Free Speech

University of California May Codify Right to Not Be Offended

Intolerant of intolerance

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Intolerance
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The Regents of the University of California system are considering a proposal that bans intolerance and hate speech, but promises members of the campus community that their free speech rights will still be respected.

Reassured? Yeah, me neither.

Here is the proposal, which will be discussed at an upcoming meeting:

The University of California is committed to protecting its bedrock values of respect, inclusion, and academic freedom. Free expression and the open exchange of ideas — principles enshrined in our national and state Constitutions — are part of the University's fiber. So, too, is tolerance, and University of California students, faculty, and staff must respect the dignity of each person within the UC community.

Intolerance has no place at the University of California. We define intolerance as unwelcome conduct motivated by discrimination against, or hatred toward, other individuals or groups. It may take the form of acts of violence or intimidation, threats, harassment, hate speech, derogatory language reflecting stereotypes or prejudice, or inflammatory or derogatory use of culturally recognized symbols of hate, prejudice, or discrimination.

Everyone in the University community has the right to study, teach, conduct research, and work free from acts and expressions of intolerance. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of intolerant behavior and treat them as opportunities to reinforce the University's Principles Against Intolerance.

But what would happen when the university's state commitment to free speech conflicts with its stated desire to eliminate intolerance? And such a conflict is not unlikely, given how broadly UC defines intolerance:

* Vandalism and graffiti reflecting culturally recognized symbols of hate or prejudice. These include depictions of swastikas, nooses, and other symbols intended to intimidate, threaten, mock and/or harass individuals or groups.

* Questioning a student's fitness for a leadership role or whether the student should be a member of the campus community on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, sex, or sexual orientation.

* Depicting or articulating a view of ethnic or racial groups as less ambitious, less hardworking or talented, or more threatening than other groups.

* Depicting or articulating a view of people with disabilities (both visible and invisible) as incapable.

Under the above definitions, it's easy to imagine a person committing "intolerance" by uttering a statement that should be completely permissible, given free speech assurances. What if a student told his wheelchair-bound friend, "Sorry, dude, you can't join the track team"? Would the student be accused of violating the university's code of conduct for making this insensitive remark?

The Washington Post's Eugene Volokh asks similar questions:

Defending traditional exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage, by arguing that same-sex couples aren't as good at raising children as opposite-sex couples? (I suspect that view is wrong, but we can only know it's wrong if people are able to freely debate it.) Discussing purported differences in temperament, cognition, and more between men and women? Sharply criticizing certain religious denominations, and suggesting that people who are genuinely committed to those religious denominations are misguided or morally reprehensible? …

Now I'm a tenured faculty member, and I'll keep on expressing my views despite this sort of policy. But what about undergraduates? Graduate students, who might be relying on the university for teaching assistant positions, progress in their departments, and more? Lecturers who don't have tenure? Tenure-track faculty members who don't yet have tenure?

When these students and faculty members are told that certain views about disabilities, about race or ethnicity, or (by obvious extension) about sexual orientation, sex, or religion have "no place at the University" — and violate others' rights to be "free from" such "expressions" — will they feel free to openly discuss these topics? Or will they realize that they had best follow the orthodoxy?

The Regents should reconsider this proposal, in light of the obvious chilling effect it would have on constitutionally-protected speech. 

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  1. “Intolerance has no place at the University of California”

    …will not be tolerated???

    1. “Intolerance has no place at the University of California. We define intolerance as unwelcome conduct motivated by discrimination against, or hatred toward, other individuals or groups. It may take the form of acts of violence or intimidation, threats, harassment, hate speech, derogatory language reflecting stereotypes or prejudice, or inflammatory or derogatory use of culturally recognized symbols of hate, prejudice, or discrimination.”

      There go the No Smoking signs !

      1. Not if you define smoking as a health crime against others.

        1. That’s not exactly the case. Even if it is a health crime, discriminating against it via speech is the issue here… not the act. Being fat is also a health crime, btw.

  2. Does anyone else find themselves hoping that California invokes every stupid law they can because we like watching structure fires burn shit to the ground and watching Formula 1 for the crashes?

