Author Topic: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration  (Read 6906 times)

Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« on: August 30, 2016, 06:04:43 PM »
Dean John Ellison of the University of Chicago sent out a "welcome letter" to incoming students emphasizing the university's "commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression."  (The full text is in the link below.)  But then he delineates those freedoms:

Quote
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove too controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.

P.Z. Myers beautifully rips this apart.

Quote
Let’s start with safe spaces. Does Dean Ellison have a private office? Does it have a door on it? Does he sometimes meet with other deans in closed meetings? Then he creates safe spaces, and works in one. He is simply unaware of it, and takes the privilege for granted.

When the College Republicans meet on campus, is it OK with Dean Ellison of the LGBTQ club marches in and disrupts the proceedings with chants and signs (also, vice versa…but I suspect he’s more sympathetic to conservative organizations)? Or would it be reasonable to call campus security to eject the people who are interfering with the free expression of ideas by the organization? When you set aside a space for a specific purpose, you are creating a safe space to get the job done.

When I teach, I am an enforcer for certain rules of decorum — I create a safe space for learning. That doesn’t mean discussion is put on rails and not allowed to deviate from my plan. I might not allow a conversation about football when the topic is evolution, but if someone raises a hand and makes a creationist objection, which is wrong but on topic, I don’t allow the class to shout down the person (I have been in this situation, where the students are more discouraging of ideas than I am, and I have to crack down and insist that the class address the question respectfully). A safe space is a place where we focus on an issue, and we don’t allow distractions. I guarantee you that every class at the U of C is a safe space for a certain perspective, because that is the nature of teaching. Or does Dean Ellison think every classroom should be the equivalent of the comment section on a youtube video, where the loudest *censored* are allowed to dominate?

What about trigger warnings? Ellison doesn’t understand those, either. A trigger warning is not an announcement that we won’t discuss bad, complex, divisive things. Quite the opposite: a trigger warning is an announcement that we are definitely going to talk about bad, complex, divisive things. A syllabus is a string of trigger warnings — we just tend not to think of it that way because we take for granted that the subjects are innocuous to us and are required to understand the purpose of the course.

But I once innocently listed human birth defects as a topic on a syllabus, and a distressed woman met with me to say she was worried she’d lose it in class — she’d given birth to an anencephalic baby a few years before, and she was terrified about that subject. She wanted to talk with me not because she didn’t want to hear about birth defects — on the contrary, she really wanted to learn about it, but she was conscious of her own emotional reaction — and wanted some clearer idea of what I was going to say and show. I told her that in fact I was going to focus primarily on neural tube defects, and that yes, I had some photos of the phenomenon, but the focus was primarily on mechanisms. It was enough that she knew what to expect so she could prepare for it, and she just asked that I let her know before I showed the photos.

I always do that. Before I show students a photo of a deformed fetus, I tell the students that I’m going to show them a photo of a deformed fetus. That’s basic empathy and respect, the very things Dean Ellison says students should expect, while insisting that they’re forbidden if they’re labeled “trigger warnings”. I’m not interested in suddenly springing a shockingly graphic image on the class to make students vomit in the aisles and weep — that’s not a strategy for good learning.

That’s a trigger warning. And I learned that lesson almost 30 years ago, when we didn’t call them trigger warnings, although it was exactly the same thing. Does Dean Ellison think we should talk about controversial topics, but we should always surprise the students with them?

Let’s talk about cancelling controversial speakers. I actually sort of agree with Ellison on this one — once a speaker is invited, there’s an obligation and commitment to carry through on it. But what’s not being talked about is the process that leads to those speakers being invited. Who’s selecting them? Who’s paying for them? What’s the purpose behind bringing that particular person to campus? There are a lot of strings being pulled behind the scenes that the students don’t see until there is an announcement in the school paper or on a poster that hey, U of C is bringing a war criminal to campus! Or an anti-war activist! Then what?

Does Dean Ellison suggest that students are not allowed to be appalled at the privileges given to speakers they object to, and that they are not allowed to loudly protest? Because that would be a violation of free speech.

Let’s imagine that the U of C invites Henry Kissinger to give a lecture. Will they create a “safe space” for him, and not allow protesters to disrupt the event? To avoid the appearance of giving a “trigger warning”, will they refuse to announce the date, time, and place of the lecture, and even that War Criminal Kissinger will be on campus? Just all of a sudden, Henry Kissinger will show up in a random class and surprise everyone by telling them about the realpolitik of murdering civilians en masse. That’s basically what they’re going to have to do to enforce the ridiculous policies in that astonishingly stupid paragraph.

But they’re not going to. That’s because that paragraph is not about policing behaviors that every responsible university does naturally, that is an implicit part of teaching and learning. It’s because he is sending a different message.

We all create safe spaces and give trigger warnings and expect that our institutions of higher learning will feature worthy speakers. It’s just that if you are part of a privileged, dominant majority, you don’t have to say it: you can trust that your values will be well represented, sheltered, and unchallenged. It’s only if you are a member of a minority that you find it necessary to be explicit and openly demand a place for your ideas; these phrases about “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” only evolved because people found that institutions were unthinkingly assuming that the majority (and the money) rules, and it took hard work to hammer out room to talk about alternative views or oppression or privilege.

The problem is that now those phrases are used as red flags to tell that privileged majority that, hey, look, here’s a minority group that’s trying to carve out a place in our university — quick, shout ’em down. Silence them. Make up rules to break them apart, to allow us to openly disrespect their concerns, to allow us to shove horrible people in their faces while not allowing them to complain. This is not about encouraging “freedom of expression”, it’s about creating tools to club down anyone who opposes the accepted status quo.

Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and opposing controversial speakers are ensconced in academia, but because they are given a different labels (because they are being used for new, rather than traditional, subjects), they are considered to be outside the norm.  And Dean Ellison thinks he can stop them to "protect free speech."  ::)

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2016, 06:19:51 PM »
Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and opposing controversial speakers are ensconced in academia, but because they are given a different labels (because they are being used for new, rather than traditional, subjects, they are considered to be outside the norm.  And Dean Ellison thinks he can stop them to "protect free speech."  ::)

What does this paragraph even mean? I especially would like to know what the bolded part means.

JoshCrow

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2016, 08:04:16 PM »
It's an interesting approach taken by Myers - basically taking certain words that have appeared recently and retroactively warping them to refer to other things everyone is comfortable with but which bear little relation to the current usage.

