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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

"Campus Antisemitism Is Making Free Speech Fashionable Again"

Here are some excerpts from an informative article in Psychology Today by Pamela Paresky:

For years, free speech advocates have complained about “safetyism” on campus—shielding students from discomfort at the expense of freedom of expression. Now that the speech is painful to Jews—history’s most convenient scapegoats—university administrators are declaring their commitment to freedom of speech.

What counts as a microaggression? According to the material linked on Harvard’s website, asking an ethnically Asian person “where are you from” communicates “you are not American.” Saying “I believe the most qualified person should get the job” gives the message that “people of color are given extra unfair benefits because of their race.” And a university’s buildings being named for “white, heterosexual upper-class males” is an “environmental microaggression” that communicates to students of color “you don’t belong.”

Celebrating the rape, torture, kidnapping, murder, and beheadings of Jews is not on the list of offensive microaggressions. There is no training that explains why it gives the message “you don’t matter.” And none of the three university presidents who testified before Congress could cogently articulate the circumstances under which calling for the genocide of Jews would violate their code of conduct.

In order to avoid the selective enforcement of campus policies, administrations have two options: They can censor speech Jewish students find hateful the way they censor all the other forms of speech considered hateful by various identity groups. Or they can stick to policies that protect speech and punish harassment, threats, intimidation, and the creation of a hostile environment.

It would be a mistake for universities to enact speech codes designed to censor antisemitic speech. They can address antisemitic harassment, bullying, and discrimination by following existing rules and clarifying definitions. Doing that, however, requires dismantling the poisonous ideology that silences disfavored speech, keeps antisemitism in place, and blinds people to the antisemitism in which they participate. Only then can free speech campus climates flourish.

Paresky is Senior Fellow at the Network Contagion Research Institute (NCRI) and Director of the Aspen Center for Human Development (ACHD), and a former Senior Scholar at FIRE.

The entire article, not paywalled, is here.


Posted by Steve Lubet on December 13, 2023 at 10:18 AM | Permalink


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