Debate Now Free Speech Is Not an Academic Value

Discussion in 'Debate Now - Structured Discussion Forum' started by Xelor, Jul 25, 2017.

  1. Xelor
    Offline

    Xelor Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    8,193
    Thanks Received:
    1,206
    Trophy Points:
    255
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +4,241
    Thread Rules:
    1. Read the entire discussion rubric.
    2. By quoting specific remarks in the discussion rubric, refute or expound upon the rubrics themes.
    3. Adhere strictly to rules one and two and also comply with SDF general rules.



    Discussion Rubric:

    On multiple occasions, I've seen people here gripe about students not being able to say whatever suits them on college campuses. Just as I draw a line about what my instruction and suggestions are open for debate, college students face constraints on what they can and cannot say in an academic context. The experience and insights I impart to my kids aren't by them things to question. When they have the life experience and intellectual knowledge and acuity to make their own marks in the world and not depend on the one I've made for their sufficiency, I will have achieved my goal of raising them, and at that point all of my input will for them be reduced to suggestion status and they are free to conduct their affairs as they see fit, free to express themselves as they desire, and free to raise their own kids as I raised them or differently.

    The same concept applies in higher education settings. When students reach the point that they have original ideas that on their own withstand rigorous scrutiny, the students will have then earned the right to speak freely on topics that capture their interest and that fall within the scope of their expertize. Until then, however, they need to sit down, take notes and ask intelligent questions.

    Freedom of speech is not an academic value. Accuracy of speech is an academic value; completeness of speech is an academic value; relevance of speech is an academic value. Each of these values is directly related to the goal of academic inquiry: getting a matter of fact right. The operative commonplace is "following the evidence wherever it leads." One can’t do that if one's sources are suspect or nonexistent; one can’t do that if one only considers evidence favorable to one's biases; one can’t do that if one's evidence is far afield and hasn’t been persuasively connected to the instant matter of fact.

    Nor can one follow the evidence wherever it leads if what guides one be a desire that the inquiry reach a conclusion friendly to one's political views. If free speech is not an academic value because it is not the value guiding inquiry, free political speech is positively antithetical to inquiry: it skews inquiry in advance, One achieves one's end from the get-go.

    It is political speech if, when the material under consideration raises political/ethical questions, one believes it is one's task to answer them, to take them normatively rather than academically. Any number of topics taken up in a classroom will contain moral and political issues, issues like discrimination, inequality, institutional racism. Those issues should be studied, analyzed, and historicized, but they shouldn’t be debated with a view to fashioning and prosecuting a remedial agenda.

    The academic interrogation of an issue leads to an understanding of its complexity; it does not (nor should it) lead to joining a party or marching down Main Street. That is what I mean by saying that the issue shouldn’t be taken normatively; taking it that way would require following its paths and byways to the point where one embarks upon a course of action; taking it academically requires that one stop short of action and remain in the realm of deliberation so long as the academic context is in session; action, if it comes, comes later or after class.


    Consider an example much in the news these days: Middlebury College. The facts are well known. The controversial sociologist Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, was invited by the American Enterprise Institute Club to speak at Middlebury about his 2013 book Coming Apart. The event was co-sponsored by the political science department and one of its members, Allison Stanger, was scheduled to engage Murray in dialogue after his talk. That never happened, because as soon as Murray rose to speak student protesters turned their backs on him and began a nonstop serial chant featuring slogans like "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray go away" and "Your message is hatred; we will not tolerate it." After 20 minutes a university administrator announced that the event would be moved to another location where Murray would give his talk, and that he and Professor Stanger would engage in a livestreamed conversation. That did happen, but as Murray and Stanger were exiting the new venue they were harassed and assaulted; Stanger suffered a neck injury and spent a short time in a hospital.


    What happened here? Well, according to many commentators, something disturbing and dangerous happened. That is the suggestion of an article headline in The Atlantic: "A Violent Attack on Free Speech at Middlebury." But whose free speech was attacked? If you’re thinking 1st Amendment (inapplicable to a private school like Middlebury), no government or government agency prevented Murray from speaking. If you’re thinking 1st Amendment values like the value of a free exchange of ideas, that’s not what the students wanted, and it was their show (after they took it away from the AEI club). And if it is what the Middlebury administration wanted, as President Laurie L. Patton said it was, then it was up to the administration to take the steps necessary to bring about the outcome it desired.

