Campus Free Speech

College Presidents Say: "Hate Speech Is Not Free Speech"

But there's no "hate speech" exception to the First Amendment.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Here's a letter from the Higher Education Council of San Antonio, signed by various San-Antonio-area university officials, including the presidents of Texas A&M-San Antonio and UT-San Antonio:

American colleges and universities have always embraced diverse points of view, leading to a multitude of new discoveries and cultural understanding. Higher education is a phenomenal place for minds to be challenged, to inquire, explore, discover and question the status quo.

But from time to time, American colleges and universities are subject to witness hate speech or activity that is disguised as free speech. Such has been the case in recent weeks at several colleges and universities in San Antonio and throughout Texas.

As members of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio (HECSA), we—the presidents of colleges and universities throughout this community and supporters—feel that it is important for us to speak out and make a distinction between diversity of thought and disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech. We further attest that hate speech has no place at our colleges and universities. Inappropriate messages, banners and flyers that are meant to provoke, spread hate, or create animosity and hostility, are not welcome or accepted.

Teaching, research, and critical thinking are the founding pillars of higher education. Each and every day, we witness incredible learning opportunities for our students, faculty, staff and community members.

San Antonio's colleges and universities are stronger and more diverse than ever before. During the upcoming tricentennial, there are many events, activities and symposiums being planned at our colleges to honor the city's multicultural heritage, as well as current and future residents. San Antonio colleges and universities have played an enormous part in the city's history. We are proud to have been a part of this great accomplishment and will further ensure that it continues to be our focus in the next 300 years.

Please join us in celebrating the power of higher education in the lives of San Antonio residents!

But of course there is no hate speech exception to the Free Speech Clause, as the Supreme Court unanimously reaffirmed this year in the Slants case. Private universities aren't legally bound by this (except in California, where a state law applies Free Speech Clause rules to them); but public universities, such as Texas A&M and UT, certainly are. And while universities aren't barred from condemning speech they disapprove of, this statement—especially if read by students who aren't up on First Amendment law—strikes me as suggesting that the universities will actually punish such speech (since it's not "free speech," and since it's not "accepted"). Yet such punishment of "[un]welcome" viewpoints would be unconstitutional.

Of course, in common with most such statements, this one doesn't even try to define "hate speech," and the words it uses to describe the concept help show how perilously broad and vague it can be. "Inappropriate messages" are apparently not "accepted if they "are meant to provoke." Creating hostility is also forbidden; presumably they don't include all hostility (hostility to President Trump? hostility to alleged racists?), but mean hostility based on race, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, and so on—but that would still cover, say, harsh condemnations of various religious views (Muslim, evangelical Christian, Scientologist, etc.), expression of traditional religious views about homosexuality, and much more (perhaps opposition to "multicutural[ism]"?). "Diversity of thought" they seem to value, but diversity of thought on these subjects appears to be too much (at leaast if it's "[i]nappropriate" and "meant to provoke").

And what exactly does "disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech" mean here?

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  1. Did you attempt to contact the school(s) or administrators for clarification or further comment?

    1. Yes, I called and e-mailed the UT and Texas A & M media relations people, but it appears that they’re gone for the break.

      1. Maybe they will say that regardless of how Professor Volokh, the members of the Supreme Court, or anyone else may feel, it is their view that hate-speech is in the same moral category as fraud, which they will define to include offensive speech in the “name” of another. It is, first, contrary to the polite pursuit of dogmatic inquiry that lies at the core of academic culture; and, second, it damages millions of reputations, and is thus even worse than an accusation of plagiarism (whether true or false is irrelevant) brought in the form of inappropriately deadpan “parody” against a distinguished university department chairman. In other words, it is speech that is not worth protecting. Clearly we cannot have falsity, hate, or inappropriately presented accusations of misconduct in our universities. Their job is to protect our universities against disruptions that burden the system, that require rebuttals or clarifications, that lead to controversy, hostility, or possibly even misunderstandings. Perhaps they will say all of this, or perhaps they will simply decline to comment.

  2. How does one “disguise” speech as free speech, I wonder? Do these academics believe in orbital mind control lasers, or perhaps a vast conspiracy to force people to speak publicly under duress? A trick by a demon? A big ol’ stack of defamatory statements bound in a “Steal This Book” dust jacket?

    1. A fairly good example is to look at attempts by Milo or Ann Coulter to deliver speeches on university campuses. The entire motivation behind giving these speeches is (i) to burnish their reputations by giving speeches on prestigious university campuses, (ii) hopefully to get some good footage of “anarchists” or “antifa” or whatever the fever-brain is calling them these days “rioting” in protest, and (iii) to give college Republican chapters some good publicity. None of these speeches has anything particularly new or valuable to contribute to the discourse that happens on university campuses, and the speakers don’t particularly care whether they contribute anything meaningful or not. It’s all vapid, incendiary nonsense that they dress up as “free speech.”

      I’m not saying that it ought to be proscribable or that, as a matter of law, public universities have any effective means of keeping that kind of trash off university campuses. But we certainly aren’t under any obligation to grin and nod and celebrate these parasites’ particular contributions to the “public discourse,” and we should stop making apologies for them.

      1. None of these speeches has anything particularly new or valuable to contribute to the discourse that happens on university campuses

        I’m confident you wouldn’t make such a blanket statement about the speeches without having read all of them. Would you mind pointing us to the transcripts so we could measure your claim? Thanks much.

        1. If you don’t like the breadth of my rhetoric, consider it appropriately qualified, and make whatever point you want to make, if you have one.

          1. I think he made his point quite clearly. You are a hypocrite ranting against your political opponents without bothering to actually know what those opponents actually said. You also appear to have no actual understanding of the First Amendment as it applies to public institutions.

            1. If someone wishes to claim that Milo and/or Ann Coulter ever, in their speeches, intend to or actually make a substantive contribution to public discourse, then they should make that assertion and back it up. What they should not do is – as both you and Life of Brian have done – is attack me for failing to have sufficient support for the assertion that they don’t. Because even if I haven’t attended virtually every speech they’ve ever given and don’t in fact know whether they have never said anything worth listening to, it doesn’t follow that I am wrong about them.

