Wisconsin Legislators Move To Force Universities To Support Free Speech Rights On Campuses

suspend or expel students who disrupt speakers.  I agree that schools need to suspend or expel students who are engaging in violent or extremely disruptive conduct like shutting down classes like the one at Northwestern. Notably, while a few suspensions were handed out after the assault on a faculty member at Middlebury, no one was expelled.  However, the Wisconsin law is concerning in its language and scope.  We need faculty to stand up for free speech and stand up to these disruptive students, including serious disciplinary action.

I generally oppose legislative interventions in our schools. It is rarely a positive element and can lead to political manipulation of our academic institutions by people with little experience or understanding of the educational mission.  I will admit that, watching the loss of free speech across the country, I have begun to consider such legislative measures in the absence of faculty action.  One of the most depressing elements of this controversy has been the silence of most faculty members. I have heard from faculty who say that they do not want to be labelled racist or insensitive in this environment.  There are already rules against assault and disruptive conduct on campuses.  They are simply not enforced evenly and actively.

Nevertheless, the law is worrisome in its language in applying a type of three strikes approach to the problem.  The bill would require a hearing when any two people complain about a student’s conduct at a speech or presentation.  If a student is found to have engaged in violence or disorderly conduct twice under the law, he or she would be suspended for a semester.  A third offense would require expulsion.

While all of the Democrats voted against the measure, I believe that faculty members are forcing the hand of legislators by failing to act to protect free speech or even academic freedom (as with Northwestern).  The desire to force faculty to act is understandable.  I just do not like the micromanagement of educational institutions.  Another approach could be to curtail funding for schools which do not protect free speech, including schools that claim security as an excuse to deny conservative speakers (as we discussed with regard to schools like DePaul in Chicago).  Legislators could also promulgate new guidelines for free speech and publicly list those schools with a poor record of protecting free speech rights.

This is a real problem and, if faculty cannot stand firm on academic principles of free speech and academic freedom, they are inviting legislative intervention.  I hope that it does not come to that.  I do not view the Wisconsin law as unreasonable or unwarranted. I would just prefer for the schools to show responsibility and develop their own solutions to this problem.


57 thoughts on “Wisconsin Legislators Move To Force Universities To Support Free Speech Rights On Campuses

  1. Hillary’s abandonment of the out of work working class in favor of chasing the meaningless popular vote is still bringing chickens home to roost and covering the former non candidate with doo doo and her admirers the Stupid is as Stupid Does Club.

    Better yet Al Bore is tryinig to joinin the fun and gain a few more shekels for his Secular 700 club blaming the Syrian conflict and ISIS on Global Warming. Does this scrounge have no shame. Sorry Silly Question. That would imply morals values and standards. Lenin would be rolling in his grave to think these were the best followers The Plato to Marx system could produce. Surprise surpise They weren’t the one’s Plato picked in the end When finished with his philosophical construct of a totalitarian single leader system with no franchise at all his most famous and most ignored remark was.

    “It won’t work.” Thus rejecting his own carefully thought out plan. “My fellow Greeks are too independent and would never stand for it.”

    It was up to Aristotles Children to take the study to a higher plane but not quite high enough …enter Kant and Hegel who didn’t pay heed to Plato’s Booby Trap.ambush. Instead Enlightment fell to Dark Ages II and millions died until the final pieces were put together and published in the 1960’s.

    The side note is most of those writings of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were destroyed by a developing religious philosophy called Christianity. which stemmed from Judaism which stemmed from the Greek Philosophers. How did that occur. Ask God. For certain the Catholic Church does not know. They had their own version which inexorably led to Kant, Hegel, Marx and Engels. No one man or group of men are perfect.

    So who saved the hard work? None other than the Muslims of all people Some of the multiple cites and sources listed below.

    God by whatever name works in mysterious ways and wonders doth perform. Enough for me I was given mind , the power to recognize that fact an the accompanying power it to use it

    Transmission of the Greek Classics – Wikipedia

    The introduction of Greek philosophy and science into the culture of the Latin West in the … In Rome, Boethius propagated works of Greek classical learning. … his work undoubtedly helped in forming a clearer picture of Greek philosophy, and particularly …. While Greek ideas gradually permeated the Islamic world, Muslims …

    Early Islamic philosophy – Wikipedia
    Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical … Some of the significant achievements of early Muslim philosophers included the … by Arabic translations of Greek, Jewish, Persian and Egyptian works translated …. They thereafter made their theories clearer and their logic closer.Islamic philosophy – Wikipedia
    The main sources of classical or early Islamic philosophy are the religion of Islam itself (especially ideas derived and interpreted from the Quran) and Greek …

    Greek philosophy: impact on Islamic philosophy

    During the Hellenistic period (323-43 bc), classical Greek philosophy … Cordoba, capital of Muslim Spain, began to vie with Baghdad as the centre of ‘ancient learning’. … biographer, in search for ‘the ways and beliefs of the Persians and Indians’. … some of their writings, sometimes lost in Greek, were translated into Arabic.

