYONE say ANYTHING, which leads to crap like intelligent design and Pat Robertson.

As usual, everything needs a balance. You have the right to call my wife a slut and I have the right to knock your fucking teeth out.

Balance, my friends. Balance.

This post was horribly thought out.

Anonymous said...

aren't you guys supposed to be writing scripts?

JudgeHolden said...

Scripts, schrimpts!

Interesting points, everyone. Harwell, I think you're dead on and I agree with you. Having been the only one in this discussion who actually taught in these Anti-Speech Factories, I think your views are helpful because they rise above the merely theoretical.

Anonymous said:
"They (liberals, I'm assuming, but you could have meant conservatives here), like most people, are totally lost and grasping for answers where there are none, so they look for an ideology that simply confirms their limited experience. If they were oil executives living in Texas, they'd be singing a different tune and following a different crowd. I think that conformity is pretty much inherent to human beings, that's the reason we all wanted those ugly red Air Jordans in the 3rd grade. Some may consider themselves above it, and proclaim themselves to be non-conformists, but they too are conforming to something, even if it's non-conformity."

I think you're conceding too much with this old demoralizing trope, Anonymous. Sure, people often conform with the group they're in in order to get along. But what about the role that person's personality, upbringing, and worldview played in getting them into that group in the first place? To what extent are these groups you accuse of unavoidable group-think, actually just an inevitable gathering of like-minded people? I bet oil executives think similarly, but when they got into the company, do you think there was an even mix of liberals and conservatives, and only after they realized, "I have to be a conservative to move up in this place!" they began to think conservative? Probably not.

Hinesy wrote:
"What I don't much understand, have never understood and fail to sympathize with is how people are so fucking sensitive to a bunch of sounds that are strung together ... But in the end, they're just fucking words."

As Shawn said, words are important. In my mind, they aren't just sounds strung together. For example, the N-word has been, historically, a word used to connote one's power over another race. Yes, technically it is just a joining together of sounds, but if that's all words actually were, if there was no meaning in them, we wouldn't be able to communicate using them. It seems that only whites complain about the limiting of speech like this -- like the folks who complain that black people can say the n-word but white people can't -- that's a double standard! they say. If you dropped the whole world and all of its people newborn into the world and just like that there was only the world as it is and there was no history, than yes, it would be a double standard. But there is history, there is context, and the context of a white person saying that word as opposed to that of a black person saying that word, are worlds apart -- one is acceptable, the other is not. The n-word is one fraught with meaning, maybe more so than any other word in the English language (though Laura Hart McKinny's on record saying she disagrees), and society's restriction of white people's ability to say it in mixed company is just a fact of life. To change it you'd have to go back and change a lot of history.

Also, I think part of the reason there are so many liberals teaching in colleges is that, for many conservatives, especially religious conservatives, their capacity for critical thought ends long before it does for more secular-minded intellectuals. For most liberal academics, a belief in God doesn't exist in their minds to constrict or otherwise limit their thinking about science, or politics, or history, or literature. Because many, not all certainly, but many, conservatives ARE hamstrung by a deeply held belief in God and Jesus and the Bible, they are not able, or even particularly interested in, developing critical thought in others because they have lost the ability in themselves. Though there are many many respected conservative secularist educators in the country, the reason I think there aren't more is because I believe religious thought is an obstacle to critical thought, and why hire someone to teach a class when that person has stopped thinking? Critical thought is, after all, one of the cornerstones of a college education.

Anyway. Awesome, well-written opinions all around -- they were a lot of fun to read.

harwell said...

Crane - do you remember what Laura Hart McKinny said??? That has to be online somewhere. Fifty bucks to whoever can find it first and post it so I can read it. And by fifty please know that I mean zero.

I'm glad you brought up Hinesy's quote, because that to me is the most interesting thing about hate speech. And Hinesy expressed the problem from his own personal experience. Should you let a word bother you? No. Of course not! You know that. It's just a word! But can a word still bother the shit out of you even if you know it shouldn't? YES. We're humans and we hurt and get hurt. Words may not break your bones but they can sure as shit break your heart...

Anybody catch Chappelle on Inside the Actor's Studio? You could literally see this conflict play out on his adorable little face. He talked about wanting to be more socially responsible, and taking shit from family members from using the n-word and some of the jokes he's told (his mom's a professor, incidentally). And yet, he still laughed when they showed a clip of his sketch about the white family whose last name is "Niggar." It's a great, great sketch. Funny as hell. But that doesn't mean he wants you or I calling anybody the n-word. And it doesn't mean he isn't conflicted when he uses the word himself for a laugh. Language is complex and complicated! Context is complex and complicated!

