University of Texas-Austin And Some Students Choose Censorship Over More Speech

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138 Responses

  1. Darryl says:

    I live in Austin and maybe a little context would be helpful. This is the same group that had an "affirmative action bake sale" a few years ago, where if you were white you paid more for their items. I think people here are just simply tired of their shit.

    Doesn't make any threats by the University (my alma mater) right. But the "honor code" and the students' pledge to abide by it can easily be construed to not infringe on free speech. The problematical part of the code is that a student must uphold the code values "through integrity, honesty, trust, fairness, and respect toward peers and community.” That language could potentially be misused, and I think that is the language referenced by the administration.

    http://www.utexas.edu/about-ut/mission-core-purpose-honor-code

  2. ZarroTsu says:

    What powers will state administrators in that America crave, and what powers will those students — trained to think that they are entitled to be free of offense or upset — give them?

    X-ray vision? Or maybe Daredevil's blindness?

  3. jackn2 says:

    Garcia? Affirmative action? Immigration? I guess he is lucky to live in Austin…

  4. Ken White says:

    @Darryl: whether or not the code could be construed narrowly, when the administration threatens you in advance that your speech violates the code, it's clearly not being construed narrowly.

    And "affirmative action bake sales" have often been the subject of censorship across the country. That's stupid. They may be an in-your-face way of making the point, but they are making a political point about different ethnic groups being treated differently in school admission. You can disagree with their implicit message that there's something wrong with different ethnic groups being treated differently in the admissions process, but it's very difficult to dispute that it happens.

  5. Gary says:

    I don't know how UT-A handles such things, but at many (most?) colleges, official recognition of a club or organization means some degree of financial support funded by student activity fees. If that's the case, the call to revoke recognition could be seen as a case of "Garcia and the YCT can mouth off all they want, but I don't want to pay for the privilege of listening to this douchebaggery any more."

    I don't know if this is the intent behind the petition, just it's the first place my (perhaps overly-generous) interpretation went.

  6. Wondering says:

    This is the same group that had an "affirmative action bake sale" a few years ago, where if you were white you paid more for their items. I think people here are just simply tired of their shit.

    Darryl, I find it fascinating that this event was done by a conservative group. At one of the colleges I used to teach at, an event like this was done annually by one of the student organizations for women of color. Their purpose for doing it was to illustrate the wage gap: People who fit groups that statistically made more money, paid more money for donuts and other goodies, to make the purchases a theoretically equal percentage of everyone's income.

  7. En Passant says:

    To the petitioners' credit, they weren't stupid enough to publicly call Mr. Garcia "a traitor to his race". But I don't doubt for a second that's what they were thinking.

  8. Duvane says:

    Funny that I happened to reread Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" essay yesterday–the text of that petition reminds me of nothing so much as his "comfortable English professor defending Russian totalitarianism".

    It does make it so much easier to be a hypocrite when you disguise what you say in lofty words and stale phrases: one couldn't directly say "we think these guys should be shut up because we don't want to hear what they have to say", one has to acknowledge the university's role in diversity and free speech, and then label the speech you don't like as a "harmful, alienating narrative" and imply (without support) that it is a threat to safety. Follow this with irrelevant attacks on the motives of the group whose speech you don't like (does one really have to appeal to Faulkner to use the word inhumane?). Finally, force a false dichotomy, by stating that a failure to prevent this speech is equivalent to supporting it (weasel word "implicit", notwithstanding.)

    Does even the English sophomore who wrote this drivel actually believe that a university's "fail[ure to] revoke" an organization's status amounts to even an "implicit claim" by the university that what the organization says is true?

  9. MrSpkr says:

    The response by the students demanding the YCT lose recognition as a campus organization (which would, presumably, make them ineligible to receive a cut of student activity fees to support their activities) is really nothing more than a natural and probable result of three decades of political correctness gone amok.

  10. naught_for_naught says:

    I prefer Run-Away Slave Day, where you run around and try to put a sticker on anyone you think might be a runaway slave. It allows Texans to break through the doldrums of being mundanely douchey, which characterizes most of conservative politics in that great state. Plus it really gets "conversation" started.

  11. Jim Salter says:

    I'm with you on the 1st Amendment issues as always, Ken, but in this particular case I'm not sure it's all "mundane douchery" – don't know if the UNIVERSITY made this argument, but the whole "catch an illegal immigrant" game seems perilously close to inciting excitable conservative kids into mobbing up and driving around town looking for "beaners" to harass-or-worse, doesn't it?

  12. Dan Weber says:

    the whole "catch an illegal immigrant" game seems perilously close to inciting excitable conservative kids into mobbing up and driving around town looking for "beaners" to harass-or-worse, doesn't it?

    No.

  13. Ben says:

    I don't know. I had an acquaintance at my university. Someone or some group of people took to taping vaguely racist things to his campus housing door. Chopsticks, pictures of atomic bombs detonating (he was Korean not japanese) and weird caricatures of slanty-eyed blobs in what I could only presume were rice paddies. He just took them down because he thought doing anything would 'escalate things'. Finally someone just wrote 'CHINK' on a sticky note and left it on his door. (Again, korean) others noticed it and reported it. A faculty email was sent out that it needed to stop or police would be getting involved. And it stopped.

    I think that kim should never have had to deal with that in the first place, let alone for a month. Going out of your way to make someone feel uncomfortable where they live and study, I feel, shouldn't be protected.

    Just my two pennies.

  14. Irk says:

    It's almost as if brown people in the South have some reason for being afraid of mobs on the hunt, and have less reason than their paler fellow residents to believe in the likelihood of humans not to scrabble for any excuse to harm them. Therefore, they might air an appeal to authority to prevent something potentially harmful from happening. Like any rational human trying to keep themselves alive and unmarginalized would.

    It's almost as if these free speech laws don't protect all people equally in practice because some empowered group in a majority class will use them as an excuse to flaunt their power and belittle others, and the law is just something people manipulate as much as they can for their own gain.

  15. Allo V Psycho says:

    I disagree.
    1) to 'sticker', 'catch one of the bozos' and 'bring them back' directly indicates physical contact and compulsion. This is not just speech: this is direct incitement to physical action.
    2) UT is not 'the State'. It is an educational establishment, with publically announced rules to which students sign up in advance. Attending it is not a right. Attendees are there voluntarily.
    3) Just as your blog is your space, and you are not obliged to accept certain kinds of behaviour on it, so UT is the academic community's space, and they are not required to accept certain kinds of behaviour.
    4) This particular set of behaviours seems to me so unacceptable that the sanctions discussed seem minor.

  16. Grifter says:

    @Irk:

    It's almost as though you think treating people differently based on your presumption of their skin color was a legitimitate thing to do–when you do it.

    Or that you're against free speech if it's something you don't like.

    It's almost like you're claiming anyone rational is willing to abandon their principles when they can get benefit from doing so.

    Why, it's almost as though you're willing to appeal to vague nonsense fears of violence to support curtailing the expression of opinions you find distasteful.

    And it's rather almost like you're spouting passive-aggressive nonsense so as not to actually directly make a case that's balderdash on its face.

  17. Dan Weber says:

    'sticker', 'catch one of the bozos' and 'bring them back' directly indicates physical contact and compulsion. This is not just speech: this is direct incitement to physical action

    I want to say "so does a game of football between consenting adults incite people into tackling total strangers?" but you might agree with me.

  18. mcinsand says:

    @Ken White, one thing that surprised me some years ago was to learn that Affirmitive Action actually works both ways, or at least it does at with a local university where whites are a minority. I have a a caucasian relative that got his engineering degree there on a minority scholarship. I can see how encouraging integration can help stop 'those guys' from being less-human strangers, especially to help people know that skin color is not a significant difference. However, we have left the criteria for the program almost completely open-ended. What benchmarks trigger implementing a program such as Affirmitive Action and what goals indicate that the program is no longer necessary? Personally, I think we still need them; far too many people look at skin color as defining a person. Knowing that incentives apply across the board to promote integration does solidify the program standing for me, though.

  19. PonyAdvocate says:

    When does offensive speech (and speech alone) become harassment or intimidation, if it ever does? Suppose that there is a Young Nazis of Texas organization that wants to set up an information booth on campus in a location where other organizations have in the past set up similar booths. Suppose they have lots of Nazi-themed stuff (swastika flags, images of eagles perched atop fasces, and so on) prominently displayed as part of their exhibit. Suppose they dress up in black military-style uniforms with SS insignia. Suppose they carry obviously plastic toy firearms. Suppose some of them dress up in concentration camp prisoner-style uniforms and sit in cages as part of the exhibit. Suppose they want to set up their exhibit just outside the University's synagogue. Suppose they loudly and aggressively offer their pamphlets, DVDs, and so on to everyone who passes by, or only to persons who are entering the synagogue. Suppose they shake their obviously toy weapons, or aim them, at passers-by. Suppose they have a large pot labeled "SOAP" to one side of their exhibit.

    I deliberately made this about a generally unsympathetic group whose hatefulness is almost universally condemned, and I think most persons would find each step in the progression more offensive than the step that precedes it. Feel free to add additional steps. At which step, if any, does YNT cross the line from the mere expression of views some find offensive, and to which the only legitimate response is the expression of an opposing view, to something that legitimately merits official suppression?

    Suppose Jewish members of the community sincerely feel themselves to be in danger when they pass by the exhibit on their way to worship. What then? When, if ever, has YNT committed a tort?

    I almost always ask myself about this when groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church make the news, and I always conclude that that such groups as WBC, or my hypothetical YNT in the circumstances I have described, never merit official sanction; but I have never been entirely happy with that answer.

  20. Darryl says:

    You can read the whole statement, plus one from University President Bill Powers (he didn't make any implicit or explicit threat against them-good for him (he was one of my law professors at UT Law)), here:

    http://www.utexas.edu/news/2013/11/18/yct-game/

    In context, it doesn't sound as bad as the edited version FIRE had on their website, but the comments are deplorable: "Freedom of speech does not mean attacking others and making a population be belittled." Really? I thought that was EXACTLY what it meant, as long as you aren't inciting someone to imminent lawless action.

  21. Resolute says:

    I'm seeing this the same as Allo is. Unless the university is considered an extension of the state itself, I am not sure how this becomes protected speech. If you can be fired from your job for creating a hostile work environment, I am not seeing why the school should not be able to expel a student for creating a hostile learning environment.

  22. Dan Weber says:

    State schools are generally subject to the same restrictions as the state.

  23. Dan says:

    @Allo V Psycho,
    UT is, in fact, the state–or, more precisely, it's an arm of the state. State universities, as has repeatedly been documented here, are bound by the First Amendment. Ken is a private individual, not an arm of the state, and is thus not bound by the First Amendment. Ken, as a private individual, can set whatever content-based rules he chooses here, for any or no reason. The state, to include state universities, cannot.

  24. Darryl says:

    I wish Ken would allow more dissenting opinions around here and more robust discussion about issues, including ponies. /snark off

  25. En Passant says:

    Allo V Psycho wrote Nov 22, 2013 @11:11 am:

    4) This particular set of behaviours seems to me so unacceptable that the sanctions discussed seem minor.

