Reminder: Campus Violence that Suppresses Speech is a Federal Crime

A New York Post editorial offers a good roundup of prominent speakers who have recently been prevented from giving speeches by what Ace calls the “feral humanoids” who infest university campuses.

UC-Berkeley this week canceled an April 27 Ann Coulter speech, fearing riots….

Masked, rock-throwing thugs prevented a February speech by Milo Yiannopoulos….

Berkeley’s move follows the Black Lives Matter disruption of a UCLA speech by the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, and efforts to muzzle her the next night at Claremont-Pomona College….

Last month, goons stopped American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray from delivering a moderately conservative talk at Middlebury College, with Professor Allison Stanger hospitalized by the violence.

Of course, only speakers on the political right are muzzled; the commandant of a North Korean gulag could probably speak unimpeded, as did Iran’s Ahmadinejad at Columbia a few years ago. And the excuse given by university officials is always the same: safety. Here, for instance, is Berkeley’s statement on nixing Coulter.

“We have been unable to find a safe and suitable venue,” said the letter from Vice Chancellor Scott Biddy and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Stephen Sutton. “Given current active security threats, it is not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully.”

“Active security threats,” you say? And where might those threats be coming from? ISIS? North Korea? Why no, the threat of violence is coming from Berkeley’s own students and employees. So what the Berkeley Vice Chancellors are saying is that they cannot maintain order among their own people. This is a huge admission of failure on the part of the university administration.

The primary mission of the university is to maintain an environment of free intellectual inquiry. But instead of fulfilling that mission, the university administrators prefer to run their institutions as left-wing indoctrination camps. The administrators probably have it within their power to maintain order. The universities (scandalously) even have their own armed police forces. They could arrest, and subsequently suspend or expel students who engage in disorderly conduct. As Thomas Lifson points out,

There are plenty of law enforcement resources available to the University of California if it wished to preserve the tradition of open inquiry upon which the many public (i.e., taxpayer) subsidies and privileges available to U.C. are premised. When Governor Ronald Reagan faced a campus insurrection at Berkeley, he called in the National Guard and tear-gassed the protesters in Sproul Plaza – the very place the anti-Milo rioters used to destroy property and threaten lives.

If they took action, Berkeley officials could insure freedom of speech and assembly. But they choose not to. They willingly allow the Heckler’s Veto to censor speech, because they agree with the hecklers.

Unless these universities restore free speech and inquiry, they are not worthy of continued support from the public. Maybe a few lefties are willing to pay tuition and taxes to support far-left camps posing as institutions of intellectual inquiry, but most people are not. It is high time that taxpayers and their elected representatives insist that universities clean up their act. When administrators like Berkeley’s Scott Biddy and Stephen Sutton claim that they cannot allow speech–because safety–the state legislature should respond by asking for their resignations. Or as the New York Post put it,

Increasingly, US campuses are the exact opposite of the bastions of free thought and debate they’re supposed to be. If the schools can’t save themselves, society has every right to demand new management.
[Emphasis added.]

Not only should people lose their jobs, but the civil rights division of the Justice Department would be justified in launching a criminal investigation, particularly in the case of Berkeley. Many of these schools including Berkeley are state-run institutions, which means they must abide by the First Amendment. Back in February, Berkeley city and university officials let rioters run wild, making no arrests, even though they were beating people and causing over $500,000 in damages.

Moreover, complicity in violence and intimidation that prevents people from exercising their Constitutional rights is a crime under 18 U.S. Code § 241.

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;…They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years…

Every time campus leftists organize to use intimidation to shut down conservative speakers, they haven’t just been rude or unsporting, they have committed a federal crime. It is a crime, and long overdue that the Justice Department start treating it as such.

I also agree with Professor Glenn Reynolds that President Trump would be justified in sending in the National Guard to protect campus speakers, as Eisenhower did in Little Rock to allow black students to safely attend high school. Both cases involve not just public safety, but also an essential issue of Civil Rights.

