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Keeping Campus Speech Codes in Perspective:

Thomas Sowell (Real Clear Politics) writes, among other things (emphasis added):

Liberals in general, and academics in particular, like to boast of their open-mindedness and acceptance of non-conformity. But they mean not conforming to the norms of society at large.

They have little or no tolerance to those who do not conform to the norms of academic political correctness. Nowhere else in America is free speech so restricted as on academic campuses with speech codes.

I have often criticized campus speech codes -- but I think we need to put them in perspective: Speech on campuses (at least outside graded class projects, which necessarily must be evaluated based on their content) is generally far more free of institutional punishment than speech in many other places.

The obvious example, which probably affects about ten times more people than do campus speech codes, is restrictions on speech in workplaces. In most workplaces (again, university workplaces are in some measure something of an exception) speech is quite seriously restricted.

First, it is restricted by the government as sovereign, through the pressure imposed by workplace harassment law. One can argue (as I have long argued) that some such pressure is unconstitutional, and that the laws are in a sense part of the speech code movement, but the laws impose broader formal speech-restrictive pressure than do campus speech codes.

Second, workplace speech is also restricted constitutionally by the government as employer, restricting speech that is unduly disruptive, profane, insulting, and the like. Some such restrictions might be unconstitutional under the Pickering test, but many are constitutionally permissible. Third, private employers restrict speech by their employees in a wide range of ways, even setting aside the pressure from harassment law.

Some such restrictions may be proper and others improper -- but most employees will tell you that their speech is quite substantially restricted by the threat of employer sanctions, and much more broadly than student speech is restricted by campus speech codes. (As one simple example, which person is more likely to face punishment for his speech: A student who prominently criticizes on campus the faculty or the administration, or an employee who prominently criticizes management while on the job?) So the "Nowhere else in America" strikes me as factually incorrect.

We notice campus speech codes, I think, in part precisely because student speech is otherwise so generally protected, both at public and private universities. In my experience, academics -- certainly including liberal ones -- are actually quite tolerant of a wide range of criticism, and generally speaking wouldn't try to restrict the sort of speech that is routinely restricted in workplaces (again, consider most criticism of the institution or even of named faculty members). Against this decades-old tradition of broad student free speech, the restrictions on allegedly racist, sexist, anti-gay, and similar speech stand out as exceptions. I'm glad they stand out, and I'm happy to condemn them as generally unconstitutional (in public universities) and generally improper (in all universities). But we shouldn't let these exceptions blind us to the broader rule, and view campuses as unusually speech-restrictive places, where in reality they are quite speech-protective places.

Naturally, I have spoken only of formal restrictions, not informal social pressures stemming from a fear of social ostracism, a fear of public condemnation, and the like. But such social pressures are likewise present in many places (and actually quite proper to a large extent in many places, including universities, depending on the context), including workplaces.

FantasiaWHT:
Yes, but workplaces don't make specious claims about how open-minded they are.
2.21.2008 2:02pm
jcr:
In defense of Mr. Sowell, a workplace is not a marketplace of ideas. A university ought to be one. Furthermore, there exists a double standards in universities. Whereas workplaces will ban all 'disruptive behavior' in pursuit of efficiency and organizational harmony (ie: no overt political activities, etc...), universities limit and censure student speech capriciously.

For a quick example, take a look at Yale University, where a hullabaloo is being made over fraternity pledges saying "we love Yale sluts" outside the Women's Center. Compare that, now, to the university-sponsored Sex Week At Yale, which included the public screening of hardcore pornography. Both would be banned in the workplace. Only one is banned at Yale.
2.21.2008 2:08pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Why did you list restrictions of Employers as third. Employers' restrictions on employees (or even patrons' speech in the case of businesses open to the public) are far more draconian than anything the government imposes.

Yes, but workplaces don't make specious claims about how open-minded they are.

Oh come on. Corporations just love touting how open-minded and tolerant they are. How many times have you heard some CEO or HR flack expound on how employees are the companies "greatest asset" (invariably just before they announce a massive layoff).
2.21.2008 2:10pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
In defense of Mr. Sowell, a workplace is not a marketplace of ideas.

That would be a valid defense of Sowell, if that was what he was arguing.
2.21.2008 2:12pm
jcr:
J. F. Thomas: employees being a company's "greatest asset" has more to do with productivity than their privately-held opinion on the War in Iraq.
2.21.2008 2:13pm
jcr:
It's implied. Sowell also didn't include an analysis of speech codes in prisons for much the same reason.
2.21.2008 2:14pm
Brian Mac:
I know Sowell's at Hoover now, but I'd love to have been a fly on the wall whenever he was relaxing in the common rooms of the more liberal institutions where he researched.
2.21.2008 2:17pm
bittern (mail):
Nice point, EV.
2.21.2008 2:22pm
Brian Mac:
Slightly tangential, but my perception of Sowell used to be that he was a high flying academic, but his citation record is pretty poor. Is citation count a poor metric for assessing contribution in his fields, or, if not, how did he become a fairly prominent public intellectual?
2.21.2008 2:25pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It's implied. Sowell also didn't include an analysis of speech codes in prisons for much the same reason.

Well for an academic and author, he is awful sloppy and imprecise with his language if we are supposed to imply all that from such an unequivocal statement.

One might even accuse him of using hyperbole. But that's just not possible. Only liberals are capable of such excess.
2.21.2008 2:26pm
pete (mail) (www):
I think another major difference is that schools are there to serve the students, while workers are there to serve the employer. Employees who criticize management are no longer "serving" their employer. Students who criticize the administration are still fulfilling their proper role so the speech restrictions seem more out of place.

I can also think of several areas where speech is restricted like monestaries and the military, but again the relationship there is similar to the "employer" and "employee" relationship with the one being restricted being a subordinate.
2.21.2008 2:29pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
EV I think you are missing a big distinction between employees and students. As an employee I get paid. I tolerate some restrictions on my behavior including speech because I can earn a living from the relationship. On the other hand, students pay the university for educational services rendered to them. How would you like to go into Macy’s and have to submit to speech codes? Sure Macy’s is going to restrict disruptive behavior on the part of patrons, but that’s a far cry from the restrictions on speech you find at a university. If I want to tell another customer that they can buy a product cheaper at another store, there’s nothing Macy’s can do about it, and they wouldn’t even try. It would be even worse if a monopoly like Comcast were to try and restrict my freedom because if I want high speed Internet access I must deal with them
2.21.2008 2:33pm
John (mail):
There are several issues at work here. First, there is consensual limitations on speech. If you sign up to go somewhere that has speech restrictions, you can't really complain when they are enforced. The problem arises because simple sounding rules are often enforced by political-correctness police in very stretched and outlandish ways.

Second, as far as workplace restrictions, these are of two types: those placed on the workplace by government, which are often abusive and stupid and, in the case of governmental employers, often unconstitutional, and those placed on the workplace by the employer, e.g., prohibitions against speech that damages the employer's business. These latter generally fall into the "consensual" category, but the difference from academia is that they generally do not get enforced in idiotic ways, because it is not in the economic interest of the employer to do so.

In short, the lack of any economic disincentives is why speech is restricted so bizarrely in academia, but much less bizarrely in the workplace.
2.21.2008 2:39pm
Hans Bader (mail):
People perceive workplace hostile-environment rules (known as "harassment law") as being less oppressive than campus hostile-environment rules (known as "speech codes") partly because they are only at work from 9-to-5.

So they perceive it as a time-place-manner restriction on speech that leaves them free to speak outside their jobs.