    Would "catch a criminal Wall Street Banker" be acceptable?

  26. Ken in NH says:

    @jackn2

    Not everybody with an Hispanic surname is someone who crossed over the Rio Grande in the last couple of decades. There are many towns and counties in Texas with Hispanic names taken from heroes of the Texas revolution. The Republic of Texas had people with Hispanic names in the legislature and one vice president in its brief history. Even today, Texas allows people with Hispanic surnames to choose their political affiliation and believe what they wish to believe about illegal immigration. Imagine that.

  27. Gene says:

    The first amendment doesn't count for much when you waive certain and many rights as a part of your enrollment at public and private universities. Just like every Terms and Conditions most of us blindly click through, agreeing to all sorts of significant legal shenanigans.

  28. Ari Cohn says:

    @Gary

    I don't know how UT-A handles such things, but at many (most?) colleges, official recognition of a club or organization means some degree of financial support funded by student activity fees. If that's the case, the call to revoke recognition could be seen as a case of "Garcia and the YCT can mouth off all they want, but I don't want to pay for the privilege of listening to this douchebaggery any more."

    That does not make the petition any less noxious. If a university has mandatory student fee funding, it may not discriminate against any group based on the viewpoint of that group's speech. If UT-Austin has an opt-out mechanism for student fees, the petitioners are free to go that route. But demanding that the university revoke recognition and funding to a group due to a disagreement over viewpoint is unacceptable.

  29. Lizard says:

    harmful, alienating narratives

    People talk like that when they're not trying to parody leftists? Seriously?

  30. Lizard says:

    At which step, if any, does YNT cross the line from the mere expression of views some find offensive, and to which the only legitimate response is the expression of an opposing view, to something that legitimately merits official suppression?

    At the point at which they use force, or the threat of force, or incite the imminent use of force.

    Until then, they are expressing ideas…. and the "official suppression" of ideas is something the Nazis were pretty keen on, so acting like Nazis to stop people liking Nazis is pretty stupid.

    So let's reverse this. It's the Texas LBGQT Support Society. They're holding a kiss-in in front of the school chapel, and handing out flyers with sexy homosexuals doing sexy things. They've got the usual assortment of drag queens, biker dykes, leathermen, and so on, all being as flaming and flamboyant as possible, and they're doing it at the same time the Traditional Family Values Coalition White Bread and Mayonaisse Picnic.

    At what point do the tender, delicate, feelings of the outraged social conservatives outweigh the right of the TLBGQTSS to hold a peaceful, albeit flamboyant, rally?

    NEVER.

    At what point do the hurt feelings of *any* group of people outweigh someone else's right to express IDEAS?

    NEVER.

    I don't care if it's Orson Scott Card whining about how he's "oppressed", or the Students Against Oppression And Intolerance And For Social Justice And Feminist Equality or whatever. Anyone's speech>everyone's feelings.

    The only time force — what you call "official suppression" is justified is *in response to force*. Until then, it's a shouting match, and it doesn't matter how loud the shouting gets, as long as no one starts hitting.

    Get it? Got it. Good.

  31. En Passant says:

    Lizard wrote Nov 22, 2013 @11:52 am:

    People talk like that when they're not trying to parody leftists? Seriously?

    Poe's law.

  32. Ken White says:

    2) UT is not 'the State'. It is an educational establishment, with publically announced rules to which students sign up in advance. Attending it is not a right. Attendees are there voluntarily.

    This is as flat-out wrong as a statement about modern law possibly can be.

    It might be a statement of what you think the law should be. But it is not an accurate statement of what the law is.

  33. Christopher says:

    Serious question: Should that College or any other be forced to list the KKK as an officially registered student organization, if enough students register?

    Also, what privileges do the Campus Conservatives get for being an officially registered group? Are they entitled to some of the school's money? If they are delisted, how does that actually effect their right to speak out?

  34. jackn2 says:

    @Ken in NH,

    Sounds wonderful.

    Texas is a state, it has no feelings or opinions. I believe that the PEOPLE in Texas are open to profiling by color or surname. Texas ain't Mississippi, but its Texas.

    To add to your story, at one time, Texas was considered an actual part of Mexico! I know, it hard to believe.

  35. Neal says:

    @Jim Salter, @ Allo V Psycho, the article itself makes clear that the people being stopped were "volunteers" who would be actively participating in the event by wearing name tags/badges stating "illegal immigrant." There is absolutely nothing in this article to suggest the event was inciting students to harass non-participants.

  36. The "game" goes like this. On Wednesday, volunteers will walk around the UT campus with tags that say "illegal immigrant." If a UT student catches one of the bozos, they can bring them back for a $25 gift card.

    Ponders getting an equally large bunch of volunteers to wear identical "illegal immigrant" tags the same day and then if a UT student tries to "bring them back" loudly tell them to "F-off, slaver!" in front of everyone else.

  37. Lizard says:

    So, on the topic of "more speech", I just found a link to this article on Fark. I think it's relevant to this topic.
    http://guardianlv.com/2013/11/kkk-member-walks-up-to-black-musician-in-bar-but-its-not-a-joke-and-what-happens-next-will-astound-you/

    Pull quote:

    A lot of people have anti-racist groups. They get together and meet and have a diverse group and all they do and sit around and talk about how bad discrimination is. Then someone says ‘there’s a Klan group across town. Why don’t we invite them to come and talk to us?’ and the other person says ‘Oh no! We don’t want that guy here!’ Well, you’re doing the exact same thing they are. What’s the purpose of meeting with each other when we already agree? Find someone who disagrees and invite them to your table.

    Invite your enemy to talk. Give them a platform to talk because then they will reciprocate. Invite your enemies to sit down and join you. You never know; some small thing you say might give them food for thought, and you will learn from them. Establish dialogue. It’s when the talking stops that the ground becomes fertile for fighting. (Emphasis added)

  38. jackn2 says:

    @stormy dragon
    If I was there, I would have made a scene and insist that garcia prove his citizenship.

  39. Sasquach (no t for the squach) says:

    It seems to me that the position taken by UT-Austin and the students calling for the heads of the YTC can be summarized quite concisely.

  40. En Passant says:

    jackn2 wrote Nov 22, 2013 @12:16 pm:

    Texas ain't Mississippi, but its Texas.

    Having spent a significant portion of my life residing directly between two states along lines of latitude, my empirical observation is that the primary difference between them is that one has more mud and the other more dust.

    Well, that and the fact that one produced William Faulkner, while the other has apparently produced some students capable only of quoting a single word he once wrote.

  41. Resolute says:

    State schools are generally subject to the same restrictions as the state.

    @Dan Weber – Ahh, thanks. I sort of imagined that might be the case.

  42. Michael says:

    One thing to note is that often, official recognition of a club does more than funding – it allows them to use campus resources, such as schedule the use of rooms for meetings and other such activities.

    It would be one thing if they were saying "We shouldn't fund these activities", but the call to not recognize the club is essentially calling for shutting down a group of students being able to organize and discuss their views on campus based on what their views are.

    I find that deeply disturbing.

  43. luagha says:

    Funny, whenever I hear the line about, "We'll never be able to round up and deport thirty million illegal aliens," I always imagine a bounty system much like this where ordinary citizens can appropriately register to do so and the problem would solve itself.

  44. Duvane says:

    @Michael

    You just have to remember that it isn't "views" or "speech" that's being objected to, it's "harmful, alienating narratives".

    Totally different. /snark

  45. Ryan says:

    @Ken's original blog entry

    While I can see the honour code issue as suppression of free speech, I'm surprised to see you include de-listing a student group in that category.

    It seems to be that revoking their group status is exactly the sort of social consequence that YCT should experience for this. They've made support of a hateful event clear, and their punishment is not to censor them, but rather to say that the group is welcome to continue their statements but they do so without official recognition (and funding at the university).

    That – and not the ominous honour code – strikes me as exactly the sort of response we should be supporting. Say whatever you want and you won't be prevented from saying it, but we're damn well going to revoke every crap of official support when you do it.

  46. Michael says:

    @Ryan

    The exact reason it's called suppression of free speech is that it would be a government entity revoking the use of government resources (such as classrooms to conduct meetings in), in response to not holding the "correct" opinion.

    If the government is going to dole out resources, the notion of free speech says that it must not do it according to the content of your speech. (Except for inciting imminent violence, blah blah blah.)

    This is, effectively, no different than saying you can only speak on the street corner if you say the things we want you to say.

  47. @luagha:

    I always imagine a bounty system much like this where ordinary citizens can appropriately register to do so and the problem would solve itself.

    So your proposal is people should be allowed to go around forcibly kidnapping people as long as they say "well I thought he was an unauthorized immigrant" as an excuse?

  48. Ryan says:

    @Michael

    Perhaps the fact that this is a university, and therefore a quasi-state entity, over-complicates this.

    Take a hypothetical private company that donates money to various groups to support their activities and occaisionally provides them with office space, etc. One of those groups holds a "catch an illegal" event. I'm sure we can all agree that not only would that company not be censoring a group by yanking their funding and resources, but that said consequence would be a perfectly just consequence of speech.

    I realize that universities are typically part of the state, but this is one type of response that I'm not inclined to view as censorship – the university isn't making it illegal for these students to express their views, or restricting where and how they can express them, it is merely depriving them of official resources to do so.

    To use a real example, Planned Parenthood receives government funding, yet it's a rare day you see calls to defund them branded as censorship, despite the fact that most of the defunding calls originate with people that explicitly disagree with some of the policies (speech) of that organization. That's a far clearer case of censorship than revocation of official student group status at a university.

  49. Owen says:

    Ryan:

    So it's your position that government entities may and should deny governmental resources to people with whom it disagrees?

    You've made it clear that, in your opinion, they can deny use of a state university, which is a governmental resource. What about state fire department and police resources? May the government forbid a person from using the police department on the basis of that person's political views?

  50. luagha says:

    Don't be a goofball. I said 'appropriately register for bounties' just like bounty hunters track people who skipped bail.

    Make a case, go through a legal process, prove someone illegally in the country, collect for deportation; just like La Migra do. Except it's a citizen who does it for a bounty in his copious free time.

  51. dee nile says:

    This post needs a subhead: "… and so do many of Popehat's readers."

  52. @luagha:

    In the case of a bounty hunter, the target has contractually agreed to allow the hunter to collect them as part of their agreement with the bailbondsman. So what you're proposing is nothing like a bounty hunter.

  53. luagha says:

    Yes, except for the fact that it's a citizen enforcing a contract generally through force of arms, sanctioned by a legal process, for which he receives a monetary benefit.

    The clear difference is that in one case the target made a legal agreement and broke it; and in the second case the target either willingly broke our laws or has been informed that they are in violation of our regulations and is required to depart but refuses to do so.

  54. Lizard says:

    the university isn't making it illegal for these students to express their views, or restricting where and how they can express them, it is merely depriving them of official resources to do so.