Thereby there is an equivalency created between "a Dean having a private office" and a black/white/all lives matter group (and yes, I am happy to lump those together) having a place where they can not be challenged - a place that conspicuously morphs into "the whole campus" in some definitions while in others it's more like a small club room.

P.Z. Myers is basically equivocating on these terms, which are rather amorphous in the first place, to further his argument. His example of a distressed woman approaching him is in fact how these things ought to be handled - but "trigger warnings" mean something different nowadays, and I submit as evidence the very fact that they are controversial. It is self-evident that they have gone above and beyond the scenario he has described. It's closer to this: http://www.theonion.com/article/college-professor-reminds-students-it-will-take-fe-53754

JoshCrow

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2016, 08:12:24 PM »
Actually... Fenring, what was that thing called where someone retreats behind an inoffensive, universally accepted usage of a concept when defending, but switches to a narrower version of the term when on the attack? I can't remember the name for it but we encountered it recently (much like kafkatrapping). This is a textbook version of it.

Yes, found it. "Bailey and motte".
http://www.ornery.org/forum/index.php/topic,157.0.html
« Last Edit: August 30, 2016, 08:15:20 PM by JoshCrow »

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2016, 11:59:16 PM »
I'd just be happy to declare it an attempt at doublespeak and move on(.org).  8)

Nobody can complete feats of intellectual dishonesty better than an intellectual. In order to be effective at it, you need to understand things on a deeper level.

Of course, that only applies to the originator, not their trained parrots.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 12:03:22 AM by TheDeamon »

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2016, 10:17:01 AM »
I think safe spaces and trigger warnings are fantastic tools.  I believe all pre-schools and possibly even kindergarten classrooms should institute these policies.  Children 5 and under aren’t equipped to deal with the type of chaotic debate safe spaces help to avoid and at that age it should be up to their parents to decide how much they are exposed to “bad, complex and divisive topics.”

rightleft22

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2016, 10:19:22 AM »
It appears to me that Myers chose to miss-represent Elisson’s statement, deliberately or out of ignorance.

When I read the statement made by John Ellison I had to lookup what was meant by "trigger warnings"
Once I understood what that meant it clarified, to me at least, what the intention behind the statement was. 

I’ve been out of a school environment for a while so my understanding of an intellectual “safe space” meant a space were people could debate and be listened with respect regardless of topic or position.

I take it today that an intellectual “safe space” means a space in which no one expresses an opinion that differs or challenges a group thinking? Those who do not conform to the opinion are not welcome as they will not be safe in the “safe space”.   

I assume this would also be why speakers who might say something a group of people are not comfortable hearing would be un-invited. Instead of encouraging debate we have violence.

This is a sad state in the art of communication and education and think explains how a very small subset of people can have so much influence in the age of social media communication.

rightleft22

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2016, 10:26:57 AM »
I very much disagree with you D.W.
We ought to be teaching our children the art of communication on the first day of school. That you can disagree without becoming angry and that ones sense of self need not be threatened when you hear someone holding different values, beliefs or opinions.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2016, 10:27:19 AM »
Quote
I take it today that an intellectual “safe space” means a space in which no one expresses an opinion that differs or challenges a group thinking? Those who do not conform to the opinion are not welcome as they will not be safe in the “safe space”.   
Yes, at least that is the view from those on the outside looking in.  I find the concept ridiculous so I undoubtedly bring some bias to that evaluation of what "safe space" means.

The uninviting is more when a vocal group is opposed to the message/speaker and tries to shame the administration into doing the uninviting.  It's not like they have to attend (at least I've yet to hear of a mandatory or credit required event that qualifies).  Some however feel that if the collage invites them, gives them a platform, and often pays them, they feel their "voice" is being hijacked by someone or something they neither agree with nor condone.

Again, I find this ridiculous in all but the speaking fees paid to such a person or group.  If my tuition was being spent on speaking fees for someone I found reprehensible or offensive, I'd probably raise a stink as well.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2016, 10:28:00 AM »
I very much disagree with you D.W.
We ought to be teaching our children the art of communication on the first day of school. That you can disagree without becoming angry and that ones sense of self need not be threatened when you hear someone holding different values, beliefs or opinions.
It sure would save a lot of heartburn by the time they are supposed to be adults.  :)

To be a bit more clear; when a 5 year old can't handle conflicting views and can't control themselves or break down in tears, I'm sympathetic or at least excuse them.  When an adult can't handle it; I'd suggest they go home where it MIGHT be a "safe space" depending on their family life.

Life isn't all kitten's and rainbows.  I grew up around people who tried their damnedest to pretend that it was.  It's VERY unhealthy.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 10:39:01 AM by D.W. »

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2016, 10:52:55 AM »
What strikes me about the reply, is the astonishing level of privilege one would have to exercise to say the things it does.  I mean honestly, he's the best case for his own argument.  He can say whatever offensive thing he wants, twist words into their opposite meaning and he honestly expects to the point of not being able to even comprehend otherwise that he'll be supported for it.

Safe spaces are not the same thing as privacy.  The author seems to confuse an office, and a closed meeting with a safe space.  Not the same thing.  A safe space, is a specific concept that requires a public area where contrary ideas are not permitted.  As far as I'm aware, there has never been an issue about people intruding into other people's rooms or into private meetings to challenge like minded students.  What has happened, is that universities have, in pursuant of "nondiscrimination," made rules to actively prohibit students from publically organizing private meetings.  You can't have a private club be acknowledged on campus or use campus facilities.  The logical result of that, is going to be that contrarians can disrupt the purpose of clubs they disagree with.  I'm curious why it's not a "problem" when liberal activists disrupt conservative organizations, but we need safe spaces to protect against the inverse?  In fact you can see the logical inconsistency, when he argues in favor of safe spaces, where contrary ideas are not allowed, while simultaneously being outraged that speakers don't have to yield the floor to disruptors.  It's just a complete failure to understand that free speech doesn't not exist where you encourage people to shout over speech they don't want to hear rather than to refute it.