It really isn't, though. There are an alarming number of cases that allow employees to sue in part over things their co-workers said outside the workplace, after hours, under the theory that just knowing their co-worker said them contributes somewhat to their work environment being "hostile." (Even though these cases might be wrongly decided as a matter of statutory construction, since they often give short shrift to the statutory requirement that harassment be "because of" the complainant's sex or race, see, e.g, Scusa v. Nestle (8th Cir. 1998)).

Most people aren't aware of that fact (that the law endangers their ability to speak outside the workplace). They think they can say what they want at a bar after work with their co-workers, even if it's politically incorrect.

Moreover, time-place-manner restrictions are supposed to be content-neutral, under Supreme Court precedent; yet harassment law (no matter how well intended it may be) is not content-neutral, but rather viewpoint-based. See DeAngelis v. El Paso Municipal Police Officers' Ass'n, 51 F.3d 591, 595-96 (5th Cir. 1995) (noting that sexual harassment law is "content-based" and "viewpoint discriminatory).

Harassment law, which turns on perceptions that a workplace is "hostile" or "offensive," is unfortunately based on "listeners' reactions to speech [which] are not a content-neutral basis for regulation." Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, 505 U.S. 123, 123 (1992); see also Texas v. Johnson (1989) (fact that society may find speech offensive or disagreeable is not a reason to suppress it).
2.21.2008 2:42pm
George Tenet Fangirl:
Given that students are rational consumers of education services, wouldn't one expect them to purchase from the schools most amenable to their free speech interests (or lack thereof)? Any student bothered by a speech code has obviously already made an informed choice to accept the burden of that code in exchange for some greater benefit from the institution they attend.
2.21.2008 2:42pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It would be even worse if a monopoly like Comcast were to try and restrict my freedom because if I want high speed Internet access I must deal with them

But of course if Comcast were to route all its email traffic through NSA computers without your knowledge, many people who regularly complain about university speech codes (which I bet for all your bitching and whining, you can't find a single instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating) have very little problem with.
2.21.2008 2:42pm
Nifonged:
"which I bet for all your bitching and whining, you can't find a single instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating"

So a student has to be kicked out of school in order to evidence the perils of speech codes? Pure vapidity.
2.21.2008 2:48pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
university speech codes (which I bet for all your bitching and whining, you can't find a single instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating)
Unless, you know, you actually pay attention. All you have to do is read FIRE's website to see many "single instances" of students being punished for violating speech codes.
2.21.2008 2:51pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
these are of two types: those placed on the workplace by government, which are often abusive and stupid and, in the case of governmental employers, often unconstitutional, and those placed on the workplace by the employer, e.g., prohibitions against speech that damages the employer's business. These latter generally fall into the "consensual" category, but the difference from academia is that they generally do not get enforced in idiotic ways, because it is not in the economic interest of the employer to do so.

If you really think that the vast majority of private employers don't have idiotic rules (including rules on appropriate speech) that are enforced in idiotic, arbitrary and nonsensical ways, often at the whim of capricious and petty managers, then I daresay you have never held a job in the private sector.

Seriously, why on earth does anyone wear a tie to work?
2.21.2008 2:53pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Unless, you know, you actually pay attention. All you have to do is read FIRE's website to see many "single instances" of students being punished for violating speech codes.

Apparently, you have a reading comprehension problem. I didn't ask for instances of punishment.
2.21.2008 2:55pm
Alan Gunn (mail):
A problem with many universities is less their suppression of speech than their suppression of listening. Students are too often taught that those holding opinions contrary to the party line are evil, and therefore should be ignored or shouted down--and certainly not reasoned with. There's a long history of this in some Protestant schools, where the bad people are scientists, and in which faculty have to sign pledges of orthodoxy. The phenomenon is now seen on many more-traditional campuses, with a different set of villains: Larry Summers, for instance.
2.21.2008 2:56pm
Happyshooter:
Central Michigan University. They gave a do-nothing professorship to an up and coming democratic pol to get some income while he runs for office.

One of the students didn't care for that and dropped some FOIA requests. The admin literally smacked him, and when he videoed the attack they charged him with taking videos of public employees.

(Smacking a student is cool, but taking a picture of a public employee is a crime--sort of--not really)

They are running him up on a whole bunch of charges within the U system, and trying to horse trade with the county prosecutor to get criminal charges (in Mich public Us have police forces with the power of arrest but have to have the actual criminal charges filed by the county).

They keep postponing the hearings hoping the local media will get tired and then they can screw him.

My employer can't have me arrested for speech, the U can.
2.21.2008 3:03pm
govt. worker:
I generally agree with almost everything EV says, but I think he's talked past Sowell here. Sowell referred to the "norms" on campus, and I think his whole context shows he was not referring to formalized codes and formal punishment, but to the left's social tolerance, or lack thereof, for unpopular (to them) speech.

EV focused on the formal code question, and closed by saying "Naturally, I have spoken only of formal restrictions, not informal social pressures . . ."

So EV is right in saying that formal controls are stronger at the workplace than on campus, but Sowell may be equally right in saying that the informal pressures are greater on campus than in the workplace.

In my personal experience, I feel more free to express political opinions in the workplace, without undue criticism, than I did on campus. I am an at-will government employee, and I am not of the same political party as the elected boss and his management team. But as long as I do a good job, I feel OK. When I was a student, I may not have been worried about getting kicked out, but I did know that certain statements -- including mainstream conservative views shared by the majority of the country -- could get me tagged as racist, sexist, fascist, etc. I also was worried that my grades would suffer, and I know of many more students who routinely self-censored to avoid taking risks.

So I would calssify academia as an often-intolerant atmosphere. Add to that how much academics like to brag about openness, and the stench of hypocrisy is high.
2.21.2008 3:15pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So a student has to be kicked out of school in order to evidence the perils of speech codes?

Not at all. My point is that the hullaballoo over speech codes is overwrought and overblown--as evidenced by Sowell's hyperbolic and obviously ridiculous statement.

Yes, universities, like any large institution, public or private, can get carried away and have stupid idiotic rules enforced by people who seriously lack a sense of perspective and common sense. But to claim that conservative students (read mostly white, obnoxious upper middle class frat boys--and excuse me for stereotyping) are some oppressed minority on campus is beyond ridiculous.
2.21.2008 3:19pm
pete (mail) (www):

which I bet for all your bitching and whining, you can't find a single instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating speech codes


Hamline University expelled Troy Scheffler for suggesting that concealed carry be allowed on university campuses.

Valdesta State University expelled T. Hayden Barnes for criticizing the university over a parking garage.

Le Moyne College of Syracuse expelled Scott McConnell for writing "I do not feel that multicultural education has a philosophical place or standing in an American classroom, especially one that I will teach. I also feel that corporal punishment has a place in the classroom and should be implemented when needed." even though he got an A on the paper.

Are those good enough?
2.21.2008 3:19pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"One of the students didn't care for that and dropped some FOIA requests. The admin literally smacked him, and when he videoed the attack they charged him with taking videos of public employees."

As usual, there's more to this "outrage" than meets the eye:

http://tinyurl.com/36q6d5
2.21.2008 3:19pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
When I was a student, I may not have been worried about getting kicked out, but I did know that certain statements -- including mainstream conservative views shared by the majority of the country -- could get me tagged as racist, sexist, fascist, etc. I also was worried that my grades would suffer, and I know of many more students who routinely self-censored to avoid taking risks.