    If you were to ask me, "What would those steps be?" I would reply that I don’t know, but it’s not my job to know; it’s the job of the Middlebury administrators, and they failed to do it. In its account of the affair, Inside Higher Ed reports that "College officials said the size and intensity of the protest surprised them." Really? What planet were they living on? Didn’t they read the job description when they signed up?

    Some Middlebury faculty and many outside observers blamed the students for the debacle, and there is no doubt that their actions and ideas were unattractive enough to qualify them for the position of whipping boy. When an earnest representative of the AEI Club told the students that he looked forward to hearing their opinions, one of them immediately corrected him: "These are truths." In other words, you and Charles Murray have opinions, but we are in possession of the truth, and it is a waste of our time to listen to views we have already rejected and know to be worthless. Now that’s a nice brew of arrogance and ignorance, which, in combination with the obstructionism that followed, explains why the students got such a bad press.

    They are obnoxious, self-righteous, self-preening, shallow, short-sighted, intolerant, and generally impossible, which means that they are students, doing what students do. What they don’t do is police themselves or respect the institution’s protocols or temper their youthful enthusiasm with a dash of mature wisdom. That, again, is what administrations are supposed to do and what they are paid to do. Pillorying the students while muttering something about the decline of civility and truth-seeking in a radical PC culture makes good copy for radio, TV, and newspaper pundits; however, it misses the point, which is not some piously invoked abstraction like free speech or democratic rational debate, but something much smaller and more practically consequential: the obligation of college and university administrators to know what they are supposed to do and then to actually do it.
     
  2. MarathonMike
    Offline

    MarathonMike Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2014
    Messages:
    6,355
    Thanks Received:
    1,978
    Trophy Points:
    390
    Location:
    The Southwestern Desert
    Ratings:
    +11,030
    "The same concept applies in higher education settings. When students reach the point that they have original ideas that on their own withstand rigorous scrutiny, the students will have then earned the right to speak freely on topics that capture their interest and that fall within the scope of their expertize. Until then, however, they need to sit down, take notes and ask intelligent questions."

    Conceptually I agree with this statement. The problem is that what is occurring in most colleges across the country, is that faculty is not developing critical thinking in the students. They are not challenging the students to look at all sides of an issue and rigorously explore all of them. Rather what is really happening is the students are being fed, either subtly or blatantly, a Liberal bias on all views environmental, Racial, political and economical.
     
  3. Damaged Eagle
    Online

    Damaged Eagle Soltice bells Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2015
    Messages:
    8,126
    Thanks Received:
    11,247
    Trophy Points:
    2,295
    Location:
    Winter wonderland
    Ratings:
    +16,381
    upload_2017-7-25_19-39-22.jpeg

    Yes. We understand that free speech is not an academic value supported by imbedded autocratic 'progressive' scholars.

    *****SMILE*****



    :)
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  4. Xelor
    Offline

    Xelor Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    8,193
    Thanks Received:
    1,206
    Trophy Points:
    255
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +4,241
    TY for a substantive response that complies with thread rules.
     
  5. Natural Citizen
    Offline

    Natural Citizen Gold Member

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2016
    Messages:
    1,155
    Thanks Received:
    275
    Trophy Points:
    200
    Ratings:
    +948
    Reminiscent of 'the long march through the institutions...'

    The corruption and subversion of academia is a very slow and subtle, cultural, influence within social institutions and we read stories every day of the phenomenon. I've spent a great deal of time on campus and have sent others out to them as well to hand out literature and to talk to them and to ask them questions about how they view the world around them. It's a mixed bag. In most instances, they've become fully indoctrinated. But in many other cases, there are some who challenge it in the classroom.

    They're treated like ants, really.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
  6. Xelor
    Offline

    Xelor Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    8,193
    Thanks Received:
    1,206
    Trophy Points:
    255
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +4,241
    I don't know precisely what you mean by that. Do you care to clarify?
     