I don't think anyone objects to the idea of issuing "trigger warnings" on content that is truly controversial or that would be disturbing to virtually all the population.  I don't think most really object to providing such warnings when they realize that content will be disturbing to some people.  The objection comes from being charged with providing warnings where the warning itself is triggered not by the content but rather by the circumstances of the listener.  No one should be charged with understanding all possible underlying circumstances of another person or culture and issuing warnings about possible offenses against them (in many cases, the warning itself is offensive because the warner misunderstands the culture in question).  And, all warnings are a function of basic human empathy, it's particularly galling that the people being warned refuse to express any kind of basic human empathy towards those who try and make the warnings.  It really boils down to a demand that others be perfect in analyzing what could be offensive to me, and change their own behavior (even if that is offensive to them).

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2016, 10:56:04 AM »
Again, I find this ridiculous in all but the speaking fees paid to such a person or group.  If my tuition was being spent on speaking fees for someone I found reprehensible or offensive, I'd probably raise a stink as well.

That describes every professor who believes its their job to force their personal opinions on the class, and all of those who believe its their job to tear down student opinions based on their own "enlightened" knowledge of the world.  Should we be allowed to disrupt every class with a professor like that?

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #12 on: August 31, 2016, 11:04:04 AM »
I take it today that an intellectual “safe space” means a space in which no one expresses an opinion that differs or challenges a group thinking? Those who do not conform to the opinion are not welcome as they will not be safe in the “safe space”.

Basically. Which is why the Dean's statement had safe space in quotation marks, as he was explicitly pointing out a usage of the term outside of what he considers normal boundaries.

For Academia, the traditional "safe space" is a venue where controversial views can be heard out, so they can be studied and evaluated without being prematurely shut down by being shouted down. It also is why Tenure exists, to create such "safe spaces" for academic thinkers.

However, the new use of "safe space" that is being pushed, ironically by a bunch of academics, would shutdown that ability to hear or evaluate a controversial view. That it is controversial, and "upsetting" to a particular (minority) group is sufficient grounds to stop things in their tracks. That the decision process on which minority groups get these protections from being upset is completely arbitrary and capricious(not all minority groups are created equal) is besides the point.

I'm not sure what such a groups position on teacher/professor tenure is, but I imagine they want it for "their people" but want it abolished for professors that challenge their views.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #13 on: August 31, 2016, 11:29:11 AM »
Quote
Should we be allowed to disrupt every class with a professor like that?
Yes, in so far that you should be allowed to question them.  Granted that may be jeopardizing your grade depending on how "enlightened" the teacher is.  :)  Now questioning is different from disrupting.  The other students have paid to be there and to learn the subject matter.  If your intent is not to point out potential flaws but rather disruption as protest, I have no problem with you being removed so that the others can learn what they came there for.  Protest outside the room somewhere...

rightleft22

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #14 on: August 31, 2016, 11:31:00 AM »
This is really confusing me.

The whole idea of an “intellectual safe place” seems absurd to me as such a space ought to challenge my thinking so that I might learn something. While on the other hand my concept of a “safe place” would be a space where I can go when to recharge and be.  I assume reasonable people could Identify and respect the difference.

Clubs should be safe places. If I belong to the purple shirt bowling club I don’t expect someone who wants to wear a yellow shirt to join or force the group to change shirts. I would expect a safe place to challenge the yellow shirt bowling club to a game where I guess if I was open I might discover the yellow is a better color for me. Either or I hope my sense of identity was strong enough not to fear others that look and or thought differently.


I’ve been reading ‘Science and Sanity: An Introduction to Non-Aristotelian Systems and General Semantics by Alfred Korzybski
One of the lessons learned was how important it is to understand the idea of semantic reactions to the words we use and hear.

This argument between Ellison and Myers seem to have a different expectation and sematic reaction to idea of a “safe place” which is fine but instead of a honest debate that might better define what such a space might look like we have an a attack that clouds the issue. 

AI Wessex

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2016, 11:37:38 AM »
Quote
That describes every professor who believes its their job to force their personal opinions on the class, and all of those who believe its their job to tear down student opinions based on their own "enlightened" knowledge of the world.  Should we be allowed to disrupt every class with a professor like that?
That could also describe any professor who presents information that a student doesn't want to hear, however legitimate and well-founded.  Should those students be allowed to disrupt classes to insist that professors teach only what they are comfortable thinking about?

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2016, 11:42:38 AM »
The root of this disagreement is that respect cannot be assumed.  Or rather, it can be assumed NOT to exist between polarizing views.  That's what's changed or seems to have changed as of late.

Rather than attempt to address that problem, you have two groups attempting to treat the symptom.  One side says, "Grow a thicker skin and get over it."  The other side says, "Segregate the groups to avoid conflict."

I'm without hesitation in the first group, however neither option is ideal.

rightleft22

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2016, 11:44:48 AM »
Quote
If my tuition was being spent on speaking fees for someone I found reprehensible or offensive, I'd probably raise a stink as well.


Does this statement implied that you expect that your fees entitle you to only hear and be taught things that you want to hear and already know?

What do you mean by raising a stink?
Does it mean you enter into debate to challenge the person’s ideas you disagree with or do you attack and make it imposable for the person to speak and for a debate to take place?

The former would be money well spent on tuition in my opinion. 



Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2016, 11:51:58 AM »
Well I think it should be obvious where I come out on this, but I don't think its ever okay to disrupt speech.  The entire point of free speech is to allow ideas to be put forward and then criticized and even held up to ridicule where appropriate.  Both "safe spaces" and disruption are directly contrary to this principal, the first by silencing the contrary ideas and the second by preventing anyone from hearing them.  Pretty much they are ideas that ultimately will encourage fascism, as students and future adults come to believe that free speech is no longer necessary or permissible in the face of the "right ideas" they hold and contradiction is actually a criminal act.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #19 on: August 31, 2016, 12:03:27 PM »
Quote
Does this statement implied that you expect that your fees entitle you to only hear and be taught things that you want to hear and already know?
Well, first, I didn't go. 
My expectation would indeed be that I am only required to hear and be taught the subject matter I am there for.  The last thing I would want however is to only be taught things I already know. 

For me, raising a stink would probably amount to writing a letter or possibly suggesting a piece or writing one for a university publication condemning the use of tuition fees for extracurricular events and linking it to the ever inflating cost of higher education.  I'd not just focus on topics or people that offend me, as ALL wasted money in such an environment would offend me.  Heck venues which reinforce my already held beliefs would probably offend me more.

Whether I engaged in debate or not depends on if I believe it is worth my effort.  When I do so it's typically to see if my own views stand up under fire.  Only rarely is it an attempt to persuade the 'opponent'.  If we are talking a classroom setting rather than public event however, the third motivation, swaying the audience towards my view, is shelved.  They paid their money for the professor's take on the subject, not mine.  And if I was sure I already knew better, then WTF am I doing in that class?