I call bullshit. When and where did you go to college? What was your major? And what "mainstream conservative views" (shared by the majority of the country) would get you tagged as a "racist, sexist, or fascist" etc.? And by whom.

And so what if people call you that. If they are really "mainstream views" and you are in college and can't defend your beliefs, you either don't belong in college or don't have sufficient intellectual grounding in your views to defend them.
2.21.2008 3:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):


J.F. thomas

“ … which I bet for all your bitching and whining, you can't find a single instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating)

From FIRE
Four days later, Shaniqua Bizzell, a student who was preparing to graduate within a month, read aloud and distributed Professor Isaacs’ resolution in the student center. President Shaw summoned her to his office and expelled her without a hearing.
If you go to the FIRE website you will find other example of expulsions, this is just the first one I came across. I remember instances but not the specific name of the students.

While the Vice President for student affairs later revoked the expulsion she was forced to move from student housing. But this is a straw man as the mere threat of expulsion has a chilling effect on student speech.

“But of course if Comcast were to route all its email traffic through NSA computers without your knowledge, …”

I would be most upset about that. But this is a privacy issue not a free speech issue. If you want to talk about the ways universities invade the privacy of students we can deal with that on another thread,
2.21.2008 3:34pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Hamline University expelled Troy Scheffler for suggesting that concealed carry be allowed on university campuses.

You might want to follow the links on the first one. First of all he was only suspended, and it was for a lot more than suggesting concealed carry be allowed--he devolves into a racists and anti-semitic rant. If I received that letter (and it was very poorly written), I would consider it threatening.

As for the other two. The second student was reinstated and there isn't any information about the content of the letters that led to the expulsion--so I don't know what precipitated the expulsion. But apparently he was concerned about the environmental impact of the new parking garages--usually not the sign of conservative student.

There are very few details about the third either.
2.21.2008 3:38pm
TRE:
What about Honor Codes? My law school has an "honor code" that requires students to be informers among other things and is used as a catchall by professors to require students to do things certain ways. You can't talk to anyone about this assignment or can't tell anyone about what goes on in this class etc. Obviously the people who do talk to each other about the assignment or who get information about what the class content is have an advantage.
2.21.2008 3:41pm
govt. worker:
J.F. Thomas -

Sir, I can understand a request for more information, and even an expression of skepticism. But if you have already concluded that whatever I say is "bullshit," then why should I waste my time trying to change your mind? I don't have videotapes, so even if I fill paragraphs with anecdotes, you can still comfortably assure yourself that whatever I write is "bullshit."

So let's save each other the time. Yes, I just made it up. Go back to your comfort zone. Nothing to see here. Move on.
2.21.2008 3:41pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
These FIRE examples you are throwing at me are kind of weak (with the possible exception of the Scott McConnell example) as examples of conservative speech being suppressed. They are mostly examples of pain in the ass students getting carried away over non-political issues (or at least not traditionally conservative issues) and administrators taking idiotic and perhaps hasty action. The last one is campus, not national, politics.
2.21.2008 3:44pm
PersonFromPorlock:
EV, I think a critical distinction is that while workplace speech codes are aimed at shutting peoples' mouths, college speech codes are aimed at shutting peoples' minds.
2.21.2008 3:45pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"...college speech codes are aimed at shutting peoples' minds."

Shutting them to what, exactly? Could you be more specific?
2.21.2008 3:48pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I don't have videotapes, so even if I fill paragraphs with anecdotes, you can still comfortably assure yourself that whatever I write is "bullshit."

No offense was meant. But to make a completely unsubstantiated statement without the barest recitation of some information of where or when you went to college or where this oppressivly liberal school is makes me doubt your veracity. I can't even imagine that a school like the Citadel, VMI, or the Service Academies would be as hostile to an avowed Jane Fonda liberal as you claim your alma mater was to mainstream conservative ideas. Why on earth didn't you transfer to a more hospitable environment?
2.21.2008 3:50pm
pete (mail) (www):

First of all he was only suspended, and it was for a lot more than suggesting concealed carry be allowed--he devolves into a racists and anti-semitic rant. If I received that letter (and it was very poorly written), I would consider it threatening.


So he was kicked out of school because of the speech code. It does not matter if you find it threatening, it only matters if it meats the legal definition of threateding, which it most certainly did not.

Your saying that he was justifyably kicked out of school for saying racist things, but that we can't find "a single instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating speech codes".


The second student was reinstated


So again he was an "instance of someone actually being kicked out of school for violating speech codes" You can't be reinstated if not kicked out in the first place.

And in all of these cases the situation was only resolved at all because lawyers from FIRE got involved. If the university had its way the students would have been kicked out for legal (and in 2 of the 3 cases very civil) speech that simply annoyed the adminstrators.

And here is another example of a student suspended from John Hopkins who was suspecnded because of an offensive frat flyer posted on facebook. And here some Auburn students were suspended (PDF) because of dressing up like KKK members at a halloween party.
2.21.2008 3:56pm
Sk (mail):
I think that EV is correct. Technically, there are many places in America where speech is more restricted than on a campus (two are mentioned on this comment thread: workplaces and prisons).

However, if we can give TS some slack, and apply his argument to places where the first amendment does (the public sphere), or really should (universities, whether public or private), apply, then I think he is right; that campus's are the most restricted in this category of place.

The first amendment doesn't apply to the workplace because it is a private location. It doesn't apply to prisons because prisoners lose their rights by definition. IT doesn't apply in the military. It doesn't apply (fully) to children because they are not adults.

But it does apply to the public sector. And it does apply to public universities, and frankly, we all believe first amendment principles should apply to private universities, due to the nature of a university. Within that realm (the realm in which the first amendment applies, or frankly those principles should apply, university speech codes are amazingly restrictive.

"We like Yale sluts." Is it imaginable that a newspaper or magazine would be shut down for printing this (Larry Flynt is a liberal hero for printing far more drastic stuff than this)?

Is it imaginable that a private citizen would be arrested for saying, or yelling this (there was a post on this thread not to long ago about a private citizen arrested for shouting obscenities at his toilet. Do you remember your response to that case?)

And yet it is perfectly acceptable, and legal, to ban such speech on a university campus on which the overwhelming majority of members are full grown adults (there may be a few 17 year olds, but they are an insignificant minority).

It is What Sowell said? No. Is it what Sowell meant? Of course. Was he sloppy in his language? Would he lose points in a high school debating tournament? I guess so-you caught him, you sharp devils! But his point is really accurate, of course. If you want to stay stuck on his excess, or sloppiness, or rhetorical flourish, go ahead (you got him! you got him!).

Sk
2.21.2008 4:01pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

You are missing a vital point. No university is going to go on record as expelling a student simply for being a conservative, or expressing conservative political viewpoints. Evidently that’s what you want. You also want names, dates, documents and other detailed evidence.

I turn it around. Give a specific name of any non-conservative student who faced any kind of adverse actions by the university for purely expressive behavior? Even when radical left students engage in truly disruptive and even violent behavior, they virtually never get expelled or even harshly punished. The recent case at Columbia illustrates the point. Radical students invaded a lecture, jumped on stage and prevented an invited speaker from talking. They weren’t expelled. They got note in their file which gets removed at graduation. No punishment at all.