The University as Holiday Resort: Yale Edition

The new video by We the Internet does a great job explaining the reasons for the current parlous state of free speech and inquiry at American universities. The focus is on Yale University, but Yale’s pathologies apply generally to academia as a whole.

Silence U Part 2: What Has Yale Become?

At pjmedia.com, Richard Fernandez reviews the video and concludes that

Yale is becoming a kind of jail which hands out professional credentials to those hardy enough to serve out their term. Until then its inmates should be careful not to make waves. The wardens in Miltmore’s story are college administrators who’ve created a kind of politically correct kingdom where they — not the professors — are the rulers; where conformity not inquiry, is the most highly valued virtue.

But the university seems like a jail only to libertarian or conservative heretics who reject the ruling-class orthodoxy. To non-heretics the university offers a pleasant experience filled with parties and a wide range of recreational activities. Instead of a jail, the modern university more closely resembles an extended four-year religious summer camp, where instruction in the ruling-class catechism is combined with social and outdoor activities, a kind of holiday resort or sanatorium for the next generation of the ruling class. The appropriately descriptive term used in the video is “the gilded camp.”

As the video points out, the reason the university has become a kind of resort is “the customer service mentality.” As a result, a huge bureaucracy–“the administrative squid monster”–has been installed in order to “keep the fun going.” As a former Yale professor says, “It’s not about what we expect from you [the student], it’s about what we can do for you.”

The squid monster is primarily interested in feeding itself and is “not that committed to the search for truth.” Instead of a place of open inquiry, therefore, we get the religious summer camp, where lots of fun is available for everyone who does not question orthodoxy, but those who dare to rock the boat shall be persecuted as heretics.

The video tellingly contrasts the Yale of today with the Yale of 1974 which produced the famous Woodward Report in defense of free speech. A primary goal of today’s campus agitators is to ban ‘hate speech,’ but more than forty years ago the Woodward Report explicitly considered that argument and rejected it.

Shock, hurt, and anger are not consequences to be weighed lightly. No member of the community with a decent respect for others should use, or encourage others to use, slurs and epithets intended to discredit another’s race, ethnic group, religion, or sex. It may sometimes be necessary in a university for civility and mutual respect to be superseded by the need to guarantee free expression. The values superseded are nevertheless important, and every member of the university community should consider them in exercising the fundamental right to free expression.

We have considered the opposing argument that behavior which violates these social and ethical considerations should be made subject to formal sanctions, and the argument that such behavior entitles others to prevent speech they might regard as offensive. Our conviction that the central purpose of the university is to foster the free access of knowledge compels us to reject both of these arguments. They assert a right to prevent free expression. They rest upon the assumption that speech can be suppressed by anyone who deems it false or offensive. They deny what Justice Holmes termed ”freedom for the thought that we hate.” They make the majority, or any willful minority, the arbiters of truth for all. If expression may be prevented, censored or punished, because of its content or because of the motives attributed to those who promote it, then it is no longer free. It will be subordinated to other values that we believe to be of lower priority in a university.

As the video documents, however, today’s Yale has effectively dropped its defense of speech. When some professors tried to defend free expression, they came under withering assault from students and some faculty, and the administration did not defend them.

Rather than the Woodward Report, today’s Yale is more accurately summarized by the exclamations of ‘screeching girl.’

It is not about creating an intellectual space! It is not! Do you understand that? It’s about creating a home here!

OK! Now that’s settled, we can get back to roasting heretics marshmallows over the (gilded) campfire.

Anti-Lincoln University

At Lincoln University in the UK, a conservative student group made a post to social media highlighting the university’s low rating on free speech. In response, the university’s student union took action to…wait for it…censor the conservative students.

A student union has banned a university Conservative society from using its social media accounts – because they challenged its position on free speech.

Lincoln University’s Conservative Society has been censored by its student union after it posted an image online showing that the university had been ranked “very intolerant” on free speech in a recent survey.

In response, the Students’ Union swiftly suspended the society’s social media accounts, on the grounds that highlighting the university’s ranking had brought it into disrepute.