    It would follow, then, that you would approve of the government producing a short list of "real" religions, which met some democratically determined set of "appropriate moral standards", which would include a profession of monotheism, and denied the legitimacy of any religion not on this list. Because, being a religion DOES involve the use of government funds — religions are protected by the agencies of the state, despite paying no taxes. They have exemptions to regulations that non-religious organizations do not. Religious faith can provide exemptions to some forms of mandated government service. Recognition as a minister or other authorized agent of a faith conveys numerous minor privileges. Under this "approved religion" scheme, non-approved religions would not be "banned", they'd just be treated as private corporations for tax and legal purposes. (Some may argue this is fine if it applied to all religions;I agree, but that's not the hypothetical here.)

    You seem to have rather completely reversed cause and effect: Because public universities are partially government funded, they act as agents of the government, and are thus restricted in the speech they can limit, in ways that fully private schools are not.

    I assume you carry this logic down from universities; you believe that Tinker vs. Des Moines was wrongly decided, correct? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tinker_v._Des_Moines_Independent_Community_School_District)

  55. @luagha:

    It doesn't matter. If the target hasn't previously agreed to allow the bounty hunter to detain him, where is that bounty hunter deriving that authority? From the government? The entire legal basis for bounty hunting rests on them specifically not being state actors.

  56. luagha says:

    Why yes, new laws would have to be passed for my little bounty-hunting dream to work. That's why it's a dream. :)

    And an answer to the kvetch of 'there's too many of them, we could never marshal the resources to deport them.'

  57. Lizard says:

    PS: Anyone whining about illegal immigrants: If your ancestry is 50% or more Native American (or First Peoples, or Indigenous Americans, or whatever you prefer to be called), then, you have the moral authority to bitch about them damn foreigners coming here and ruining the country, and I promise to feel as much of my share of White Guilt as mandated by my parents arrival here in the 1950s. I know this won't help in any way, or undo any wrongs, but I've learned from Progressives that no matter how much you benefit from White Privilege, you don't need to actually do anything about it, just be AWARE of it, judge your friends, perform privilege checks at least once a day and then confess your sins on Gawker or Salon. But I digress.

    If your ancestry is less than 50% Native American, et al…. you're a bloody great hypocritical pile of fetid dingo's kidneys. All of us who cannot trace our bloodline directly to the Bering Landbridge are equally trespassing; the very least we can do is not act as if the first person to crash the party is somehow less of an intruder than the second person.

  58. @luagha:

    It's more than just new laws. Once they're become state actors, a whole host of constitutional issues suddenly comes pouring in. What are fourth and fifth ammendment limitations on a bounty hunter? Right now there are none because the target explicityly waved those rights. What happens when they haven't?

    And I have an even easier answer: if people are peacably going about their business, leave them the hell alone.

  59. Owen says:

    luagha:

    And an answer to the kvetch of 'there's too many of them, we could never marshal the resources to deport them.'

    I don't see how your proposal is a solution to the resources problem since, as you've described it, it would still be limited by court resources and may have substantial due process implications.

    Make a case, go through a legal process, prove someone illegally in the country, collect for deportation;

    Your bounty solution would either require either a) prosecutors devoting significant resources to prosecuting illegal immigrants, as happens now, or b) delegation of prosecutorial duties to citizen bounty hunters, who would then prosecute cases in which they have a financial interest. In the first case, it's not any solution at all, really, because the problem is limited by the number of arrests and prosecutions, no the number of deportations after arrest. In the latter case, it's a terrible solution because it would still be limited by court resources and would pose huge constitutional problems.

  60. Michael says:

    @ Ryan

    Should the state not let people with the wrong opinions say them on the sidewalks or in the public park?

    That it's a state owned institution, rather than a private one, is precisely what makes it censorship and a first amendment issue. Saying that it "over-complicates" it, and talking about private entities with free association is to entirely miss the point.

    The government cannot, in light of the first amendment, provide resources based on the content of someone's view/speech/etc. Are you saying we should undo the first amendment, so we can go get the "bad guys"?

  61. Ari Cohn says:

    @Allo v Psycho

    1) to 'sticker', 'catch one of the bozos' and 'bring them back' directly indicates physical contact and compulsion. This is not just speech: this is direct incitement to physical action.

    The physical contact would be against volunteers who consented. There were no plans to accost (or encourage accosting) random students. The people wearing the "illegal immigrant" tags were to be YCT volunteers.

    2) UT is not 'the State'. It is an educational establishment, with publically announced rules to which students sign up in advance. Attending it is not a right. Attendees are there voluntarily.

    This is inaccurate. It is well-settled that the First Amendment applies to the states, local and municipal governments, and their agencies, including public universities. See, e.g., Widmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 268-69 (1981) ("With respect to persons entitled to be there, our cases leave no doubt that the First Amendment rights of speech and association extend to the campuses of state universities."); Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 180 (1972) ("[T]he precedents of this Court leave no room for the view that, because of the acknowledged need for order, First Amendment protections should apply with less force on college campuses than in the community at large. Quite to the contrary, ‘the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.'") (citation omitted).

    3) Just as your blog is your space, and you are not obliged to accept certain kinds of behaviour on it, so UT is the academic community's space, and they are not required to accept certain kinds of behaviour.

    As noted immediately above, this too is incorrect. UT is not free to engage in viewpoint discrimination, no matter how noxious or offensive it considers the speech.

    4) This particular set of behaviours seems to me so unacceptable that the sanctions discussed seem minor.

    To be clear, any sanctions against constitutionally protected speech are major and impermissible.

  62. Ari Cohn says:

    It would be one thing if they were saying "We shouldn't fund these activities", but the call to not recognize the club is essentially calling for shutting down a group of students being able to organize and discuss their views on campus based on what their views are.

    Actually, the former would also be equally wrongheaded and unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has held that public universities may not discriminate based on viewpoint when funding student groups. See Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819 (1995).

  63. Ari Cohn says:

    @Ryan

    I realize that universities are typically part of the state, but this is one type of response that I'm not inclined to view as censorship – the university isn't making it illegal for these students to express their views, or restricting where and how they can express them, it is merely depriving them of official resources to do so.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court disagrees with you. The government cannot distribute student funds in a way that discriminates based on viewpoint.

  64. luagha says:

    "In the latter case, it's a terrible solution because it would still be limited by court resources and would pose huge constitutional problems."

    One presumes that such a mythical statute would provide for assembly-line courts similar to traffic courts to handle those portions it decides to streamline, like basic verification of the facts of the matter and whatever exceptions there might be.

    For example, anyone who's registered for the President Obama's 'DREAM Act' has submitted documentation affirming that they are in the country illegally and they acknowledge it. While it might be politically foolish to do so, I imagine it would be very easy to prove in court that they are illegally in the country given their signature on such documentation.

  65. Ken White says:

    @Ryan:

    So, do you think UT-Austin can fund Democratic student groups and not Republican ones? Can it fund anti-abortion groups and not pro-choice ones? Can it fund anti-gun groups and not gun-rights groups?

    Can it require, as a condition of funding, that any group sign a pledge not to criticize UT-Austin or its employees or administrators?

  66. @luagha

    One presumes that such a mythical statute would provide for assembly-line courts similar to traffic courts to handle those portions it decides to streamline, like basic verification of the facts of the matter and whatever exceptions there might be.

    If armed men were empowed to bust down your door in the middle of the night and drag you off over a red light camera ticket, I doubt those traffic courts would be as streamlined as they are.

  67. azazel1024 says:

    @Lizard, since I can trace my ancestery back to two familes from the Mayflower, I can say being related to some of the earliest tresspassers here, I have no right to call out late comers to the party.

    Which is why a lot of the "kick out the illegal immigrants" and general anti-immigration stuff pisses me off.

    It also pisses me off when the gov't attempts to chill or prevent speech, even if it is disgusting bigotted speech, within reason.*

    *I can't ever condone allowing protesting at funerals for example. That goes beyond freedom of expression and is just down right harassement.

  68. Dion Starfire says:

    @Lizard (and others in favor of illegal immigration) There's a world of difference between immigrants that came to the US during various periods and illegal immigrants.

    That difference is the "illegal" part of the name. If they're willing to go through the immigration process, be legally recognized as a resident and follow the same laws and rules as everybody else, fine.

    Of course, that would destroy a lot of the immigrants jobs, and a good chunk of America's fruit and produce industry, when all their workers suddenly have to receive minimum wage and get the same benefits as legal Americans.
    /tangent

    And I got to say this is another great example of the disadvantage of free speech: offensive bigots have the same right to speech as oppressed minorities (whether it's due to race, gender, etc., or a minority viewpoint)

  69. If they're willing to go through the immigration process, be legally recognized as a resident and follow the same laws and rules as everybody else, fine.

    Ah, the "line" illusion. People like to pretend it's easy to legally immigrate to the US as long as you're mildly patient, when the actual fact of the matter is that unless you fall into various special categories (you already have family here, some company is will to spend a lot of money to get you here, you're rich, etc.) there is no reliable way to legally immigrate to just becuase you'd like to live here.

    For most of these people, their choice is to either come here illegally or not come here at all.

  70. luagha says:

    "either come here illegally or not come here at all."

    Wonderfully put.

    Although it is a sadness, I don't see that citizens of other countries have a right to become legal citizens of our country. Their choices should indeed be to stay in their country or to work to become the sort of person we allow to immigrate. There are many such categories, including some for various hardships.

  71. mcalex says:

    Therefor (sic)? From uni students.
    I'd give the petition an 'F'.

  72. dee nile says:

    Their choices should indeed be to stay in their country or to work to become the sort of person we allow to immigrate. There are many such categories, including some for various hardships.

    Work hard to acquire a hardship!

  73. @luagha:

    I don't see that citizens of other countries have a right to become legal citizens of our country

    No, but as long as they are peacable, they have a right as human beings to go about their business without interference from others.

  74. GeoffreyK says:

    @luagha
    Funny, whenever I hear the line about, "We'll never be able to round up and deport thirty million illegal aliens," I immediately begin ignoring the conversation, because the premise has more holes than cheese. Even if we could, why the heck would we? I won't deny the pleasure to be had from solving a hypothetical, but in this case, why bother? As an aside, your hand-waving in response to what seem to be (to me) legitimate procedural problems raised by others, indicate that the structural societal changes needed to enact it would only allow it to function in a universe so different from our own as to be entirely unrecognizable.

    @Dion Starfire
    I think the more interesting point about this is the question of whose authority the immigrants are acting upon. "Move there en masse, wipe out/kick out/take over from the locals, and then establish sovereignty on this virgin, up for grabs piece of land, thus confirming that what we just did was totally legit" seems like a pretty popular maneuver. I'm painting massive over-generalizations, but you know… Hawaii, Texas, everything between Plymouth and Los Angeles.

    @Topic
    As is not uncommon when reading these, I found myself vigorously agreeing with parts (that the University has no particularly sound basis for denouncing or punishing the group), and somewhat unconcerned about the student petition. The discussion in the comment thread has been enlightening, and I now recognize the problems inherent in the school supporting that petition, and the dangers of the mindset behind it. I come here to learn; I rarely leave unsatisfied.