    Greek Sources in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy (Stanford …
    Feb 23, 2009 – Before the rise of Islam, a multisecular tradition of learning (Brock 1977, …. An early translation of the Timaeus is mentioned in the … Of prominent importance are two writings lost in Greek: On … doctrine an extraordinary impact on subsequent Arabic philosophy, especially in the East of the Muslim world.

    Ibn Rushd (Averroes) | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    iep.utm.edu/ibnrushd/The earliest biographers and Muslim chroniclers speak little about his … the challenge posed by the Greek philosopher’s texts and commissioned Ibn Rushd to write a … While this article focuses on Ibn Rushd’s own philosophical writings, a word … producing multiple commentaries on all of Aristotle’s works, save his Politics, ..

    and thus the path to Enlightenment II emerged October 10, 1957

    Objectively Speaking.

    Wallow in the Mire if you have time. Try and you can only lose or become an unheeded Cry For Help. All in all we’re just another brick in the (collective) wall. We DON’T need NO education. and Teacher leave those kids alone.

  2. Oh, get use to it. I’s is just a movement seeking attention – it will fail because it is wrong. My advice is Ignore !

  3. If we could guarantee the security of rights without living in civil society, then no government would be necessary. There is a reason we don’t live in the state of nature. The greater the ignorance and apathy towards self-government has become, the greater the dependence on the state has become to govern the behavior of society.

    No university should need legislation to do what they already have the power to do. They should already have a published Student Code of Conduct that needs to be enforced. If anything is to be passed by the state legislature, it should be requiring every publicly-funded institution faculty and administrator to take the same oath as their elected government officials do. Then subject the public funding to the scrutiny of the school honoring their commitment to the students rights.

    • The greater the ignorance and apathy towards self-government has become, the greater the dependence on the state has become to govern the behavior of society. well said.

      • Thank you Christine.

        We as a citizenry function much like children when it comes to behavior (wants/needs). Just like children, our worldview is limited to those few things that grasp our attention. We fight with each other over singular issues and seem to be unable to reason our way to solutions that are mutually beneficial (securing rights) for everyone. That lack of self-governance results in needing adults (government) to step in and solve our problems for us. The real problem is we never grow up, because we don’t have to.

        This analysis of Immanuel Kant’s What is Enlightenment? is fairly short, but it really does express the situation we find ourselves in very well.

        According to Immanuel Kant, enlightenment was man’s release from “self-incurred tutelage.” Enlightenment was the process by which the public could rid themselves of intellectual bondage after centuries of slumbering. After providing a careful analysis of the causes why tutelage occurred, he proposes the requirements for enlightenment. He wants the public to think freely, act judiciously and be “treated in accordance with their dignity” (Internet Modern History Sourcebook 4).

        Kant says that tutelage occurred because of many reasons. The first was laziness. Men thought it cumbersome to reason and enlarge their knowledge. Simple obedience was less onerous to their simple minds. Kant explains that the second reason, cowardice, supplemented their laziness. The general public feared to use their reason because they were not willing to venture in to uncharted waters. They were afraid to have a few falls in the process of learning how to walk. The third reason he argued, was the select few who were smarter put themselves on top by depriving the general public of knowledge and education. Thus, the so called elites complemented the cowardice and fear of the general public by suppressing them and leading them back to the “harness of the cart to which they were tethered” (Internet Modern History Sourcebook 1).They did this by showing the goodness of the present society they were in, and magnifying the unseen and ghastly dangers that existed in uncharted venues of reason. The final reason Kant gives for tutelage is complacency and blind obedience. The people were smug in their shackles of centuries old serfdom. Like “domestic cattle” they obeyed without bothering to challenge norm or person to alleviate their suffering (Internet Modern History Sourcebook 1).

        After discussing the reasons why tutelage occurred, Kant presents the requirements for enlightenment. The foremost requirement is freedom. He believes that freedom to express oneself honestly is paramount for enlightenment. This is important because when a man is allowed to freely express his thoughts and opinions without penalization, he will offer ideas without fear and restriction. Kant is actually promoting freedom of speech and the tolerance of diverse viewpoints. But he also warns that the expression of one’s opinions must not prevent him from discharging his duties to the public. Kant’s second point is the leaders must be enlightened first for the public to be enlightened. Until the monarch is enlightened, he will not grant his subjects the necessary freedom to think without considering opposing viewpoints as an act of insubordination. He makes a bold statement about monarchism when he says “his law giving authority rests on his uniting the general public will in his own” (Internet Modern History Sourcebook 3). He is actually saying the monarch’s commands and wishes should be a representation of the people and their interests. He emphasizes that a republican government should comply with the wishes of its citizens and not forces them into blind and foolish obedience. He strongly expresses the need for a government that does not intimidate its citizens, but rather encourages them.

        While it is true that monarchies abused their authority by depriving the people of education and forcing obedience, Kant blames the general public for tutelage. Kant reiterates that enlightenment is “the escape of men from self-their incurred tutelage”


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