My advice. When you’re in a hole stop digging.
2.21.2008 4:07pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Yes, universities, like any large institution, public or private, can get carried away and have stupid idiotic rules enforced by people who seriously lack a sense of perspective and common sense. But to claim that conservative students (read mostly white, obnoxious upper middle class frat boys--and excuse me for stereotyping) are some oppressed minority on campus is beyond ridiculous.
Don't worry, JFT. If you just close your eyes, the bad facts will go away.
2.21.2008 4:15pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Is it imaginable that a private citizen would be arrested for saying, or yelling this (there was a post on this thread not to long ago about a private citizen arrested for shouting obscenities at his toilet. Do you remember your response to that case?)

Tell you what. Do a little experiment. Try this at your local mall. See how quickly the rent-a-cops throw you out on your ass. Absolutely refuse to leave and see how quickly you end up in a real city or county lock-up.

Heck, just try and distribute union literature in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart store—don't even disrupt traffic. See how long you last.
2.21.2008 4:16pm
Don't forget Section 7:
Just posting to remind everyone that on the flip side of Prof. Volokh's suggestion that workplace harassment law encourage employers to restrict speech, the sovereign through section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act actually does protect an employee's right to complain to his or her coworkers--and probably to a much broader degree than most think.
2.21.2008 4:18pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
So he was kicked out of school because of the speech code. It does not matter if you find it threatening, it only matters if it meats the legal definition of threateding, which it most certainly did not.

And what legal definition of threatening is that--he was actually suspended (again, not expelled) for refusing counselling, which considering the content and structure of the letter, at least from my layman's perspective, was certainly justified.
2.21.2008 4:20pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Even when radical left students engage in truly disruptive and even violent behavior, they virtually never get expelled or even harshly punished.

Of course not. But neither do students of any political stripe. Practically the only thing that will get you kicked out of an American University is bad grades (or being unable to pay tuition).
2.21.2008 4:28pm
Sk (mail):
"Tell you what. Do a little experiment. Try this at your local mall. See how quickly the rent-a-cops throw you out on your ass. Absolutely refuse to leave and see how quickly you end up in a real city or county lock-up."

Actually, this is a good example. Malls are places where speech (at least, physical speech) is more restricted than university campuses. I know there's some legal debate as to whether malls are public or private spaces, but it remains a valid example.

the other one? Well, Sowell isn't the only one subject to rhetorical excess.

Sk
2.21.2008 4:34pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
the other one? Well, Sowell isn't the only one subject to rhetorical excess.

I don't think so. If you are on WalMart property, you will be asked to leave and if you don't you will be arrested. And you will lose in court. That is settled law.

And there is no legal debate about this any more.
2.21.2008 4:39pm
CJColucci:
Slightly tangential, but my perception of Sowell used to be that he was a high flying academic, but his citation record is pretty poor. [1] Is citation count a poor metric for assessing contribution in his fields, or, if not, [2] how did he become a fairly prominent public intellectual?

1. Citation count isn't an especially good measure, but I'm unaware of any better one that would lead to a different result.

2. Niche marketing.
2.21.2008 4:40pm
Archon (mail):
Speech on campuses (at least outside graded class projects, which necessarily must be evaluated based on their content) is generally far more free of institutional punishment than speech in many other places.

I think the good people over at FIRE, www.thefire.org, would disagree with this statement. There list of free speech travesties and institutional speech codes literally could run miles.
2.21.2008 4:41pm
pete (mail) (www):
Here is the full text of the supposedly threatening letters. Please someone point out what is threating in it, since I honestly do not see how any reasonable person (which obviously excludes JF Thomas) from seeing anything threatening in it.

Just keep moving those goalposts JF, who now thinks it is reasonable for universities to require people who commit no other offense other than talking back to administrators to go to be forced ot undergo a mental health evaluation or else face suspension. But no one is ever kicked out of school for violating speech codes!
2.21.2008 4:53pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Here is the full text of the supposedly threatening letters. Please someone point out what is threating in it, since I honestly do not see how any reasonable person (which obviously excludes JF Thomas) from seeing anything threatening in it.

Maybe I am a little bit more sensitive than you. Granted, there aren't any overt threats, but the rambling nature of the message and the poor grammar and spelling (not to mention the overt racism and anti-semitism) is what caught my attention. If I received such an email from someone, I would certainly give them a wide berth.

Again, the cause of the suspension was his refusal to see a counselor, not the content of the letter itself.
2.21.2008 5:04pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Here is the full text of the supposedly threatening letters. Please someone point out what is threating in it, since I honestly do not see how any reasonable person (which obviously excludes JF Thomas) from seeing anything threatening in it.

And remember the context. This letter was written shortly after the Virginia Tech shootings when the VT administration was being hammered for not recognizing the danger posed by the gunman there in spite of the warning signs. Is it any wonder that the Hamline College administration was a little gun-shy (pun intended).
2.21.2008 5:09pm
Archon (mail):
Maybe JF doesn't understand how the whole Hamline thing went down. So here it is in an easy to understand diagram:

Protected Speech ----> Demand for Mental Evaluation Sanction -----> Suspension for Refusing Sanction
2.21.2008 5:17pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Protected Speech ----> Demand for Mental Evaluation Sanction -----> Suspension for Refusing Sanction

Or alternately:

Student writes incoherent, rambling email to University President full of racist and anti-semitic remarks----> person to whom the email is addressed thinks "this guy might be nuts and a mentally unstable student just killed over 30 people in Va."-----> University president demands mental evaluation----> Suspension refusing sanction.
2.21.2008 5:24pm
Archon (mail):
JF -

Rambling and even incoherent speech, albeit low value, is still protected speech. You can't demand that someone with poor grammar and unpopular ideas go through a mental evaluation merely because the receipent of an email doesn't agree with its content. The letter in no way even comes close to a legal "true threat" (even under Black.)

In this country we don't sanction people merely because they type of hurried email, have unpopular ideas, or may not have the best grammar in the world.
2.21.2008 5:27pm
A.C.:
I've never run up against a campus speech code, but I do know I self-censored more on my law school campus than in any job I've ever had. It wasn't the faculty who gave me trouble, but my fellow students. And I'm not even all that far right, just kind of quirky in how I combine my positions on various issues.

Part of the problem is that campuses are full of people under 25, and people under 25 are known for being immoderate in their beliefs. Older people who have been out in the world have had at least the opportunity for a bit of reality testing, so they are less likely to react to things based on dogma. Not that we never follow ideologies, of course, but at least we have other information to work with. That means we sometimes depart from the orthodoxies of our designated "tribe," and that we may even abandon positions that we wish were true but that don't seem to work out well in practice.

Very few 19-year-olds do that. They are still learning their dogma. Takes a few more years before they will enjoy the process of stretching it to take in new circumstances and poking holes in it where it can't be made to fit.
2.21.2008 5:28pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Student writes incoherent, rambling email to University President full of racist and anti-semitic remarks----> person to whom the email is addressed thinks "this guy might be nuts and a mentally unstable student just killed over 30 people in Va."-----> University president demands mental evaluation----> Suspension refusing sanction.
JFT's statement is incorrect. Scheffler was suspended before he refused a "mental evaluation." The exam in question is for the purpose of deciding whether to reinstate Scheffler.
2.21.2008 5:43pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"Well for an academic and author, he is awful sloppy and imprecise with his language if we are supposed to imply all that from such an unequivocal statement."

Are you trying to tell us the average academic writes clear and precise prose?
2.21.2008 5:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
A.C.

Professors have generally led pretty sheltered lives, as well.
Their experience of being out in the world is minimal, or, if we compare their effusions with those of the extended adolescents they teach, that would be the best explanation.
2.21.2008 6:08pm
Hans Bader (mail):
You can't distinguish the workplace entirely from campuses by saying that the First Amendment is wholly inapplicable to the private workplace.