  75. AlphaCentauri says:

    In a universe I would run, neither the Progressive or Conservative student groups would get funded. The "university" funding is almost certainly a separate line item on students' bills for an "activities fund," not a direct part of the university budget.

    Certain groups which are open to a large majority of those students AND which require a great deal of beginning-of-year funding to operate, such as the newspaper, yearbook, and open-events programming groups, should be considered for a part of that kitty. Other than that, groups should be conducting their own fundraising or collecting dues from members. I'm sure there are a great many groups on campus, both "recognized" and informal, which have never even considered requesting a cut of that fund. (It's possible the YCT isn't funded by the university in the first place; I mean seriously, what the fuck does "conservative" mean if you expect big government to pay for the $25 gift cards for your idiotic scavenger hunt?)

    I agree the petition is asinine as written. But what about a petition that 1. identifies the YCT as a group which actively discourages participation from whole classes of students through events that are calculated to offend based on race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, and 2. asks the administration to keep that fact in mind when apportioning activities funding or deciding which of the many student groups on campus to list in official university publications for the next year?

  76. William the Stout says:

    I don't understand the comments regarding UT not being "the state" or that's it's a "quasi-government entity" or whatever. The University of Texas system is governed by a Board of Regents. Those regents are appointed by the guy who has ultimate authority over the institution – the Governor of the state of Texas.

    It don't get any more "state" than that.

  77. En Passant says:

    AlphaCentauri wrote Nov 22, 2013 @6:42 pm

    I agree the petition is asinine as written. But what about a petition that 1. identifies the YCT as a group which actively discourages participation from whole classes of students through events that are calculated to offend based on race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation, and …

    How does a position solely against illegal immigration offend anyone "based on race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation"?

    YCT appears to oppose all illegal immigration. Not just illegal immigration by persons of particular "race, gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation".

  78. tom says:

    Although it is a sadness, I don't see that citizens of other countries have a right to become legal citizens of our country.

    Migration is necessary for the survival of our species. I'd rather think that I have a right to leave my country if shit gets bad here — unless, of course, you believe that governments should be able to arrest people on arbitrary bases. That right somewhat hinges upon a place to go.

  79. rk57957 says:

    @luagha, while your idea sounds great on paper it is truly terrible I do not like the idea of an armed group of citizens who are not representing the state (although technically they would be) thinking they can detain me until they prove I am here illegally (it's not as easy as you would think).

    But I do have an alternate solution to giving illegal immigrants an incentive to leave if they are just here for economic reasons. We make it against the law maybe a felony to hire illegal immigrants (wait we already did that) and then we actually start prosecuting businesses that hire illegal immigrants.

  80. Duvane says:

    @AlphaCentauri

    I would probably still disagree with the petition you describe, but I certainly wouldn't feel the need to deride it and its writers as I do the existing one. If a student group were directly physically harassing or directly threatening any other students, I would expect the institution to boot them for that reason, but not for their (non-threatening) speech as such. I am generally very skeptical of claims that one person's speech alone (no matter how offensive or hateful it may be) is preventing another person's speech. In fact, as long as the university is able to ensure a physically safe environment, it is often the case that offensive speech will spur speech from those who oppose it rather than chill it.

    I think legal and moral duties toward speech always get mixed up when these issues arise at public institutions. I don't think the wording in your version changes the legal duties of the institution (as an arm of the state) to dispense funds without regard to the speech of those who receive it.

    Morally, in terms of the institution's duties in educating its students, it doesn't change how I, personally, think the situation should be handled (although it is certainly an argument that is worth engaging, and an area open to debate). For the university to pick and choose winners in arguments like this is, I think, exactly the wrong example to set to its students. In the real world, people say nasty things, and its more important for students to learn how to deal with and respond to that than to be protected from it. Basically, the university has a chance to teach their students about bad speech and its solution (i.e., more speech). It also has a chance to illustrate the difference between agreeing with what someone says and tolerating their right to say it, and a statement making it clear that it will protect the ability of all its students to express themselves on these issues, while not taking a direct position on them, would set the right example. It is exactly the sort of childish thinking that leads to the last sentence of the petition ("If you don't prohibit this, it must mean you support it") that needs to be corrected.

    I'm with you on doing away with with these student activities funds for the most part, though. They really are a massive ripoff for the students. Let the students keep a little bit more of their money, and make some of these organizations do some of their own damn fundraising instead of bellying up to the trough. (I think there's a good argument that the rise of these sort of fees is directly a result of student loan bloat, but that's veering way off course.)

  81. David C says:

    Serious question: Should that College or any other be forced to list the KKK as an officially registered student organization, if enough students register?

    I think the KKK would and should be banned for the same Al-Qaeda would and should be banned – not for their rhetoric, but for their terrorism.

    If you can be fired from your job for creating a hostile work environment, I am not seeing why the school should not be able to expel a student for creating a hostile learning environment.

    Except it takes more than this to create a hostile learning environment. That would involve conduct so severe that it actually interferes with the educational process. It doesn't seem like this rises to that level.

  82. Sami says:

    I don't know that the petition to revoke their status counts as censorship. Official, affiliated student clubs tend to get various kinds of official support with activities and so on – the issue is whether the student body and university are required to provide active, ongoing resources to a group producing distasteful trash like that.

    Which is a different issue entirely, you see.

    But then, I was once actively involved in what you might, apparently, call "censorship" in my own university days. A group of students were planning some extremely disruptive and distinctly offensive "joke" activities disrupting a Christian/Jewish/Muslim interfaith harmony event.

    A bunch of other students around me were discussing how incredibly offensive, racist, and wrong what they were planning was, but all our concerted efforts to dissuade them had been unsuccessful. I was the one who declared I was far too old to be worried about being called a snitch, and went and reported their intentions to relevant authorities.

    (It helped that they were *also* using spray paint in an enclosed, populated space, that also happened to be a registered historic building, without any kind of protective anything for people or surfaces, and it's entirely likely I would have gone to report them for that shit no matter what they were planning to do with it. Century-old oak floorboards should not be spattered with spraypaint, dammit.)

    This resulted in intervention including a not-entirely-pleasant interview for the leader of the group with the University Vice-Chancellor, a figure of godlike power largely mythical for the average student, in which distinct threats of exclusion from campus were, I believe, offered.

    A compromise was reached wherein they could use the costumes at another event, but NOT under penalty of PENALTIES at the interfaith harmony event that the news media were all attending in which they hoped to defuse some of the religious-based tensions in our society in the aftermath of the Bali nightclub bombing with some public displays of niceness.

    I in no way regret my actions.

  83. Lizard says:

    Some quick points:
    a)Has the KKK, as it is currently constituted, been declared a terrorist organization? My understanding is that it is perfectly legal, though, like Westboro Baptist Church, about as welcome as an infestation of roaches. Less welcome, actually, because roaches serve a valuable function in the ecosystem.

    b)I find the idea of a "right" to citizenship that is based on where you happened to be removed from your mother, rather than on any sort of actual action, value, or determination of merit, to be ludicrous. If we are willing to grant full citizenship to anyone who first sucked air within the borders of the United States (including assorted territories, provinces, military bases, etc.), then saying it should be denied to anyone who crosses the border after being born — even a second after being born — is self-evidently ridiculous. Either make citizenship something which all must earn, according to one set of rules and standards, whether they were born here or not, OR, simply let anyone be a citizen, under the same conditions as everyone else: Follow the rules, be a good chimp, and we won't throw feces at you. Be a bad chimp, and we toss you to the lions. Simple enough. National borders are a meaningless concept — arbitrary lines drawn according to the random whims of history, usually ignoring more meaningful division of culture and custom. Further, to anyone with any kind of belief in individual rights, the idea of borders is moronic: Why should two people be constrained in the consensual interactions, including where they want to live, because a few centuries ago, other people decided to draw a line on a map? How does this make sense to anyone with more than two neurons to rub together?

    c)Those attempting to claim that anti-immigration activism by the right is NOT based on immigrants who have the wrong color skin or the wrong accent, when was the last time you saw anyone talk about going through New York, Boston, and Chicago, and sweeping out every tavern and pub for the lazy, drunken, brawling, Irish? (Not to mention their fellow Papists, those swarthy, criminally inclined Italians. Both groups breed huge families (following the orders of the Antichrist of Rome, though they also lack any proper self-restraint and moral character that might curtail their seething lusts) that drain the common resources, and are inherently violent, criminal, and dishonest.) When was the last time that "volunteer border patrols" made a run through Chinese, Vietnamese, or Korean communities to check everyone's Green Card? How many Russian and Eastern European programmers and IT people are stopped on a daily basis by the cops and ordered to present their papers? No, sorry, while there may be occasional random incidents where non-hispanic immigrants are targeted, both pro- and anti- immigration movements are focused primarily on immigrants from the south, and pretending otherwise marks the speaker as a liar and a knave, who is hoping you're too stupid or too politically correct to call them on it. (FFS, people are attempting to claim Al Quaeda is using Mexicans as terrorist agents, despite Islam being far more popular in more "acceptable" sources of immigration, such as Europe and Asia, than it is in Mexico. The only act of Islamic terrorism of any note since 9/11 was performed by two white Europeans, but no, we have to watch our Neighbor To The South, because a country that has three tenths of one percent as many Muslims as CANADA (3,760 vs. 1,053,945 — no, I didn't leave off any numbers) is clearly where the terrorist threat is going to come from, right?
    (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Canada and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_in_Mexico)

    c)Sadly[1], it seems almost no one is willing to stand up and speak for censorship, past a few early posters who quickly learned they might actually be *challenged* when they spewed the usual duck-billed platitudes, and scurried off to safer ground. A pity. All this popcorn, for naught. Instead of having some liberals to tease and prod, just a bunch of nationalists trying to defend *being* anti-immigrant, as opposed to defending people's right to express anti-immigrant opinions, hardly the same thing (something the usual suspects on the left often seem to have trouble grasping, but sometimes, with persistence, you can make it sink in. A sledgehammer helps.). Much less fun. Bigots are boring. (And, yes — if you think the latitude and longitude at which a person was born determines their rights and their worth as a human being, you're a bigot. Case closed.)

    [1]Well, GLADLY from the perspective of all that is right, true, and proper. SADLY from my selfish desire to find a new Special Friend. (Animaniacs ref.)

  84. AlphaCentauri says:

    @En Passant: The question is, why a game of rounding up people based on a nametag? Yeah, they've got a right to free speech, but what the hell are they trying to say?

    All I can get from it is that they think you can identify a "real American" by sight, and that it would be totally jolly if you could just get rid of everyone else.

    If it were just one small group of idiots who believed that, it would be easy to let it roll off your back, but if you're someone who's not Anglo, you have to deal with that shit day in, day out, every day of your life. You couldn't even visit Arizona without scheduling extra time in case the police detained you to check your citizenship. It gets old. And when you're living on a campus where you may have to worry about a bunch of drunk guys who decide to play another round of the illegal immigrant game with the Latino students in their dorm some Saturday night, you do have to restrict what you say and where you go in a way that Anglo students would not.