In this case, it’s not the Conservative Society that is bringing the university into “disrepute.”

This episode reminds me of the time that George Costanza attended the meeting of ‘Rageaholics.’

Seinfeld- George Rageaholics

Does Generation Z Love Liberty?

Blogger “The Audacious Epigone” used data from the General Social Survey to produce a graph that shows increasing support, among people under 40, for censoring speech. I have taken the liberty of copying A.E.’s graph below.

Note that, back in the day, liberals were more supportive of free speech than were conservatives. But now, the reverse is true.

In any event, given the apparent long-term trend, A.E. comes to the pessimistic conclusion that “we’re a decade or two away from an outright majority opposing the first amendment.”

Well, maybe. Trends always continue–until they don’t. For a long time, young people have been getting more and more hostile to free speech, but some people are now claiming that the newest generation–Generation Z–is poised to reverse the trend.

Generation Z is the Post-Millennial generation, born after 1994, and so just coming of age right now.

Charlie Peters, a Gen Z’er and student at the University of Edinburgh, argues that Generation Z is embracing free speech as a reaction to political correctness and the censorious speech policies of university administrators and campus leftists.

With all of this book-burning and platform-denying madness sweeping up much of the media’s interest in campus culture, the gradual rise of another group of students has gone under-reported. British and American millennials and post-millennials – also known as ‘Gen Z’ – are warming to conservatism.

In the United States, college tours by speakers popular with conservatives such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Steven Crowder, Ben Shapiro and Christina Hoff Sommers have become huge events. There has been a spike in membership in conservative college clubs including Young Americans for Liberty, which boasts 804 chapters filled with 308,927 members.

In the United Kingdom, free speech societies have been started across the country.

‘Speakeasy’ groups have been founded at the LSE, Leeds, Queen Mary, Cardiff, Oxford, Manchester and at Edinburgh, where I study. In these groups, ‘unacceptable’ conservative thoughts are debated amongst liberally-minded (as all good conservatives are) students.

Moreover, some student unions have voted to disaffiliate from the National Union of Students (NUS).

Analysis from market research firm, The Gild, shows that ‘Gen Z’ is the most conservative generation since 1945. The research reveals that ‘Gen Z’ Britons are more likely to favour conservative spending, dislike tattoos and body-piercings, and oppose marijuana legislation.

The youth and student members of the British Left have given up trying to win arguments on principle, preferring to shut down the views of those they opponents. But ‘Gen Z’ live in the time of mass media where anyone’s political views can be shared worldwide at ease. By pushing a “you can’t say that” attitude, the young Left in the UK and the US are reducing their opportunity to respond to conservative ideas, and, as a result of this, conservatism is on the rise.

Nowadays, the only thing that is stopping a student from accessing a new idea is a censorious gag from a student union or NUS apparatchik. Whilst the student Left have historically campaigned in support of causes that the West’s youth have been favourable towards, such as the anti-war and anti-austerity movements, they are now picking on something that is dear to us: freedom of information.

Students of my generation have grown up in an era of mass-communication. Each year has brought new tools for the flow of ideas, conversation and media. The rapid expansion of affordable technology has been matched by the growth of the social media market. When it is common for students to be able to easily interact with anyone in the world via a portable computer that fits in their pocket, nothing seems more silly to us than cliquey calls for censorship.

That is why young people and students are becoming conservatives – they’re the only people making the case for a freedom that they love.

If Peters is right, the leftist establishment’s open hostility to free speech is backfiring in a big way. Let’s hope he is right, because nothing less than the survival of freedom is at stake.

The Trouble with Propaganda…

…is that it doesn’t work if the public has access to alternative voices that can contradict the lies. That’s why totalitarian states always have to couple propaganda with ruthless censorship.

This election year, Democrats got their usual billion dollars worth of in-kind contribution from the legacy media, but it wasn’t quite enough to drag their candidate’s felonious and diseased carcass across the finish line. As a result, they are now trying to restore the effectiveness of their propaganda machine by silencing alternative voices. And so, leftoids are organizing a boycott of Breitbart media. Unfortunately, they seem to be having some success as they got Allstate and Kellogg to pull advertising.

prop

Some are also claiming that Apple pulled the Breitbart app from its app store, although I have not been able to confirm that.

