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University of Michigan Realizes Facts Don't Care About Your Feelings, Changes Speech Policy

A day after DOJ joined free speech lawsuit, UM agreed to change policy that said "the most important indication of bias is your own feelings."

MichiganPublic domainJust one day after the U.S. Department of Justice announced it would join a lawsuit challenging the University of Michigan's anti-harassment policies on grounds they allegedly violate the First Amendment, university officials have decided to revise the policies in question.

"The revised definitions more precisely and accurately reflect the commitment to freedom of expression that has always been expressed in the statement itself," said E. Royster Harper, vice president of student life, in a statement.

The university prohibits harassment, which it defines as "unwanted negative attention," and encourages students to report instances of it to the campus's Bias Response Team. Administrators have pledged, however, to remove language from the code of conduct that claims "the most important indication of bias is your own feelings."

Federal officials are pleased with this decision.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions is committed to promoting free speech on college campuses, and the Department is proud to have played a role in the numerous campus free speech victories this year," said Justice Department Spokesperson Devin O'Malley.

I have reached out to Speech First, the First Amendment defense group that filed the lawsuit, for comment. This post will be updated when I hear back.

Update: Nicole Neily, president of Speech First, tells me she considers the case far from over. "The University's reply brief is due this Friday (June 15), and our response is due June 29," she said. "We look forward to our day in court."

Photo Credit: Public domain

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  • Just Say'n||

    "facts don't care about your feelings"

    Soave's quoting Ben Shapiro now to own the libs. He's swinging too far in the other direction now

  • Microaggressor||

    Pandering to the Jewish Nazi crowd.

  • Just Say'n||

    If he keeps this up, ENB is going to write a piece littered with straw men denouncing Soave as "alt-right"

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    She meant to say he's alright.

  • lap83||

    "Robby is just alt-right with me. Robby is just alt -right. Oh yeah"

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    You mean she makes $75 an hour on the "tabletop," which means she is one ugly assed bitch.

  • CDRSchafer||

    For progressive Marxists there's no possibility that an idea is too stupid to propose as their stupidity knows no bounds. Every day is a new frontier.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Which side swallows creationism and rejects evolution as "just a theory" (much like gravity)?

    Which side proposes to structure public policy on the claim that fairy tales are true?

    Which side operates hundreds of censorship-shackled, barely accredited, academic freedom-suppressing, science-disdaining, snowflakey goober factories?

    Which side considers Canada a national security threat and Russia a campaign ally?

    Which side inhabits our can't-keep-up, half-educated, economically irrelevant backwaters?

    Which side operates all of our strongest universities?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Real talk. This is something I've wondered for awhile.

    Evolution has been a hot-button issue in the public sphere. To not believe in evolution instantly marks you as an idiot, or untrustworthy, or whatever negative feature you want. It's a litmus test.

    But what difference does it make for anyone except people doing certain types of biological research? If you work as a Dentist, what actual value is there either way if you believe in Creationism? It has no meaningful impact on almost anything. What's an aspect of everyday life that depends on having an opinion on evolution?

  • Dan S.||

    Hmm. Don't dentists refer to some of our teeth as "canine"? Without evolution, there would be no logic to that.

  • Longtobefree||

    Evolved or created, they are still canine - - - -

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I don't know how much that affects one's day to day life. But even with that, I think term "canine" for those teeth is older than the theory of evolution.

    Though we aren't evolved from Canids anyway. Looks like our closest common node on the tree is Mammalia.

  • ThomasD||

    "Without evolution, there would be no logic to that..."

    Really? None? No possible alternative explanation for the terminology?

    Like maybe, say the term canines was chosen for it's descriptive quality. Which does make a bit of sense when you consider that felines are said to have them too.

    I think some people believe in evolution because they are too stupid to posit any alternatives.

  • Oscarson44.||

    Antibiotic resistance, anti-viral resistance, anti-malarial resistance, genetic diseases, infectious diseases, wild life management, forestry, and genetic patterns of inheritance are all best understood in light of evolution.
    I believe there are others but those are the ones I could name, and think of examples for, off the top of my head.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    None of which effects me in my day to day life. And, in fact, doesn't affect anyone not working in those fields of biology. Even if I have a disease, I don't have to believe in evolution to take the pill.

  • Longtobefree||

    Well, in this day and age, you have to believe in evolution. The only other option is to accept that God deliberately created liberals.