The government can NOT FORCE a private employer to discipline or fire someone without triggering the First Amendment. Korb v. Lehman (4th Cir. 1990) (so holding). Employer liability for damages (i.e., sexual or racial harassment) constitutes state action. See Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988) (tort damages in lawsuit by one private party against another are state action subject to First Amendment; overturning damage award for offensive parody); New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) (defamation damage award is state action subject to First Amendment, requiring that defamation be defined narrowly).

The private employer can VOLUNTARILY fire employees for their speech, since it is not a state actor bound by the First Amendment, but it can't be FORCED by the government to fire them for their speech. See Truax v. Raich (1916) (the fact that the employment was at the will of the parties and the employer did not mean that it was at the will of the government; Supreme Court enjoins state law that pressured employer to fire plaintiff).

Harassment law doesn't affect the worst employees, like people who hurl vulgar insults at women or racial epithets at black people: they'd be fired no matter what, even if there were no harassment law, since they are so disruptive.

But harassment case law does affect employers' treatment of other less disruptive employees, requiring them (in many jurisdictions) to discipline employees for relatively minor contributions to a "hostile work environment," and making them fire sexist or racist employees (or employees who make unreciprocated sexual advances) that they would otherwise just give a reprimand or stern warning to.

That's state action, and it is, contrary to what some commenters above suggest, subject to First Amendment limitations. It's too bad some judges also don't see that.

Some judges do see the First Amendment limitations. See Lyle v. Warner Bros. (Cal. 2006) (Chin, J., concurring) (holding that one of the broadest applications of harassment law to speech -- to speech not aimed at the plaintiff that is needed to generate TV sitcoms -- should be immunized by the First Amendment from damages liability for sexual harassment); Weller v. Citation Oil &Gas, 81 F.3d 191, 194 (5th Cir. 1996) (harassment law is a content-based speech restrictions subject to First Amendment limits); DeAngelis v. El Paso Municipal Police Officers Ass'n, 51 F.3d 591, 595-97 (5th Cir. 1996) (noting that harassment law implicates the First Amendment and is a content-based, viewpoint discriminatory speech restriction).
2.21.2008 6:43pm
Yankev (mail):
JFT wants me to believe that Sheffler was thrown out of school because his email contained bad grammar? If grammar were the issue, most students would not get into college to begin with.
2.21.2008 6:45pm
PersonFromPorlock:
Grover Gardner:

"...college speech codes are aimed at shutting peoples' minds."

Shutting them to what, exactly? Could you be more specific?


Actually, no. If you don't understand the point as given there's no way I can explain it to you.
2.21.2008 7:03pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
Naturally, I have spoken only of formal restrictions, not informal social pressures stemming from a fear of social ostracism, a fear of public condemnation, and the like.

What makes this so natural? Informal social pressures to say or not say certain things are everywhere. I'd say that in practice they're vastly more restrictive of what people say than any formal rule is.
2.21.2008 7:32pm
elscorcho (mail):
JF Thomas,

You keep bringing up the racism in the letter from Scheffler. Is racist speech not protected? He says in his letter

"... myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs. On top of that, I am sick of seeing them held to a different standard than the white students (Of course its a lower and more lenient standard)."

; is this not protected? Are you arguing that he has no cause to suspect that this might have some truth to it? Is it racist to point out what might actually be happening? I think this is a perfect example of what you asked for, but you can't see what is wrong with punishing this thinking.
2.21.2008 7:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

"Of course not. But neither do students of any political stripe. Practically the only thing that will get you kicked out of an American University is bad grades (or being unable to pay tuition)."

Once again you are trying to dodge the issue by focusing on expulsions. How common is it for non-conservative students to receive any kind of discipline for purely expressive speech such as the affirmative action bake sale? Look at the many cases of the FIRE site.

“Granted, there aren't any overt threats, but the rambling nature of the message and the poor grammar and spelling…”


I read the email and there is absolutely nothing threatening about it whatsoever. Give me one sentence that any reasonable person would regard as threatening? How does the grammar and spelling any way make the letter threatening? The letter is in the nature of a complaint about conditions on campus and university policies. You must be a fan of Deval Patrick who thinks handing out political leaflets is analogous to hitting someone with a baseball bat.
2.21.2008 8:29pm
A.C.:
Richard Aubrey -

Yeah, I had that idea in the back of my head too. It doesn't apply to all professors by any means, but it definitely applies to some.

If they have been on campus since their last stint of community organizing back in the 60s, and if they talk about that experience at every opportunity, then it definitely applies. We had some of those.
2.21.2008 8:53pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I had an English prof (composition) who, while a good teacher, kept referring to "Standing like a sentinel" as the only example of a cliche he could think of, and referred to that as being okay in the War of 1812. But not, he would say with every evidence of world-weary experience, since then. He had some view of himself as Hemingway, I think.
But, in talking to him after the semester was over, I discovered he'd never been more than three months away from school his entire life--he was approaching retirement--and that presumes no summer school.
My brother, in high school, beefed some color from All Quiet on The Western Front. The teacher called my father in to talk about the bloody nutcase his son was. My father, a veteran of the second Western Front go-'round, tried to explain it to her. Didn't work. Always wanted to see what was in Jim's file.
2.21.2008 10:17pm
frankcross (mail):
What a thread I just discovered.

I am curious about those who would criticize private schools for having such speech codes. It seems like a free market transaction. So long as the codes are disclosed to potential students and even the whole public, isn't that just institutional freedom of choice, like that of the employer?

You can rant about what you think schools should be, but it is a school's choice to decide and the free market's to punish it or not.
2.21.2008 10:43pm
richard gould-saltman (mail):
frankcross, with whom I usually don't agree raises a telling point re: Sheffler. Hamline has an easy-to-find "speech code" and rules regarding what they will and won't consider "harassment"; I found it in about two minutes of looking at the school's website home-page. They're also pretty clear that they regard violations of the code as grounds for serious disciplinary proceedings. Presumably, Mr. Sheffler knew what he was signing up for, though his conspicuously racist, anti-Semtic, anti-immigrant ranting suggests he hadn't spent much time looking at any of the rest of the school's public info.

Pete and Zarkov: Scheffler didn't get himself suspended because of his conservative political views; he got himself suspended because he was engaged in semi-coherent paranoid raving, at a historical moment when school adminstrators were admittedly, but understandably, hyper-vigilant. Should he have gotten more due process? Yes. On the other hand, he was also working in the vein of a guy who'd joke, in an airliner seat on September 15, 2001, "So the giant saw this guy on the beanstalk, and said "HI, JACK!!! As Sam Vimes would say, "acting in gross violation of the Being Bloody Stupid Act of 1583".

r gould-saltman
2.22.2008 12:01am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"If you don't understand the point as given there's no way I can explain it to you."

If you can't explain yourself, there's no way I can understand you.
2.22.2008 12:38am
Brian K (mail):
Whereas workplaces will ban all 'disruptive behavior' in pursuit of efficiency and organizational harmony (ie: no overt political activities, etc...)

you're joking, right? i've witnessed an employee being fired for praising kerry. the firing manager would constantly praise bush. (and to head off inevitable questions, I quit the job before the situation was fully resolved.) and if you're statement wasn't used to bolster a conservative argument, i would literally bet money that posters would come up with at least half a dozen examples of a conservative being fired for his/her views by a liberal manager.