              What you and he are doing, in other words, is trolling. So I don’t give a shit whether you think I’m a hypocrite or not. Make a point or get lost.

              1. Nope, you are inverting the burden of proof. The null hypothesis is that a speaker invited to speak at a college campus was invited in good faith and with the intent to contribute to the college’s educational mission. You are making the (extraordinary) claim that they have never contributed anything worth listening to so the burden is on you to provide proof.

                However, neither Life nor I are actually calling for definitive logical proof of your assertion. We are merely saying that your claim is so obviously outrageous that you have not (and likely cannot) even provide any evidence in support of it and that the mere fact that you make it is likely evidence that you have never actually attended a speech by either of them.

                1. That’s fine. I acknowledge where the “burden of proof” lies, for my original assertion. I just don’t see any particular value in sniping that I haven’t met my own “burden of proof,” without having anything further to say about it. If I haven’t been to literally every Milo and Ann Coulter speech, what then follows? What are we then entitled to say about them? I’m not then obliged to say that they do have anything valuable to say or that they could at some point have said something worthwhile.

                  Just track the logic of your point through. If you’re right, so what? Who gives a shit about your pointless sniping?

                  1. Actually, SimonP, have you ever heard or read an entire speech by Milo or Ann? If not, you are just parroting the leftist tainted drivel that passes as reporting these days. That being the case, YOU are the troll.

                2. Put another way, you are doing exactly what you are accusing Milo and Coulter of doing – making hyperbolic statements with the intent to provoke rather than to advance rational discourse. In other words, trolling.

                  Pro tip: Accusing your political opponents of trolling does not actually mean they are. On the other hand, it can sometimes offer an insight into the person making the accusation. The psychological term is projection.

                  1. I don’t “intend to provoke” anyone. I am just saying what I thought any reasonable person would believe – that Milo and Coulter are not seriously engaged in good-faith reasonable discussions, when they come to university campuses.

                    Do you agree or not?

                    1. This is the comment thread equivalent of an insanity defense.

          2. If by “appropriately qualified” you mean constrained to those speeches you’ve actually attended or read, I suspect that would swallow your rhetoric in its entirety.

            (I will, of course, continue to defend to the death your right to spew your uninformed bigotry in parallel with calling you out for it.)

            1. If you want to make the assertion that Milo or Ann Coulter ever have anything useful to say, then make it. You don’t establish that point by saying that I don’t have enough reason to assert the contrary.

              1. You made the original claim that they don’t have ‘anything particularly new or valuable to contribute to the discourse that happens on university campuses, and the speakers don’t particularly care whether they contribute anything meaningful or not’. The onus is on you to back it up. They’re asking for your proof.

                What I ask is, however, if they are opportunists out to provoke, why do they think this is fertile ground for such opportunity? This didn’t happen in a vacuum. Did it ever occur to you that some ‘”anarchists” or “antifa” or whatever the fever-brain* is calling them these days’ started rioting and protesting over someone who’s not them? Someone fairly innocuous? Did it ever occur to you that the blood in the water was already drawn and why?

                *Anarchists and antifa are self described. So that’s why they’re are called that. Why do you diagnose anyone who uses such terms as having “brain fever”?

                1. The onus is on you to back it up. They’re asking for your proof.

                  God, you libertards are such a waste of space. You’re the third person to say the exact same thing here and to fail to have noticed my response to it.

                  What I ask is, however, if they are opportunists out to provoke, why do they think this is fertile ground for such opportunity?

                  I dunno, why don’t you do the open speculating on this question and tell us what you think the answer is? I generally don’t excuse professional provocateurs on the grounds that the people they’ve “provoked” were susceptible to it.

                  *Anarchists and antifa are self described. So that’s why they’re are called that. Why do you diagnose anyone who uses such terms as having “brain fever”?

                  Because they apply these terms even to people who would never use those terms to describe themselves. I’ve from time to time been called “antifa” for the way I’ve engaged in internet commentary. No clue as to why.

                  1. OK. I’ve haven’t been following the commenting career of SimonP. So forgive me if I haven’t seen you called antifa. I hope your feelings weren’t too hurt.

                    “You’re the third person to say the exact same thing here and to fail to have noticed my response to it.” Maybe because it wasn’t that noticeable.

                    1. OK. I’ve haven’t been following the commenting career of SimonP. So forgive me if I haven’t seen you called antifa. I hope your feelings weren’t too hurt.

                      No, my feelings weren’t hurt. I’m more amused by the idiocy I so frequently encounter in places like this.

                      “You’re the third person to say the exact same thing here and to fail to have noticed my response to it.” Maybe because it wasn’t that noticeable.

                      No, it’s more of a reading comprehension/intellectual sophistication kind of issue. You (and your kind) are too accustomed to fighting with people who don’t understand how logic works.

                  2. I’ve from time to time been called “antifa” for the way I’ve engaged in internet commentary. No clue as to why.

                    Really, no clue at all? Not even the teeniest smidgen of a clue?

                    1. Okay, I’ll allow that I have “a clue.” It’s that the right-wing blogosphere is populated primarily by mouthbreathers who will lump anyone they disagree with into the same broad category of people they dislike, calling them “libtards” or “anarchists” or “antifa” or whatever term has the most currency at the moment. Right here on Reason I’ve been called a “progressive,” a “Democrat,” a “socialist,” and so on, without my ever actually advocating any such views. I just oppose Trump.

                    2. Good effort, Simon, but your keystrokes are better saved for non-trolls. “Reason” is meant ironically here.

                    3. I loathe Trump as well and have no respect for him. However, he is doing a better job at turning the Titanic before it hits the iceberg than I thought he would, with his judicial picks, getting tax reductions passed, reversing a lot of Obama’s damaging foreign policy and regulations, because I’m a conservative.

                      It’s very easy to read between your lines – you don’t just oppose Trump, you hate everything he’s doing because you’re on the left. And it doesn’t seem to occur to you that what your side calls “hate speech” is just everything anyone who disagrees with your agenda says. It has nothing to do with the content of their speech – the left believes that the fact that conservatives are even allowed to exist at all is “hateful” to their snowflake sensibilities..