  • Oscarson44.||

    I see your point, you can function on a daily basis without an understanding of evolution. And many people do function fairly well, Ken Hamm and the U.S Vice President being notable examples.
    However, that infant mortality rates are no longer 50%, there is no more small pox, the Black Plague is very uncommon, and the Ebola outbreaks not becoming pandemics are examples of ways everyone is affected by biology.
    Similarly, I do not have to know anything about the economic principle of supply and demand to follow investment advice. If someone is comfortable with that, I agree, why bother learning something you will never use or apply.
    I am certain it is possible to go through life following advice and having no understanding, I am not opposed to that, but these things do affect everyone, whether or not they are aware.

  • ThomasD||

    Smallpox was not eliminated by evolutionary forces. Neither is the treatment of yersinia pestis, nor reduction in infant mortality.

    More so, from the standpoint of natural selection many modern medical advances are allowing particulars humans, otherwise unlikely to survive to reproductive age, to do just that and therefore pass on genes that otherwise would not be reproduced.

    Unless, that is, you define 'evolutionary forces' to include all human endeavor. At which point you've rendered the concept both meaningless and banal.

  • Oscarson44.||

    You are correct, I should have been more clear, when I mentioned those diseases I was speaking about biology (or medicine) in general which is what I thought BUCS was referring to with the statement "those fields of biology."
    I also agree that modern medicine helps some reproduce who otherwise would not. Some other external control is needed.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And so, just to be clear. My question isn't "What has evolution got us as a theory?" the question is "Why does it matter if some random person doesn't believe in it?"

  • ThomasD||

    BUCS, the significance of your question is lost on them.

    Of course, I think any actual understanding of evolution is lost on them.

  • Sevo||

    See 'way down the thread...

  • perlchpr||

    Why does it matter if some random person doesn't believe in it?

    Wrongthink always has to be punished, no matter how irrelevant it is.

  • ThomasD||

    Define 'best understood.'

    Is warfare best understood in the light of evolution?

  • Oscarson44.||

    "Define best understood"

    I have not heard of a competing theory that can adequately supply a single unified explanation of things as disparate as antimicrobial resistance, genetic diseases, and wildlife management.
    I am not aware of warfare being an expected outcome of evolution. If you have a reference I would be interested to see it.

    And BUCS, I agree random people do not need these theories, it only matters to me if they are running for public office and may need to make decisions that require understanding.

  • ThomasD||

    "I am not aware of warfare being an expected outcome of evolution."

    If you think there are any expected outcomes from evolution then your understanding of evolution is fundamentally and fatally flawed.

    You don't have belief, you have a faith.

  • Oscarson44.||

    As far as predictions, or expected outcomes, from evolution:
    1) antibiotic resistance was predicted before penicillin gained widespread use this was accurate and continues, all of the currently effective antibiotic stewardship strategies to deal with antimicrobial resistance are based on the ideas of selective pressure.
    2) evolution predicts that infections will gradually become less virulent (live hosts are better are spreading disease than dead ones) and eventually become parasites. Outbreaks occur when that infect new hosts, based on this a host for Ebola was predicted to exist, fruit bats were later found.
    3) hemoglobin S (sickle cell disease) was predicted being replaced if there was a hemoglobin that provided superior malaria resistance or equivalent resistance but no adverse health problems. Hemoglobin C was then found which provides both superior resistance and no health problems. Hgb C has now been found to be increasing in prevalence in places with malaria, as predicted.

    Speaking of Hgb S and Hgb C, if there is a creator, why did he/she/it/they bother with Hgb S? Why not just go with Hgb C? Hgb C is superior in every measurable way. Hgb S just causes needless suffering.

  • ThomasD||

    Evolution does not predict infections will become less virulent. Evolution does not predict anything. There is no teleology in evolution. If there is an intended outcome (e.g. antimicrobial stewardship) then it is not evolutionary, it is purposeful behavior.

    Scientific knowledge, or the application of that knowledge, is not inherently evolutionary.

    And what does the existence or absence of a creator have to do with any of this? Evolution can exist in either the absence or presence of a supreme being/creator.

    And why do you think the existence of 'needless' suffering argues against a creator? Maybe it's necessary (only you just don't know why) or maybe it's just His thing to make His creations suffer needlessly.

    Again, your understanding of evolution is both shallow and incorrect. That you jump to metaphysical arguments shows where your true intentions lie.

  • ThomasD||

    And, speaking of politicians, what sorts of decisions would require understanding?

    Do we expect politicians to have religious beliefs because their positions may require them to make decisions that require understanding?

