'U. of California's Proposed Statement on Intolerance Is Widely Found Intolerable'

|The Volokh Conspiracy |


The headline of this post is a headline of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (Peter Schmidt), which discusses the statement that was blogged about here last week. An excerpt:

Based on early reviews, the regents can expect to hear the university system's proposed "statement of principles against intolerance" panned by student leaders who say they were excluded from its drafting, by First Amendment advocates who see it as threatening the exchange of ideas, and by a long list of Jewish organizations that had urged the system to take up the issue in the first place.

One common reaction to the statement is confusion, because so many elements of it contradict each other, tipping from one side to its opposite like a tightrope walker's balancing pole. It declares that intolerance "has no place at the University of California" and that the university "will respond promptly and effectively to reports of intolerant behavior," but adds that the statement "shall not be used as the basis to discipline students, faculty, or staff." It says it "applies to attacks on individuals or groups and does not apply to the free exchange of ideas," as if the former were not an inescapable element of the latter.

And the closing:

Ms. Klein, the university system spokeswoman, said that she expects a lively discussion of the statement, and that that's a good thing. Coming up with such a statement of principles "is always a very messy process," she said, "but, frankly, it is fantastic process."

How messy or fantastic that process ends up being is likely to be the subject of debate.