Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We, the undersigned Black alumni of Yale University who work in multiple fields pertaining to racial justice and Black culture, write with deep frustration, concern, and offense over the hostile and violent racial conditions that your students recently brought to national attention. Having lived through experiences like this at Yale and been made painfully aware of similar environments elsewhere, we applaud and are inspired by the students’ assertion that they are unstoppable; we raise our voices in solidarity with theirs in order to further bring light to the systemic violation facing students in institutions of higher learning across this country, and indeed, around the world. We know that Black students at Yale are underrepresented, as are Black faculty...
The tensions within an enclosed self-regulating community, and an enclosed self-regulating class.
One of the signatories makes an appearance here.

The President of Amherst
Student protesters themselves are engaged in serious conversations about the importance of free speech and have asked themselves questions about uses of language that respect that freedom. They are also asking themselves and us how the College protects free expression while also upholding our anti-discrimination policies and our statement of Respect for Persons. Censorship and silencing are not the answer. I believe our students know that. It takes time, attention, and serious discussion to sort out and make clear how we protect free speech while also establishing norms within our communities that encourage respect and make us responsible for what we do with our freedom. That is the discussion we need to have. It must involve all members of the community—students, faculty, staff, alumni—and it must be the kind of discussion that reflects the traditions of Amherst and a liberal arts education at its best.
Leiter has two posts criticizing a piece by "two philosophers... Kate Manne (Cornell) and Jason Stanley (Yale)":  "When Free Speech Becomes a Political Weapon"

Another post: "Philosopher Robert Paul Wolff on events in Paris"  Wolff's post is bland, passive and useless.

Manne and Stanley's piece is silly, an earnest attempt at opening up a closed community while defending its status as exclusive.  I made roughly the same comments there as below. The defenses of "free speech" are defenses only of "appropriate speech".  It's the same with Hebdo and the defense of the Muhammed cartoons. All the major participants would say that hate speech laws are justifiable, with the powerful left to define what's hateful and not.

At the end of Leiter's first post.
ADDENDUM: Several readers point out that Manne and Stanley also, falsely, state that "hate speech" is an exception to the constitutional protection for speech, along with 'fighting words" and slander. Although this mistake is perhaps telling, it's also largely irrelevant to what is so wrong-headed with the argument in this piece.
From my comments at The Chronicle
Angry claims of threats to "freedom of speech" have become like claims of those who defend "the right to bear arms" and who say "abortion is murder". Ask the former if the right includes shoulder held rocket launchers and the latter if women should be tried for murder and both say "no". 
This isn't about freedom of speech but insult and deference to authority. The kid with the video camera in Mizzou is autistic and the whole thing has now reduced him to tears. But he can't imagine that the kids forming a circle were protecting friends who were as oversensitive as he is. Autism is self-blindness. And that's what philosophy has been reduced to: the objective, aperspectival reason of autistics, now brought to bear on emo kids. It's sad all around.
The screaming at Yale is about the cluelessness of dorm daddies and dorm moms. It's not about the classroom and it's not about tenure, but it's definitely about prep school. Even Leiter refers to "Christakis's odd e-mail", odd and deemed inappropriate by many. Again, were the kids oversensitive, maybe, but what the hell is the response?
I'd only glanced at the reddit link. It gets much more interesting.
I wanted to help Mark and agreed to be his temporary, pro bono publicist for the next few days, and to interview him at Skepticon live on stage, mostly with questions I prepared in advance. During the session, Mark said multiple indefensibly racist things that, in my opinion, cannot be reconciled with a continued relationship with him.
Schierbecker claimed his speech rights were violated. They weren't. The same holds for protestors who interrupt speeches by Israeli politicians.
"These students had the courage and conscience to stand up against aggression, using peaceful means. We cannot allow our educational institutions to be used as a platform to threaten and discourage students who choose to practice their First Amendment right."
You have no legal right to interrupt a public speech. If you think you have a moral duty, that's something else. Politics is messy, even pushy. Leiter thinks pushiness is tantamount to fascism.

Legal realism, Leiter's preferred model of law, is predicated on the distinction between law and morality and on the assumption that for the purposes of legal decision-making, reasons are not causes: ideology is the best predictor of results.  The only parties exempt from this judgment of course are legal realists themselves and their closest kin. "Determinism for thee but not for me"

Leiter sees the culture of debate in the closed system of elite academia as based in a form of morally neutral super-law where questions of earthly law and morality are discussed. All adversarialism is bounded by the collaborative model of the academy as for France and Laïcité, it is bounded by state morality.

The discussion of free speech has gone off the rails on all sides.  Bureaucracy has become so ubiquitous as state and social institution, that people need to refer to a higher authority for everything, even their gender and need to rebel.

enough for now.

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