  • Oscarson44.||

    Bwahahahaha!
    I almost took you seriously and broke out Tiktaalik references.
    Well done, funny.

  • ThomasD||

    You are a prime example of the problem discussing evolution. Too many people carry the banner without remotely understanding what it stands for. That's tribalism, not science, and not knowledge.

    That you offer examples of 'predictions' that are not actual predictions but instead are a posteriori explanations is further proof that you really have no understanding of what you profess to believe.

  • Will Nonya||

    Rev, your identification of sides seems as limited as your grasps of the examples you referenced.


    Which side swallows creationism and rejects evolution as "just a theory" (much like gravity)?
    - Both swallow fictions based on faith rather than reason.

    Which side proposes to structure public policy on the claim that fairy tales are true?
    - Both

    Which side operates hundreds of censorship-shackled, barely accredited, academic freedom-suppressing, science-disdaining, snowflakey goober factories?
    - Both

    Which side considers Canada a national security threat and Russia a campaign ally?
    - Neither. The position of one dimwit doesnt automatically taint all of the other dimwits on both sides who support or those who oppose this view.

    Which side inhabits our can't-keep-up, half-educated, economically irrelevant backwaters?
    - both (assuming you rightfully include places like LA and New York and recognize the Dems role in creating these conditions and the GOP's & Dem's roles in preserving them.)

    Which side operates all of our strongest universities?
    - Hey, you found one that isnt both or neither. Good job but this belongs to the left.

  • Social Justice is neither||

    The left may be operating the strongest universities but that's mostly an artifact of history and they're wearing the skinsuit of the institute of higher education and demanding respect.

  • JesseAz||

    It's liberals who ignore the concepts of evolution as a means of advancing efficient forms of government and markets, see socialism. Instead they treat intelligent design as their preferred course of human governance. So while you claim it is the right who enjoins those concepts, it is liberals utilizing that belief structure.

  • Delius||

    Evolution won't get us better watches, or cars, or economic systems. You don't need evolution to improve designed things. You just need intelligence to recognize what is better. Which pretty much means we are screwed no matter who is in charge.

  • Dillinger||

    >>>The university prohibits harassment

    *everybody* prohibits harassment.

  • Delius||

    30/5000
    Qui vexandi vexator?

  • Dillinger||

    >>>Bias Response Team

    there aren't enough minutes in the day to mock that

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Peak derp is like one of those hallways that magically extends to infinity.

  • KevinP||

    #Winning. Thank you, President Trump!

  • ||

    Federal officials are pleased with this decision.

    On the one hand, yay for free speech! On the other hand, I could sympathize with MU officials who are beginning to feel like Calrissian.

  • Jerryskids||

    And the idea that facts trump feelings is exactly the sort of cis-gendered white male patriarchy oppression bullshit they're bitching about. Who says 2 plus 2 must equal 4? Some dead white male said that and that's what's been crammed down our throats ever since. It's about time we asserted our power and declared that 2 plus 2 can equal 3 or 5 or any damn thing it wants to and you can't stop us from liberating numbers from their enslavement to the Man. And that's really what bothers you, isn't it? Not unmasking the absurdity of claiming that numbers have certain inherent values, hiding the truth that numbers have whatever value we placed by force on them, what pains you is that you're not the one with the power to assign values. Numbers are no longer a tool to be used by you and your kind for your own debased amusement, numbers are free and independent, loud and proud and able to do and to be whatever they choose to be!

    Next week we'll be working on freeing the letters of the alphabet from their enslavement to the rules of spelling, grammar and punctuation, rules they certainly had no part in legislating and never agreed to.

  • Tony||

    Since numbers are mere symbols they can mean whatever we assign them to mean. 2+2=4 is pure tautology, not truth. At best it's saying that the words we have for 2 and 4 correspond in this way. But it could just as easily be 5 and five to represent a count of I I I I. We could switch the symbols 4 and 5 around and nothing would change, yet 2+2 would equal 5.

    Thus, Ayn Rand was a moron.

  • JWatts||

    And Tony, to no one's surprise, comes down on the side of the Party in Orwell's 1984.

    "The phrase "two plus two equals five" ("2 + 2 = 5") is a slogan used in many different forms of media, most notably in Part One, Chapter Seven of the book 1984 by George Orwell. In the novel, it is used as an example of an obviously false dogma that one may be required to believe, similar to other obviously false slogans promoted by the Party in the novel."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2_+_2_=_5

    Congrats Tony! It takes an exceptional mind to take that side of the argument!