                      You’ve picked the two most controversial speakers to tar the entire right, but every speaker to the right of Bernie is trashed for “hate speech” by the far left faculties and a tiny but extremely loud minority of coordinated Marxist students. And even Milo and Coulter are only just standing up to the leftist goons and bullies who have managed to intimidate the majority. I’ve never heard or seen anything from conservatives anywhere near the aggressive, hateful words or actions spewing from your side.

                      We’re no longer willing to let your mindless idiots scream insults in our faces. We’re no longer going to be cowed by the non-stop Alinsky tactics, and we’re now fighting back. I suggest you get used to it.

                    4. We’re no longer willing to let your mindless idiots scream insults in our faces.

                      What’s funny is that the mindless insults you lob at me are really no different from the same insults that your ilk have been lobbing for a decade, so to cast Trump’s presidency as some kind of vindication is just amusingly ignorant. I mean, for Christ’s sake, Alinsky? So, okay, snowflake.

                      I think the best that can be said, of Trump’s “accomplishments,” is that they have been happening despite him, not because of him. He hasn’t “picked” his judicial nominees, for instance – he’s just running down lists provided to him by lobbyists, think tanks, and Senators. And the tax bill will likely to prove a kind of Pyrrhic victory, pursued out of desperation ahead of a 2018 election season that the GOP is not expecting to go well for them. And, whatever you might think of Obama’s foreign policy, to characterize Trump’s foreign policy as anything other than an unmitigated disaster that will have profound impacts on American security and priorities in the world is, simply put, naive in the extreme. The rest of the world is just holding its breath and hoping we get rid of him by 2020. If that doesn’t happen, then we’re going to have to get used to China’s being the sole superpower.

              2. Out of curiosity; who, on the Left, has said anything useful in the last forty years?

                1. Out of curiosity; who, on the Left, has said anything useful in the last forty years?

                  I actually pay very little attention to political commentary, as a general matter. I have little patience for commentators like Maddow or her ilk, and I usually pass over the “opinion” pages in the newspapers I read. I have little time to engage in this kind of reading, these days, but my tastes tend towards the more thoughtful and rigorous writing you’ll find in journals like Foreign Affairs. I skew “left” in today’s politics only because I naturally fall towards the mainstream of Republican thought, as it was before the Clinton years.

                  It is incredibly irritating, here, to find myself so easily and frequently lumped in with “the left” just because I loathe Trump and most of his defenders. It just helps to support the conclusion that his defenders are morons.

                  1. “I actually pay very little attention to political commentary, as a general matter.”

                    That makes your ability to produce the entire op-ed content of the Washington Post, ex nihilo, even more impressive. But a style of argument that consists of making statements from the See of Peter and calling everyone who disagrees with them “morons” is bound to get you confused with the Left.

      2. What you advocate is the people in power get to define was is proper speech, and what is not. That would mean President Donald Trump would be the final arbiter. Is that really the way you want to read the constitution?

        1. I’m not advocating any such thing. Go home.

        2. How does

          I’m not saying that it ought to be proscribable or that, as a matter of law, public universities have any effective means of keeping that kind of trash off university campuses. But we certainly aren’t under any obligation to grin and nod and celebrate these parasites’ particular contributions to the “public discourse,” and we should stop making apologies for them.

          That doesn’t sound to me like an effort to ban anyone.

          My own opinion is that blocking their appearances is wrong, and that the efforts to do so are not just wrong, but also foolish, since they do nothing but generate publicity for these worms. Let them come, and talk to whoever wants to listen, and go home.

          That said, I also agree with Eugene that it would a good idea for the universities to define exactly what they mean by, “hate speech or activity that is disguised as free speech.” Some things do cross over into actual threats.

          1. bernard : How does [what Simon P was saying]?.?That doesn’t sound to me like an effort to ban anyone.
            Well it’s been a long thread, so I’ll summarise :

            SanAntonioAcademicSwampCritturs ; But from time to time, American colleges and universities are subject to witness hate speech or activity that is disguised as free speech.

            Drewski : How does one “disguise” speech as free speech, I wonder?

            Simon P : A fairly good example is to look at attempts by Milo or Ann Coulter to deliver speeches on university campuses.

            So the claim by the Swamp Critturs is that “hate speech” is disguised as “free speech.” The key point is ? you can’t disguise something as itself. So “hate speech” can’t be disguised as “free speech” if it is in fact “free speech.” So “hate speech” must be not “free speech.” The only conceivable meaning, in this context, of not “free speech” is “speech that ought not to be allowed.” (I don’t necessarily mean speech that the 1st Amendment doesn’t allow, I’m talking ought not law.)

            And it’s plain that SimonP agrees with the Swamp Critturs because he presents Milo etc as a good example of hate speech disguised as free speech. So he’s fully complicit in the Swamp Critturs conclusion that “hate speech” ought not to be allowed. But then he walks it back with protestations that he doesn’t really mean that. Just like, as folk have pointed out, Milo does.

            1. bernard : it would a good idea for the universities to define exactly what they mean by, “hate speech or activity that is disguised as free speech.” Some things do cross over into actual threats.

              Sure, and EV regularly reminds us of the very limited scope of the “true threat” doctrine.

              So why do the colleges (and the activists who try to shut down alleged “hate speech” merchants) use the “hate speech” form of words ? The answer is obvious ? they don’t agree that “hate speech” should be protected by the 1st Amendment. So they would like the 1st Amendment changed. Probably not by the fuss of a constitutional amendment, but by judges coming to understand the error of past precedents.

              How do we know this ? Because this “hate speech” meme is not a purely American phenomenon. And in countries which do not have the 1st Amendment the same people agitate, often successfully, for the actual legal prohibition of so-called “hate speech.”

            2. The key point is ? you can’t disguise something as itself. So “hate speech” can’t be disguised as “free speech” if it is in fact “free speech.”

              You’ve obviously confused yourself a bit by this attempt at reasoned thinking. Let’s take a step back.

