We have discussed the growing intolerance for opposing views of politics or the law on our campuses. The most recent example is small but highly illustrative. The sorority Kappa Delta has issued an abject apology. The reason is that the sorority committed the unforgivable sin of tweeting out a congratulations to Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a member of the sorority at Rhodes College, on her nomination to the Supreme Court. One should not have to agree with Barrett’s judicial philosophy to offer a simple attagirl to a sorority sister for her extraordinary accomplishment. However, other members protested that this simple act of civility was “hurtful” and traumatic to them as fellow members. The most notable however was feminist writer Amy Siskind who previously was attacked on Twitter for her own views opposing Black Lives Matter and supporting such political figures as John McCain and Sarah Palin. It is a tale of two Amys and one is being shunned for defending her long-held views and one is being celebrated for dispensing with them.
Today I have the pleasure of speaking at Brookings Institution as part of the Washington University’s speaker’s series. Ironically, the speech is on the use of legislative history, a subject much discussed yesterday in the confirmation hearing of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. I will therefore step away from blogging for an hour to appear virtually. Continue reading “Turley Speaks At Brookings On Legislative History and Judicial Interpretation”
Many of us in the free speech community have long complained that the 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is often dismissed in cases addressing the free speech rights of students. The famous decision declared that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” Yet, courts have regularly curtailed free speech rights in deference to school officials maintaining discipline and order in their schools, even in the regulation of speech outside of schools. One rare victory emerged this week in Louisiana where a federal judge ruled that Superintendent Frances Varnado and Washington Parish School District board violated the rights of a high school senior by painting over his mural of President Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon relied on Tinker and declared the mural to be protected political speech.
Midwestern State University in Texas Professor Nathan Jun has triggered a free speech fight in Texas after a series of unhinged, hateful statements on social media. Wearing an Antifa teeshirt on social media, Jun has lashed out at police, capitalists, and politicians. His views are extreme and offensive. They are also, in my view, entirely protected. Much like the banning of Louis Farrakhan discussed yesterday, Jun is the test of our true commitment to free speech. By supporting this right to speak, we support the right of everyone, including the vast majority who view Jun’s comments as deeply unsettling and obnoxious. Continue reading “Texas Professor Triggers Free Speech Fight After Calling For The Death Of All Police By Strangulation with the “Intestines of the Last Capitalist””
As we have previously discussed, there has been a bizarre denial in the face of Antifa violence throughout the country. It is particularly difficult to understand since one can acknowledge the violence of Antifa groups while recognizing the violence of far right groups. Yet, that does not fit the narrative in this political environment where every allegation seems to be part of a some zero-sum game of blame. The latest example is Professor of Criminology and Terrorism Studies at UMass-Lowell Arie Perliger, who told The Lowell Sun, that there is absolutely no evidence of organized violence by Antifa. The assertion is astonishing given the extensive evidence of such violence for years on the campuses and streets of the country. Continue reading ““There Is No Evidence”: Professor Publishes Book On Domestic Terrorism While Denying Antifa’s Involvement In Violence”
Two Temple University students were hospitalized after falling four stories while they were allegedly trying to take a selfie at a rooftop party. The students were at a party around 2 a.m. on Saturday when they fell from the rooftop and landed in an alley. The management company insisted that there is an ample barrier, but the case could raise some challenging questions in a tort action for both sides.
Ohio State University Higher Education and Student Affairs Professor Matthew Mayhew has issued an abject apology after penning a column entitled “Why America Needs College Football.” Mayhew argued that the return of college football could get the country through “uncharacteristically difficult times of great isolation, division and uncertainty.” That did not sit well with some at the university and Mayhew published Why America Needs College Football – Part 2 to seek forgiveness for the harm that he caused. The column and its confessional follow-up are unnerving for many in academia in the current debate over free speech on campuses. It is entirely appropriate and commendable for an academic to reconsider his views and retract any statements which he now considers racist or insensitive. However, the retraction of such views as inherently harmful raises questions about the range of acceptable speech today. There are clearly good-faith reasons to favor the return of college football as well as good-faith reasons to oppose it. The question is whether expressing the former is now unacceptable at universities for a professor or student. Despite being a sports fan, I am uneasy about the return of college football during the pandemic. I welcomed the publication of the first column as the start of a possible (and needed) debate on the question and the underlying economic, social, racial and academic issues.
We have been discussing a crackdown on some campuses against conservative columnists and newspapers, including the firing of a conservative student columnist at Syracuse, the public condemnation of a student columnist at Georgetown, and a campaign against one of the oldest conservative student newspapers in the country at Dartmouth. Now, The Badger Herald, a student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin Madison, has dismissed columnist Tripp Grebe after he wrote a column opposing the defunding of police departments. What was equally disturbing was how the rationale for this raw act of viewpoint intolerance tracked the rationale used by the New York Times in a controversy over the column by Sen. Tom Cotton on the George Floyd protests.
It appears that Judge Amy Coney Barrett has gone from a “cult member” for being a devout Catholic to a possible “white colonizer” for adopting two Haitian children. Where most of us saw a loving interracial family at the White House ceremony on Saturday, Ibram X. Kendi, the new director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University, saw a possible case of effective baby snatching by “White colonizers.” Continue reading “Boston University Professor Denounces Barrett As “White Colonizer” For Adopting Two Haitian Children”
A tape has surfaced of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden bizarrely claiming that he “started” at a historically black college in speaking to supporters in South Carolina during the primary. Biden has never made any mention of going to Delaware State University and it is not clear why the many reporters in attendance at the event did not ask when he attended a HBCU. Indeed, he would be the first president to claim such a distinction. He might also have been inartfully referencing his start as a politician. Alternatively, this would seem like an academic version of cultural appropriation. It would seem a valid point of clarification for the media.
We have been discussing the rising intolerance for conservative, libertarian, and Republican students and faculty on campuses across the country. Faculties rarely hire conservative or libertarian professors; journals rarely publish studies from conservative authors. As the number of conservative faculty members diminish or disappear on faculties, schools appear to be carrying out the same bias in student admissions. The Harvard Crimson has finished its annual survey of the incoming class of students and found that the already small population of conservative and Republican students has been cut by roughly half.