  • Longtobefree||

    True. Many take exception to Tony's mind.

  • croaker||

    Tony has a mind?

  • Tony||

    That's what a quarter-million dollar philosophy degree got me.

  • JesseAz||

    The fact that this is what you took away from philosophy, that there are no truths, is proof that your degree is worthless.

  • Tony||

    Didn't say there are no truths. Just that the cliche of the arithmetic example of a universal truth is actually self-contained in language and not representative of any basic truth at all. (If such a thing exists.)

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Your comment is somewhat mixed.

    You are right. 2 is an arbitrary symbol. As is 4. As is plus. As is =. There is nothing inherent in them.

    2 is simply the successor of 1 though. And you can encode that different ways, but the basic statement there is actually something you can deduce as being objectively true.

  • Tony||

    It's a truth about how the English language happens to work, not physical reality. One symbol replaces others. The equals sign makes it tautology instead of insightful truth.

  • Tony||

    And I believe Rene Descartes would agree.

  • JesseAz||

    Wow your thoughts are useless. It is not how our language works. Words are not mutable at the whim of idiots.

  • Kim Jong Unfollow||

    Ayn Rand would have hit you with a 2x4 and you'd be out in 5 secs.

  • Jack Klompus Magic Ink||

    In addition to being one of the most insufferable assholes on the planet you are so painfully stupid you probably still can't figure out that every human being on earth despises you to the very core of your existence. You are a malignant piece of shit.

  • Longtobefree||

    Science denier!
    There are only two numbers; zero and one. Every computer programmer knows this.
    There is NO 2 + 2+ = 4
    There is only 00000010 + 00000010 = 00000100

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And binary addition is way easier to do, too.

    Binary division, ehhhhhhhhh. I don't like it.

  • Rat on a train||

    a + b = 15

  • JesseAz||

    Binary is just a base number system...

  • Will Nonya||

    Your argument is that the symbology and semantics involved are arbitrary and mutable and that this makes the concept being expressed invalid?

    Regardless of the symbology you choose the concept expressed by 2+2=4 remains unchanged and true.

    Does it help that these concepts of arithmetic originated with brown men now the "white male patriarchy"?

    What's next arguing the definition of is? Debating whether the sky is in fact blue since we can just as easily call it red?

  • Homple||

    Why do you "reach out" instead of "attempt to contact"?

  • Longtobefree||

    Because attempt to contact, without continuing affirmative consent, is rape.

  • Homple||

    Why do you "reach out" instead of "attempt to contact"?

  • Longtobefree||

    Because attempt to contact, without continuing affirmative consent, is rape.

  • Homple||

    Why do you "reach out" instead of "attempt to contact"?

  • Longtobefree||

    Because attempt to contact, without continuing affirmative consent, is rape.

  • Homple||

    Why do you "reach out" instead of "attempt to contact"?

  • Longtobefree||

    Because attempt to contact, without continuing affirmative consent, is rape.

  • Ecoli||

    This is a welcome development. To be sure.

  • Sevo||

    BestUsedCarSales|6.12.18 @ 6:54PM|#
    "Real talk. This is something I've wondered for awhile.
    Evolution has been a hot-button issue in the public sphere. To not believe in evolution instantly marks you as an idiot, or untrustworthy, or whatever negative feature you want. It's a litmus test.
    But what difference does it make for anyone except people doing certain types of biological research? If you work as a Dentist, what actual value is there either way if you believe in Creationism? It has no meaningful impact on almost anything. What's an aspect of everyday life that depends on having an opinion on evolution?"

    We (wife and self) know of several home-schooled kids; two by fundies (shirt-tail relatives), and I'm sorry they'll be excluded from a lot of intercourse when they grow up. You simply can't have intelligent conversations without some shared knowledge and evolution is sort of a basis for a lot of it. But their effect on society seems minimal; the loss is theirs.
    The others are just bright kids, and I'd say they'll get a lot less state-indoctrination than they would in government schools and will likely end up more skeptical regarding the state. They stand a good chance to benefit society.

  • ThomasD||

    "You simply can't have intelligent conversations without some shared knowledge and evolution is sort of a basis for a lot of it."

    Not sure I'm parsing that sentence correctly. Are you saying that knowledge of evolutionary concepts is necessary in order to have intelligent conversation? Or does it also require belief in those concepts in order to have intelligent conversation?

    Beyond that, is knowledge of evolutionary science required to discuss topics such as set mathematics, music theory, or formal logic?