    1. *knowing this isn’t a state law, but a university rule, but still*

    2. That would really suck for all the people in CA who are opposed to the stupid laws. It’s not their fault.

      1. It’s not my mother’s fault either, but yet you continue to defile her!

        1. How dare you criticize the disability that Epi suffers with…..!

      2. People never say that about NY

  3. We define intolerance as unwelcome conduct motivated by discrimination against, or hatred toward, other individuals or groups.

    Methinks that won’t matter at all when it comes to actual practice.

    These dumb bastards can’t even be consistent in their intellectual inconsistency.

    1. It’s also completely unenforceable. Oh, and unconstitutional.

      1. They can hire John to determine everyone’s motivations.

        1. heh

  4. No Ginger jokes? The horror!

  5. But what would happen when the university’s state[d] commitment to free speech conflicts with its stated desire to eliminate intolerance?

    Tears.

    1. Free speech goes in the shitter, like at just about every other university?

  6. Depicting or articulating a view of people with disabilities (both visible and invisible) as incapable.

    Better get rid of those handicapped parking spots.

    1. Exactly, that discriminates against those who are not.

  7. Oh, this is gonna be so great!

  8. “in light of the obvious chilling effect it would have on constitutionally-protected speech”

    Um…no. They should reconsider it in light of the obviously chilling effect it would have on freedom of inquiry in an institution of higher learning. We (those of us who care about free speech) are fortunate enough to have the Constitution as a hammer … and even that is only a circumstance of the fact that these institutions have latched on mightily to the Federal Goverment’s tit. But we, as free thinkers, should not be fighting this crap on Constitutional grounds. That’s a tool in the fight, but not the moral code that underlies the fight.

  9. “acts of violence or intimidation, threats, harassment”

    Oh, good, I was wondering when they’d get around to prohibiting those things. How did violence stay legal for so long?

    “hate speech”

    Not to be confused with denouncing whites and males as a class, or bashing Jews so long as it can be presented as criticism of Israel.

    “derogatory language reflecting stereotypes or prejudice”

    Again, bashing whites and men is simply fact-based analysis, not prejudice.

    “or inflammatory or derogatory use of culturally recognized symbols of hate, prejudice, or discrimination.”

    Yeah, let’s put an end to the epidemic of cross-burning on campus.

    /sarc

    1. There is, of course, a secret codicil explaining that things that offend whites, men, heterosexuals, Christians, or Americans in general don’t count, because they are oppressors and deserve to be offended.

  10. About time all those university administrators got around to accomplishing something.

  11. Will Antismokitic faculty members undergo microagression deprogramming before or after undergrads?

    It’s a two pipe problem.

  12. so anyone with a male tears mug is guilty right?

  13. “Vandalism and graffiti reflecting culturally recognized symbols of hate or prejudice. These include depictions of swastikas, nooses, and other symbols intended to intimidate, threaten, mock and/or harass individuals or groups.”

    So if the UC Conservative Party decries images of Cousin Janet, former DHS Lord of rapescanners, tax-sponsored groping, and Burning Lesions, as a recognized symbol of hate and prejudice within the culture of persons who don’t like being sexually assaulted by the state, the university will ban the depiction of her visage, yes?

    Surely this policy would never be used to silence speech that’s disagreeable to the bien pensant UC overlords while allowing controversial images and text that might offend isolated political and philosophical minorities.

  14. OK, do these morons reecognize that they violate their own rule in how they express it?

    Depicting or articulating a view of people with disabilities (both visible and invisible) as incapable

    dis?a?bil?i?ty ?dis??bil?d?/
    noun: disability; plural noun: disabilities
    a physical or mental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities.

    synonyms: handicap, disablement, incapacity, impairment, infirmity, defect, abnormality;

    The very definition of a disability is that it limits your abilities to do one or more things. In extreme cases, the disability results in a person being completely incapable of doing those things.

    I’m starting to think Tony’s pining for an age before the industrial revolution isn’t 100% indefensible. Prior to the industrial revolution, the useless mouths that came up with this would be so busy trying to evade starvation, so busy desperately tending their farm with hand tools, so focused on trying to grow enough to live through the winter, that they would not be able to articulate these stupid ideas let alone put them into practice in any meaningful way.

  15. Fuck it, I hope they do it for a number of reasons. This will eventually end up in the courts and will be shot down in flames (hopefully) once and for all. It will also give these precious statist snowflakes a taste of living under what has been their defacto policy for quite some time.