----------------------------
Older people who have been out in the world have had at least the opportunity for a bit of reality testing, so they are less likely to react to things based on dogma. Not that we never follow ideologies, of course, but at least we have other information to work with.

you must not read the comments on this very often. dogmatic responses seem to the norm rather then exception with any topic that is remotely controversial.
2.22.2008 3:27am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I am curious about those who would criticize private schools for having such speech codes. It seems like a free market transaction. So long as the codes are disclosed to potential students and even the whole public, isn't that just institutional freedom of choice, like that of the employer?
That's FIRE's position: a public university must uphold the 1st amendment, but a private university ought to be free to apply whatever standards it chooses, as long as those standards are disclosed in advance. (N.B. in California, even private schools are subject to 1st amendmentesqe rules, by statute.)

But of course we can criticize someone for doing something he has the right to do. Someone has the right to racially discriminate in inviting people to his house for a dinner party, but we would still criticize him for doing so.
2.22.2008 3:36am
A. Zarkov (mail):
r gould-saltman

“Scheffler didn't get himself suspended because of his conservative political views; he got himself suspended because he was engaged in semi-coherent paranoid raving, …”

I never said that Scheffler got suspended for his conservative views. I only said that I thought his [second] email had no threatening content.

You say, “Presumably, Mr. Sheffler knew what he was signing up for, though his conspicuously racist, anti-Semtic, anti-immigrant ranting …”

I don't see anything racist in his emails. Let's look and see.

Sheffler’s says in first email:
I myself am tired of having to pay my own extremely overpriced tuition to make up for minorities not paying theirs. On top of that, I am sick of seeing them held to a different standard than the white students (Of course its a lower and more lenient standard).
How are these sentences, “racist?” He writes two declarative statements of fact. Minorities are held to lower standards at many universities. We know for sure minorities are held to a lower standard for admissions, and even for grading. I know personally two people who taught at the University of Michigan who had their grades overridden. The dean told one of them, “We don’t give “Cs” to black students here.”

I don't see anything anti-Semitic either. The only reference to Jews is the sentence:
On a lighter note... For a “Christian” university, I am very disappointed in Hamline. With the motif of the curriculum, the atheist professors, jewish and other non-Christian staff, I would charge the school with wanton misrepresentation.
First notice he says “On a lighter note.” Is his statement unreasonable? Look at what Hamline says on its web page:
Hamline University's Office of Church Relations serves as a bridge between the university and the United Methodist Church. In representing the church to the university, the staff serves to keep in focus the ethics and values of the United Methodist tradition …
Since Hamline holds itself out as a Christian school is it unreasonable to expect it to act along those lines?

It looks to me that Sheffler’s real crime was say he didn’t really think students were getting their money’s worth as consumers of educational services. That’s got them mad at him. The threatening part is a subterfuge.

I agree that his emails are certainly rants, and have the appearance of the typical kind of crank letter people often send out to vent their dissatisfaction. But none of this merits any kind of discipline. After all he's just a student.
2.22.2008 5:50am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I agree that his emails are certainly rants, and have the appearance of the typical kind of crank letter people often send out to vent their dissatisfaction. But none of this merits any kind of discipline. After all he's just a student.

And if you read John Hinckley's letters to Jodi Foster, they are nothing but odes of undying love and promises of how he will do something to impress her.
2.22.2008 9:21am
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Since Hamline holds itself out as a Christian school is it unreasonable to expect it to act along those lines?

Since it is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, quite a liberal denomination, having atheists, Jews and other non-Christians on the staff is in keeping with the United Methodist tradition. So not only is his statement unreasonable, it displays a profound misunderstanding of the United Methodist tradition.
2.22.2008 9:25am
Tom952 (mail):
Unlike government sanctioned speech restrictions, speech restrictions imposed by university officials are unilaterial, devoid of democratic process or constitutional review, and usually motivated by capricious politically correct tyranny.
2.22.2008 11:18am
A. Zarkov (mail):
“And if you read John Hinckley's letters to Jodi Foster, they are nothing but odes of undying love and promises of how he will do something to impress her.”

Is the point that anyone who writes a letter either positive or negative might be a dangerous person? By this reasoning Hamline should discipline all students who write letters to the administration.

“Since it is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, quite a liberal denomination, having atheists, Jews and other non-Christians on the staff is in keeping with the United Methodist tradition.”


According to UMC web site,

The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

They also say under their beliefs section that:

John Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living.

I don’t see how having Jews and atheists on their staff would promote their mission and beliefs. Is an atheist going help make disciples? I can see why a student might think Hamline has strayed from the principles set forth by UMC. Besides he said “on a lighter note.” But all this is tangential. His remark is not anti-Semitic, or threatening or indicative of the thinking of a dangerous person.

Hamline’s treatment of Scheffler reminds me of the way the USSR dealt with some critics. They denied due process, labeled them as insane, and forced psychiatric treatment on them. Doctors in the service of the state even invented a new diagnostic category called sluggish schizophrenia. Remember Hamline suspended Scheffler because he refused to submit to their psychological evaluation. Aren’t you even a little bit upset by the behavior of Hamline administrators towards this student?
2.22.2008 12:10pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Sez Zarkov: "Hamline’s treatment of Scheffler reminds me of the way the USSR dealt with some critics. They denied due process, labeled them as insane, and forced psychiatric treatment on them."

Not even close, Zarkov.

A proposed corollary to Godwin's law: when the complainer is a self-identified oppressed conservative white Christian male in America, substitute "USSR" for "Nazi Germany" and/or "Stalin" for "Hitler".

Scheffler signed himself up to go to a private school with conspicuously accessible policies, many if not most of which he doesn't seem to have liked. He has some gripe about the racial and ethnic composition, and "diversity policies" of the school, but complains that they're apparent even from the pictures on the school website. He complains that there are atheists and (gasp!) Jews there: says the Hamline policy statement on religion (from the website, again) :"As a United Methodist related university, Hamline welcomes people of all religious traditions as well as those with none." He seems, in some of his ravings, to be under the impression that Hamline's a public school, 'cause he implies his taxes are being mis-spent to run the school.

By the way, he thinks he's getting a crappy education, but he was apparently still enrolled.

As I said, in retrospect, probably some more "process was due", but what Scheffler was doing was the written equivalent of standing outside the Dean's office, waving his arms and yelling "Yadda yadda yadda! Damn colored immigrants! . . . babbly. . . babbly. . babbly. . . Take away my GUNS! yadda yadda yadda. . . on a lighter note, not gettin' my tax money's worth, books in SHRINK WRAP!!!! . . . guns. . . TOO MANY JEWS!. . . but I'm just joking here... guns. . . stealing my tax MONEY, three out of three are Africans going back to AFRICA!!!"

If it was a few days after the Virginia Tech shootings, and it was MY office, I'd probably have called the campus police, too. . .
2.22.2008 12:53pm
Brian Mac:
It's funny how everyone who insists that Scheffler's emails were anti-semitic and/or racist are rather more keen to paraphrase him than they are to directly quote him.

And Richard, you didn't address the substance of Zarkov's analogy, but never mind.
2.22.2008 1:16pm
whit:
"Well for an academic and author, he is awful sloppy and imprecise with his language if we are supposed to imply all that from such an unequivocal statement"

if you are going to criticize his language, well...

"he is awfulLy sloppy"

hth :)
2.22.2008 1:24pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“Scheffler signed himself up to go to a private school with conspicuously accessible policies, …”

Where in Hamline’s policies does it say you should be prepared be labeled as insane for complaining about the policies of the school and forced into a psychological evaluation?