              What, exactly, is “free speech?” How do we know what types of speech is “free” and what types of speech is “not free”? Does it mean something other than “constitutionally-protected speech”? (It seems that you believe that it does.)

              1. Your arguments are flawed by a misconception on the most basic level. The constitution doesn’t protect or grant right to anyone. Its sole purpose is to defone and limit the power of the government. The ability to speak freely is the natural right of anyone who has a voice or a pen.

              2. Simon P : What, exactly, is “free speech?”

                Well in ordinary usage it’s not a type of speech at all. It’s a shorthand for the political proposition that “people should be allowed to say what they like without government interference.” When people say “I believe in free speech” they mean that they support that proposition.

                However it arises here in the formulation of the San Antonio academics who say :

                hate speech or activity that is disguised as free speech

                Here they clearly intend “free speech” to mean a type of speech and as I said above the only conceivable interpretation of the type of speech they’re referring to is “”speech that ought to be allowed.” Thus :

                How do we know what types of speech is “free” and what types of speech is “not free”?

                is simple. The distinction between free and not free speech is the distinction between speech that ought and ought not to be allowed.

                Does it mean something other than “constitutionally-protected speech”? (It seems that you believe that it does.)

                That depends on whether you think the 1st Amendment as currently understood is a satisfactory border to what speech ought to be allowed. My interpretation is that neither you nor the San Antonio academics think that it is. Otherwise they, and you, would refer to “true threats” (which is the legal jargon) rather than “hate speech” which isn’t.

      3. Absolutely yes, because the views that Milo and Ann Coulter espouse are already so well represented on campus, right?

        1. It is not hard to find, on campuses, people who oppose immigration or generally support Republicans. It is hard to find people who express those views in as offensive a way possible, relying on scant or non-existent factual support and presented without any particular interest in convincing those not already persuaded. That is because that is not the kind of discourse that belongs on university campuses.

          1. “people who express those views in as offensive a way possible, relying on scant or non-existent factual support and presented without any particular interest in convincing those not already persuaded”

            Thank you for so accurately describing the prevailing leftist orthodoxy on campus.

          2. But as you’ve essentially admitted, you have no clue what the actual content of their speeches is, so why do you think that the people you’ve identified fit your description?

            1. But as you’ve essentially admitted, you have no clue what the actual content of their speeches is, so why do you think that the people you’ve identified fit your description?

              I haven’t admitted this. I’ve acknowledged that I haven’t been to and read literally every speech Milo and Ann Coulter have ever given on university campuses, but that was primarily just to respond to people who sought to defend those speakers by sniping at the broad brush I was using to describe them.

              Strangely – despite being accused up and down the thread of not knowing what Milo and Ann Coulter have actually said – no one has bothered to cite a single instance when either of those speakers has actually said something worth paying attention to. I wonder why that is?

          3. I find Simon’s comment amusing. It makes me wonder ….

            So when people get shouted down as ‘bigot’ or ‘Nazi’ or ‘racist’ – accusations almost always launched relying on scant or non-existent factual support and presented without any particular interest in convincing those not already persuaded…..does this kind of discourse belong on University campuses?

            does it?

            1. So when people get shouted down as ‘bigot’ or ‘Nazi’ or ‘racist’ …

              I think those labels can be appropriate more often than you seem to allow, but “shouting down” speakers or violently preventing them from speaking would not, in my view, have any place on a university campus. I’m happy to allow that the protesters that Milo is eager to provoke are themselves often not particularly interested in an intellectual exchange of ideas.

      4. “None of these speeches has anything particularly new or valuable to contribute to the discourse that happens on university campuses”

        Quite the contrary. As your own comment points out, it shows the hostility of institutions presenting themselves as institutions of “higher learning” to be violently hostile to viewpoints not collectively held by government employees. It basically doesn’t matter what Milo or Coulter says. What matters is these institutions are CLEARLY not institutions of higher learning and actively reject critical thinking.

        “But we certainly aren’t under any obligation to grin and nod and celebrate these parasites’ particular contributions to the “public discourse,” and we should stop making apologies for them.”

        Exactly. No decent American should be expected to grin or nod or celebrate the parasitic government employees calling themselves “professors” and “administrators” who feed off the tax payer’s hard earned money, while actively promoting viewpoints hostile not just towards mainstream tax payer beliefs, but hostile towards tax payers themselves. These parasites should be kicked out in the street to live as the rest of us live, rather than in a cocoon of tax payer money protecting them from the consequences of their terrible ideas and actions.

        1. What matters is these institutions are CLEARLY not institutions of higher learning and actively reject critical thinking.

          To describe Milo or Ann Coulter as engaged in “critical thinking” is just to show how low the bar has fallen on the intellectual right.

          No decent American should be expected to grin or nod or celebrate the parasitic government employees calling themselves “professors” and “administrators” who feed off the tax payer’s hard earned money, while actively promoting viewpoints hostile not just towards mainstream tax payer beliefs, but hostile towards tax payers themselves.

          I’m not sure how you’ve worked yourself up into this lather. The presidents behind the statement have made what ought to have been a fairly toothless, anodyne statement about “hate speech.” You’ve cast this as part of a broader effort to teach students to be hostile towards “mainstream tax payer beliefs” (which tax payers are “mainstream,” exactly? And what do they believe?). But is that really what they’re doing, in teaching students to reject “hate speech”? Are you saying that most people are bigots and want to engage in “hate speech,” and our public education system shouldn’t teach their kids to do otherwise?

  3. “Hate speech” is defined as anything that offends a black, Hispanic, Muslim, Asian, homosexual or woman. Jews are on both sides depending on the issue.

  4. Well, that’s how a totalitarian state works. People are free to debate robustly among a set of approved opinions, but god help you if you express a forbidden opinion. That’s why so many academic sites seem to have lively discussions, when they really only tolerate a narrow set of opinions.

    1. Yeah, unlike a site like Reason, where asserting that undocumented immigrants ought to be fully and fairly integrated into American society is openly tolerated as a respectable libertarian point of view.

      1. The libertarian point of view is that the state has no right to impede peaceful people from traveling where ever they wish on public property, and to where ever they are invited on private property.