    YCT certainly doesn't seem like a student group that welcomes all students. I don't see denying them funding as a case of the administration judging their speech. I see it as a case of the club making the decision that they are actively excluding many students, and the consequence of that is that don't qualify for funding through the general student activity fund. Not every group of students is eligible, so they need to justify why they should get the funds, rather than the university justifying why they shouldn't. AFAIK, frats don't get such funds, either.

  85. Ryan says:

    @Ken

    So, do you think UT-Austin can fund Democratic student groups and not Republican ones? Can it fund anti-abortion groups and not pro-choice ones? Can it fund anti-gun groups and not gun-rights groups?

    In a perfect world, and putting aside the peculiarity of US law that has de facto made universities administrators agents of the state – I would say yes. Universities are generally run by a board of governors (on which student representatives have seats) and are at their essence democratic institutions. Democratic institutions should have the right to decide what they will and will not support (indeed, look at states that have cut off their funding to Planned Parenthood as an excellent example of this) – and the students that would pay their way similarly have the option to attend that school or another based on those support choices, as do academics choosing an institution to work from.

    I realize US case law runs counter to that argument.

    Can it require, as a condition of funding, that any group sign a pledge not to criticize UT-Austin or its employees or administrators?

    Stepping again outside of case law, and following the thought process above, sure. But I wouldn't expect that would work out well for them in the long run. The best universities are the ones in which debate thrives; a condition like that means you could never dissent with university policy. It's also a prior restriction rather than a consequence of denounced action.

    Back in the practical world, I don't think public universities receiving public funding and covered by case law that plants them firmly in the "state actor" camp should be funding/supporting ANY student club for this exact reason – taxpayers should not be forced to support student groups they fundamentally disagree with, particularly those that run counter to the principles for which universities are supposed to stand, especially if support for those organizations can't be cut off because of freedom of speech.

    @Those commenting on speech restrictions in public places

    This is fundamentally different. The university petition does not seek to limit the ways or places in which students can speak, it seeks only to cut them off from official resources to aid them in speaking. There is nothing stopping any of them from shouting their fool heads off on campus – except perhaps the potential for an angry mob.

    TL;DR: I realize US case law runs counter to my opinion; nevertheless, it is my opinion that universities should either not support any group, thereby negating the possibility of their consequences, or should be able to de-list certain groups that run counter to their core mission as democratic institutions.

  86. David C says:

    the issue is whether the student body and university are required to provide active, ongoing resources to a group producing distasteful trash like that.

    The answer is yes if they give them to other student groups.

    But then, I was once actively involved in what you might, apparently, call "censorship" in my own university days. A group of students were planning some extremely disruptive and distinctly offensive "joke" activities disrupting a Christian/Jewish/Muslim interfaith harmony event.

    It's hard to know what to think about this without knowing exactly what they were planning. If they just wanted to attend wearing an offensive costume and holding protest signs (that didn't block anyone's view) that's protected. If they wanted to do something to actually disrupt the event, that's not.

  87. Ryan says:

    To pick yet another example – if the Westboro Baptist Church enrolled a few members at a university and started up a student club, should the university really be forced by the First Amendment to fund their activities and provide ongoing support to them? Under the current framework of the law I understand the answer to be yes, but someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

    The trouble with the non-nuanced "you can't de-list anyone for their activities/speech" is that what it really means is they shouldn't support anyone, no matter how worthy the cause. That is just as bad for public discourse as cutting off resources to groups that fundamentally oppose your core mission; in many ways, it's arguably worse, given that many university-level student groups don't get support anywhere else.

    I think this is necessarily a complex issue and is philosophically not so black-and-white as "de-listing = censorship = always bad," even if it legally may be.

  88. David C says:

    YCT certainly doesn't seem like a student group that welcomes all students. I don't see denying them funding as a case of the administration judging their speech. I see it as a case of the club making the decision that they are actively excluding many students, and the consequence of that is that don't qualify for funding through the general student activity fund

    If YCT excludes students based on ethnicity, then by all means deny them funding. But they should certainly be able to exclude students based on beliefs. It would be rather ridiculous if a pro-immigrant group was forced to accept YCT members, for example. Or if an LGBT group was forced to accept students opposed to gay rights. (Some universities do in fact have insane policies like this.)

    taxpayers should not be forced to support student groups they fundamentally disagree with

    In the case of student groups, taxpayers do not fund them. Students do, with a mandatory segregated fee. I'd have no problem with getting rid of this fee and making all groups fund themselves (college is expensive enough without adding more fees, and student governments, which are responsible for administrating the fees, are incompetent and have no real accountability, in my experience), but that's not likely to happen in the real world.

  89. Lizard says:

    @Ryan: Who is empowered to make these "nuanced" decisions, and what are the boundaries? What happens when the administration decides that WBC is goodthink, and the GLBQT Student Alliance is badthink?

    When government funds are being used — and they are at almost all universities — the broadest possible definition of acceptable speech is required. At best, you might get away with banning groups that specifically advocate discrimination (possibly not even that, but I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not sure), but you'll find very few groups do that, as opposed to expressing (snicker) "harmful, alienating narratives". Opposition to immigration, affirmative action, etc., might be fueled by discriminatory beliefs, but they are not advocacy of discrimination in themselves.

    I'd rather see the WBC or the KKK get their share of student funds, if it came to that, than have the school administration or, worse, some kind of "democratic, majority vote" process, decide what viewpoints were allowed. Saying "screw it, fund yourselves, all y'all" would not be entirely without merit, either, but it has to be "Everyone or no one", not "Just the viewpoints we like." If everyone contributes to the Student Activity Fund, then everyone gets to take some of it back.

  90. David C says:

    Has the KKK, as it is currently constituted, been declared a terrorist organization?

    Kinda. Not sure if being declared one by a single city really counts, though. But four members were arrested in 1997 for conspiracy to blow up a natural gas plant. Given the organization's history of blatantly illegal activity, banning them would seem prudent.

  91. Duvane says:

    @Ryan

    In reference to "the peculiarity of US law that has de facto made universities administrators agents of the state…", the treatment of public universities as part of the government isn't really a peculiarity. Some universities are entirely private, non-profit or profit, which can do pretty much whatever they want, while other universities are operated by (are for most purposes part of) the various state governments. You have veered towards some arguments for why the governments shouldn't be in this business (and there are some valid arguments for that), but as long as a particular university is part of the government, then the rules that apply to the government apply to it (with some narrow exceptions, such as student privacy issues), and that is exactly how it should be. In fact, it could be argued that a strength of the system is that there are institutions of higher learning that are subject to the same rules that the government is, and if nothing else these compete (at least in the marketplace of ideas) against private schools that, without that pressure, might become even more closed-minded and controlling.

  92. David C says:
    So, do you think UT-Austin can fund Democratic student groups and not Republican ones? Can it fund anti-abortion groups and not pro-choice ones? Can it fund anti-gun groups and not gun-rights groups?

    In a perfect world, and putting aside the peculiarity of US law that has de facto made universities administrators agents of the state – I would say yes. Universities are generally run by a board of governors (on which student representatives have seats) and are at their essence democratic institutions. Democratic institutions should have the right to decide what they will and will not support (indeed, look at states that have cut off their funding to Planned Parenthood as an excellent example of this)

    The problem here is that by your logic, if the Democrats or Republicans took control of both houses of Congress (or the legislature of a state, or a county board, or a city council, or a university student government) they should be able to simply vote that their party gets government funding and the opposition party does not. That's a rather horrible way to do things.

    Also, in the University of Wisconsin system, the Board of Regents has 18 members. 16 are appointed by the governor, and 2 of those are students. In case that was not clear: the student members, who are a tiny minority of the board, are appointed by the governor and not elected by the students. It's not a "peculiarity of law" that makes the university an agent of the state. It's an agent of the state because it is largely controlled and funded by the state. And it's only a "democratic institution" in the sense that it eventually reports to an elected official, the governor. By that standard, the NSA is a "democratic institution" because it eventually reports to the President.

  93. Sami says:

    Lizard: @Ryan: Who is empowered to make these "nuanced" decisions, and what are the boundaries? What happens when the administration decides that WBC is goodthink, and the GLBQT Student Alliance is badthink?

    The student and academic body. If the administration is pro-WBC and anti-GLBTQ, then that's going to be a problem that reaches beyond "who gets Student Union funding", and is therefore going to be an issue people are going to have to be discussing and arguing and advocating around anyway. Club funding is a side-issue under those circumstances.

    Nothing happens in a vacuum, and taking absolutist "free speech" positions tends to lead to living in an atmosphere of extremist, sometimes violent rhetoric that does not actually contribute in any way to the public discourse.

  94. dee nile says:

    Let me guess: all speech Sami agrees with "contribute[s] … to the public discourse." The rest does not.

  95. Demosthenes says:

    "Saying 'screw it, fund yourselves, all y'all' would not be entirely without merit, either, but it has to be 'Everyone or no one', not 'Just the viewpoints we like.' If everyone contributes to the Student Activity Fund, then everyone gets to take some of it back."

    This. I would not necessarily be averse to a rule saying that "The University of X will only officially sanction student organizations that express no viewpoint on political or religious matters," but that rule is evenly written. It excludes both Democrats and Republicans from funding, and would refuse sanction to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and atheist groups alike.

    Whatever rules there are restricting groups from grabbing a piece of that sweet, sweet money pot have to apply evenly to all groups. They can't be written in such a way as to target one group even while seemingly applying to all groups ("The university will not sanction any student group that habitually parades around in white sheets and burns crosses"), and they can't be written in such a way as to leave the university's scope of power too broad so that ANY unpopular group might find itself falling under the ban hammer ("The university will not sanction any group that gets involved in a controversy which, in the opinion of the university's officers, becomes detrimental to the purposes and/or reputation of the university").

    This is why speech restrictions, or even refusals to subsidize speech like that which is being discussed here, are tricky in a university environment. Many universities are fundamentally agents of the state, and even most of those that aren't claim a commitment to free speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of thought. Start messing with that, and universities become just another special interest that expects state money for purposes of which many people in the state many not approve. Hell, in the opinions of many people, we're already there.

  96. Lizard says:

    Nothing happens in a vacuum, and taking absolutist "free speech" positions tends to lead to living in an atmosphere of extremist, sometimes violent rhetoric that does not actually contribute in any way to the public discourse.

    I do not support free speech because it "contributes to the public discourse".

    I support free speech because I do not believe anyone has the right to decide what ideas may or may not be expressed. (The right to refuse to support ideas, to shun those who express ideas, to mock and sneer and shame those who support ideas[1] — yes. To decide that ideas may not be expressed if the speaker is willing to accept such consequences — no.)

    If the administration is pro-WBC and anti-GLBTQ, then that's going to be a problem that reaches beyond "who gets Student Union funding", and is therefore going to be an issue people are going to have to be discussing and arguing and advocating around anyway.