  7. Circe
    Offline

    Circe Silver Member

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2013
    Messages:
    2,202
    Thanks Received:
    197
    Trophy Points:
    95
    Location:
    Aeaea
    Ratings:
    +319
    I think you may be missing a couple big issues here. I don't agree that Middlebury administrators didn't know what they were supposed to do: they did everything they could do right. They allowed the group to invite the speaker they wanted; they reserved a hall and publicized the talk; they provided enough security that Charles Murray was not actually mobbed and killed at the podium, which could have happened, after all. When chaos ensued they put forth an alternative, live streaming from a safe location, and they carried that out.

    Then the car Murray and the prof was in was attacked by rioters rioting in the dark. That was unexpected and out of the administration's control because riots are by definition out of control. They are hard or impossible to control, and that's an issue being missed. Lately colleges (Berkeley with Milo and that one in Florida where white supremicists have been coming to speak) have been trying to stop rioting on their campuses, but it costs them hundreds of thousands of dollars and how can they really afford to do that? Ann Coulter says, simple, call out the National Guard, but riots are not simple. The reason we see riot police immobile in a line behind shields is because there are too many people to stop. It can't be done: too many. They have learned to hope to tire them out till they go home, and that does work often, but sometimes cities burn and governments fall. People say, just shoot the rioters, but famous riots in history that went on to successful revolutions start that way, so they are afraid to: The Boston Massacre, the St. Petersburg Massacre, the National Guard firing on the crowd at the Champs de Mars in 1790, Paris.

    There is another missed issue, perhaps: people say, expel the rioters and loud, abusive protestors! What that misses is that these students are their customers. They are who pays the college to stay open, directly or more often indirectly. And we know the leftists are disproportionately in the majority because that's how they can invade and disrupt speeches. If colleges start fighting their own students, how long will they have students? "I'm not going to school there!!" kids may say. If colleges can undermine the hard leftism they've allowed to be taught for so long, they may be able to divide and conquer and recover order by expulsions and other penalties of a few at a time. But they can't do that while nearly all their customers think it's the pinnacle of virtue to shriek and riot at an invited topic speaker or commencement speaker: expel the hundreds photographed yelling at the Charles Murray event, and they will close directly. Colleges are now under grave financial pressure because they've run up their costs and lots of people think it's not worth it to come, some parents don't like the leftwing indoctrination of their children, males are failing to register with percentages falling yearly, and the more elite colleges are taking in foreign paying students more and more, which is not very attractive for white Americans either. So colleges are in a downward spiral now and fighting their own students with police and clubs would not help that.

    You and many are thinking colleges should "just stop" the violent protests, but they can't stop it on a dime because, first, riots are by definition out of control, and second, if they attack their own customers they will quickly go out of business. I think colleges will change, because they don't like the rioting and the greater society is very angry about it and that endangers the future of these institutions. But it will take years as colleges work to undermine the current bad values of their professors and students.
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  8. Xelor
    Offline

    Xelor Gold Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2017
    Messages:
    8,193
    Thanks Received:
    1,206
    Trophy Points:
    255
    Location:
    D.C.
    Ratings:
    +4,241

    If you concluded that based on the OP's discussion rubric, you missed my point regarding my remarks about college administrators' obligations or what is expected of them. That is most certainly not what I asserted or implied Middlebury's administrators should have done.

    And to the extent that the protestors are both (physically) abusive and enrolled at the school, people saying that advocate for the right disciplinary action.
    When students request admission to a college and same is granted, the students agree to comply with the institution's rules and regulations. I can assure you that participating in a violent protest on campus violates those rules and regulations. The fact that students are paying, nevermind that close to half of Middlebury's students aren't "paying with their own dime" and over half of students across all colleges finance their education with someone else's money, does not give them the imprimatur to do whatever they want. Tuition does not buy one the right to misbehave; it does not purchase First Amendment rights (something private colleges like Middlebury are not required to grant or respect, though they may choose to grant some up to whatever point they decide they are willing to do so); it buys one the right to be taught.

    Really? That assertion seems misrepresentative of the body of information that's come my way. What information has not come my way? The matter of whether more or fewer people enroll, to me, seems merely cyclical.
    Thus while it's certainly so that enrollments declined somewhat after 2012, it's not as though they weren't, as a result of larger economic trends, expected to do so.
     

Share This Page