        1. You would think. An awful lot of commenters on Reason seem to think the territory of the United States is “private property” (of whom?).

          1. An awful lot of commenters on Reason are aware that the United States isn’t yet a libertarian society, and realize that some things that would work out great in a libertarian society might not be such a great idea in a welfare state.

            1. Pragmatic libertarians are socialists, then. Fascinating.

            2. I sense that the number of commenters on Reason who are authoritarian right-wing bigots increased substantially recently.

              Any ideas on a precipitate?

      2. “undocumented immigrants”

        Illegal alien. Unwanted foreigners breaking our laws are illegal aliens.

        1. Look up the laws they’ve broken. Violating the laws in question is comparable to fishing without a license. The “undocumented immigrant” description is accurate, and in proportion with the actual nature of the offense.

  5. It’s certainly time to revisit funding for institutions that don’t support free speech.

    1. I don’t get the hostility you and Careless, intellectuals both, have towards the modern educational enterprise.

      Kids are liberal. Always have been. Some profs have agendas. But do you think there are more radical profs now than in the ’60s? Do you think the average conservative on campus is besieged?

      This is a problem, and I cannot be sure it is not getting worse. But cutting federal funding for this is a guillotine to cure dandruff.
      Our federal scientific research is done by grants to these institutions. Our intellectual foundation is based on having wide-scale access to a liberal arts education. You have certainly benefited from this, both directly and indirectly. So come off your scorched earth histrionics.

      1. Ahh, yes, an “intellectual foundation” that concludes that intelligence is equally distributed among the races, that it’s “normal” and “healthy” to engage in homosexual sodomy, and that manmade CO2 causes climate change. Yep.

      2. I’m not sure why you think federal funding helps. When we give them more money, they just raise tuition and then waste the money on administrators and bogus propaganda. And now these idiotic presidents want to just obstinately refuse to be the institutions of open inquiry that we pay them to be? Nope. Take their money and make them and all these freeloading bureaucrats get real jobs.

        1. So you don’t think it would matter, but you want to use it to punish them?

          Reforming the school loan system is one thing, just cutting it off bespeaks a lack of thinking through that makes me think this is either some sort of rhetorical metaphor or you are dealing with something not rational.

          You do know what school presidents do, yes? It’s not make policy!

          1. Not that I think school administrators are much smarter, but you’re fury is even miss-triggered.

      3. If the modern education system is as valuable as you claim it is, it doesn’t need to be financed through coercively collected taxes. People eagerly pay for valuable products and services.

        In reality, you KNOW the modern education system doesn’t add any value and is openly anti-intellectual. That’s why it’s promotes real violence against any who dare give speeches not in line with the collective opinions of the government employees of those systems. These government employees have no logical, nor empirical argument, in favor of their collective beliefs, so HAVE to resort to violence to shut anyone up who oppose their political fiefs.

      4. Wait, how did I get involved in this?

    2. Are you prepared to begin by refraining from providing public money, directly or indirectly, to the most egregious censors, suppressors of academic freedom, teachers of nonsense, collectors of loyalty oaths, etc.?

      I didn’t think so.

      Carry on, authoritarian movement conservatives.

  6. Yeah I found this statement vague and baffling. But these guys probably all have lots of degrees and shit so I’m probably just missing the nuance here. Pretty sure they’re right.

  7. The operative word here is “provoke.” That means outside the boundaries of mainstream thought meant to force someone to question the assumptions of received wisdom from society at large. I remember over 30 years ago when the idea of a constitutional right to gay marriage was dismissed as a joke. Ditto a Second Amendment right to carry a gun. There are many other rights I could name. The point is that without constant “provocation” and questioning the powers that be in our society progress and free thought would be non existent. This statement is downright dangerous. I don’t remember much from my college philosophy courses, but the word Platonic comes immediately to mind.

    1. ” I remember over 30 years ago when the idea of a constitutional right to gay marriage was dismissed as a joke. Ditto a Second Amendment right to carry a gun.”

      The difference being that the idea of a constitutional right to gay marriage was pretty much universally dismissed as a joke, while the Second amendment right to carry a gun was only dismissed as a joke among a narrow group of people, while being widely accepted outside that group.

      That the narrow group happened to mostly consist of lawyers was somewhat of an indictment of the profession.

      1. You are destined to hate how those two issues are positioned in a decade or two.

    2. “I remember over 30 years ago when the idea of a constitutional right to gay marriage was dismissed as a joke.”

      As it should be. Redefining what a ten thousand year old institution because sexual deviants don’t want to be viewed as sexual deviants is a joke. It’s disgusting to use the coercive powers of the state to forcibly impose this redefinition on the rest of society.

      1. There is no consistent “institution,” going back ten thousand years, that lines up with what we now call monogamous heterosexual marriage. The way modern heterosexuals think about it barely goes back a hundred years – never mind the various ways humans have coupled throughout the ages. You just don’t know what you’re talking about.

  8. So, when does the effort to remove these presidents from office on the grounds of “gross moral turpitude” begin? Because what they’re suggesting really is.

    1. Probably about the time that someone discovers that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to public employees, I’d imagine.

      1. Even thinking what they’re proposing is, for people in their position, gross moral turpitude. A commitment to free discussion is a sine qua non of the academy.

  9. disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech

    It means trolling under the umbrella of discussion.

    i.e. organizing a “discussion panel” about racism and inviting only a highly polarizing individual representing only one side to speak at it.

    I don’t agree that such a distinguishment is necessary. But it’s clear that in their minds, they are trying to separate discussion from pure trolling/rabble-rousing.

    1. Well, speech is free speech even when it’s spoken by “highly polarizing individual[s]” who convey “only one side.” Indeed, most leading cases protecting First Amendment rights involve such one-sided speech — New York Times v. Sullivan, for instance, involved speakers’ right to put out an ad expressing their own views, not to put on some panel discussion. There’s neither a “rabble-rousing” exception (to the contrary, see, e.g., Terminiello v. City of Chicago) nor a “trolling” exception.

      In my experience, people on the Left routinely take advantage of this, including at university campuses, putting on speeches — or panels with everyone on much the same side — rather than debates. It is their right to do that, of course; but the same extends to people of all viewpoints.