Then again, I didn't go.  Vocational school, apprenticeship and making some fortunate connections early on was the path I opted for (or lucked into) and it happened to have worked out in my case.  So I'm very much an outsider looking in when it comes to this topic. 

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #20 on: August 31, 2016, 12:05:58 PM »
Safe spaces are not the same thing as privacy.  The author seems to confuse an office, and a closed meeting with a safe space.  Not the same thing.  A safe space, is a specific concept that requires a public area where contrary ideas are not permitted.

It goes further than this. It isn't just about banning certain ideas. That alone would make me feel the tinge of danger in the air, but I could still understand why this would be a desirable thing from a childish perspective (like D.W. said about kindergarten). But no, several instances of demands for safe space also would ban human beings of certain colors, races and religions as well. There have been very publicized demands made (I forget which exact institutions) for safe spaces for black people, for instance, where no one but black people would be allowed to congregate. So this goes beyond fear of ideas; it really boils down to fear of everyone who isn't utterly familiar and similar to oneself. I swear when I think about this kind of thing it makes me shiver.

The remarkable aspect to demands such as this isn't even the basic essence of what they're asking for, but the hypocrisy in the assumptions behind the demands. What is a black person, after all? How is this defined? Is it someone whose ancestry is from a particular place? What if half of your lineage is from there, and half from elsewhere? What if your parents are black but you have light skin? What if...etc etc. The attempt to categorize human beings into neat little boxes is no less than pure eugenics mentality, and as far as I can tell this sort of thinking out to be the #1 arch-enemy antithesis of any liberal thinker. And even for demands which are purely based on 'safe ideas', it still smells somewhat of the sort of ban on diverging ideas so oft attributed to the church, which those same liberals have railed against for so long.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 12:13:26 PM by Fenring »

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #21 on: August 31, 2016, 12:11:24 PM »
For me, raising a stink would probably amount to writing a letter or possibly suggesting a piece or writing one for a university publication condemning the use of tuition fees for extracurricular events and linking it to the ever inflating cost of higher education.  I'd not just focus on topics or people that offend me, as ALL wasted money in such an environment would offend me.  Heck venues which reinforce my already held beliefs would probably offend me more.

To be fair, certain features at a learning institution aren't merely for show but create an atmosphere of sorts, even if aspects of it mean nothing to you. You can take paid speakers, for instance, where even if you find their content drivel (or worse) at least there are 'talks' going on which people can attend, which is as it should be. You can even go further than this and look at architecture and even flowers around the campus, and easily make the argument that although a given student might not want his tuition money wasted on flowers it would be silly to argue that they therefore have no intrinsic value to anyone or to the school in general. At that point, why have anything? Just a few shacks with chairs in them would do for 'learning', and maybe some computers. But students on the whole want more than that, I suspect, and although a personal protest against paid speakers (or flowers) is certainly anyone's right, we can also rightly say that such as opinion would doubtless be outvoted by the majority. Even people who would ban controversial speech probably don't want there to be no speakers at all any more; they just want the 'correct' kind.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2016, 12:23:18 PM »
Which is why I didn't go out of my way to take out loans and apply for scholarships.  I could not, at the time, justify any of that.  At several points in my life I second guessed that decision, but here I am. 

Now I find myself working on those fancy new buildings, renovations and coordinating with those landscaping drawings on occasions.  As that spending directly contributes to my pay check, your point is obviously correct.    8)

Also, please note I didn't suggest that there be no speakers at all, just that they not be subsidized or paid entirely by tuition fees.  I'm all for donations paying for a speaker, ticketed events or speakers donating their time.

Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #23 on: August 31, 2016, 12:36:19 PM »
Quote
P.Z. Myers is basically equivocating on these terms, which are rather amorphous in the first place, to further his argument. His example of a distressed woman approaching him is in fact how these things ought to be handled - but "trigger warnings" mean something different nowadays, and I submit as evidence the very fact that they are controversial. It is self-evident that they have gone above and beyond the scenario he has described. It's closer to this: http://www.theonion.com/article/college-professor-reminds-students-it-will-take-fe-53754

Josh, could you provide a real-life example of where a "trigger warning" caused someone to avoid speaking about a topic in an academic setting (such as the U of C)?  Satire is fine and dandy, but it is inherently an exaggeration.  And I suspect it is the exaggerated because the reality may not be as clear-cut.

Quote
I don't think anyone objects to the idea of issuing "trigger warnings" on content that is truly controversial or that would be disturbing to virtually all the population.  I don't think most really object to providing such warnings when they realize that content will be disturbing to some people.  The objection comes from being charged with providing warnings where the warning itself is triggered not by the content but rather by the circumstances of the listener.  No one should be charged with understanding all possible underlying circumstances of another person or culture and issuing warnings about possible offenses against them (in many cases, the warning itself is offensive because the warner misunderstands the culture in question).  And, all warnings are a function of basic human empathy, it's particularly galling that the people being warned refuse to express any kind of basic human empathy towards those who try and make the warnings.  It really boils down to a demand that others be perfect in analyzing what could be offensive to me, and change their own behavior (even if that is offensive to them).

I'm not sure where you are getting the idea that a "trigger warning" means someone must avoid a controversial or hurtful topic.  All definitions I can see have to do with simply warning the audience.  The topic is still discussed.  The audience is just aware of it beforehand.

I agree that no one should be responsible for knowing all possible topics that might offend or hurt someone else.  But as a matter of common courtesy, the presenter should warn the audience of those he is aware of, and add to that list when he is made aware of a new one.

The only behavior change that I can see is that the presenter must be aware of what he is saying, how it might offend someone, and telling people beforehand that they will cover the subject.  These do not seem onerous to me for anyone who will go through the trouble of defining what he will say.  The major objection, from what I can see, is that the presenter is simply too lazy or too cold-hearted to want to be bothered by "weak minded people" who "can't handle the world."  IOW, presenters who feel they should be able to say anything to anybody and not be responsible for the possible reaction.