It's also important to note that the contexts which we deem acceptable and unacceptable are by and large defined by society and NOT the government. And if you think about it this way, the restriction of hate speech in education IS preparing students for the realities of the world. It teaches students that there are effective and ineffective contexts for everything they say (not just hate speech) and that it is important to learn how to gauge these situations. For better or worse, that's reflective of society I think.

blankfist said...

My brain is about as fried as it can be from reading all these comments, especially the grossly liberal ones. So far, most (if not all) of the anonymous posts have been as insightful and dead right to me as Harwell's comments have been to Crane.


Moorhead wrote:
Well, you chose to go to the college, right? You applied and they let you in. So why can't they make up the rules? If the government comes to my private house and says "Craig, if you call someone a water buffalo, we'll have to kick you out of the city.", that's unfair. But I mean, shit, if you don't want to play by school rules, leave the school. That's your option.

So, freedom of speech only counts in private homes? And, so, a public university is able to create its own rules, and if you disagree with them, then you have to lump it or leave it, huh? I think I remember Zell Miller saying something to a similar effect at one point about Georgia. Hell, I've heard countless times people saying "well, if [the proverbial "they"] don't like it, then [they] can leave", whether it be the country, the state, or even a public institution. That's absurd.

Where do you draw the line on free speech? And who decides where that line is drawn? To a Democrat, the line might seem clear and well defined, strictly remove those words that are offensive to Minorities, but once you start drawing lines and restricting speech, what's to say the moral majority won't jump on that band wagon? What's to say other groups won't either? Eventually, conversations, debates and study about Christianity could be removed from campus. Then, maybe, the words "Mohammed" and "Alah" would disappear from the collective campus voice. Maybe, even the utterance of "gay" would get you expelled with a new "no tolerance" language code enforced on all public campuses.

Sounds farfetched, huh? Yeah, I guess the approximated 30% income tax probably sounded farfetched to people back in the late 1700s. I bet a law against sleeping in your car would sound farfetched, but there it is on the books.

I know everyone is coming from a good place. You want us all to make rational choices based on the common good, and I can appreciate that. I really can. But, remember Clifton Bell's 1st year video project about a white man and a black man getting stuck in an elevator? Remember the racial slurs being thrown about from all sides? Should Clif have been expelled for that film? And, if you say "no", because the film was a piece of art, then I say that's incredibly biased, and a true representation of where your thoughts of free speech restrictions begin and end on campus.

JudgeHolden said...

All right, Heath. Solution time. Harwell, Craig and I have been defending the current system, uncool as that may be. You've been attacking our positions, which is, comparatively, an easier job. So what's the solution? In Heath world, how would unrestricted free speech work on a public college campus? Specifically, how do you make a workable free-speech policy for your campus that does not tell minorities who are victims of hate-speech to, in essence, suck it up and get over it. Go!

harwell said...

Heath - I'll keep it short and sweet. How many times do I gotta say the words "context" and "case by case"? Cliff wasn't promoting hate speech in his film; in fact, if I remember correctly it was just the opposite. Who out there (ESPECIALLY among liberals) is preaching that these words be removed from all situations entirely??? How can you teach people the problems with using the n-word, without evoking the n-word??? You're imagining a slippery slope scenario that the vast majority of liberals would never ever be in favor of. Again, prove that the widespread restriction of freedom of speech is happening and show me some victims of these restrictions. I'm all ears. (Well, all ears and one mighty weiner)

By the way - anybody else have to consistently enter two attempts at the word verification before it's verified??

blankfist said...

Word Verification times out to keep spam bots from eventually guessing their letter combinations. It's a complicated issue, and I'm not altogether sure you'd comprehend it, Hardswell. On any account, how many times do you have say the words "context" and "case by case"? Well, as many times as I have to say, who decides where the line should be drawn? And, I get that you and Crane (and most likely Craig, as well) are putting the blame on the implication behind someone's use of words. But, what if there was a true racist on campus, and he really hated blacks, and this guy, we'll call him Adam Stone, really wanted to voice his opinions on how he thought blacks were bottomfeeding lowlifes and whatever else you can think of. So, Adam makes a film bolstering his anti-black sentiment, and it plays right after Clif's film. What now? Do you allow Clif a free pass, because his views are in sync with the majority, teaching what we agree with as a majority, and disallow Adam's because his is not? And, am I the only one that sees this as absurd? It's selective. It goes against the very idea of freedom, which is a process for open ideas, good and bad, whereas new ideas can surface, offensible or not, where free thought can be acheived through debate rather than forced thought based on restrictions. It nearly sounds like you want to put the screws to the youth in order to have them think and act the way you think the world should, as opposed to allowing others their personal liberties.