      Likewise, one can certainly have a “discussion panel” where all the discussion is from one perspective or general set of perspectives; it might not be as interesting or enlightening as a more solid debate, but it’s certainly constitutionally protected speech.

      Finally, I agree that people shouldn’t lie about their events (e.g., by claiming that there’ll be four people speaking and deliberately inviting only one). But that’s of course true regardless of whether the events convey “hate speech” or anything else.

      1. Absolutely. But it starts with the definition of “free speech”. They are likely not defining it in the legal sense. This is certainly troublesome as you point out, as such officials should understand that Free Speech has a very clear legal meaning and shouldn’t be re-defined willy-nilly. But let’s assume their definition is along the lines of “open inquiry”. From that starting point, it’s a short road to the construction of concepts such as “disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech”.

        I think it’s reflective of the general disconnect between various societal definitions of Free Speech (I can say whatever I want!) and the legal reality. It doesn’t reflect well on these officials that they fail to appreciate their legal obligations to adhere to Free Speech doctrine and thus should be particular in how they use those two words.

        But it’s surely not a surprise.

  10. “And what exactly does “disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech” mean here?”

    I submit that the content of the letter of the Higher Education Council of San Antonio qualifies as a fairly blatant disingenuous misrepresentation of free speech.

  11. And while universities aren’t barred from condemning speech they disapprove of, this statement — especially if read by students who aren’t up on First Amendment law — strikes me as suggesting that the universities will actually punish such speech (since it’s not “free speech,” and since it’s not “accepted”).

    All the statement says is that “hate speech” is not welcome or accepted and has no place on university campuses. That is surely true just as a matter of principle, so I see no reason why administrators announcing as much should be read to implicitly convey a threat of punishment. Nothing in the statement suggests any steps taken to punish students or faculty using so-called “free speech,” so I think that you’re reading more into the statement than is there.

    Put it this way: How, exactly, are administrators supposed to condemn “hate speech”? What are the precise magic words that administrators can use to condemn such speech without suggesting to impressionable, sensitive young hate-mongers that the university might actually punish them for being ignorant troglodytes?

    1. When a government official says something isn’t “free speech,” that suggests that the official doesn’t believe you’re free to say such things — which is to say he believes that he can punish you for them. If he wanted just to say “We oppose and denounce hate speech,” he could easily do that, or, better yet, say what some university presidents have said: Though people have a First Amendment right to say these things, we think they’re wrong to do so.

      Let me ask you this: Say a university president signed a statement titled “Anti-American Speech Is Not Free Speech,” with text similar to the text of this statement but changed to reflect a different condemned ideology. Would you think that this is just ordinary expression of disagreement? Or would you think that the president is signaling that people who engage in anti-American speech might be punished for it?

      1. When a government official says something isn’t “free speech,” that suggests that the official doesn’t believe you’re free to say such things…

        No, I don’t accept this assertion. You’re relying on an equivocation on the meaning of “free speech.” In the statement, it is meant to distinguish one kind of productive discourse from another kind of discourse, called “hate speech.” In that context, “free speech” means the kind of speech that produces a meaningful, constructive discourse, one that helps us better understand the “truth” or in politics produces the “best policy,” and so on. Our law acknowledges this function and quality of speech, even if it doesn’t especially protect or elevate it. But the way you want to interpret it is to conflate “free speech” with constitutionally-protected speech, which is a different kind of thing.

        If he wanted just to say “We oppose and denounce hate speech,” he could easily do that, or, better yet, say what some university presidents have said: Though people have a First Amendment right to say these things, we think they’re wrong to do so.

        I don’t see any particular reason why condemnation must accompany a legal disclaimer in order to avoid drawing the inference you’re trying to lay at the presidents’ door.

        1. I don’t see any particular reason why condemnation must accompany a legal disclaimer in order to avoid drawing the inference you’re trying to lay at the presidents’ door.

          I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.

          1. Right, because you don’t seem to understand it yourself.

            1. SimonP, do you believe that leftists, Progressives, Marxists, et al, are just as capable of “hate speech” as those on the right? Do you believe that they engage in “hate speech” just as often as conservatives?

              What’s that you say? Non and non? Color me unsurprised.

              1. SimonP, do you believe that leftists, Progressives, Marxists, et al, are just as capable of “hate speech” as those on the right? Do you believe that they engage in “hate speech” just as often as conservatives?

                I believe that “leftists” can engage in the same kind of pointless, brainless rhetoric that seems to be your forte, and they often fail to contribute to public discourse in precisely the same ways that I would say that Milo and Ann Coulter do. I don’t know that I would call their calling rightists “bigots” and “Nazis” “hate speech,” as such, but certainly I would acknowledge that they are just as capable of harming public discourse as the professional provocateurs are.

        2. ‘it is meant to distinguish one kind of productive discourse from another kind of discourse, called “hate speech.”‘

          This is completely subjective is the very root of the problem defining what speech is allowed or not.

          1. Do you have a problem understanding what “hate speech” is? It seems to be an easy thing for me to identify. That’s not to say that it would be legally easy to disallow or write rules about, but I don’t think our actual experience with so-called “hate speech” supports the contention that it’s a purely “subjective” kind of thing.

            1. So your definition of hate speech is anything you identify as hate speech. No logical issues there.

              1. I haven’t attempted a definition of “hate speech.” I just acknowledge that the term has a consistent, objective meaning. Like the word, “tree.” How would you define “tree”?

                1. But you do believe that the right is the only source of “hate speech”, correct?

                  1. But you do believe that the right is the only source of “hate speech”, correct?

                    What’s an example of leftist “hate speech,” in your view?

      2. Let me ask you this:…

        The problem with your hypothetical, again, is your failure to appreciate what the presidents are saying. “Anti-American Speech” refers to a viewpoint and opinion, not a quality that would tend to undermine the possibility of reasoned exchange of ideas, as “hate speech” is purported to have. The statement would be incoherent.

        But to answer your question – no, I still wouldn’t draw an unmerited inference from their statement.