It certainly says a lot about leftists that they would rather shut down the debate than try to win it. Their actions do reflect fragility and lack of confidence in their arguments. If they thought their arguments could win the day, they wouldn’t be nearly so keen to suppress speech.

Look, I am not the type of person who seeks to politicize every aspect of life. I work with, and do business with, people who don’t share my political views. But the theory of games teaches us that tit-for-tat is generally an effective strategy. If the left wants to play the boycott game, then GAME ON. There are a couple of Kellogg products that I’ve been purchasing on a fairly regular basis for years. But no more. I don’t currently have Allstate insurance, and I’ll be sure to keep it that way.

Gotta laugh when campus pinks try to argue that corporate America is conservative. That’s a good one.

When is it OK to Ignore Federal Law?

When is it morally justifiable for cities and states to willfully break or obstruct federal law?

Most would agree that it was morally justifiable in the 1850s for Northern states to resist Dred Scott and the ‘fugitive slave’ laws.

Historians, however, are less sympathetic to John C. Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification, which propounds that states can ignore federal statutes they deem to be unconstitutional.

Currently, Democrat mayors of big cities across the country are refusing to enforce federal immigration law.

providence

People who support open borders believe they have a strong moral case. In particular, many libertarians believe that borders and citizenship laws are just means of oppressing people, denying them the basic right to move freely in search of work and a better life.

This argument clearly has some merit, but I don’t find it entirely convincing. Effective borders serve to reduce chaos and ethnic strife. Moreover, open borders, as a practical matter, are incompatible with the modern welfare state. As Milton Friedman said long ago, you can have open borders or a welfare state, but not both. If libertarians want to open up borders, they should first work on setting the necessary preconditions by rolling back the welfare state.

Deciding which federal laws we can ignore is a tricky and dangerous business. If liberals and libertarians think that their moral arguments trump federal law, then can conservative localities do the same? In particular, can a conservative state like Utah or Oklahoma choose to ignore Supreme Court case law and enforce a statewide ban on abortion or gay marriage? Libertarians may disagree, but most citizens of those states believe they have a strong moral case.

How do we resolve conflicts between the law and our moral conscience? I’m not sure I know the answer, but Lincoln’s dictum that a nation divided against itself cannot stand should serve as a cautionary warning.

And as long as we’re on the subject of morality and the law, I have a question about when it’s OK for a private business to refuse service. For instance, Twitter this past week implemented a purge of numerous clients who were using the medium to propagate right-wing views. Many of the users who had their accounts terminated had never tweeted threats of violence, nor had they singled out other users for harassment. Some of the banned users even possessed accounts that had previously been ‘verified’ by Twitter, a distinction usually reserved for celebrities and public figures. Yet Twitter banned them on the basis, apparently, of their political views.

twits

Many commentators defended Twitter’s actions by asserting that, as a private company, Twitter is not bound by the First Amendment, and can therefore censor views it doesn’t like. This argument was made repeatedly in the comment threads of both conservative and liberal websites. For instance, at the USA Today, the most ‘liked’ comment among hundreds made essentially this point. usatoday

If Twitter were a newspaper or a book publisher, I would agree. But in the case of Twitter, the legal analysis does not seem so obvious. Twitter, it could be argued, is less like a private club and more like a public accommodation that offers a service to the public like a phone company. And the fact is that public accommodations are not legally free in all cases to censor speech. The phone company cannot terminate your service for telling an offensive joke over the phone. And under the Supreme Court’s 1980 “Pruneyard” decision, a California shopping mall–a private entity, to be sure–was told that it had to accommodate free speech.

In any event, I am not a First Amendment lawyer, but I do wonder about the apparent legal double standard. How is it that Twitter, as a private platform, can refuse service to right-wingers merely on the basis of their political views, but a private bakery cannot legally refuse to participate in a gay wedding? Can someone clarify that for me?