Perhaps, though, you could show an counter-example.  I would be interested to see it.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #24 on: August 31, 2016, 12:41:36 PM »
WS, the point isn't to avoid warnings at all. The point is not to have to memorize various triggers particular to individuals but not typically relevant to the majority. For instance, if a professor was going to show a scene from Texas Chainsaw Massacre, hell yeah he'd better give a warning before showing it. That might mess people up, and certainly no one went to school knowing full well they'd be exposed to a slasher movie or to torture porn. Similarly if a professor was going to show a real video of a beheading, damn right you need a warning before that. But now let's say they're going to quote from the bible; do we really need a trigger warning for "there is mention of a rape in here, you are warned!" That's where it begins to be silly, because although some one may in fact be disturbed by even the mention of the word "rape", in general there's no reason to believe an average person cannot handle hearing a passage from the bible. That's just an example, but the kinds of trigger warnings that cause concern are where normal literature (such as Mark Twain) is prefaced by warnings, as if the students need to brace themselves for it. And maybe the professor actually wants to shock the class with something they didn't expect; this teaching tool is eliminated if all shocks are prefaced with a direct warning.

Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #25 on: August 31, 2016, 12:45:41 PM »
Trigger warnings, safe spaces, and opposing controversial speakers are ensconced in academia, but because they are given a different labels (because they are being used for new, rather than traditional, subjects, they are considered to be outside the norm.  And Dean Ellison thinks he can stop them to "protect free speech."  ::)

What does this paragraph even mean? I especially would like to know what the bolded part means.

I was trying to say that the core concepts of these things that Dean Ellison objected to are already accepted in our society--that we should give warning about hurtful or offensive topics, that there are limits to where certain topics and speech are appropriate, and objecting to speakers as not being worthy of being sponsored.  But because the topics are not those that have traditionally been acknowledged as hurtful and controversial, because the special limits are different and the topics are different, and because the objection are coming from those who traditionally haven't had a voice, that these things are considered "new" and "different," and thus are given a new name and label to distinguish them from the accepted practices, and (as is hoped by some) to be stopped.  Because allowing others to have the power to define offensive topics, areas of inappropriate topics and behavior, and inappropriate speakers takes away the power of those who get to choose those things now.  And no one likes to give up some of their power. :)

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2016, 12:48:00 PM »
Odd, "He/she started it!" was never a valid defense when I was growing up...

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2016, 12:54:54 PM »
I think it's fairly easy to find a reasonable balance on what to provide trigger warnings for. The choice isn't between none or everything but about what's an appropriate level. I mean, someone I follow on Tumblr tags pictures for people who have a phobia of wrists (or something, it's been awhile since I looked the word up). I think it's reasonable to say that's overkill.

If a person has issues with something other than the predictable triggers (violence, sex, abuse, assault), then it's their job to inform the professor or to check the materials beforehand. It's the same thing as any other interaction. People should respect other people's boundaries but if a person's boundaries are non-standard then it's up to them to police them.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #28 on: August 31, 2016, 01:09:17 PM »
I'm not sure where you are getting the idea that a "trigger warning" means someone must avoid a controversial or hurtful topic.

Where did you get the idea I said that?  I didn't.  I think that is a logical follow-on, it's certainly appeared from time to time with forced apologies and even forced resignations that people have been punished for how they discussed a controversial or hurtfull topic.  It's possible that professors will exercise personal integrity and continue to discuss such things even knowing that they will be forced to resign and surrender their tenure.

If a person has issues with something other than the predictable triggers (violence, sex, abuse, assault), then it's their job to inform the professor or to check the materials beforehand. It's the same thing as any other interaction. People should respect other people's boundaries but if a person's boundaries are non-standard then it's up to them to police them.

The problem of course is that this topic has already been linked to privilege, which means the idea that someone's "nonstandard" triggers require them to take it upon themselves to act to protect themselves is a direct consequence of your privilege and inherently offensive as well. 

NobleHunter

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2016, 01:16:36 PM »
I see the Dunning-Kruger effect is in full force.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #30 on: August 31, 2016, 04:10:02 PM »
I was trying to say that the core concepts of these things that Dean Ellison objected to are already accepted in our society

You should stop right there, because you've already crossed a logical line when you say this. Even if we accept that 'our society' accepts certain things (ignoring for the moment "whose" society we're referring to, in which city or district, with which demographic or type of people living there, or even whether there is such a thing as "our society" in terms of who is triggered by what) you have no basis to translate that onto a campus of a private business whose ostensible purpose for existing is to not be like 'our society' but instead to be a place dedicated to learning and discussion. If democracy has as one of its core concepts some idea of free expression and debate, a university is a place where that particular principle is raised up and made into an institution dedicated to it. By imposing rules of 'our society' (by which you really mean your society, a nice piece of exclusion there) on a place supposed to be above our society in terms of that one principle, you drag down the flagship of free thought and render it little more useful than a nicely-decorated street corner in a white picket-fence neighborhood.

Quote
that we should give warning about hurtful or offensive topics

This is where the motte and bailey comes into it, because different standards will be argued for this at different times. We can probably universally agree that watching brutal slaughter will be disturbing, if not offensive, to most people. It would be best to call such material "extremely graphic" or perhaps "savage" in the sense of its content. These terms are more or less objective and merely describe what kind of content is there, rather than couching the discussion in terms of value judgement. When you use terms like "hurtful" you cannot be describing anything objective and instead you must mean hurtful to someone; to whom? That is the question to ask in terms of whether something is hurtful. Nothing "is" hurtful outside of a particular person who is hurt by it. A topic cannot therefore "be" hurtful, even though it may indeed hurt someone. This is more than a mere semantic issue and goes to the heart of what sort of power play we're really talking about here. A professor teaching Huck Finn isn't a power play. Demanding a professor get clearance from his students on teaching it - is.

Quote
that there are limits to where certain topics and speech are appropriate

I gotta say there's no positive way to read this kind of statement in my mind. I may be misreading what you mean by it, but just based on the words you've used my spirit trembles to think that you believe there are objective facts about topics that "are" inappropriate. If you'd said something like 'certain people don't want to engage with certain topics and speech' I'd have understood, even though I don't approve. But phrasing it the way you did makes it sound like an actual fact that must be true for all people, which is scary as hell.