        1. I disagree. Calling something “Anti-American” is a term that has been used in the past to undermine the possibility of discussion by attaching to an idea. Maybe this term has very little serious weight in today’s Society, but decades ago there was this body of Government called the “House Un-American Activities Committee” who’s purpose was to:

          “investigate alleged disloyalty and subversive activities on the part of private citizens, public employees, and those organizations suspected of having Communist ties.”

          The very fact that there was a Government committee policing political thought with threats that could leave you ostracized, unemployable, and even jailed is obviously chilling towards speech. While it is a smaller scale than Congress, having any government official draw up such language will have this effect

          1. I disagree….

            Well, thanks for the history lesson, I guess, but it’s not relevant to the point I was making.

    2. Suggestion: then don’t use the legal term of art, “free speech.” Talk instead about “responsible” speech, or the superiority of reasoned argument and debate over appeal to negative emotion, or the superiority of serious discussion over trolling.

      And when you declare that a certain type of speech is “not welcome” on campus and has “no place” there, most people would interpret that as explicitly conveying a threat of punishment if someone engaged in that type of speech. After all, if I told someone that he was “not welcome” in my home, few would interpret that as a mere “statement of principle” and not as a clear demand to leave.

      1. Suggestion: then don’t use the legal term of art, “free speech.”

        It’s not a legal term of art.

        After all, if I told someone that he was “not welcome” in my home, few would interpret that as a mere “statement of principle” and not as a clear demand to leave.

        Well, let’s try to ceteris paribus this a bit more seriously. Consider the host of a holiday get-together, with the invitations stating, “Political and religious conversations are not allowed!!!” Would you understand that as a threat of “punishment” if someone brought up Trump?

        1. SimonP: “Consider the host of a holiday get-together, with the invitations stating, “Political and religious conversations are not allowed!!!”

          Sorry, but no. That is off the topic. What we have are a set of major campus administrators coming right to the edge of actually stating that people who say the wrong things will face sanctions. These are state schools and the officials are agents of the state of Texas. So That is not at all like an invitation to a private party.

          1. Okay, so you’re an idiot who has jumped in mid-thread without understanding the course of the conversation. Bye now!

            1. That’s hate speech!

        2. Well, let’s try to ceteris paribus this a bit more seriously. Consider the host of a holiday get-together, with the invitations stating, “Political and religious conversations are not allowed!!!” Would you understand that as a threat of “punishment” if someone brought up Trump?

          Yes. I mean, the only punishment that the host can presumably implement is kicking someone out of the party, but yes, that’s exactly how I would understand that.

          1. Then you’re a moron whose intuitions don’t really matter for present purposes.

            Because you’re not really being reasonable. Everyone is familiar with the general rule of etiquette that there are some topics best avoided in an informal social gathering. Making that rule “explicit” in an invitation for the gathering ought to be understood, by the invitees, as an additional social pressure to adhere to it. But no one attending would reasonably expect to be thrown out of the party the minute they bring up Trump. At worst, they might expect the host to give them a stern talking to. Most would probably just jovially try to veer conversation away from the forbidden topics. Some might not even object.

            The idea that anyone would be ejected as “punishment” for violating the rule is just not a normal intuition about the hypothetical. You’re just embracing that absurd outcome because you recognize that it parallels the inference you want to draw about the presidents’ “free speech” statement. So you’re engaged in ends-oriented reasoning here.

          2. I would say that the likeliest punishment would be not being invited back next time.

            The political bore usually comes attached to a spouse who sits there cringing while her husband / his wife tears up the next year’s dinner invitations.

  12. “American colleges and universities have always embraced diverse points of view,…”

    From left to far left.

    “in common with most such statements, this one doesn’t even try to define “hate speech,””

    Hate speech is defined as anything that offends them, or runs counter to their ideology, at the moment.

    1. From left to far left.

      I really wonder sometimes if people who say stuff like this ever went to college.

      I remember my own experience. In all of my years of higher education, I might have had 3-5 professors with clearly “leftist” views, 3-5 professors with clearly “rightist” views, and most of the rest with no discernible political viewpoint at all. And I encountered the “leftists” mostly in classes on “leftist” subjects (e.g., women’s literature), while the “rightist” often asserted their views over the subject matter, whose content was more “neutral.”

      None of that especially bothered me. I could recognize the difference and learned just as well either way. (I will say that my ultra-vegan ethics professor likely dissuaded me from taking veganism seriously as an ethical viewpoint, ever since.) So what is with this constant need to exaggerate the political bias students encounter in classrooms and cast it as a serious problem?

      1. Seriously? You haven’t seen the empirical studies showing the overwhelming leftist bent of college professors?

        1. Polls showing political affiliation do not demonstrate the point being made. No discussion occurring in my calculus class, for instance, or in my federal courts class, or in my composition class, etc., ever touched meaningfully on politics, and the subject matter wouldn’t have shifted one way or the other based on political viewpoint.

          And, as I said, when it was (rarely) evident, I was either in a class where I should have expected it, or able to discount it and learn just as well. Books are kind of immune to bias that way.

        2. On some campuses, the professors tend to be liberal-to-libertarian (with diversity of opinion, althghout without enough activist conservatives to satisfy right-wingers) and reason-based. Our strongest colleges and universities are drawn from this group.

          On other campuses the professors tend to be conservative and religious, more fond of “traditional values.” This group populates the third and fourth tiers (or unranked residue) of America’s colleges and universities, and is generally controlled by conservative administrators.

          The market has spoken. Conservatives do not like the result. So they nip at the ankles of their betters, deride them as “elite,” and tellingly avoid the issue of why conservative schools do not develop to address this ostensible market failure.

          1. You really are a laughably deluded snob. The fact that you would consider the entrenched and self-preserving left wing faculties of colleges to be superior to the people who are largely responsible for building and maintaining the civilization they live in demonstrates what kind of pompous idiot you are.

            1. The fact that you would consider the entrenched and self-preserving left wing faculties of colleges to be superior to the people who are largely responsible for building and maintaining the civilization they live in demonstrates what kind of pompous idiot you are.

              I think the founding fathers would find your contempt for intellectual elitism appalling.