  16. I can only imagine that the regents haven’t run this up the flagpole with their lawyers, yet. Because what they’re proposing is pretty much the definition of a governmental entity regulating speech on the basis of viewpoint and/or subject matter — which is more or less verboten under black-letter First Amendment law.

    1. Yep. That the board of regents of UCal don’t understand this is a nonstarter is shameful in itself. I thought these idiots were supposed to be smart.

      1. Regents are usually political appointees, hence “smart” has nothing to do with it. In this case:
        “The Board consists of 26 members as defined in Article IX, Section 9, all of whom have a vote:

        ?18 regents are appointed by the governor for 12-year terms
        ?One is a student appointed by the Regents to a one-year term
        ?Seven are ex officio members ? the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the Assembly, Superintendent of Public Instruction, president and vice president of the Alumni Associations of UC and the UC president.
        In addition, two faculty members ? the chair and vice chair of the Academic Council ? sit on the board as non-voting members.”
        So no, I don’t see “smart” in there in any meaningful way.

  17. “Depicting or articulating a view of ethnic or racial groups as less ambitious, less hardworking or talented, or more threatening than other groups.”

    Great! So we’ll be axing Affirmative Action, and other programs that demonstrate the soft bigotry of low expectations?

  18. How about the University Of California Board of Regents suck my cock? Where does that fit on your hate speech continuum?

    1. Homophobia

      1. More like homophilia, which is a good thing, right?

  19. Sounds like the campus libertarian groups could have a lot of fun this semester hoisting these proggie folks by their own petard.

    1. The error is in assuming that these rules will be applied in a fashion that is anything but arbitrary and intended to silence minority opinions.

  20. Yeah, there is a big difference between telling someone they can’t use certain racial slurs, and telling them they can’t “articulate a view” that some racial or ethnic group feels is demeaning.

    And then you get university administrators involved in untangling what counts as articulating a view that a particular group is “more threatening”, or “less hardworking”. What does that mean? Does citing statistics about crime count?
    Overly vague and bound to cause trouble.

    1. Yeah, there is a big difference between telling someone they can’t use certain racial slurs, and telling them they can’t “articulate a view” that some racial or ethnic group feels is demeaning.

      Actually, there isn’t any principled difference at all.

  21. If I were a student there, then as soon as this policy is enacted I would submit a complaint that it is “intolerant” and therefore in violation of itself.

    1. I’d say the University hasn’t demonstrated that their new rule doesn’t violate the precautionary principle, so its invalid.

  22. In immortal words of John Lennon, “Give peace a chance”. A pluralism is necessary now since there are so many emerging and on-going conflicts around the world, people emigrating from those places, and international students in a community within a greater society that is in the process of transmorphing into a dynamic integrated culture. Colleges are now becoming available to individuals who grew up in working class families and with incomes close to federal poverty level. Workers want to commute to schools on-ground and on-line and attend classes without the drama characteristic of elitist students from scholarly families with generations of college graduates and multiple professors, learned scholars and leaders in their families. Not all individuals wish to engage in a la la land microcosm with youth wishing to dramatise their experiences and showcase their courageous leadership qualities while pining away for a position at their favorite non-profit organization where they will design a website and organize door-to-door fund raising and street canvassing events. The new nontraditional student is focused on getting the heck outta school not engaging in the fantasy land of parties, drugs and risk free political organizing.

  23. Employees have rights to be free from harassment and the educators enjoy the self-designed privilege to be free from offense. Students are constantly subjected to the arrogance and self-obsessed ranting of politically oriented professors and their half-a– teaching and abusive grading policies and disciplinary control freak tactics. Students should not be fighting to exist in polarized student bodies where depending on the institution, there is a dominating and enduring socio-political culture that defines the campus. Disenfranchised and marginalized groups are mercilessly instigated and then jarred into submission in today’s reality. The students who have views closer to the mainstream of the surrounding cities are in a position of dominance and have disproportionate power and influence. Those views that are subject to moral relativism and conservative judgment restrict students to groups fearful of shame, exclusion and need to clique up with extremists and radicals that may not be humane or rational. It is the right to offend our educators that must be championed and protected. We have to fight for freedom to the most effective, efficient, fair and equitable path to our chosen professions without hindrance from educators who are dispensable if students are united, cooperate and are knowledgeable about the best available and socially just educational methods, resources and assesments.

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