Quote
Because allowing others to have the power to define offensive topics, areas of inappropriate topics and behavior, and inappropriate speakers takes away the power of those who get to choose those things now.  And no one likes to give up some of their power. :)

Actually the way things are supposed to be there is no one with "the power to define offensive topics." Maybe the board of a university does, insofar as setting some standards in classrooms like that teachers don't curse at the students and have them watch porn. But they don't, to my knowledge, "define" which topics are inappropriate. Of course you could make the claim that conservatives do, that many universities are covertly liberal indoctrination centers, and therefore they do censor conservative content. But I don't think that's the kind of power to define that you're talking about. What you're talking about is the actual power structure at a private business; meaning the board, the president, and then the staff they hire to teach. But unless everything universities claim is really a lie, the professors do not "define appropriate topics" at all, but merely teach that which is germane to their subject. If anything the teachers themselves are probably handcuffed to an extent by upper management insofar as they may want to include unusual teaching methods and may be obliged to forego that in favor of a more standard curriculum or teaching method. Don't forget that students are rarely experts in the professor's topic and are therefore not qualified to comment on what is or isn't germane to the course goals. The only thing they are qualified to comment on is whether they like it, in which case the only power play potentially afoot is the usurping of the professor's authority in favor of a democratic system of vetting content. This is yet another instance of mistaking 'our society' for a classroom. In 'our society' people are supposed to be enfranchised to voice how they think the system should be run. In a classroom - not. They have no franchise there, even though they may feel entitled to act as if they do.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2016, 04:13:35 PM by Fenring »

JoshCrow

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #31 on: August 31, 2016, 04:15:37 PM »
Because allowing others to have the power to define offensive topics, areas of inappropriate topics and behavior, and inappropriate speakers takes away the power of those who get to choose those things now.  And no one likes to give up some of their power. :)

Allowing basically anyone to have the power to decide what is offensive (and to thrust that idea upon everyone else) is actually a potent weapon against undesirable points of view, which is why this topic has so many like myself alarmed. While we can collectively acknowledge certain things (beheading videos) as sensitive materials, the idea of slapping warnings on literature classics because of a very small but vocal group is anathema. It really IS a democratic, cultural decision as to "what is understood to be offensive". I don't object to some people trying to move the needle of society (after all, that is the process whereby we learn), but I do heartily object to a culture of victimhood that all but encourages people to seek redress for things they shouldn't expect other people to "get" about their own special sensitivities. If there is nobody left to question whether an offense is really offensive, we would remove all the guardians of discourse and just "defer to the aggrieved" in all cases.
You are right, WS, that is NOT power I would care cede - for the good of all.

LetterRip

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #32 on: September 01, 2016, 02:09:59 PM »
It's an interesting approach taken by Myers - basically taking certain words that have appeared recently and retroactively warping them to refer to other things everyone is comfortable with but which bear little relation to the current usage.

This is classic 'bailey and the motte' by Myers.

Quote
So the motte-and-bailey doctrine is when you make a bold, controversial statement. Then when somebody challenges you, you claim you were just making an obvious, uncontroversial statement, so you are clearly right and they are silly for challenging you. Then when the argument is over you go back to making the bold, controversial statement.

http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/11/03/all-in-all-another-brick-in-the-motte/


Wayward Son

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #33 on: September 01, 2016, 06:08:20 PM »
Quote
You should stop right there, because you've already crossed a logical line when you say this. Even if we accept that 'our society' accepts certain things (ignoring for the moment "whose" society we're referring to, in which city or district, with which demographic or type of people living there, or even whether there is such a thing as "our society" in terms of who is triggered by what) you have no basis to translate that onto a campus of a private business whose ostensible purpose for existing is to not be like 'our society' but instead to be a place dedicated to learning and discussion.

Don't get stuck on the word "society."  After all, these are extemporaneous posts, and I have not have used the most precise one.

I point this out because Myers provided examples from university life he deems are "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces."  So saying the rules of society do not apply to the university is not relevant.  He has already shown those rules are accepted by the university.

Quote
If democracy has as one of its core concepts some idea of free expression and debate, a university is a place where that particular principle is raised up and made into an institution dedicated to it. By imposing rules of 'our society' (by which you really mean your society, a nice piece of exclusion there) on a place supposed to be above our society in terms of that one principle, you drag down the flagship of free thought and render it little more useful than a nicely-decorated street corner in a white picket-fence neighborhood.

No one is advocating the "dragging down" of free thought.  "Safe space" means a place where people feel safe from certain attacks--those based on race, gender, gender-identity, etc.  "Trigger warnings" is simply informing a participant that certain topics will be discussed.  And protesting speakers is primarily protesting the judgment of the Administration and who they implicitly support (by inviting as speakers) does not prevent speakers from speaking in other venues (just as those speakers who the Administration did not invite are free to speak elsewhere).  Free thought is not limited by these actions.

Quote
This is where the motte and bailey comes into it, because different standards will be argued for this at different times. We can probably universally agree that watching brutal slaughter will be disturbing, if not offensive, to most people. It would be best to call such material "extremely graphic" or perhaps "savage" in the sense of its content. These terms are more or less objective and merely describe what kind of content is there, rather than couching the discussion in terms of value judgment. When you use terms like "hurtful" you cannot be describing anything objective and instead you must mean hurtful to someone; to whom? That is the question to ask in terms of whether something is hurtful. Nothing "is" hurtful outside of a particular person who is hurt by it. A topic cannot therefore "be" hurtful, even though it may indeed hurt someone. This is more than a mere semantic issue and goes to the heart of what sort of power play we're really talking about here. A professor teaching Huck Finn isn't a power play. Demanding a professor get clearance from his students on teaching it - is.

Yes, hurtful to whom.  That is the crux of this debate, isn't it?

It is hurtful to people who count, or to those who don't? ;)

Because isn't that what this is really about.  Watching a slaughter could be hurtful to a large number of people, so those in charge, those who have the power, decide that it shouldn't be shown on campus, or at least warned about.  But something they don't consider to be important?  Well, that just means students are trying to grab power.

And that's the gist of Myers' essay.  It's not that "safe spaces" and "trigger warnings" and "controversial speakers who shouldn't speak on campus" aren't happening on campuses right now.  It's that the decisions for such things have been at the sole discretion of the Administration--those in power--and they don't want to share that power.  Either because they don't trust sharing it with others, or because they don't think those people deserve to be able to have a say in the matter.

There is no "bailey and motte" that I can see.  He isn't saying that "trigger warnings" are good, then compare them to class syllabuses, then say they are something different from syllabuses.  He's saying there is no real difference between the warnings in a class syllabus and a "trigger warning."  It's an artificial definition created by those who don't want to admit they are the same, so they can deny sharing the power with those they don't want to share it with.

