Campus Free Speech

Can Mizzou Admins Declare the Campus a Safe Space for the First Amendment?

Threats to free speech are everywhere.

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Cartman

The University of Missouri—ground zero for the recent conflicts between student activists and student journalists—has a new vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion: one who apparently believes "the First Amendment does not give people a free pass to go round saying hateful things," according to The Economist.

The vice chancellor, Charles Henson, is a law professor and former legal counsel to a major corporation. I suspected The Economist might have misrepresented his views, so I reached out to him for comment. Sure enough, the magazine's paraphrasing of his statement stripped it of context, he told me:

In the context of discussing some of the events at Mizzou I remarked that there is a misperception about the scope of the First Amendment.  It seems that many believe that there is no limit on speech (verbal and non-verbal), yet Supreme Court precedent demonstrates that speech can be regulated. When I was talking about hate-speech, I was addressing the fact that most hate speech is not subject to regulation with the caveat that if there is more—like a threat of violence—the hate speech loses its protection. For example, I can call someone a hateful name, but I cannot call them a name and threaten to do them harm. At the same time, I was also talking about the unacknowledged tension between the First and Fourteenth Amendments when we consider the possibility of hate speech regulation. In any event, I did not say, and would not have said "the First Amendment does not give people a free pass to go round saying hateful things" as a blanket statement.

That's a relief. Even so, Mizzou administrators are already taking steps to meet the demands of student activists—steps that could jeopardize free expression rights on campus. As I wrote in a recent column for The Daily Beast:

Indeed, Henson and Mizzou have already devised an "inclusive language guide" similar to the one in place at the University of New Hampshire and other schools. Mizzou's guide warns students not to be "ageist or adultist," "minoritize" underrepresented groups, and that the term "color blind" can be disempowering. It also informs them that a "safe space" is an area that does not tolerate "harassment or hate speech."

Administrators can and must make Mizzou a safe space in exactly one sense: The campus should be free of literal violence. But contrary to the beliefs of a great many students on campus, Mizzou officials don't have the authority to shelter them from speech they deem hateful.

Read the whole thing here.

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  1. The University of Missouri?ground zero for the recent conflicts between student activists and student journalists?has a new vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion: one who apparently believes “the First Amendment does not give people a free pass to go round saying hateful things,” according to The Economist.

    Yes it does. Go fuck yourself, Mr Henson.

    1. Read the article

      1. I did. He’s already using chilling methods by issuing the “inclusive language guides” to students at a state school and even entertaining the idea of having free speech zones or designated safe spaces.

        I’m judging him on his actions, which make me think The Economist has him accurately described.

        1. Well I’m not particularly surprised since he came from corporate law, where employers run scared of every employee complaint.

  2. OT: Just got handed major workage for the next 3-4 months…..I will be around a lot less – just quick pop in for Mourning Lynx or at lunch time and might end up transitionining to the mythical PM Lynx.

    I pull this off right and I will be a made man….

    1. There are Swiss wise guys?

      1. pretty nice chocolate and watch factory you got there…be a shame if something happened to it.

    2. Best of luck. I’m sure you’ll do swimmingly.

    3. Godspeed

    4. Our very own Corky Romano!

    5. Rock it, sweet Swiss. Glad to see a man thrive.

    6. *narrows gaze, purses lips, steeples fingers*

    7. What body part are you selling off this time? Hmmmm…. What else do you have two of?

      Wait! One kidney-ed and one balled is no way to go through life son.

    8. Congrats, Switzy. You will be missed. Good luck. [waves tinfoil hanky at departing ship]

    9. We all hope the operation is a success!

  3. “At the same time, I was also talking about the unacknowledged tension between the First and Fourteenth Amendments when we consider the possibility of hate speech regulation.”

    Whatever else he said was double-talk.

    He can go fuck himself for saying that alone.

    1. It doesn’t make sense, hate crime legislation is usually justified under the 13th and in tension with the 14th.

    2. This is a law professor?

      What “tension” between the First and Fourteenth Amendment? For crying out loud, the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the First Amendment! How can they be in conflict?

      And then there is this doozy: “I was addressing the fact that most hate speech is not subject to regulation with the caveat that if there is more?like a threat of violence?the hate speech loses its protection.” Baloney. Protected speech is always protected. It does not “lose” protection. What is unprotected is the threat or actual act of violence.