              But let’s ask: Who is responsible for building and maintaining our civilization? Are you talking about the working class? The corporate class? Who, exactly?

            2. Stick with fourth-tier backwater religious schools, Reggie. They suit you. And they set you up perfectly for a life of sneering at your betters and muttering bitterly at the sidelines as society progresses against your preferences.

      2. I could say the same of my time in college, but it was an engineering school in the late 70’s, and I have been given to understand things have changed somewhat in the last 40 years.

        1. I was born in the late 70’s so. Maybe your sources aren’t trustworthy?

  13. All process arguments are insincere, including this one.

  14. The definition of ‘Hate Speech’ is speech I hate. It’s not complicated.

  15. Frankly I find these administrators /much/ scarier than the San Antonio police agents in another posting today. Supposedly administering bastions of free inquiry and freedom of speech, they issue vague threats to members of the academic community who say the wrong things. Whereas the San Antonio police merely tried to shut down a single bar whose owner cursed at them.

    But it gets worse. They do it by drawing a distinction between something they call “hate speech” and something they call “free speech.”

    There is no such thing as “free speech.” There is speech. A person is free to engage in it — or not. The administrators clearly mean something like “privileged speech,” but they use the adjective “free,” which isn’t as jarring and makes it /appear/ they are drawing on the First Amendment when they are actually subverting it.

    And there is no clear one can call “hate speech.” The term has been used in political and university circles to condemn not only strident and self-serving remarks by right-wingers, but also public lectures by thoughtful people such as Charles Murray. In effect, if not in actual intent the administrators are threatening a wide range of center-right speech, chilling the expression of a good proportion of the university population. People should be outraged.

  16. While the statement of the San Antonio people leaves me uncomfortable with it’s repeated references to “Hate Speech” I am reminded of a bank.

    Banks have a fiduciary duty to only accept deposits in the form of money that is considered legitimate even though anything can function as money as long as it is accepted as a medium of exchange, a unit of account and as a means of making debts commensurablle.

    In my department i would consider Mao’s ideas about economics to be the equivalent of counterfeit money and would not allow them to pass since allowing them to pass would give them a legitimacy they do not deserve.

    Being a libertarian I hate to say that a line must be drawn somewhere. I’m not sure that this is where I would draw it but the principle still applies.

  17. Thanks for that post , one must distinguish between : free speech in terms of the content of the expression , and , ” effective free speech ” as designed by courts in the US . In terms of content , you can’t indeed limit the free speech , even if you wanted. There is always free speech , what the letter refers to ( unconsciously ) is that there is a speech , which can’t be protected , after the fact ( protected by law or ” soft norms ” suppose ) . So , we deal then with ” unprotected free speech ” after the fact , unprotected by law ( philosophically , in other states in the world for example ) .

    However , ” effective free speech ” can be bared or limited in the US . This is when , a person or a group , are barred from technical or physical activity , that finally would render their free speech useless ( in terms of content ) . Like : gathering data , receiving information , filming , assembling etc ( would be barred due to national security reasons for example ) .

    Later I shall put a link for illustration ?..

    Thanks

  18. Just illustrating the ” effective free speech ” differentiated from free speech in terms of content and [removed] my comment above ) here I quote the facts in a ruling of the first circuit :

    ” Simon Glik was arrested for using his cell phone’s digital video camera to film several police officers arresting a young man on the Boston Common. The charges against Glik, which included violation of Massachusetts’s wiretap statute and two other state-law offenses, were subsequently judged baseless and were dismissed. Glik then brought this suit under 42 U.S.C. ? 1983, claiming that his arrest for filming the officers constituted a violation of his rights under the First and Fourth Amendments. ”

    Here a link to the ruling :

    http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-…..78557.html

    Thanks

  19. One can have or save in pdf format ( the ruling ) here :

    http://media.ca1.uscourts.gov/…..4P-01A.pdf

  20. Please continue to bash away at mainstream liberal-libertarian schools, my movement conservative friends.

    Disregard their overwhelming superiority.

    Don’t fret about the reasons conservative-controlled campuses tend to be third- or fourth-rate goober factories.

    Ignore the censorship, ignorance, authoritarianism, and nonsense on conservative campuses.

    Avoid the market’s verdict. Avoid analysis of why strong conservative schools do not develop.

    You just keep carping about the perceived blemishes of strong schools with which you disagree. I am content to permit time and the market to sift this.

    1. ITT: AK not only touting the superiority of Texas, but such schools as Northwest Vista College, Northeast Lakeview College, Oblate School of Theology, Our Lady of the Lake University, Palo Alto College, San Antonio College, St. Philip’s College, Texas A&M University-San Antonio (no, it’s not the one you’ve heard of), University of Texas at San Antonio, Wayland Baptist University, and Trinity University

      I wonder if he could have named a single one of these schools as existing before I posted this

  21. I don’t get why people advocate silencing the rattles on rattlesnakes.

    1. Based on what we saw go down at Berkeley, it’s the rattlesnakes demanding that others be silenced. I mean, did Milo assault a professor when I wasn’t looking?

  22. I never cease to be amazed at how little regard high level academic administrators have for the law. It’s almost as if they believe that just about anything they say is the law, just because they say it.

  23. That’s cute of them but the equal protection clause simply doesn’t apply to individuals. It only applies to government. The government cannot discriminate against those groups but individuals can. The only exception for individuals is where the government shows a compelling state interest and regulates in least restrictive ways.

    A classic example of this is keeping public businesses open to all of the public which is a compelling state interest. However, even this has its limits when we get into areas such as artists whose business is creative expression, or individuals whose business requires more than the casual association of a storefront transaction, such as a wedding photographer who must intimately participate in the wedding ceremony. Like it or not, this is the reasoning that SCOTUS has applied to these types of cases and is likely to apply in the current basic wedding cake vs cake as a work of art case that they are deciding now.

    The universities simply cannot use those equal protection concepts applicable to government actions as a means of restricting protected private action.

  24. To a college president, the Ten Commandments is hate speech.
    That’s why everyone hates college presidents.
    .

    1. Where everyone = half-educated, bigoted, stale-thinking, right-wing yahoos.

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