“He has some gripe about the racial and ethnic composition, …”

Not that I see from his emails. He complained that minorities were held to lower standards. Don’t you think that’s true?

But all this is beside the point. Show me the sentence or paragraph in his email that’s threatening.

“… the complainer is a self-identified oppressed conservative white Christian male in America …”


Who are you talking about? I am neither Christian, oppressed or conservative.
2.22.2008 1:30pm
whit:

"That's FIRE's position: a public university must uphold the 1st amendment, but a private university ought to be free to apply whatever standards it chooses, as long as those standards are disclosed in advance. (N.B. in California, even private schools are subject to 1st amendmentesqe rules, by statute.) "

exactly. i went to a quaker prep school. they make it very clear that it's a QUAKER prep school. that meant, among other things, you couldn't wear any clothes associated with the military in any way. and i am certain i would not have been able to form a club that promoted militarism. i don't think FIRE would have criticized my school (and not even getting into the difference between high school and colleges - the latter deal mainly with adults, the former act as surrogate parents to some extent to minors).

i have the same problem they do, with schools that PURPORT to be for free exchange of ideas, tolerance of diversity, bla bla, bla but then use stalinesque tactics against those whose views they disagree with.
2.22.2008 2:03pm
whit:
"Informal social pressures to say or not say certain things are everywhere. I'd say that in practice they're vastly more restrictive of what people say than any formal rule is."

sure. and as a libertarian rightleaning guy, i am a big fan of these. one can think that GOVT. should not restrict X because it should be beyond their scope and any restrictiobn by govt. is also via the barrel of a gun so to speak. a libertarian can very much be in favor of "unwritten law" and codes of conduct (religious, social, whatever) and also taboos that restrain behavior. people still have CHOICE, but it doesn't mean they won't face social pressures, ostracization, etc. iow, libertarianism does not mean libertinism. it's not that "anything goes" or "anything is ok". it means that lots of 'anythings' should be beyond the govt.'s power to restrict, not that these anythings are good, moral, or should be encouraged, celebrated, tolerated, etc.
2.22.2008 2:08pm
Richard Gould-Saltman (mail):
Brian mac:

Thought I addressed Zarkov's analogy pretty explicitly, but:
Scheffler voluntarily signed up to go to a private school with publically posted policies. He then ran afoul of the private school's interpretation of their publically posted policies, which he signed on for.
As soon as he decided he didn't like Hamline's policies, or the way they were interpreted, he could have (a) quit (b) transferred to a different school (c) if he felt that they had somehow breached a contract with him, sued them for his tuition money, or some portion of it. (d) presumably (I'm not going to do the research right now) pursued some sort of grievance within the university system.

In the interim,nobody dragged him bodily to a psychiatrist, arrested him, imprisoned him, or involuntarily "hospitalized" him. What they did was say "Don't come back to our school until you do X". (By the way, do we know what he ultimately did?)

Comparision of Scheffler's "ordeal" to the Soviet abuses of the psychiatric system is the right-wing equivalent of yelling "hate crime!" or characterizing inter-spousal name-calling as "domestic violence"; it degrades the discourse and discounts and trivializes real evil and harm.

. . . and Zarkov, I meant that Mr. Scheffler was a complaining self-identified "oppressed conservative white Christian male".
2.22.2008 2:21pm
Brian Mac:
Richard,

What I meant was Zarkov's specific comparisons:

"denied due process, labeled them as insane, and forced psychiatric treatment on them"

Obviously there's an element of hyperbole here, but the comparisons do seem to have some merit. I won't argue the due process part from a legal perspective (mainly because I'm too ignorant to do so), but two points:

a) Do you honestly think that the typical university student has even the faintest knowledge of such policies?

b) Does disagreeing with those policies constitute reasonable grounds for suspension/expulsion/re-education?

I won't labour on the insane/psychiatric treatment aspects, as I'm guessing that you see the point being made, but consider it exaggerated.
2.22.2008 2:53pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
It's funny how everyone who insists that Scheffler's emails were anti-semitic and/or racist are rather more keen to paraphrase him than they are to directly quote him.

Well since you asked. This paragraph seems to indicate he is enamored of the Nazi party.


Now it is obviously better but just goes to show how biased this university is and the painstaking efforts of diversity pandering it does at the expense of people that are actually planning on contributing back to the TAXPAYERS that are footing the bill for your iversity initiatives. In fact, 3 out of 3 students just in my class that are “minorities” are planning on returning to Africa and all 3 are getting a free education ON MY DOLLAR. I bet the staff here is wondering how a swastika ended up in a bathroom... More people than you can imagine are tired of this all. It’s just sad that they resort to petty vandalism rather than speak their mind like I am.
2.22.2008 3:03pm
Elliot123 (mail):
"You can rant about what you think schools should be, but it is a school's choice to decide and the free market's to punish it or not."

OK. Does anyone disagree with this? These comments are simply the working of that free market.
2.22.2008 3:52pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
“In the interim,nobody dragged him bodily to a psychiatrist, arrested him, imprisoned him, or involuntarily "hospitalized" him.”

The Hamline administration doesn’t have the power to do all that. But their thinking and methods do follow along those lines. Deny due process. Demonize a critic by labeling him as mentally unstable and potentially dangerous. Force him to see a psychologist under the threat adverse action. I do not assert an equivalence, only an analogy for the purposes of argumentation.

BTW do read everything you sign or agree to thoroughly? Do you always read every word of the terms and conditions before you click the “I accept” box when installing commercial software or updates to software? Try it sometime. One vendor, I think McAffie, required the user to agree to not make any public statements about the software, thus preventing a negative reviews. Do you read all the changes to the terms and conditions on your credit cards, cell phone service, ISP service and brokerage accounts? Our lives are filled with all sorts of outrageous limiting agreements. I can’t blame a young student for failing to parse every line in the mission statement of his university. He expected some kind of fair play and didn’t get it.
2.22.2008 4:02pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
J.F. Thomas:

“Well since you asked. This paragraph seems to indicate he is enamored of the Nazi party.”


I don’t see any positive reference to National Socialism in that paragraph. While the paragraph is poorly written, the meaning of what he says is clear. He objects to taxpayer funded scholarships for foreign African students. I assume he is referring to some government program that paid tuition for 3 African students in his class. How does that refer to the Nazi party? In the rest of the paragraph, he states that other students share his frustrations with Hamline policies, but choose to express their opinions by vandalizing the bathroom instead of directly speaking their mind as he is doing. He laments the vandalism. How does this in any way make him enamored of the Nazi party, which doesn’t even exist any more?
2.22.2008 4:19pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Demonize a critic by labeling him as mentally unstable and potentially dangerous. Force him to see a psychologist under the threat adverse action."

Oh for god's sake. Scheffler's email was ONE DAY after the Vtech incident. Instead of limiting his comments to security issues, he went off on every tin-hat topic in the book--minorities, taxes, the government, you name it. Then repeated his performance two days later. AND he owned a weapon. So the administration demanded he submit top a mental evaluated so there asses were covered if he took a few pot shots on the campus. Big frickin' shock.
2.22.2008 8:44pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"submit to a mental evaluation so their"
2.22.2008 8:45pm
Guest111:
What really infuriates people about campus administrators and speech codes is how they enforce glaring racial, sexual, and ideological double standards.