      As Popehat warns, one must be very cautious when listening to law professors, because they speak about the law as they want it to be, not as it is. But even with that disclaimer, this guy sounds like a buffoon .

      1. +1 badges and incidents of slavery

  4. …but I cannot call them a name and threaten to do them harm.

    The name-calling part is irrelevant.

    1. It’s just a distraction to placate the idiot protestors. The name-calling bit is completely irrelevant. He could just as easily have said, “You can’t compliment them and then threaten to do them harm,” “You can’t say you love them and threaten to do them harm,” “You can’t offer them cake and threaten to do them harm.”

      1. Cake *in and of itself* will do them harm – look at the unhealthy ingredients.

        1. True. But, they all want cake.

    2. The name calling may be relevant if the speech is already criminal (e.g “Release the kraken on them darned Swiss-Americans”, assuming that the speaker has a kraken, has henchmen in place to release said kraken, and there are Swiss Americans in place where it is likely that the unleashing will cause harm).

      This form of hate crime legislation does pass muster under the 14th, and has some arguable merits under some theories of jurisprudence, since the krakenating may be intended to drive all of them SIG loving chocolate making papal meat shields off our beloved oceans.

  5. Huh, trained journalists screwed up and misrepresented someone’s well-stated position. Will wonders never cease?

  6. the term “color blind” can be disempowering

    Imagine how actually color blind people feel.

    I suppose it is disempowering to people who gain whatever power they have by calling everyone racist.

  7. So… being “vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion” – a job that my cat could do – pays better than “law professor” and “legal counsel to a major corporation”. What’s the tuition at Mizzou, I wonder?

  8. This is so much fun. Nothing is going to placate these retards. And eventually the voters and the state legislature is going to get pissed off enough to insert some adult supervision. These people are so screwed. And they totally deserved it. They created these demented retards thinking they would only be used on evil Republicans.

    1. And eventually the voters and the state legislature is going to get pissed off enough to insert some adult supervision.

      Or they’ll just decide to stop subsidizing it.

  9. Mizzou’s guide warns students not to . . . “minoritize” underrepresented groups . . . .

    This statement doesn’t mean anything.

    1. Find a prog to explain it to you, I guess.

    2. Feel free to monetize them though

      1. I think Racial Studies professors (for whom “more tenured jobs” keep mysteriously winding up in the students’ lists of demands) are already doing that…

    3. Aren’t they already “minoritized” if they are underrepresented?

      1. They’re certainly minoritized after being pushed to imbibe the racialist brew being pushed at Mizzou. You’re not WHITE you’re BETTER is still a pretty fuckin’ creepy sentiment.

  10. I did not say, and would not have said “the First Amendment does not give people a free pass to go round saying hateful things” as a blanket statement.

    Is the Econ issuing an apology/changing their piece? I’d hope so.

    I don’t subscribe anymore, but i did for over a decade. that shit irks me, because it strikes me as an intentional edit rather than mere ‘out of context’

  11. Paranoia is a perfect way to manage people who pretend to embrace freedom.

  12. “The campus should be free of literal violence”

    I wonder if people will translate this literally…. to mean the exact opposite of what was intended.

    God i hate the misuse of that word.

    1. There really is no end to how much they can rape the meanings of words.

      1. Literally rape?

      2. Literal ambiguity laced with the poison of fairness.

    2. Alphabet brutality is still way fucking better than fists and bombs.

      I am forced to wonder if colleges are well on the verge of contributing massive numbers of bottled-up pansies onto the couches of the future’s psychotherapists.

    3. Also free from littoral violence.

      Or don’t any of you recognize the threat of piracy that exists today?

      1. We drink and we pillage and we do what we please
        We get all that we want for free
        We’ll kick your ass
        And rape your lass
        Somalian pirates we

  13. the term “color blind” can be disempowering

    Tell me more of these magical powers

    1. Well if your victim status and associated moral high ground is established by your skin color, a color blind society is a threat.

      1. How can you award victim points accurately if you don’t take skin color into account?

    2. I believe the first Justice Harlan, in his lone but prophetic dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, protested Jim Crow laws by saying that “our constitution is color-blind.”

