The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

George Will on the Gordon Klein Lawsuit Against UCLA


From today's syndicated column:

Enforced conformity in the name of "diversity." Exclusion of intellectual heterodoxy to make campuses "inclusive." Orwellian language is spoken in academia. At the UCLA Anderson School of Management, a debacle began with a Kafkaesque touch, an antecedentless pronoun: "we."

The first words of a June 2, 2020, email, signed by one student, were: "We are writing to express our tremendous concern…." The writer, who is not Black, was tremendously concerned that the upcoming final exam in lecturer Gordon Klein's class would injure "the mental and physical health of our Black classmates." The writer said that "traumatic circumstances"—e.g., the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis—placed Black students at an "academic disadvantage." So, for Black students, Klein's final exam should count only if it elevated a student's grade….

[Dean Antonio] Bernardo and academic conformity enforcers like him are fluent in woke-speak and relish the applause that comes to those who speak it. They engage in cost-free virtue-signaling at others' expense. Now, however, such disagreeable people on campuses everywhere are on notice: They might be liable for the denials of constitutional rights, and for financial and reputation injuries, such as those about which Klein is suing.

The behavior of Bernardo and others at the Anderson School was clearly intended to have a chilling effect on speech. By his sturdy refusal to be chilled, and by his suit, Klein can help to deter such behavior.

For more on the lawsuit, see here.