Stuart Taylor's recent column in the National Journal aptly describes the double standard:

The University Has No Clothes
By Stuart Taylor Jr., National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Monday, Feb. 11, 2008

When a mentally deluded stripper accused three Duke University lacrosse players of a brutal gang rape at a March 2006 off-campus team party during spring break, dozens of activist Duke professors were not content merely to give great credence to the rape charge, even as evidence of its probable fraudulence poured into the public record. They also treated the lacrosse players as pariahs for having hired strippers at all. So, too, did Duke President Richard Brodhead, Board Chairman Robert Steel, other campus administrators, many in the media, and others.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Duke University played host to a group of strippers, prostitutes, phone-sex operators, and others in a "Sex Workers Art Show."

Never mind that hiring strippers violated no law or university rule. Never mind that nobody had made a fuss about the 20-plus stripper parties that other Duke athletic teams, fraternities, and sororities held that year. Brodhead and other officials and professors continued to express horror long after the supposedly "privileged" lacrosse players had abjectly apologized. To underscore its horror, the university adopted a new rule: "Strippers may not be invited or paid to perform at events sponsored by individual students, residential living groups, or cohesive units."

So, some might be surprised to learn that on this year's Super Bowl Sunday, Duke University played host to a group of strippers, prostitutes, phone-sex operators, and others in a "Sex Workers Art Show" to display their "creativity and genius." The university spent $3,500 from student fees and various programs to pay the performers and cover expenses.

One account of the February 3 show in the on-campus Reynolds Theater — from which I have redacted the more repulsive particulars — was posted on the Internet by Jay Schalin, of the conservative-leaning John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

"The performers did not just take their clothes off — and the actual nudity part of the show was rather tame. But mere nudity could hardly compare with a show that began with the Art Show's founder and director, Annie Oakley, imploring the audience to stand up and shout 'I take it up the butt!'...

"A transvestite, naked except for some strategically placed tape, with the words 'F___ Bush' painted on his chest, kneeled on all fours and lit a sparkler protruding out of his rectum with 'America the Beautiful' playing...

"A stripper, in the guise of a U.S. flag-draped Lady Justice, ... yanked a string of dollar bills out of her posterior as the sound system played Dolly Parton's version of 'God Bless the U.S.A.' She ended her act by saluting and holding up her middle finger to the crowd. The announcer referred to the performance as her 'Infamous Patriot Act.' Her most private area was kept covered by a small American flag...

"A dominatrix donned a large 'strap-on' male sex organ, and pretended to masturbate while the crowd was urged to shout 'faster, faster,' in Chinese."

The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, reported that the show "riveted a crowd of students and community members," with "rowdy cheers and awkward silences."

This event was sponsored by a student group called Healthy Devils, with co-sponsors including Duke's Women's Center, the Program for the Study of Sexualities, the Student Health Center, Students for Choice, the Campus Council, and Sexual Assault Support Services. The show has toured or will tour other campuses including Harvard University, the College of William &Mary, the University of Michigan, Wesleyan University, and the University of California (Davis).

Duke Provost Peter Lange, responding to my e-mailed questions, explained that the sponsors had followed normal procedures to get university funds and facilities. Duke "routinely hosts shows and speakers that some people find controversial or even objectionable," he wrote, as part of its "strong commitment to free speech and academic freedom." He added that the university takes no position on the views expressed.

Fair enough. But how can the Duke administration reconcile its solicitude for the right of some groups to pay strippers to perform with its disdain for lacrosse players who did the same?

"There is an obvious difference," Lange responded, "between strippers performing at a private party and a group of artists touring university campuses across the country to present a show with political discussion, musical theater, and displays of sexuality."

So people who take off their clothes and dance for money while others watch are not mere strippers, but rather "artists," if they go on tour, call it "musical theater," and toss in scatological and vulgar political effusions?

Another way of looking at it, Schalin's article suggests, is that "inviting strippers to perform does not appear to be a problem as long as the intent is not to titillate men, but to shock a mixed audience with vulgarity and disparage mainstream American values."

Kenneth Larrey, a senior who founded Duke Students for an Ethical Duke to promote fair treatment of students by the university that had so savaged its own lacrosse players, skipped the Super Bowl to document the university's hypocrisy. The show was, he says, "far, far more grotesque than we could have imagined."

To be sure, Annie Oakley did voice one coherent political message: Women are driven into the "sex industry" because the "only other option is working a minimum-wage job or less." But this theme was undercut by one performer's admission that she had left a regular job to make more money for "my extravagant partying lifestyle" and by others who described choosing sex work after college.

While the show portrayed "sex workers" as both artistic "geniuses" and victims of society, males who pay strippers to perform had better have politically correct motives. The Sex Workers Art Show passed the political correctness test because, in the words of its website, it not only "entertains, arouses, and amazes" but also offers "scathing and insightful commentary on notions of class, race, gender, labor, and sexuality."

As if the nation's campuses were not sufficiently steeped in such stuff already.

The lacrosse players, on the other hand, had no pretensions beyond titillation and male bonding. For this they were likened to slave masters of the Old South by many a professor and columnist. Professor Mark Anthony Neal, for one — a practitioner of what he calls " 'gangster' scholarship" and "intellectual thuggery" — accused the players of "hoping to consume something that they felt a black woman uniquely possessed." Never mind that the booking agency had told the players that one stripper would be white and one would be Hispanic.

Brodhead told the Durham Chamber of Commerce on April 20, 2006, "If our students did what is alleged, it is appalling to the worst degree. If they didn't do it, whatever they did is bad enough." (Emphasis added.)

This was a dagger aimed straight at the hearts of sophomores Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty, who had been arrested on rape charges two days before. In his eagerness to trash two young men in their time of direst peril for having attended a stripper party organized by their captains, Brodhead ignored the strong, by-then-public evidence that both were entirely innocent of rape.

Such smears have so far cost Duke well over $10 million to settle a threatened lawsuit by the three wrongly accused players. (The third was indicted after Brodhead's "bad enough" gibe.) Three other players have filed a lawsuit and 30-some others are threatening to sue.

But no Duke administrator or professor has been disciplined in any way. Indeed, the only one fired at Duke as a result of the bogus rape charge was Mike Pressler, the university's lacrosse coach for 16 years and the 2005 NCAA Coach of the Year. Brodhead fired him in April 2006 while misleadingly suggesting that his players were a bunch of racists. This at a time when rogue District Attorney Mike Nifong, who has since been disbarred, was winning an election by spreading similar smears to Durham voters and potential jurors.

Less than a month later, a faculty committee that Brodhead appointed to investigate the coach's leadership and the players' characters found that Pressler had been blameless. It also found that the players — although far too prone to the alcohol abuse, noisy parties, and related petty misconduct that are endemic on campus — were otherwise an admirable group of student-athletes with no history of racist talk or behavior.

Despite all of this, Steel — who is also an undersecretary of the Treasury — and Duke's board have strongly supported Brodhead's handling of the lacrosse case. In December 2007 a board committee voiced what its chair, and board vice chair, Daniel Blue, called "overwhelming support for the leadership that the president is providing."

Brodhead and the board understand how the p.c. game is played. If only the lacrosse players had understood that, they could have lined up university funding to hire a better class of strippers: college-educated white people spouting vacuous political bromides and sporting dollar bills and sparklers in the right places.
2.23.2008 5:15pm
Dan M.:
It is certainly a separate issue what you can say at the workplace, at which you spend 40 hours a week, and on campus, which is where you go to class, where you hang out, and where you live. I imagine that any reasonable restriction on speech in the workplace is just as reasonable in a classroom setting, however, campus speech codes are applied throughout the campus: around the lecture halls, at the residence halls, in and around the student union, and at the dining halls.
2.24.2008 7:27am