Ethics Dunce, Unethical Quote of the Month, Incompetent and Indoctrinating College Administrators of the Day (there are so many during the week)…all of these would have been fair, in light of Berkeley’s sad offer to counsel students whose delicate psyches feel bruised because a young conservative loudmouth is speaking somewhere on campus. This is presented on a web page offering solace in response to a visit by Ben Shapiro, a pretty much standard issue hard-right polemicist, less right than Bernie Sanders is left, and about as dangerous to any student’s “safety” as Peewee Herman in his prime. (Actually, I think Peewee could take him.) Yet this:
Support and counseling services for students, staff and faculty
We are deeply concerned about the impact some speakers may have on individuals’ sense of safety and belonging. No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe. For that reason, the following support services are being offered and encouraged:
In his response to this embarrassing example of universities attempting to stifle diversity of thought, Professor Turley is being a weenie again:
Notably, the counseling is not for the violence at such speeches or disturbing messages on both sides. Rather it is the presence of speakers like Shapiro that might threaten a student’s fear for their “sense of safety and belonging.” The school insists that “No one should be made to feel threatened or harassed simply because of who they are or for what they believe.” No mention of the past protesters with signs like “F**k Free Speech” or beating those who do not share their views.
It is the sole inclusion of the speaker and not the counter-protesters or campus disruptions that concern me. It appears to reinforce the view that conservative speakers are a foreseeable threat to the sense of safety and belonging of students.
It appears to reinforce that view, professor? It does reinforce that view, and is intended to reinforce that view. As such, it is an attack on freedom of thought, speech and expression, as well as an attempt to demonize any student who would choose to hear what Shapiro has to say. The statement embodies the current anti-speech, anti-First Amendment, anti-American position spreading through academia that hate speech isn’t protected speech, and any speech that opposes progressive cant is by definition hate speech.
What Berkeley should be offering is counseling for students who justly fear that the Berkeley administration’s alliance with the repressive Left threatens the safety of democracy itself.
It isn’t just Berkeley, of course. Many colleges, after giving lip service for decades to academic freedom and diversity, are demonstrating how shallow and cynical their alleged liberalism really is, and was all along. Last December, Texas A&M University hosted a speech by Richard B. Spencer, the white nationalist who led the Charlottesville torch bearers. Protests resulted in two arrests. This month Texas A&M rejected Spencer’s application to speak, as have Pennsylvania State University, Michigan State University, Louisiana State University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. Florida’s president, W. Kent Fuchs, explained that “the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others.”
Clever, but dishonest. The violence isn’t being threatened by Spencer or his fans. The violence is threatened by those who want to silence him. Fuchs and others like him are permitting threats of violence to suppress free speech, because they disagree with what the speech is going to be.
Turley, meanwhile, is confused and hypocritical himself. He quickly joined the chorus of critics of President Trump for the supposed abdication of his “duty” to pronounce the white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville vile and violent while not impugning the counter-demonstrators, including hooded antifa thugs, who attacked them. Now the professor is criticizing Berkeley for asserting that the Right’s words are threatening, but actual anti-Right violence like what Berkeley has hosted more than once already isn’t a matter of concern.
A university is supposed to educate, and one of the concepts it should teach is that speech is not violence, and that the remedy for dumb speech advocating bad ideas is better and more persuasive speech by articulate and intelligent advocates, not whining about psychic harm and certainly not armed attacks or “counseling.” A university should also understand that while a competent and responsible institution of higher learning tries to steer its charges toward critical thinking and ethical values, it must not issue directives and coded pronouncements that endorse specific political and partisan views as the only ones conceivable or socially respectable.
I know I’m dating myself, but when I was a college student, I had constant opportunities to hear all sorts of people with bad ideas: the Shah of Iran, Spiro Agnew, Jean Genet, Jane Fonda, Abbie Hoffman, and so many draft-dodging, communist-sympathizing, violence extolling SDS members that they all merge in my mind into one, huge, bearded, stoned, pimply-faced, profanity-spewing demagogue with a bullhorn.My college didn’t feel it had to signal to us which speakers were right and which were wrong/
Funny, I didn’t have to check into the clinic. Neither did anyone else, except one friend who was conked on the head with bottle thrown by one of them at a cop.
Among the horrifying but hardly shocking revelations of new survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center was that almost 40% of American people cannot name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
I wonder how many are Berkeley grads.
Or college presidents.
Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur