Universities and “Free” Speech

From the Volokh Conspiracy, via The Washington Post.

In a then-latest in a long line of speech intolerance in the name of tolerance (is this what they’re teaching in these institutions of “higher” “education” these days?), ex-Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, Robert Birgeneau, chose to withdraw from giving the commencement speech at Haverford this spring (just what do these pupils think they’re commencing on receipt of their parchments of achievement?). A loud minority of pupils and putative professors objected to Birgeneau’s use of police to break up an Occupy protest while he was at Berkeley, on the odd theory that it’s somehow inappropriate to enforce laws and regulations on college campuses.

Birgeneau’s replacement speaker wasn’t shy about this PC nonsense, however.

Ex-Princeton President William Bowen had this to say on speech “correctness” during the course of his commencement address at Haverford:

I am disappointed that those who wanted to criticize Birgeneau’s handling of events at Berkeley chose to send him such an intemperate list of “demands,” said Bowen, who led Princeton from 1972 to 1988 and last year received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama. “In my view, they should have encouraged him to come and engage in a genuine discussion, not to come, tail between his legs, to respond to an indictment that a self-chosen jury had reached without hearing counter-arguments.”


In keeping with the views of many others in higher education, I regard this outcome [the withdrawal of Birgeneau from the commencement address] as a defeat, pure and simple, for Haverford—no victory for anyone who believes, as I think most of us do, in both openness to many points of view and mutual respect.

What he said.

Either we’re a nation whose citizens are free to speak, and where we are free to choose for ourselves to what speech we will listen, or we’re a nation whose citizens are free to speak and to hear only those messages that have been approved for us by our Betters. There is nothing in between.

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