Democratic Commissioner Suggests Need For Greater Speech Limitations On College Campuses

bio_yakiThere is a disturbing story how this week concerning the U.S. Civil Rights Commission and specifically Commissioner Michael Yaki, a Democratic appointee who was a former senior adviser to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Yaki spoke on sexual harassment law in education, a subject on which I have previously written to express my concerns over the loss of due process rights for accused students. Yaki’s comments however seem to threaten core free speech principles as he laid out his view of the need to curtail harmful speech. Yaki spoke of the need to outlaw unpopular or what he considers degrading speech because college students are too impressionable.

He highlighted the types of speech that he want banned as including certain types of fraternity or parody displays considered offensive. He also included pageants as possible speech crimes due to the dangers inherent in “a situation involving women” in which they “parade around in skimpy clothing and turn in some show or something.”

He then added: “I mean where do you think you can, that the university can’t deal with ensuring the route it has environment that is not oppressive or hostile because obviously a campus, especially certain types of campuses where there’s a lot of — where — that are geographically compact, that have a lot of working and living situations in a close area to create a campus atmosphere . . . Doesn’t that gravitate toward having greater ability to proscribe certain types of conduct that have the ability to escalate beyond what anyone would consider to be reasonable or acceptable?”

Whatever that may mean, Yaki then made the most dangerous turn of his comments in suggesting that speech limitations are appropriate on college campuses under the same theory as applied to elementary students: “It has to do with science. More and more, the vast majority, in fact — I think — overall in bodies of science is that young people, not just K through 12 but also between the ages of 16 to 20, 21 is where the brain is still in a stage of development.” Yaki’s distinction between “the juvenile or adolescent or young adult brain processes information” and “adult brains” would allow for sweeping speech limitations. He simply declared that even college brains are “vastly different from the way that we adults do.” He added that “when we sit back and talk about what is right or wrong in terms of First Amendment jurisprudence from a reasonable person’s standpoint, we are really not looking into the same referential viewpoint.” This distinction, he argued, offers “very good and compelling reasons why broader policies and prohibitions on conduct in activities and in some instances speech are acceptable on a college campus level that might not be acceptable say in an adult work environment or in an adult situation.”

We have seen in recent years increasing demands for the curtailment of speech as hate crimes or forms of discrimination. We have even seen professors engage in alleged crimes to stop speech on subjects like abortion. While Republicans were once criticized in the 1960s as hostile to campus speech, it now appears that Democrats are more often demanding the criminalization or the banning of different forms of speech. The suggestion that college brains are undeveloped and requiring protection from bad speech is truly unnerving.

Source: Yahoo. Eugene Volokh first reported on these statements by Yaki.

111 thoughts on “Democratic Commissioner Suggests Need For Greater Speech Limitations On College Campuses”

  1. Yes, it has been contended by some that the brain is still in “a stage of development” until around age 25, perhaps, but that doesn’t mean students can’t deal with free speech. Also, the part of the brain that may remain undeveloped relates to impulse control, not ability to deal with written or spoken information.

    In fact, college seems an essential place to learn how to deal with opposing views, as campus free speech defender Greg Lukianoff, of, points out in his excellent book, “Unlearning Liberty.”

    The answer to speech that troubles you is more speech, not having the government come in and cover campus with a big muzzle.

    By the way, about FIRE, they defend, pro bono, those who’ve had their speech squashed on campus — people like students who’d otherwise never be able to afford legal representation. If you have extra money at the end of the year or whenever, and you are passionate about defending our civil liberties, they are a great place to put your dollars.

  2. Squeeky, I just saw your reply to my comment now. Some guys don’t even need testosterone. They get wood from money.

  3. Elaine was criticized and ridiculed for her beliefs, and she did not play the victim.

    1. Everyone,

      I realize that there is a history of antagonism between posters. However, we do not allow personal tit-for-tats on this blog. I am not going to delete past comments but I ask that it stops here. If you have nothing to say about the subject of this topic that is divorced from personal attacks, I ask that you move on to another thread or another blog.

  4. Gigi, Indeed. We are losing our freedoms and the duopoly is the reason.

  5. Yaki’s yucky comments are another example of how hard it is to keep freedom. To keep it, we must all fight for it and defend it–or we will lose it.

  6. Elaine M,

    Right you are, it’s good seeing you back. I appreciate yours and Mike As comments ever so much. You all put value to this site, it seems some love the sophomore roll.

    I have been gone nearly three weeks and I noticed Mark did not have his grace under pressure series. That was when I stated going back further in threads. I hope you can and will stay.

  7. Elaine, You have the last word. Getting on point, what’s your take on this buffoon Pelosi appointed? You’ve made several comments on this thread, but to date none have been on the topic of this thread. I’m interested in your take.

  8. I’m not going to engage in a “tit for tat” with you. Some came here to stir up trouble. Then they cried victim when people responded to them. That’s all I’ll have to say. You can continue to spread your version of how things were. Those who have been around for a longer time than you know the truth of the matter.

    1. Elaine – it is so good of you to play victim. We all need someone to do that for us.

  9. Nick,

    You weren’t around when I arrived. You didn’t come on the scene until years later. Your perception is not the reality of how things were.

  10. I sometimes stay @ the Hotel Felix, which is just a block from the Poetry Foundation on West Superior in Chicago.

  11. Revisionism. The record speaks for itself. It was a war zone if you weren’t part of the liberal club. The late, Idealist, mentored me in the tactics and helped me get through the vile comments I endured. There is no longer an echo chamber here. The vile comments have virtually ceased. Most appreciate that, some lament it. C’est la vie. We must learn from the past but always look forward w/ a positive attitude and good humor.

  12. leej,

    I have been “hanging around” the Turley blog since 2009. (I became a guest blogger in 2010.) Back when I got hooked on commenting here, there were quite a number of conservatives who were also regulars–some were moderate and some were far right wingers. We also had the transient trolls who were off- the-wall wackos. Still, we had intelligent and invigorating discussions. We had little of the constant nasty sniping that you see today. People didn’t continually insult or make false accusations against others. It was a much more cordial forum.

  13. Mike Appleton,

    I can see a possible tort there. A crime would be tough to prove. I’d have to know what those directly involved were thinking inside the incident. Anyway, as I far as I know, legal action wasn’t broached by anyone.

    Willingness on the part of the University is the key. The leftists were confident they would get away with their vigilantism, and they were right. Group members also believed the leftists would get away with it, which was a major obstacle to the group’s early development. Ideally, adding a protected class to the University’s discrimination policy wouldn’t have been necessary for the group to work, but the reality is on campus that’s how things work.

  14. Eric:

    What you described is an assault. It is not necessary to create “codes” to deal with assaults. It does, however, require a willingness on the part of the University to prosecute. A college campus is not intended to be a refuge from the requirements of statutory and common law.

  15. That’s why Big Pharma is hawking testosterone on TV. There’s money in them there hormones.

Comments are closed.