Oh, the Irony

FIRE points out yet another university that is attempting to restrict speech it does not agree with, in the name of, uh, freedom or something.  The university's Student Union proposed to close down the campus humor magazine that made a joke about race relations.  The reason?

Specifically, in response to the "overtly racist, sexist, and generally
offensive articles, statements, and images published in the Spring
Issue of Gravity Magazine," and because the publication of this joke
had caused "members of our community to feel "˜unsafe,' "˜powerless,'
"˜unsupported,' "˜harassed,' and "˜threatened;'"

Now, this university is private, so I suppose as a private body they can define acceptable speech in their private confines any way they want (just as my kids dropping F bombs is legal by the first amendment, but banned in my household).  However, I fear that the folks involved do not understand that they need to leave these attitudes behind when they leave their private little cocoon university, because speech that hurts your feelings is not illegal, thank goodness, in the rest of the country. 

Unfortunately, it is almost too much to ask nowadays that universities understand that, as Louis Brandeis wrote, the best response to speech you don't like is more speech.  The rich irony comes from the fact that this occurred at ... Brandeis University.  The freaking place was named after the man who wrote:

Those who won our independence believed"¦ that freedom to think as
you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the
discovery and spread of political truth; that without free speech and
assembly discussion would be futile; that with them, discussion affords
ordinarily adequate protection against the dissemination of noxious
They recognized the risks to which all human institutions are
subject. But they knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear
of punishment for its infraction; that it is hazardous to discourage
thought, hope and imagination; that fear breeds repression; that
repression breeds hate; that hate menaces stable government; that the
path of safety lies in the opportunity to discuss freely supposed
grievances and proposed remedies; and that the fitting remedy for evil counsels is good ones.

Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free
speech and assembly"¦ To justify suppression of free speech there must
be reasonable ground to fear that serious evil will result if free
speech is practiced"¦ [N]o danger flowing from speech can be deemed
clear and present unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so
imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full
discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the
falsehoods and fallacies, to avert the evil by the process of
education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence. Only an emergency can justify repression.   (Emphasis added.)

Check out the FIRE article to learn much more about the events in question, including what the original joke was.


  1. M. Hodak:

    That generator-like spinning sound you hear is the remains of Justice Brandeis.

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