Furthermore, the foregoing discussion concerns only the law, and not what is morally right. Twitter might be able to censor speech legally, but that does not imply that it is moral for them to do so. As we have seen, morality and the law are often in conflict.

bake-the-cake-copy-jpgqresize580p2c289-pagespeed-ce-fgpa0q_z6sdg7cox8dnj

Big Brother at University of Denver

At the University of Denver’s ‘free speech wall,’ Big Brother is watching you. After some students made politically incorrect postings to the wall, the university installed a video camera. Then the DU administration put everybody on notice.

Students or organizations are encouraged to identify themselves in the message. We expect our community to stand behind their words and art; anonymity does not allow for dialogue and allows one to disrupt community standards without facing the impact and accountability of their work.

“[A]nonymity does not allow for dialogue.”

Oh? Tell that to the Founding Fathers.

Hamilton like to employ a nom de plume that revealed what he regarded as his philosophical roots in classical Rome: Publius, Pacificus, Cattalus, Horatius, and Philo Camillus, for example. Newspaper publisher Benjamin Franklin displayed a mastery of evocative names such as Silence Dogood, Alice Addertongue, Fanny Mournful, Obadiah Plainman, and the delightful Busy Body. The champion in terms of sheer numbers appears to be John Adams, whose 25 or so pen names included Populus, An American, A Son of Liberty, and the vaguely Wrestlemaniacal “Vindex the Avenger”.

The DU administration continues:

A camera has been put in place to monitor The Wall, and students in violation of the above guidelines will be subject to a student conduct evaluation facilitated by the University administration.

Because nothing says ‘feel free to speak’ quite like the threat of an administrative disciplinary process.

bigbrother

The Wall is a vehicle for expression, for inquiry and for inclusivity. These guidelines are not intended to restrict free expression; rather they are a means through which we can continue to thrive as an inclusive community with a shared value system and many varied viewpoints.

This shared value system you speak of does not exist, since it is obvious that some value free speech more than others.

The Regressive Left: Sally Kohn vs. Human Rights

From the Daily Caller:

CNN contributor and progressive activist Sally Kohn criticized free speech advocacy during a Friday debate at the University of Missouri (MU), saying such advocacy was really just an excuse for attacking multiculturalism and other progressive attitudes.

Speech that attacks my beliefs–multiculturalism and progressivism–is not free speech. Free speech for me, but not for thee. Call it Progressive Privilege.

Kohn was at MU as part of a two-day symposium on the topic of campus free speech. Kohn’s event was a debate with fellow CNN contributor Kirsten Powers, in which the two clashed about whether recent campus trends have been harmful to free expression.

When Powers argued that speech should be protected because by itself it is never dangerous, Kohn countered by saying Powers failed to recognize her white privilege.

The real problem is the assertion of Progressive Privilege, the idea that only progressives have free speech rights.

Speech that seems harmless to middle or upper-class whites, she said, could be deeply threatening to poor and non-white communities. If somebody claims to feel certain speech is unsafe, Kohn said, they should be believed.

“Feelings are valid,” she said, according to Stroup. “I’m never going to argue with people’s feelings.”

I don’t argue with feelings either; my arguments are directed only against other arguments. The real question is whether some people should be empowered to use ‘feelings’ as an excuse to shut down the speech of people they disagree with. If feelings can suppress speech, then free speech in any meaningful sense will cease to exist. And this would constitute a gross violation of human rights, because people have a fundamental right to free speech.

Why does Sally Kohn hate human rights?

Kohn also said it’s a good thing if conservatives feel unable to express their views for fear of encountering hostility from their peers or professors.

“If they feel like they can no longer speak against positive social change, good.”

I almost wish American so-called higher education would act on its usually unspoken desire to totally shut down opposing speech so that half the country would have a good excuse to boycott academia and withhold their tax subsidies. And then maybe more people would wake up to the fact that pretty much everything in academia outside of economics, accounting, and STEM is a fraud and rip-off.