Recently Salon invited me to start pitching articles to them. Today my first post is up. It's about a UC committee that, in the wake of complaints about anti-Israel protests on UC campuses, is recommending that the UC adopt broad "hate speech" restrictions, among other measures.
My piece at Salon is relatively brief. The very nice editor who contacted me found a compassionate way to tell me "Ken, your goal is not to write people into a coma, like at your blog." Much more could be said about this remarkable report from the UC’s Advisory Council on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion. The FIRE is starting to say them, and no doubt will say more.
I'll follow up. For now, note that (1) the report suggests that the UC and UC-funded student groups should not be allowed to sponsor events that some find offensive, (2) the report suggests a ban on "hate groups" (however that's going to be defined) being allowed to speak on campus, and (3) the report suggests that the UC adopt a broad European-Union-derived definition of anti-Semitism — not just for rhetorical purposes, but for purposes of applying anti-harassment and anti-discrimination policies. Under this last point, it might be unlawful harassment or discrimination at the UC to "apply double standards" to Israel. Presumably this would make the United Nations unwelcome at UC campuses; whether that's a good or bad thing I leave to your imagination. But I submit that most social and political discourse involves holding the opposition to double standards; it's odd to outlaw one instance.
Anti-Semitism is real. I find it to be a reliable canary-in-the-coal-mine of all sorts of evil, like totalitarianism. But the answer to it is not enacting broad and unprincipled restrictions on speech that, in all likelihood, will be used against Jews as often as it is used nominally to protect them.
Edited to add: someone from the UC Office of the President media relations department asked me to clarify that the report is from a working group of the council, not the council itself. I note that the document says it is issued "for" the council, but I take them at their word.
My kids are so not getting into Berkeley now.
Meanwhile, a helpful tipster has pointed me to the UC's court filings in the Berkeley litigation, which expressly concede that the First Amendment protects the very expression this report seeks to censor. That's some good work there, boys. (More to follow on this point.)
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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