    But the reverse is NOT a problem, and is not going to be an issue being discussed and argued about? Because, uhm, tautologically, the reverse currently IS the common case (which means this culture is at least marginally sane), and people ARE discussing and arguing about it. So I fail to see the point — unless your point is that you, personally, consider the right to express a pro-gay view more worthy of protection than the right to express an anti-gay view. (Contrast considering a pro-gay view more worthy of YOUR PARTICIPATION IN ITS EXPRESSION, which is a wholly different thing.) In that case — how did you attain the exalted position where you get to decide which opinions deserve to be permitted? (Please remember, we are discussing here only government action, and only expression of ideas. We are not discussing the right to boycott, shun, protest, ignore, or mock those who express ideas with which we disagree; nor are we discussing our individual opinions of the worth of any idea, or whether we'd support the idea as opposed to supporting the right to express the idea[2]. In the words of one of Tricky Dicky, let me make this perfectly clear: If any member of the WBC were on fire, I wouldn't piss on them to put it out, unless I had developed the mutant power to piss gasoline, which would make me the lamest X-Man ever, but I digress.)

    If you create a situation where ALL students pay to support speech, but only SOME students have access to these resources based on the speech they wish to make, that's self-evidently unjust and unfair. Such injustice may be tolerated where everyone contributing does so on a wholly volunteer basis — but when it comes to universities that benefit from public funds, including government-backed loans, that means the rules are different. Both basic logic and the current state of the law agree on this, a rare circumstance where "law" and "justice" are in concurrence.

    [1]For example, this: http://www.popehat.com/2013/09/10/speech-and-consequences/

    [2]There's three levels here:
    a)"I support this idea."
    b)"I support the expression of this idea."
    c)"I support the right to express this idea."

    "c" is all we're talking about. It includes, often, the addition of "But I really wish people wouldn't, because it's a bad, wrong, stupid, and evil idea." You can believe people have the right to do something without believing it is the right thing to do. I can and do wish for a world in which no one publicly expressed — or even privately held — bigoted, illogical, and discriminatory ideas. I can hold this as my desired world, while still acknowledging that people have the right to not see this as THEIR ideal world, and that they have as much right to try to shift the zeitgeist towards their ideal as I do towards mine. I think I'll win, because my ideas are correct, logical, moral, and most importantly because I type very quickly.

  97. piperTom says:

    Garcia said, "I spoke with our chapter's members, and they are both concerned that…"

    Both members are concerned?

    Oh, now I see. Members are concerned that both
    This is even a "grammar nazi" issue; you can't just throw words in just anywhere.

  98. David C says:

    Lizard, I agree with most of what you're saying, but I have to disagree here:

    but when it comes to universities that benefit from public funds, including government-backed loans, that means the rules are different.

    I do not believe that the rules should be changed merely because the bank which gave a loan to a student has that loan guaranteed by the government. That's a few degrees of separation, and lets the government control policies where it really shouldn't. It would be sort of like telling someone who got a subsidized housing loan that they can't put a political sign on their front yard because government money helped them get that yard.

  99. En Passant says:

    AlphaCentauri wrote Nov 22, 2013 @10:09 pm:

    @En Passant: The question is, why a game of rounding up people based on a nametag? Yeah, they've got a right to free speech, but what the hell are they trying to say?

    Maybe I'm just stupid, but I take what YCT is saying at face value, ie: they oppose illegal immigration and believe that persons illegally present in the country should be sent back to their country of origin.

    That is not a radical belief, nor one peculiar to some small group of extremists in the USA. Every country on the planet has such laws in place, and have had such laws pretty much since their founding. The USA is not unusual in that regard.

    In that sense, what YCT says is no more radical than "robbers should be arrested and prosecuted".

    All I can get from it is that they think you can identify a "real American" by sight, and that it would be totally jolly if you could just get rid of everyone else.

    I don't see how that follows at all.

    YCT's own membership are the ones who volunteer to wear the tags. They apparently hope to attract and entice non-members of YCT to their meetings by offering a small reward for participating in the game.

    If they made the game "spot the criminal Wall Street banker", I doubt that similar objections would be raised. In Real Life ™, can you determine who is a criminal Wall Street banker just by looking at him?

    No. At least if you haven't seen his picture in a Post Office gallery. Would that make the game prejudicial against well dressed men in Armani suits? I don't think so.

    If it were just one small group of idiots who believed that, it would be easy to let it roll off your back, but if you're someone who's not Anglo, you have to deal with that shit day in, day out, every day of your life.

    I don't know where you live or what people you know. But where I live, I know people whose skin tones, language accents, and cultural backgrounds are decidedly not "Anglo", and who in fact are not citizens of the USA but who are present in the country completely legally, who also firmly believe that illegal immigrants should be deported.

    They've followed the laws, as arbitrary and irrational as those laws sometimes are, and they do not like people who disregard those same laws with impunity, attempting to reap for free the same benefits that they have earned at great cost.

    That said, I agree that USA immigration laws are terrible, need amendment, and are enforced by idiotic goons who behave more like thugs than proper government officials, sometimes even deporting natural born American citizens. I think such officials should be criminally prosecuted and punished.

    You couldn't even visit Arizona without scheduling extra time in case the police detained you to check your citizenship. It gets old.

    I would be quite happy to see any such AZ cop prosecuted and imprisoned for his acts. He would be among the idiotic goons I mentioned above.

  100. shoirca says:

    It is unfortunate that the knee-jerk reaction to any discussion about illegal immigration is "THAT'S RACIST!" Legal and illegal immigrants and first and second generation American farm workers of Latin American ancestry suffer greatly under this clandestine labor system.

    "Fuck me or you're fired (and deported)"

    I urge anyone who is interested to look at the Human Rights Watch report "Cultivating Fear: The Vulnerability of Immigrant Farmworkers in the US to Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment," describing rapes and other widespread physical and sexual abuse suffered by immigrant workers. Also watch Frontline's "Rape in the Fields" uncovering systemic rapes by owners and supervisors of immigrant workers.

    Our peculiar institution.

    Study after study of the H-2A program concludes that there's actually a surplus of agricultural labor, not a shortage. Mother Jones' "Silence in the fields" discusses the wage theft, abuse and deplorable slave-like conditions immigrant laborers work under. One farm housed 32 workers crammed into a small cinderblock barracks with no toilette. The article tells how workers are auctioned off like chattel by a central staffing agency and why farmers prefer to hire immigrants who can be deported if they complain about things like severe burns from pesticides.

    American's need not apply.

    Prof. Vernon M. Briggs Jr. of Cornell noted in a Wharton School of Business article, "The Immigration Debate: Its Impact on Workers, Wages and Employers" that "Tragically, many employers, if given a choice between illegal immigrants or U.S. citizens, will always take the illegal immigrant.”

    Javier Riojas, an Attorney and Branch Manager at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid, testified before the Congressional Committee on Education and Labor about how and why employers prefer immigrants who won't make trouble over experienced local farmworkers. At page 24 he notes how Americans were discriminated against at one farm: while H-2A workers were paid $8.60/hr and H-2B were paid $6.53/hr, the company was offering U.S. citizens $5.59/hr. The Americans who were hired were subject to abuse and harassment.

    Sad to see that the university couldn't have a more nuanced discussion about undocumented labor. They missed a great educational opportunity.

  101. Clark says:

    @Darryl

    I live in Austin and maybe a little context would be helpful. This is the same group that had an "affirmative action bake sale" a few years ago, where if you were white you paid more for their items. I think people here are just simply tired of their shit.

    "Shit" ?

    You mispelled "speech".

    There's all sorts of people who's speech I get tired of with great regularity. Prius drivers who unironically sport "Endless this war" AND "reelect Obama" bumper stickers, yoga moms in $200 blouses talking about how hard it is to be a modern woman, etc.

    …and yet, the context that I live in a deeply blue area and have to listen to / see / experience this every day does not lead me to advocate the use of force to restrain their right to broadcast their opinions.

    One's commitment to free speech is not measured by how much of it one wants for one's allies, but by how much one wants for one's enemies.

  102. Kevin says:

    I was a little surprised when this made national news, since Young Republicans groups at Texas colleges have been doing this sort of stunt for years. At least as early as 2007 I visited Texas Tech University in Lubbock for a debate tournament, and the Young Republicans had a table set up in front of the Student Union Building where they were running a "catch an illegal" event of the same variety. The only substantive difference was that instead of $25 cards they were giving out free pizza and instead of a person with "illegal" on a sign, you had to chase down members of the group who were wearing yellow ponchos, sombreros, and fake moustaches. In comparison to that, which was pretty bad, this is a tame event. I'm not trying to vouch for the message, but it is certainly confusing that this mild incarnation of a common political event at Texas Schools should be the one that was picked up as some catastrophic devastation of the "moral well-being" of American college students.

  103. AlphaCentauri says:

    If the group is open to all students, there should be no problem with there being a sudden surge in membership by people who wish to vote in new officers.

  104. Sami says:

    Actually, a lot of speech I disagree with contributes to the public discourse. For example, there's an Australian pundit named Chris Burgh whose opinions I find, by and large, infuriating, offensive, and wrong on pretty much every level.

    That doesn't mean I want his speech suppressed, although it does mean that if I owned a media organisation, I would decree that MY ORGANISATION should give him no platform, prominence, or attention of any kind.

    On the other hand, I wholeheartedly approve of my government's decision to tell the Westboro Baptist Church, when they announced intentions to picket the funeral of Heath Ledger, that they were not welcome in this country, that they were disinvited from entering, and that should they come after all and get there, they would be arrested.

    Some of the American Founding Fathers argued against the Bill of Rights on the basis that it is possible, once rights have been enumerated, for foolish people to assume that any rights not specifically reserved therein therefore are not rights at all.

    I'm not convinced at all that they were wrong.

    I think that if you approach every situation with the perspective of, "But what if the WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO THAT'S REALLY UNLIKELY happens?" you set yourself up for more trouble than you save.

    In America, Free Speech requires right-thinking people to protest the right of neo-Nazis to hold rallies, and of the Westboro Baptist Church to display messages of loathsome hatred in wildly inappropriate places.

    Because, in theory, if you don't protect that right, then decent people won't have the right to rally for their own causes.

    In my country, they don't have that right, because those people, by their actions, make society worse. They are a tributary of industrial waste to the river of society.

    Nonetheless, everyone else is still free to say what they want, be it ever so hateful and offensive within the bounds of basic sanity. A rally was held in front of Parliament House in which viciously nasty, misogynistic things were said about our head of government – which was legal, and not stopped, because it didn't cross the line.

    The line is not specifically defined in law, because you can, in fact, build your society in part on the assumption that some measure of sanity will prevail, and the outlawing of hate speech does not allow for the outlawing of GetUp.

    Oddly enough, for all our "lax" protection of free speech and so on, speech actually seems to be more free here. Not only can you generally say what you want to say without needing a lawyer, but the discouragement of extremism also seems to help it be such that you can say what you want to say here without getting shot either.

  105. David C says:

    If the group is open to all students, there should be no problem with there being a sudden surge in membership by people who wish to vote in new officers.

    No problem at all, so long as those new members legitimately agree with the mission of the group. But if they don't, then YCT should be free to exclude them. You really don't want the situation where people are joining groups for the purpose of disbanding them.

