It's not surprising, however, that these abusive frenzies have taken hold at the nation's colleges and universities. Increasingly, they are our society's least free, least fair and least honest institutions.Radhika Sainath, "When 'Civility' is Code for Suppression."
Consider campus speech codes. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education -- FIRE -- reports that 58 percent of the 427 colleges and universities it monitors have speech codes banning and penalizing speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
The good news is that the number of speech codes is declining, partly in response to FIRE's advocacy and lawsuits. The bad news is that the Obama Education Department continues to use threats to cut off funding to get universities to ban "sexual harassment," defined as "any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature." As FIRE notes, "This is an overbroad definition that is not in accordance with the First Amendment."
The rationale for speech codes? Usually it is so that students, especially racial minorities and women, should not encounter anything offensive on campus. Thoughts that someone doesn't want to hear, administrators evidently believe, should not be allowed to be expressed. The authors of the First Amendment had a different idea.
By the standards of the powerful, the Free Speech Movement of the 1960s was not civil. Protests against the Vietnam War were not civil. The movement to boycott South African apartheid was not civil. The "No Justice, No Peace" slogans and rolling street protests we see in response to police violence against Black and Brown communities are not civil.I'll let Mr Barone summarize.
These movements were and are controversial, divisive, and made some people uncomfortable. The movement for justice in Palestine is no different. Civility is all too often selectively invoked as an excuse to repress political activism; what ultimately matters is not civility but the causes of justice and freedom and the right to fight for them.
Kangaroo courts, speech codes, racial discrimination: I suspect that some older readers cannot believe that such practices have become standard operating procedure at American colleges and universities -- indeed, the major focus of many of the administrators who now outnumber teachers on the nation's campuses.Justice, freedom: still contested territory. Whether it is black or Palestinian or male lives that are being diminished by the administrative ethos, it is the administrative ethos that is wrong. If there's no chance to play with controversial ideas in the university, where do they get played with?
Historically, universities and colleges saw themselves as havens of free speech and fair play, insulated from the larger society to protect those things from interference. Now they insulate themselves in order to violate due process, suppress speech and discriminate by race.
There's still some good scholarship and teaching on campus. But it exists, uneasily, amid a culture of lying and intellectual corruption.