The people who want trigger warnings, safe spaces and deny controversial speakers don't want to silence all dissent.  They don't want to take all the power away from everyone else.  But they do want their say, their share of the power, power that is right now exclusively held by Dean Ellison, who doesn't want to have to negotiate his decisions with special interests and students.  And he does so by labeling those ideas he dislikes as "trigger warnings," "safe spaces" and "controversial speakers," while deciding on trigger warnings, safe spaces and unacceptable speakers himself.

And thus he does not need to share power with those he believes don't deserve it.

D.W.

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #34 on: September 02, 2016, 09:53:27 AM »
Note to incoming students:  You will be forced outside of your comfort zones on occasion, sometimes without warning.  Welcome to adulthood.

I wouldn't read much more into it than that.  This is not about power retention.  It's a backlash against an increasing tide of people who honestly believe they have the right to be sheltered (by those in power) from discomfort.  This is a necessary tactic by the administration to undo the harm caused by parents being overprotective and sheltering children from conflict rather than teaching them how to resolve it.

Well, parents and today's media who exploit strife and makes us believe (or possibly makes it true?) that those of conflicting views may as well be alien species incapable of ever coexisting peacefully. 

Failure to teach damaged students the ability to face down uncomfortable social situations or views contrary to their own successfully would doom these kids; who eventually will have to live in the world at large without the oversight of someone caring for them.  Or... I suppose the administration can humor them and continue treating them like children for another few years and hope life somehow corrects all the distorted expectations they will have when they leave.

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #35 on: September 02, 2016, 12:07:00 PM »
I point this out because Myers provided examples from university life he deems are "trigger warnings" and "safe spaces."  So saying the rules of society do not apply to the university is not relevant.  He has already shown those rules are accepted by the university.

Talk about begging the question.

Quote
"Safe space" means a place where people feel safe from certain attacks--those based on race, gender, gender-identity, etc.

You're pulling the motte and bailey here. You make the somewhat safe assertion that people should be free from 'attacks.' Except the actual arguments they make include that that they want to be safe from diverging ideas or even people who look different from them.

Quote
And protesting speakers is primarily protesting the judgment of the Administration and who they implicitly support (by inviting as speakers) does not prevent speakers from speaking in other venues (just as those speakers who the Administration did not invite are free to speak elsewhere).  Free thought is not limited by these actions.

The bolded part is simply false. There is no connotation of support by having a speaker. But the italicized part is of more interest to me: based on your statement here, I assume you support the right of a store owner to refuse the business of someone based on any criteria they wish, on the grounds that this "does not prevent shoppers from shopping in other venues"? ;)

Quote
Yes, hurtful to whom.  That is the crux of this debate, isn't it?

It is hurtful to people who count, or to those who don't? ;)

No, it's not the crux of the debate. It's actually irrelevant. I think you need to read what I wrote again. I was speaking of the definition of the word "hurtful" and how it's semantically void to talk of a subject being inherent hurtful. You wanted to say that an idea can "be" hurtful, and I was pointing out that this is impossible. It might hurt someone in particular, but it cannot "be" hurtful in and of itself. We are not discussing whom is hurt by it nor whether they 'matter' (the issues of who 'matters' is another tiresome topic of its own).

Quote
Because isn't that what this is really about.  Watching a slaughter could be hurtful to a large number of people, so those in charge, those who have the power, decide that it shouldn't be shown on campus, or at least warned about.  But something they don't consider to be important?  Well, that just means students are trying to grab power.

What you've just described seems to me to be the definition of how to administrate over an institution. One makes rules based on what's most important. Things that are less important are...less important. Should we say this idea was first discovered in the scientific journal "Duh"?

Quote
It's that the decisions for such things have been at the sole discretion of the Administration--those in power--and they don't want to share that power.  Either because they don't trust sharing it with others, or because they don't think those people deserve to be able to have a say in the matter.

Yeah, gee, I wonder why the board that operates a company on behalf of the shareholders wouldn't want to give up that power to customers of the company? Hmmm, that's a tough one. Maybe...because they're not legally allowed to do that? Oh, they can take input, sure, and good companies do that. But your thinking seems to be that universities should operate like a big co-op. Well in that case the students better shell out the bucks for their shares, because that's what it takes to have a direct say in the operation of a company. I really have no idea what else you think they "deserve" if all they want is to remain customers. They can buy the product, or not, and if they offer feedback and still don't like it they can do elsewhere and buy someone else's.

Quote
The people who want trigger warnings, safe spaces and deny controversial speakers don't want to silence all dissent.  They don't want to take all the power away from everyone else.

You're not paying attention if that's what you think. They literally want the ouster of university presidents who don't accept or even simply understand their use of terms. There have been cases of them refusing media access to their protests, which is the very definition of silencing the discussion. When protesters disrupt a class or a speaker this is the very definition of attempting to squash dissent. They DO want to take the power away from everyone else. Granted these may be 'negotiation tactics' rather than the end result they seek...but are they? Someone willing to shout down an opposing view is already someone willing to do that. I'm not willing to do that, as a means or as an end. But if someone believes in that type of action then as I see it that type of approach is already within their value system.

Quote
But they do want their say, their share of the power, power that is right now exclusively held by Dean Ellison, who doesn't want to have to negotiate his decisions with special interests and students.

What is "their share"? Who decides what "their share" is? Them? How convenient, since they've put up no money to finance the institution and have no stake in its outcome except as one-time customers. Most of them won't even offer repeat business after they graduate. But sure, let's just grant them executive decision-making power in a place because they are physically on the premises. I hope you're not a business owner, because if you are I would find it hilarious if you also thought your customers should tell you how to run your business.

Quote
And thus he does not need to share power with those he believes don't deserve it.

This is another motte and bailey. I think there is a clear equivocation here between "deserve", as in, are worthy as human beings, and "deserve", as in, who don't have any claim to a thing. I think you are implying the former, even though only the latter is in fact in evidence.

AI Wessex

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #36 on: September 02, 2016, 12:38:26 PM »
Quote
Note to incoming students:  You will be forced outside of your comfort zones on occasion, sometimes without warning.  Welcome to adulthood.