    Or maybe you do. But if you're in favor of whatever back-door censorship you think you can get away with, you're no friend of free speech.

  106. David C says:

    In my country, they don't have that right, because those people, by their actions, make society worse.

    Who decides which groups have the right to speak and which do not?

    The line is not specifically defined in law

    So, what, you're left to guess whether you'll be arrested for speaking about something? That doesn't sound good. Even if the law is unjust, I'd rather have it spelled out so I know whether I'm violating it.

    Some of the American Founding Fathers argued against the Bill of Rights on the basis that it is possible, once rights have been enumerated, for foolish people to assume that any rights not specifically reserved therein therefore are not rights at all.

    I'm not convinced at all that they were wrong.

    I don't think they were wrong either. Heck, we have a hard enough time stopping our government from violating the rights we specifically spelled out – it's almost a lost cause to try to get them to respect ones that are not.

  107. Lizard says:

    Because, in theory, if you don’t protect that right, then decent people won’t have the right to rally for their own causes.

    The speech of decent people — however the society of the moment defines "decent" — doesn't need protection.

    I don't support the right of free speech for asshats because I fear losing free speech for decent people if I don't. I support the right of free speech for asshats because I believe asshats have the right to free speech.

    This has been said many times, and it seems it's something you are not really grasping. Free speech is not worth supporting because it ultimately leads to social good.

    FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS A SOCIAL GOOD IN ITSELF.

    That you seem to find this an alien and inscrutable concept really tells me all I need to know about your country and its values. Can you buy Grand Theft Auto there yet? (Granted, in Australia, it's not so much a game as a history lesson. Ha! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZvo7zKozdQ)

  108. Anony Mouse says:

    Given the organization's history of blatantly illegal activity, banning them would seem prudent.

    Prosecuting based on tainted blood has a long history of being just.

  109. Clark says:

    @AlphaCentauri:

    If the group is open to all students, there should be no problem with there being a sudden surge in membership by people who wish to vote in new officers.

    I find this idea, and advocacy for this idea, really pernicious.

    No, it's not technically restriction of free speech, but it is a tactic that is explicitly designed to squash speech, and not with more speech either.

    I don't think it's morally legitimate for pro-choicers to attempt to take over a pro-life organization, and I don't think it's morally legitimate for pro-lifers to try to take over a pro-choice organization.

    Society as a whole is best served by both sides to any debate being given the best opportunity to make their cases clearly and logically.

    I suggest that when people find someone's speech worthy of being compared to "shit", or find them deeply frustrating, or think that the best way to deal with speech is to take over the other side and de facto silence them, what they really mean is "the other team is landing some blows, and bringing up some uncomfortable truths, and I wish they'd be quiet so I and others wouldn't have to think about them, and because I think of myself as a defender of free speech, I desperately want some loophole to make them stop talking and landing those blows".

  110. Demosthenes says:

    In my country, they don't have that right, because those people, by their actions, make society worse.

    Oh, good. So only the people whose have at least a neutral effect on society deserve a basic human right. And tell me, who has the power to determine what is a better and what is a worse effect? The line may be quite clear with respect to Westboro Baptist Church, but where would it be for, say, the National Rifle Association, or Planned Parenthood, or the Boy Scouts of America, or the Southern Poverty Law Center?

    Nonetheless, everyone else is still free to say what they want, be it ever so hateful and offensive within the bounds of basic sanity.

    I repeat my comment above, with the sole change that I substitute the concept of "sanity" for the concept of "effect on society."

    The line is not specifically defined in law, because you can, in fact, build your society in part on the assumption that some measure of sanity will prevail…

    You are advocating the regulation of a fundamental right based on the idea that it can be properly regulated by your neighbors and the government they select to rule. A person with a good grasp of world history might justly question what basis this argument has in sanity.

  111. David C says:

    Prosecuting based on tainted blood has a long history of being just.

    Because people have no choice in joining organizations with a history of terrorism and murder, just as they have no choice in their parents, right?

    When you choose to associate yourself with the KKK, you're associating yourself with an organization that doesn't content itself with hateful speech, or dressing funny, or even peaceful cross burnings. The organization has lynched people, detonated bombs, and committed other violent acts targeted at specific groups, such that their very presence on campus would result in a hostile learning environment.

  112. Lizard says:

    When you choose to associate yourself with the KKK, you're associating yourself with an organization that doesn't content itself with hateful speech, or dressing funny, or even peaceful cross burnings. The organization has lynched people, detonated bombs, and committed other violent acts targeted at specific groups, such that their very presence on campus would result in a hostile learning environment.

    By that reasoning, one can also ban all Communist groups. Ukraine famine, Great Leap Forward, the killing fields of Cambodia…

    For that matter, many campuses have tried to ban US military recruitment/ROTC on the same principle.

    Could we compare the unabomber's manifesto to the principles and goals of Earth First or other environmentalist groups with a campus presence, and decide which are close enough to be tainted by his violent actions?

    How about pro-Palestinian organizations with connections to, or ideological inspiration from, active terrorist (or, if you prefer, liberation) groups? How about pro-Zionist groups?

    Again, you're trying to draw simplistic bright lines in a way that indicates you spend too much time in an echo chamber, where you know what all right-thinking people will accept without question as self-obvious limits as to what should be acceptable and what should not be. Step outside your bubble. Spend some time in the vast sea of ideas that's out there. The customs of your tribe are not the laws of nature.

  113. Rick H. says:

    "The customs of your tribe are not the laws of nature." Brilliantly put. And I would expand by saying that once one realizes that the customs of their tribe are incompatible with the principles of free speech and free association, it might just be a good time to reevaluate it all.

  114. Duvane says:

    @Sami

    "I think that if you approach every situation with the perspective of, "But what if the WORST POSSIBLE SCENARIO THAT'S REALLY UNLIKELY happens?" you set yourself up for more trouble than you save."

    This attitude is appropriate for such tasks as baking a cake or driving to work. However, but if one is constructing a legal precedent that thousands or even millions of people will interact with yearly, and that will stand for decades or even centuries, that worst possible scenario is guaranteed to happen occasionally. And that scenario includes one in which the current precedent is used to expand the encroachment of speech rights, and when different people come to power and use those restrictions to silence their political opposition for tactical reasons.

    The anti-federalists who argued that delineating certain rights in the constitution was unnecessary, because the government had no power to encroach on them anyway, were technically correct. To the extent that they argued it would lead to the government encroaching is areas not specifically prohibited it, the were sadly correct. To the extent they argued that these protections were unnecessary, they were sadly wrong. The Sedition Act, for instance, was passed in just the 5th Congress. Looking back 200 years, do you trust every government of the US to have not unfairly encroached upon speech without a legal bulwark preventing it? I certainly don't, and I don't see any logical reason to assume the next 200 years will be free of that sort of thing, either.

  115. AlphaCentauri says:

    My point is that they are in fact not a group open to all students and that therefore they should be self-funded. As should the pro-choice and pro-life groups.

  116. Edward says:

    Freeze Peach!

  117. En Passant says:

    Freeze Peach!

    Careful! The Second Amendment doesn't give you the right to brandish unregistered puns.

  118. Demosthenes says:

    My point is that they are in fact not a group open to all students…

    I assume you have proof of this. I have visited YCT's website, and I see no statement that says they restrict membership. Now, I assume that a great many students with leftist political tendencies would self-select out of joining YCT. But that's not the same thing.

    Also, I notice that what you now say is your point bears no resemblance to what seemed to be your point before.

  119. David C says:

    @Lizard:

    Could we compare the unabomber's manifesto to the principles and goals of Earth First or other environmentalist groups with a campus presence, and decide which are close enough to be tainted by his violent actions?

    The goals themselves are not the issue, but the means the group has used to attempt to fulfill them. What if it was the Earth Liberation Front instead of Earth First?

    How about pro-Palestinian organizations with connections to, or ideological inspiration from, active terrorist (or, if you prefer, liberation) groups?

    Would you let Al-Qaeda set up a university branch and fund them with student dollars? If not, what's the difference?

    where you know what all right-thinking people will accept without question as self-obvious limits as to what should be acceptable and what should not be

    The existence of borderline cases isn't going to convince me that there isn't a line. Maybe you think the KKK is on the right side of the line; that's something reasonable people can disagree about.

    What if the Crips wanted to form an official campus group at UCLA? Should we let them use campus resources to recruit people, in the name of free speech and free association? Or should we perhaps not let actual criminal organizations in – not because of their speech, but because of their crimes (especially when those crimes involve killings?)

  120. AlphaCentauri says:

    @Demosthenes

    I'm not being clear.

    I don't think the general student fund collected from all students as a non-optional item on their tuition bills should be funding niche student groups, regardless of whether their speech is objectionable. Administration should not have to prove that those groups are not open to all students. The groups should have to prove they are serving a large portion of the students in some way in order to be considered for funding.

    A group that engages in "outrageous" stunts to get attention by alienating both their political opponents and many of their potential allies is making it clear that not all voices are welcome in their group. I can certainly envision a group of "young conservatives" who would want no part of treating undocumented immigrants as if they are animals to be hunted or items to be collected on a scavenger hunt, and if those conservatives joined the current YCT, it is unlikely they would re-elect the current officers. It is even possible the current officers drove out more moderate members in previous years by being assholes, and they are keeping their control by continuing to be assholes. Again, it's not the university's job to prove they're trying to exclude other opinions; it's their job to prove there is some reason their group has a reason for student-wide funding. Not all groups get funded. Those that do get funded need to show how they are exceptional.

  121. David C says:

    A group that engages in "outrageous" stunts to get attention by alienating both their political opponents and many of their potential allies is making it clear that not all voices are welcome in their group.

    I remember back in my high school days, a "stunt" that was supposed to educate about drunk driving. On a particular day, certain students were to refuse to speak during class to indicate that they were "dead" from drunk driving, and during the day they were to randomly select another student and that student was also supposed to refuse to speak because they were "killed" by that drunk driver. The percentage of students involved was supposed to be the same percentage statistically expected to get killed driving drunk / killed by a drunk driver.

    I found it obnoxious and would have refused to participate if selected, but just because it was a "stunt" doesn't mean the sponsoring student group was excluding people. Pretty much nobody actually thinks it's a good idea to drive drunk.

    I don't think the general student fund collected from all students as a non-optional item on their tuition bills should be funding niche student groups, regardless of whether their speech is objectionable.

    Certainly reasonable, but universities aren't going to do that. They've convinced themselves that "campus life" is somehow important, to the point where they forbid underclassmen from renting an apartment instead of living in the dorms. They love having a bunch of student groups, and most of them would not exist without funding (at the least, they need a faculty advisor, and they don't work for free.)

    And specifically in the case of the University of Texas-Austin, that is NOT how their current policy works, so this cannot be used to defend their threats to cut off the funding of YCT.

  122. Demosthenes says:

    So, AC, you've gone from saying that (1) seemingly suggesting that a flood of people ought to join YCT in an attempt to suppress its speech from within, to (2) claiming that what you meant when you said that was that they weren't open to all students, to (3) claiming that what you meant when you said that was that not all students would feel welcome in YCT.

