Hate speech and intolerance deserve regulation by colleges (?)
I have reproduced below a student editorial from Penn State. I have given it in full because it does have a superficial reasonableness about it and in some circumstances I might even agree with it. As the saying goes, however, the Devil is in the detail and what college speech codes end up doing is banning criticism. Not all criticism is banned. You can criticize Christians and conservatives all you like. But that is about it. Criticize anybody or anything else and you are guilty of "hate speech".
So college speech codes are fundamentally anti-intellectual. Criticism should be the lifeblood of higher education. All orthodoxies should come under fierce scrutiny there. And if not there, where? Disrespect of everybody and everything should be permissible there. As it is, speech in many colleges is as restricted as it was in Stalin's Russia: Not exactly an inspiring model, is it? Has the land of the free become a land of stifling orthodoxy? In America's seats of higher learning it has
The pretext of speech codes is that they aim to protect the feelings of minorities. But that is creating a fool's paradise. People tend to like others who are like themselves so minorities will always be discriminated against in one way or another -- mostly covertly these days. So minorities need to learn to deal with that, not break down in a crying heap every time someone criticizes them.
And, as it happens, some minorities are in any case not at all inclined to break down in a crying heap every time someone criticizes them. As all the research shows, blacks tend to have very high self-confidence and self-esteem. Their feelings are not easily dented. And Muslims of course think they have the right religion and feel quite superior about it. So they too are not easily ground down. Most minorities could actually do with more humility in my observation. It would get them further in life
UPDATE: As a good academic, I avoid empty assertions and would not like to be accused of them. So below are some thoughts from Chapter 4 of Mao's Little Red Book that do, I think, remind us of college speech codes:
(1) Words and actions should help to unite, and not divide, the people of our various nationalities.
(2) They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to socialist transformation and socialist construction.
(3) They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, the people's democratic dictatorship.
(4) They should help to consolidate, and not undermine or weaken, democratic centralism.
(5) They should help to strengthen, and not discard or weaken, the leadership of the Communist Party.
(6) They should be beneficial, and not harmful, to international socialist unity and the unity of the peace-loving people of the world.
At a medium sized college in the southwest of Minnesota, freedom of speech has come under fire on a national scale.
Southwest Minnesota State University recently garnered national attention for a provision, and then revision, within their student code of conduct. Previously, the university specifically prohibited any jokes, comments, or public talks that exhibited what they deemed “cultural intolerance.”
Any insults, slurs, or phrases that discriminated against or belittled a larger group of people could be punishable by the school. The university faced harsh criticism from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which monitors schools levels of freedom of speech on campus. Before the revision, SMSU received a “red light” rating.
While this may have been done in the name of free speech, such a revision essentially allows and facilitates hate speech on campus. Universities and academic places should be inherently inclusive of all cultures, and the rule in its original form had intentions in the proper place.
Punishing students who outwardly slander races, religions, or other cultural groups should be within the rights of a university.
A college’s main priority ought to be the support and facilitation of a civil, respectful education for all its students. and students who create hostile environments for others at the university do nothing to benefit the academic culture.
Harassment is just that; it has no place in a scholastic setting. Providing a safe, conducive learning environment for all students is the duty of universities, and that should not be sacrificed in the name of respecting intolerance.