Crane, you know my solution: uncontestable free speech on public campus. Period. What have I been yamming about for the past three days?

harwell said...

Heath - I will humor your retarded arguments, nut juice. If Adam Stone made a film with a singular aim of spreading hate speech, it would have no place in a place of education. Clif's film was educational. It spoke against hate speech. It's not allowing anyone a free pass, Heath. It's simply knowing what IS right and what IS wrong. Freedom of speech is wrong when you're allowed to hurt people's feelings, especially minorities who need coddling from us pussy liberals.

harwell said...

Clearly I didn't actually write that last post, though it did make me laugh.

Honestly, I'm tired of this subject. We'll just have to agree to disagree. If Adam's film is promoting hate speech it shouldn't be allowed in an educational environment, because there's nothing educational about hate speech. No one comes into a university system needing help in learning how to hate - they've had 18 years of experience with that. College is a time where we need to unlearn a lot of hate, and there's nothing absurd about this. The university draws the line and they have the right to do so as they are the public face of ALL students and as such, you can't seriously expect them to be vague about a tolerance of hate speech. It's just not going to happen.

I had a teacher say something once that blew my mind. He said simply, "Fairness is not the goal of education." I couldn't agree more and I'll stop now to let you interpret that to support your point somehow.

blankfist said...

College is a time where we need to unlearn a lot of hate.

Yeah, let's got to school to unlearn.

Anonymous said...

You know, the Nazis had schools where they took the jews to unlearn. Because, there's nothing more Nazi than unlearning.

Anonymous said...

Or relearning. Are we saying the Libs are a swastika shy of being the combined voice of Hitler?

blankfist said...

ouch.

Nathan said...

Ouch is right. I like that anonymous guy/gal.

I'm pretty liberal...which, to me means "say and do whatever you want as long as you're not physically hurting anyone else"

I don't understand what could be liberal about restricting speech or expression.

Words can break a heart...FOR SURE. But you can choose to ignore them. If you don't like what you're hearing, walk away. If you don't like what you're seeing on the TV, turn the fucking channel. You can't have this half-hearted, as-you-like it kind of freedom. That's not freedom at all.

Fried Pepperoni said...

So, Hinesy, if you walk around your classroom calling your students zipperheaded gooks they should just choose to ignore it? Because that's freedom, baby?

blankfist said...

Or they can choose to not ignore it and post a vigil inside the classroom where they dine on the rarest of dog meat.

blankfist said...

Racist.

Nathan said...

Not necc...but IF i went around my class calling my students zipperhead gooks...well...they'd probably a) have to look up the slang. Then they would likely b) tell me to go to Vietnam and if I persisted, or switched things up and started calling them chinks or rice-niggers...I would probably be out of school because they would c) quickly choose another school to attend..which they would have every right to do. I would do it myself. I hate being called a chink.

But would they go and inact legislation? No. If I did the name calling while working for someone else, then I would deserve a good firing because running off all a business's customers just isn't, well, good for business.

But should this be an issue for legislation? Naaa. I don't think so.

I suppose we could bring up discrimination in the workplace. Should someone have the right to not hire a qualified person b/c they are of a different whatever (race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc.)? Well...in the states they are required by law to do just that. It's a sticky subject and I just don't know. On one hand it's incredibly shitty and aweful, but on the other hand, a person's business is a private matter and, just like choosing who you invite into your home, shouldn't you have the final say in who is working for you?

Not hiring someone for race or sex is abhorrent and just plain stupid....but I'm not sure that legislation on these types of matters is going to let the healing begin. In fact, the legislation is there. The healing certainly isn't.

Who knows. This is just the kind of thing you get with a melting pot society. There's no racial violence to speak of, here in Taiwan. But that's because there's pretty much one race. or a 99.9 to .1 ratio. Forigners are just looked upon with bemused curiosity and if they cause too much of a ruckus (especially yalping about their rights.) then they're just shipped off. It's all nice and quiet and orderly. But the racism of it is still there.

However I'd prefer the chaos and friction that the melting pot provides. You can't have freedom AND order. It's freedom vs. order and if I had to choose, I'd go with the more interesting of the two.

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