    First: Would you please have an internal debate about what exactly it is you're trying to say, instead of constantly Humpty-Dumptying up what it is you just said?

    Second: You are aware that "not feeling welcome in X" is not the same as "not being welcome to join X," right? I never felt welcome in the Global Justice Project when I was in college. It might have had something to do with the fact that I was a conservative, and they were progressives of the raging mendacious douchey "It's all America's fault" variety. It didn't mean that they wouldn't have signed me up for membership. I could have gone to the meetings, and even brought organic lemon bundt cake and fair-trade coffee.

    Third: Let's talk about this –

    I don't think the general student fund collected from all students as a non-optional item on their tuition bills should be funding niche student groups, regardless of whether their speech is objectionable…The groups should have to prove they are serving a large portion of the students in some way in order to be considered for funding.

    What student clubs don't serve a niche population by your definition? Film Appreciation Society, end reel. Glee Club, turn off the music. Young Entrepreneurs, pink slips all around. Effectively, the only reason that money could be drawn on is for things like campus-wide events — and if I, as a student, have no interest in going to any of them, then aren't I in the same situation as before with respect to how my money is being spent? Actually worse, potentially, because I might have had an interest in one of the clubs.

    Second, while (as I indicated above) I wouldn't have a problem with a universal rule that forbade the university from funding certain sorts of student groups, the fact is that any discussion of those circumstances is purely hypothetical. The operative sense of the word "should" here is different. YCT should be funded, because they applied and met the criteria for a fundable student group. And yes, I'd say the same thing if the Young Progressives of Texas had run a "Catch a Fat Cat" event. They're both a little stupid, they're both making a constitutionally protected statement, and the university's policies as written would prohibit them from cutting funding to either group.

  123. JonasB says:

    In order for university action against YCT to be improper, it would have to be shown that either its conduct was not in violation of the honor code, or that the school was unfairly targeting it. The first is hard to prove because the code is somewhat vague, but vagueness is not inherently wrong here since, in my opinion, a school policy doesn't need the same level of written rigor as, say, legislation. Proving the second part would require some example in the past where an incident of arguably equivalent objectionableness occurred and the university took no action.

  124. Darryl says:

    @Clark–I just meant "tired of their shit" as in "tired of all the antics." It was just trying to put some perspective and context into this, from what the public here sees and feels, not that I have any burning desire to censor YCT. I went to the University, and the YCT has, it appears, just gotten more polarizing and insipid. That being said, they certainly have the right to do so. One man's "harassment" is another man's free speech. What is more disturbing to me is the censorious leanings of those who oppose such speech, claiming it's not free speech but harassment. That is, to me, a silly argument. The speech that needs protection the most is the speech that harasses. See, Nazis, Skokie.

  125. David C says:

    In order for university action against YCT to be improper, it would have to be shown that either its conduct was not in violation of the honor code, or that the school was unfairly targeting it.

    Or that the honor code itself is invalid because it targets protected speech and is being enforced by the state. Or that it is impermissibly vague…

    but vagueness is not inherently wrong here since, in my opinion, a school policy doesn't need the same level of written rigor as, say, legislation.

    I would say that vagueness in policies is pretty bad when that vagueness could result in a student being expelled for participating in an event run by their group. That's several thousand dollars wasted and a black mark on that student's record forever.

  126. CJK Fossman says:

    The speech that needs protection the most is the speech that harasses.

    Is that true in every case?

    Imagine, for example,speech by an individual directed at another individual. Imagine further that this speech contributes to, or even causes, depression or even suicide on the part of the recipient.

    Does that speech deserve protection?

  127. Lizard says:

    Or that the honor code itself is invalid because it targets protected speech and is being enforced by the state. Or that it is impermissibly vague…

    Yeah, it's kind of telling when someone defends vagueness on the grounds that it lets the powers-that-be interpret things however they wish. Sometimes, people are at least honest about this: RPG.net, the bastion of overly heavy-handed, arbitrary, and biased moderation policies in the online tabletop realm, straightforwardly says, "We're not going to list all the specifics of what might get you banned because we don't want people doing the 'I'm not touching you' game where they try to stick to the letter of the rule and ignore the spirit. We're going to ban different people for different reasons and tolerate different levels of 'offensiveness' based on who the target is, because that's what we want and it's our forum so 'nyeah'." I may mock them for this, but a)It's honest, and b)It's a private forum which I don't even pay to use, so my moral high ground for complaining is non-existent. It's their ball, their field, and their bleachers; it's my choice to accept their terms or not if I want to use it.

    Universities, however, are at least quasi-public, and the students pay money, a lot of money, to get in. When money enters the picture, having vague, subjective, unilateral terms by which one side can cancel the contract becomes less viable. The fact people routinely agree to such terms doesn't mean all such terms are, in fact, legal, and certainly doesn't mean they're ethical — see the KlearGear posts.

    It's worth noting that those cheering on the "right" of universities to have entirely subjective codes of behavior based completely on the whims of the administrators have a good way to see their utopias in action and how it impacts the students who, foolishly, do indeed sign away any hope of due process or fairness by attending educational institutions that go out of their way to disconnect themselves from any Imperial… I mean, Federal… entanglements, precisely to avoid such issues. Here's one, of many, such tales: http://www.stufffundieslike.com/tag/tales-from-fundy-u/

    I reluctantly accept the right of such contracts to exist, and the right of adults to make stupid decisions and accept them. I do not accept that they are RIGHT, however, and those that create them and enforce them — and those who make excuses for them — are immoral, unethical, and evil. If the University of Texas wants to act with all the inhumane zealotry of places like Pensacola or Bob Jones, they can do so without taking tax dollars in any way.

  128. Lizard says:

    Imagine, for example,speech by an individual directed at another individual. Imagine further that this speech contributes to, or even causes, depression or even suicide on the part of the recipient.

    Too vague to be useful. Having your beloved tell you "I hate you, I never want to see you again, you loser" may cause depression or even suicide. Yet, I doubt it would be forbidden.

    For that matter, it can be argued that being called a "bigot" and a "racist" is speech targeted at an individual which may cause depression, and certainly is intended to shame and humiliate. Yet, my reaction to hearing of such speech tends to be twofold:
    a)Is such speech an accurate description of the target?
    b)If so, too bad for him.

    I think that speech targeted solely at an individual, and done solely with the intent of inflicting emotional distress, above and beyond that needed simply to communicate the message, might be actionable. It's far too case-specific and situational to be easily covered by a broad code of behavior, and so dependent on individual reactions that it's hard to make broad rules. What could soul-cripplingly cruel when said to one individual might be ignored by another, and it's hard to prove foreknowledge of the reaction of the target.

    Such hypotheticals tend to be used as foot-in-the-door attempts to justify broader restrictions on speech. "Well, if you think it's wrong to tease someone specifically, then, how can you support speech which has the same effect on a person, even if it's not targeted at that person directly?" (For example, if only one student on a campus fits into some defined category of ethnicity/religion/social class/politics/gender/etc, then speech targeted "generically" at that group, not mentioning the student by name, might be construed as a personal attack on the legal principle of "You talkin' to me? I don't see no one else around, you must be talkin' to me." So does it count? How about when it's two students? Ten? What's the line?)

    I'd rather slam the door on that foot, and say, "Specific cases are covered by existing harassment/infliction of emotional cruelty/etc law and aren't for college behavioral codes to address. Next?"

  129. AlphaCentauri says:

    So, AC, you've gone from saying that (1) seemingly suggesting that a flood of people ought to join YCT in an attempt to suppress its speech from within, to (2) claiming that what you meant when you said that was that they weren't open to all students, to (3) claiming that what you meant when you said that was that not all students would feel welcome in YCT.

    First: Would you please have an internal debate about what exactly it is you're trying to say, instead of constantly Humpty-Dumptying up what it is you just said?

    I had believed that the idea of people joining their group to vote out the officers was so obviously absurd that it proved they are a niche group and not one serving all students. And no, at least when I was a student, very few student groups got any funding. As I mentioned, groups like the newspaper and yearbook needed a lot of cash at the beginning of the year or ran at a deficit despite admission fees/advertising. Most groups like the early music consort or the biology club would never have expected any funding.

  130. CJK Fossman says:

    I'd rather slam the door on that foot, and say, "Specific cases are covered by existing harassment/infliction of emotional cruelty/etc law and aren't for college behavioral codes to address. Next?"

    Fair enough.

  131. Darryl says:

    @CJK–"Is that true in every case?" Yes.

  132. Demosthenes says:

    AC:

    I had believed that the idea of people joining their group to vote out the officers was so obviously absurd that it proved they are a niche group and not one serving all students.

    And so, "not being open to all students" morphs again into "not serving all students." Sigh.

    And no, at least when I was a student, very few student groups got any funding.

    That's as may be. However — hidebound knuckle-dragging conservative though I am — I recognize that "standards at my university when I went there" are not necessarily equivalent to, determinative of, or better than "standards at someone else's university today."

    The operative questions here are: 1) Do the YCT's actions fall afoul of UT standards, and 2) does what UT is doing fall afoul of the U.S. Constitution? Anything else is literally an academic debate, including what those standards and actions ought to be.

  133. Demosthenes says:

    Lizard:

    I reluctantly accept the right of such contracts to exist, and the right of adults to make stupid decisions and accept them. I do not accept that they are RIGHT, however, and those that create them and enforce them — and those who make excuses for them — are immoral, unethical, and evil.

    The irony here is that you sound like a graduate of Bob Jones.

  134. Lizard says:

    The irony here is that you sound like a graduate of Bob Jones.

    Because I think it's immoral to exploit people's ignorance, even if the people being exploited ought to know better? OK. If that belief makes me a bad person, then, I'm a bad person.

  135. David C says:

    I'm just going to throw this out there, from Kennedy's concurring opinion in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez:

    petitioner also would have a substantial case on the merits if it were shown that the all-comers policy was either designed or used to infiltrate the group or challenge its leadership in order to stifle its views.

  136. Demosthenes says:

    If that belief makes me a bad person, then, I'm a bad person.

    I don't recall making any comment about your morality one way or the other. Although, I do think you might consider the possibility that people can DO evil yet not BE evil.

    I simply meant to note the irony that your insistence on the evilness of those who don't share your metaphysical and moral premises is exactly the same sort of black-and-white blanket assessment often attributed to the stereotypical graduates of the schools you claim to hate.

    Spectrums are circles, not lines, eh?

  137. David C says:

    Spectrums are circles, not lines, eh?

    Not really. A very deep red and a very deep purple may superficially look similar, but the wavelengths are actually as far apart as they can get for visible light.

    There's probably some great analogy I could use that to make, but I'm too tired.

  138. andrews says:

    Until then, it's a shouting match, and it doesn't matter how loud the shouting gets, as long as no one starts hitting

    Maybe it does. At some point, shouting interferes with legitimate business and disturbs the peace. This is, however, a content-neutral problem. We do not care if the shouting is done by the Students For More Evil chapter, or by the Righteous Folks For Goodness.

    In support of this, we should also notice that it ought to be impossible to disturb a police officer's peace.