Ethics Hero: UConn Student Isadore Johnson

Isadore Johnson

There is hope.

The University of Connecticut has had a free speech-hostile policy since 2017. It reads in part,

“The University of Connecticut is permitted to, and will, limit expression in order to protect public safety and the rights of others.This includes expression that is defamatory, threatening, or invades individual privacy. Protected speech may also be reasonably regulated as to the time, place, and manner of the expression.”

It needs to go, and senior Isadore Johnson, a founder of UConn’s Students for Liberty (SFL) chapter wants to help get rid of it. Speaking with the libertarian magazine “Reason,” he told writer Ella Lubell.

“I think many universities, including UConn, take it for granted that students appreciate the protections and values of open discourse and discussion. Many students do not, and it is incumbent on the university to clarify and explain such values so students know what rights are protected. The right to argue vigorously and sometimes offensively is part of our civic culture, and students ought not be protected against that.”

Last year, along with other students, he proposed to the UConn student government a new statement of principles designed to protect freedom of speech on campus. It was based on the Chicago Statement universally praised by free speech advocates. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education reviewed the students’ “UConn Statement” and found that it embraced “gold-standard free speech policy language.”

So, predictably, Johnson and his allies were attacked by the more typical Young Totalitarians the university and most of the rest of higher education have been training for years, calling Johnson and his allies racist, bigoted, and white supremacists because they did not properly advocate “accountability.” (“Accountability” is used here as an Orwellian term that means “You are free to express opinions, arguments and positions that are contrary to Leftist political cant, but you should still be officially sanctioned and unofficially shunned and reviled for them because anything that doesn’t advance the One True Way as progressives have defined it actually inflicts real harm, since opposition to Good is per se Evil.”)

Johnson says he was surprised by the reaction, which itself is surprising. UConn’s student newspaper featured an article by student Nell Srinath stating that while

“freedom to safely express one’s own thoughts and ideas is a central pillar to the culture that we as a student body would like to build,…frolicking around this idealist realm, however, will soon bring to light a sobering conclusion: The freedom of speech, when evoked by groups carried by centuries of racial capitalism and patriarchy (see: white cis men), is a euphemism. It does not represent a commitment to the liberties of their broader, multicultural community, but a call to a lost love — the ability to apologize for racism, transmisogyny, ableism and other social ills with impunity…Naturally, the consequence of [adopting the new speech proposal] would be forcing students to tolerate bigoted speech in their student government, in their learning environment and in campus life.”

Yes, American universities are training students to develop rigid attitudes endorsing social thought-control that would make Lenin smile, while being fluent in Authentic Frontier Gibberish, woke dialect. The problem runs deeper than a censorious campus speech policy.

Entering the fall of his senior year, Johnson is planning to use his organization to bring a number of speakers to campus to talk to students on the issue. He is also promoting the UConn Statement on his Instagram page. His objective is to make alumni, donors and lawmakers aware of the oppressive ideological bias on the campus and its affect on both speech and education. “I think raising awareness about the problem is the first step to solving it,” he says.

Ethics Hero. A few hundred thousand more like Isadore in colleges around the country, and we might be all right after all.

2 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: UConn Student Isadore Johnson

  1. Wow.

    The Daily Campus newspaper used to be the voice of reason on campus. Whenever the Undergraduate Student Government ran with a hair-brained scheme (ie, all of it schemes), they were the one to expose it. That the paper is aligning itself with the thoroughly corrupt and useless USG in opposing university censorship is alarming.

    I would stop donating, had I ever started (I am still paying off the original bill….).

  2. Hi, thanks for writing this story on me! I just wrote a brief article explaining the topic in more detail. I’m looking to get more alumni involved in avoiding donations unless a commitment to free speech is on the books. My blog is thinkingabouthumanity.com

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