  • Rich||

    Beyond that, is knowledge of set mathematics and formal logic required to vote?

  • Sevo||

    "Not sure I'm parsing that sentence correctly. Are you saying that knowledge of evolutionary concepts is necessary in order to have intelligent conversation? Or does it also require belief in those concepts in order to have intelligent conversation?"

    Take an example, I might be yakking about the purchases made by someone's wife, and it might be explained in that females strive to make themselves attractive as a result of evolutionary imperatives.
    I find knowledge of common scientific basics ends up informing quite a few conversations, and if I had to justify, say, the volcanism and erosion resulting from immense time spans, I'd end up like that dimbulb writer griping that the new HI eruptions will 'affect wildlife for decades', who apparently didn't know that without eruptions, there would be no HI at all.
    ---------------------------------
    "Beyond that, is knowledge of evolutionary science required to discuss topics such as set mathematics, music theory, or formal logic?"

    Certainly, there are discussions specific to other areas of knowledge where such superstitions would have no effect at all.

  • ThomasD||

    "I'd end up like that dimbulb writer griping that the new HI eruptions will 'affect wildlife for decades', who apparently didn't know that without eruptions, there would be no HI at all."

    That says more about you than about him. While I too find the overly sentimental fetishization of 'nature' (as opposed to actual nature) bothersome, it's no more bothersome than any other sort of sentimentality.

    After all, isn't it possible that someone once had a deep abiding appreciation for Krakatoan songbirds?

    To me, having an intelligent conversation is primarily my responsibility. Now granted, not everyone wants to talk, but I think you can learn something from most anyone who is willing to talk. An illiterate old logger once taught me how to make chanterelle infused grappa starting from grape skins.

  • ThomasD||

    Safe to say he knew almost nothing of evolution, much less natural selection, or punctuated equilibrium.

    But he did know how nature worked.

  • Sevo||

    Goodie for you.

  • DenverJ||

    I'm sorry they'll be excluded from a lot of intercourse when they grow up.

    That is a shame. Of course, the way you described the situation, it appears they are siblings, so it's probably for the best.

  • Rich||

    "The revised definitions more precisely and accurately reflect the commitment to freedom of expression that has always been expressed in the statement itself," said E. Royster Harper, vice president of student life, in a statement.

    Oh, FFS! Again with the "We just didn't express our wonderful policy sufficiently clearly" crap.

  • ThomasD||

    "Sorry if your lack of appreciation of our wisdom and foresight left you with the wrong impression."

  • TGoodchild||

    "The revised definitions more precisely and accurately reflect the commitment to freedom of expression that has always been expressed in the statement itself," said E. Royster Harper, vice president of student life, in a statement."

    Very nice astroturfing; the same sentiment could be applied to a variety of preemptively-repudiated illegal activity.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    How are universities supposed to cope when their federal overlords are no longer on the same side? It's jarring.

  • Will Nonya||

    "Jeff Sessions is committed to promoting free speech"

    Jeff sessions wouldn't know freedom if it bit him on the ass during a mardi gras parade wearing a t-shirt that read "Hey, I'm freedom bitch!".

    For him it's like pornography. He may not know what it is or understand its appeal but he doesn't like it so others shouldn't enjoy it.

  • vek||

    Is it just me, or has there been an awful lot of small, but good, news coming out lately? It seems like one story after another the last couple weeks has been the left eating shit. This, Gay Wedding Cake (not a total win, but better than I was expecting), Amazon head tax going down, and a lot of other little stuff.

    I'm not saying I'm tired of the winning yet... LOL But the left does seem to be properly stumbling lately. I like it.

  • ThomasD||

    Not sure what to make of the Amazon head tax fiasco. Calling that reversal 'good' is like discussing the 'victories' in the Iran-Iraq war.

  • vek||

    Sure... But better than it staying in place. I live in Seattle, and you probably can't comprehend the level of prog-derp EVERYBODY has here, unless you live in San Francisco, NYC, or maybe DC. We're as proggie as it gets, and the fact that there is enough push back HERE to shoot stuff down is refreshing. I didn't expect it to happen.

    There just really seems to be a lot of cases of the left overreaching and then being shot down in flames, even by people that are nominally on the left. They really have reached too far, and I know a lot of self proclaimed liberals/progressives that are even getting sick and tired of a lot of it.

    In other words it is POSSIBLE they may be heading towards just imploding like crazy all of a sudden. This is my wet dream anyway.

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