Saturday, August 23, 2014

"academic freedom" and "hate speech", my page, and the latter at Leiter's.

Leiter writes a review in the NDPR, "The Harm of Hate Speech"
Jeremy Waldron makes a spirited, if somewhat meandering, case for the legal regulation of "hate speech," one that American scholars in particular would do well to consider. Such regulation is unconstitutional content-based regulation of speech in the U.S., but is common in most other Western democracies. Is there a good reason for the U.S. to be the outlier here? As Waldron notes in passing, in the U.S. "the philosophical arguments about hate speech are knee-jerk, impulsive, and thoughtless", which is at least partly due to confusion about what is at stake. Waldron observes that "hatred is relevant not as the motivation of certain actions, but as a possible effect of certain forms of speech", and thus the real issue is "the predicament of vulnerable people who are subject to hatred directed at their race, ethnicity, or religion"
...Of course, most people are just regurgitators of pablum, vectors of ideological and commercial forces at work in the broader culture, so what they "disclose" is only, in their eyes, a mark of their individuality.
Also my page, on Tushnet
It says something about the decline of this country that a specialist in Middle East Studies writing about Kuwait gives a better defense of free speech than a professor of American constitutional law does writing about The U.S. 
 And of course, Brighouse, against free speech
I would say, in fact, that the first amendment tradition has a terribly distorting effect on American public discussions of free speech.  
...I think there is a very strong case that hateful epithets can be distinguished and treated differently from propositional content, and do not merit protection under “the right to speak what one sees as the truth”.
and Bertram the same
The right frame, in my view, is to think of the state as “we, the people” and to ask what conditions need to be in place for the people, and for each citizen, to play their role in effective self-government. Once you look at things like that then various speech restrictions naturally suggest themselves.
For more by both the above go here (and follow the instructions for sources)

On Salaita, Leiter links approvingly, to this
Wise argues, “What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them.” Of course, this standard is ridiculous: individuals should be free to say personal and “disrespectful” things about others (for example, everyone should be free to say that Wise’s argument here is both stupid and evil, without facing punishment from the respect police). Respect is not a fundamental value of any university, and being “disrespectful” is not an academic crime. But it’s notable that Salaita really didn’t say anything personal about anyone. So here Wise greatly expands the concept, declaring that not only persons but “viewpoints themselves” must be protected from any disrespectful words. I am puzzled as to exactly how a free university could possibly operate when no one is allowed to be disrespectful toward any viewpoint. Presumably, Wise will quickly act to fire anyone who has ever disrespected or demeaned Nazism, terrorism, racism, sexism, and homophobia. Since all “viewpoints” are protected, then biology professors must be fired for disrespecting creationism as false, along with any other professor who is found to believe or know anything.
My comments
“Respect is not a fundamental value of any university, and being “disrespectful” is not an academic crime.” 
Salaita: “Zionists: transforming ‘anti-Semitism’ from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.” 
The post has been linked by a respected academic who agrees with it while also (unmentioned in his link) being a supporter of “hate speech” laws. I won’t offer an opinion on whether or not the quote from Salaita can be classified as hate speech, but I don’t have to because I oppose the laws made to regulate whatever it is. 
The author of this post tries to separate the formal and structural (the integrity of academia etc) from the normative. Not gonna happen. 
The pale of the academic normative is broader than the pale of the common normative, but they shift in tandem. You should leave discussion of academic “freedom” to libertarians and focus on tenure as due process and academic independence -best defined as “once past the post, you’re in” – as better for society than its opposite. Salaita was let in and he followed the rules. Wise hasn’t.
The academy isn't removed from politics; tenure and academic freedom grant those allowed to teach a distance from its consequences. Larry Summers is allowed to say whatever he wants about the intelligence of women. J. Phillip Rushton and Arthur Jensen never lost a job as a result of their opinions on race and IQ. Even John Yoo has a job. Colin McGinn and Peter Ludlow got in trouble for the opposite of yelling "fire" in a crowded building -whispering "pussy" in a private room- but as exceptions to the rule they're of a kind.

Salaita's tweet in context, here.  It takes away somewhat from my use of it as illustration, but since we've gone down the slippery slope from "hate speech" to "trigger words", it still works. As with hate, the trigger is in the mind of the beholder, and if the beholder is prejudged as "victim" and as needing protection, then who or what is the protector? This is where liberal concern becomes a defense of Holly Golightly and Hollies go lightly, the opposite of liberalism.

Arendt, "Zionism Reconsidered"
Not less dangerous and quite in accord with this general trend was the sole new piece of historical philosophy which the Zionists contributed out of their own new experiences; "A nation is a group of people ... held together by a common enemy" (Herzl)-an absurd doctrine containing only this bit of truth: that many Zionists had, indeed, been convinced they were Jews by the enemies of the Jewish people. Thereupon these Zionists concluded that without antisemitism the Jewish people would not have survived in the countries of the Diaspora; and hence they were opposed to any attempt to liquidate antisemitism on a large scale. On the contrary, they declared that our foes, the antisemites, "will be our most reliable friends, the antisemitic countries our allies" (Herzl). The result could only be, of course, an utter confusion in which nobody could distinguish between friend and foe, in which the foe became the friend and the friend the hidden, and therefore all the more dangerous, enemy.
The paradox of needing hate and hate speech to define yourself; the paradox of fascism. The photograph below is a fascist image, and a partial model of the Zionist self-image.

flickr
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"The pale of the academic normative is broader than the pale of the common normative, but they shift in tandem." Maybe I need to add another circle.

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