I wouldn't read much more into it than that.
Completely agree.  I remember arriving on campus and being overwhelmed by the sense of alienness.  I didn't know anybody, didn't know the rules, was afraid.  I will say the freshman year was a conflicting mess of emotional unease and intellectual excitement.  The seeds for half of what I think today were planted by what I learned in classes and from others on campus that I never would have learned about if I had opted for a school that only taught what either I already was familiar with or what my parents wanted me to think about.  Students who seek out that sort of learning environment tend to be sheeple falling in line with the narrow expectations that were set for them.

Seriati

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #37 on: September 02, 2016, 03:29:16 PM »
No one is advocating the "dragging down" of free thought.

Actually they are, and you are specifically reinforcing it when you imply that "controversial speakers who shouldn't speak on campus" are actually speaking on campuses now.  There's no such thing as a controversial speaker who shouldn't speak on a campus.  No one of course is obligated to go hear them speak.

I'm also curious, where ideas like the recent idea that journalists should report on a biased basis because one side is "clearly wrong" come from, if not from academia and the education that they receive in school.  Of course its not a mystery, professors have also believed they have a duty to challenge the preconceived notions of their students, and its been gradually morphing from "challenging" to "replacing" with "correct" notions.

Quote
"Safe space" means a place where people feel safe from certain attacks--those based on race, gender, gender-identity, etc.

Should there be other spaces where its okay to attack people based on race, gender or gender-identity?  I'm not aware of any space on a campus where they tolerate attacking people on those grounds, nor many places off of campus where its tolerated.  Of course that makes me question the validity of what you're claiming about the purpose of a safe space.

I think you're incorrectly representing what's actually requested here.  Safe spaces are not about freedom from attacks based on race, gender or gender-identity, they are about freedom from attack on any basis, where a group can make a claim to a "persecuted" identity.  They are expressly about linking thoughts that have little or nothing to do with race, gender or gender-identity to race, gender or gender-identity to give them extra protection. Just because a group feels affinity for an issue, doesn't make disagreeing with them on that issue an attack on their identity.

Quote
"Trigger warnings" is simply informing a participant that certain topics will be discussed.

How is that different than a syllabus?  The dispute here is what you're not explaining, you know what else has to be included in a syllabus to meet the new standard.  What do you think has to be added?  I think we've been pretty clear on how unreasonable it is to define the necessary warnings by the circumstance of every listener no matter how individualized those standards are, and it seems like your response is to pretend we've said that no one should issue obvious warnings.   So be more express about what you mean and lets see who's being reasonable.

Quote
And protesting speakers is primarily protesting the judgment of the Administration and who they implicitly support (by inviting as speakers) does not prevent speakers from speaking in other venues (just as those speakers who the Administration did not invite are free to speak elsewhere).

Protesting is a different concept than disrupting or disinviting.  There's nothing wrong with protesting, or criticizing or ridiculing, all of which are legitimate reactions to free speech you disagree with.  There is something very different though about disruption, which is the intentional suppressing of unpopular speech.  That is explicit speech suppression.  Dis-invitation is not fundamentally different from disruption.

I also reject your conclusion on power in this context.  In many of these cases it is a student group that is inviting the speaker and the administration who is suppressing or disinviting them.  That is absolutely contrary to your assertions.  In any event, the charge of a University is to educate, and that does mean that the administration will make decisions on educational policy, including from time to time on discussing controversial topics and controversial speakers, that overrule the preferences of the student body.  That's actually a proper exercise of their role not an abuse of power.

Quote
Free thought is not limited by these actions.

Sure it is.  Free thought is always limited by preventing contrary opinions from being heard.  Do you take the same position that a conservative religious school who refuses to, for example, teach evolution is not limiting free thought?

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #38 on: September 02, 2016, 07:19:19 PM »
There is indeed a difference between protesting a speaker and disrupting one.

Picketing outside of the immediate venue doesn't prevent them from speaking and communicating their ideas.

Shouting a speaker down, or otherwise disrupting the venue in such a way as to cancel the engagement does prevent communication from happening.

Universities have historically been bastions of both learning and communication. Traditionally, acceptance has been an outcome of communication. Which gives the Universities their traditional role of being the cultural leaders in terms of new things becoming accepted.

In the present day context however, it has sadly become expected by many that acceptance now takes precedence over communication.

Sadly for those misguided fools, human nature doesn't work that way.

AI Wessex

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #39 on: September 03, 2016, 08:51:38 AM »
Quote
In the present day context however, it has sadly become expected by many that acceptance now takes precedence over communication.

Sadly for those misguided fools, human nature doesn't work that way.
I agree almost completely, but ask if you think are there any examples of speech (speaking to an audience, that is) that should be protested and rejected?

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #40 on: September 03, 2016, 11:07:58 AM »
Protested speech can be anything, so long as they don't stop the speech itself from happening.

Rejected speech is a semantics and context game. Also the bigger question on that would be, are you rejecting the speech before it happens, or after the fact?

What grounds are being used if proactive prohibitions are employed? I'm aware of a(n alleged) number of religious figures, as well as political ones, that were more than happy to suppress "dangerous ideas" in their time.  It just happened their definition of "dangerous" differs wildly from most other people.

(In other words, if it threatened their power base. It's dangerous speech, and must be stopped. In some respects they were often right, as bloody revolts happened once they did lose their control over that speech, and their blood was spilled. Now whether or not that was a net benefit could be argued.)

Gaoics79

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #41 on: September 03, 2016, 02:31:18 PM »
Quote
In the present day context however, it has sadly become expected by many that acceptance now takes precedence over communication.

Sadly for those misguided fools, human nature doesn't work that way.
I agree almost completely, but ask if you think are there any examples of speech (speaking to an audience, that is) that should be protested and rejected?

If by "protested" you mean shut down through shouting down, obstructing, violence etc. then no.

I'd rather a Nazi be allowed to speak than have to use brown shirt tactics to shut him up.

I realize I am in a minority in that regard. On a university campus my view would would be heresy.

AI Wessex

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #42 on: September 03, 2016, 04:52:12 PM »
I'm not talking about unpopular or offensive positions.  But, what would it take for a speaker to go "too far"?

Fenring

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #43 on: September 03, 2016, 07:54:46 PM »
I'm not talking about unpopular or offensive positions.  But, what would it take for a speaker to go "too far"?

It's already against the law to incite to violence or crime, so what else are you talking about?

TheDeamon

  • Members
    • View Profile
Re: University of Chicago "Free Speech" Declaration
« Reply #44 on: September 03, 2016, 08:24:37 PM »
Dog whistlers.