Chilling Speech And Expression At Smith: The Scariest Thing About This Is Not The Story Itself, But That Alarm Over It Is Not Bi-Partisan


Students at Smith College now have access to an anonymous 24 hour bias hotline and online portal for reporting what the complaining caller regards as bias, discrimination, and harassment. These offenses can be whatever a student thinks it is.

The service will be run by EthicsPoint, a  service used by prestigious institutions like Amherst College, Tufts University, and Brown University. The conduct being reported doesn’t have to be illegal,  Smith says,  only “unfair,” “uninvited,” or “unwelcome” as well as what someone regards as “bigotry, harassment, or intimidation.”  Expressing support for the Republican nominee for President, for example, risks being called “bigotry.” A forceful argument that it isn’t bigotry might be taken as intimidation.

According to the EthicsPoint reporting portal, misconduct can include “but is not limited to, slurs, graffiti, written messages, or images.” A Smith College spokeswoman  told Campus Reform that “Smith has adopted EthicsPoint—a service used by more than 800 higher education institutions around the world—as a supplement to, not a replacement for, existing in-house options.”

This is an “everybody does it” excuse for the inexcusable, indeed, for the totalitarian. Since the reporting portal does not require a login, anyone, regardless of whether they are students or affiliated with the college, can report a student for being “offensive.”  Articles about this Orwellian development express concern that it might lead to self-censorship and chill free speech. Gee, do you think so? Of course this “report your classmates for non-conforming ideas that offend you” system chills speech. It is intended to chill speech. After four years under such a system, a typical Smith student should be completely conditioned never to speak or, better yet, think non-progressive thoughts. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Mike McQueary and Me”

Some recent Ethics Alarms commenters

Joseph Edward bought me some time with this superb Comment of the Day, because I am writing a post on the same topic. Mike McQueary’s conduct in the locker room, when he allegedly witnesses Jerry Sandusky raping a boy,  has generated some of the most self-righteous and, I may say, annoying comments I’ve encountered on Ethics Alarms, characterizing my commentary (in “Mike McQueary and Me”) on why McQueary might have acted as he did with excusing his conduct. Most of these, I’m relatively certain, are motivated by those who want to shift responsibility for the Penn State debacle away from Joe Paterno.

One particularly persistent and vociferous commenter has decreed that it was an “absolute moral obligation” for McQueary to physically intervene to stop the assault he witnessed. Joseph touches on that dubious contention; I’ll have more to say about it soon. Meanwhile, here is his Comment of the Day, on “Mike McQueary and Me”: Continue reading