  14. Indeed, Henson and Mizzou have already devised an “inclusive language guide” similar to the one in place at the University of New Hampshire

    It’s a bit unfair, no, it’s more than unfair to describe the UNH “inclusive language guide” to be “in place” as it wasn’t composed with the blessing of the university administration, who were only aware of its existence after it was publicized. Furthermore, upon learning of its existence, the university’s president, Mark Huddleston, worded a very strong condemnation of it, and to this day the guide has been banned from the university’s website, much to the chagrin of some. It borders on libel to insinuate that these guide was ever considered an official policy of the institution, much less to insinuate that it continues to be “in place” and in effect.

  15. Lawyers and words blend like blunt force trauma and a forehead.

    1. Totally using that, AC.

  16. the term “color blind” can be disempowering.

    Lol. They just called Martin Luther King’s entire dream “disempowering”.

    Thank God the Big Ten never seriously considered them for membership. They would have been a black eye.

    1. Racist. “Eye of Color” is the correct construction.

      1. And the implication that a black eye is somehow inferior to other eyes….ugh! I can’t even!

  17. What the hell is “adultist”?

    Adults seem to be in short supply on many college campuses, so I guess it works in that context.

    1. Down with the Grups!

    2. Is is like “adulterer”?

  18. “Click, one could argue, did indeed threaten violence against a student, which would seem to exempt her speech from legal protection and pave the way for her potential termination. Even so, calls for her termination are overwrought. It would be too heavy-handed of the university to punish Click?reprehensible though she may be?for her actions. She didn’t put the student in any actual danger, and pretending otherwise might actually make it easier to discipline other members of campus for acting out in ways that should be deemed acceptable.”

    If you can’t fire an *untenured* professor of *communication* for violating free expression, who *can* you fire?

    “The sanctioning of Click is not the only route Missouri Republicans have taken to punish hostile forces at the campus?they also attempted to cut funding to Mizzou’s football team in the event that the team ever went on strike again, since the team’s previous advocacy was the proximate cause of Wolfe’s resignation. Such legislation was thankfully withdrawn. A limitation on the football team’s right to strike would actually itself be a violation of these players’ free-expression rights.”

    Wait – the suggestion was that if the football team doesn’t do its job, its money will be cut off?

    Why is this wrong?

    1. Hmm, we wrote the same comment at the same time. Freaky. We must have been entangled.

      1. “Same time?” Mine was at 11:11, yours was at 11:12. So there.

        1. You’re right! Quantum entanglement postulates that entangled entities undergo events at the exact same time, even when they are separated in space, in apparent contradiction of the theory of Relativity.

          Thank goodness we weren’t entangled, because that would make me uncomfortable.

    2. A limitation on the football team’s right to strike would actually itself be a violation of these players’ free-expression rights.

      Wait, what? Not showing up for work is protected speech, now?

  19. I almost always agree with Stoave and like his writing. But I don’t think I’m with him when he says that Click-fuck shouldn’t be fired or that the football team shouldn’t be “de-funded” for “striking”. The behavior of these people are more like employee performance issues than expression issues.

    Click-fuck is a communications professor for fuck’s sake. She called for muscle to physically prevent a student from exercising his First Amendment rights and actually acted on that call. These behaviors should not be tolerated by an employee of the Communications Department of a major University. If I am an employee of a restaurant and I physically prevent customers from entering, I would be fired.

    Members of the football team are students that happen to have scholarships due to their inclusion and performance on the football team. If they refuse to perform the duties that are the basis for their scholarship, then they should be stripped of the money. They’re not kicked out of school; they just have to pay their own way. It seems pretty simple to me.

    1. I agree. Robby is like “just re-educate her”. How do you do that if she doesn’t suffer any consequences? Fire her ass and let that be the teaching moment.

      1. And just to be clear, there are *lots* of academics and would-be academics who could be found to do her job, and most of these academics don’t go around censoring students and threatening “muscle.”

  20. I was also talking about the unacknowledged tension between the First and Fourteenth Amendments when we consider the possibility of hate speech regulation.

    What tension? It’s only because of the Fourteenth Amendment that the First Amendment is binding on state institutions such as the University of Missouri at all.

    1. When you consider that the 14th Amendment was intended to apply the vital parts of the BOR to the States, there is no tension and could not be. It is a completely idiotic argument

      1. Just out curiosity, which parts are vital?

        1. The parts that don’t inconvenience the government too much?

        2. The ones vital to “due process of law” whatever you think that means. Basically all of them sans a few things like the right to a full grand jury. Whatever it means, no one I have ever read claims it doesn’t include the entire 1st Amendment.

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