Wendy Kaminer on How Campus Censorship Makes Us Even Less Civil

After a fun week as a guest contributor, Ricochet has asked me to stop in every so often to let the community know about the bizarre parallel dimension known as higher education. I am happy to do so and would like to start off by sharing a post about the new FIRE video starring author, Atlantic columnist, and civil libertarian (as well as FIRE Board of Advisor member) Wendy Kaminer over at The Legal Satyricon

As Wendy says in the video: “If students are going to learn to think for themselves they have to have the freedom to speak for themselves … they have to almost be forced to or required to defend their ideas.  That’s how you deepen and develop your ideas, by defending them by going into intellectual combat with people who have very different ideas and very different perspectives that are opposed to your own.  That’s how people learn how to think.”

  1. raycon and lindacon

    But learning to think is precisely what the colleges want to discourage.

  2. Greg Lukianoff
    C
    raycon and lindacon: But learning to think is precisely what the colleges want to discourage. · 4 minutes ago

    Good point. This incident involving KC Johnson and Brooklyn College always stuck out to me as a particularly naked example of a college discouraging critical thought.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1ZcXV5-SHE&list=PLD70519787168B65A&index=13

  3. Indaba

    Your article on the professor and his poster about Firefire (I think) was interesting to my two sons, both of university age. They were stunned that anything would be taken down at university, especially a movie poster.

    The Canadian campuses have been taken up with a few free speech incidents, one where Ann Coulter and a popular journalist were prevented from speaking. 

    The latest magazine from Waterloo University has a message from the Dean. 

    Free thinking insitutions like Waterloo must seek and maintain partnerships with only those whose commitment  to academic freedom equals our own.

    To thrive in this changing environment, and to preserve and extend the experience of intellectual freedom and unfettered research across space and time, universities need to innovate, innovate, innovate…

    …The freedom to inquire, challenge, teach and research is essential to the vibrancy and quality of a society, and the University of Waterloo intends to champion this conviction now and always and everywhere.

    What is interesting about this wonderful commitment to intellectual freedom on the campus is that the Dean’s name is Feridun Hamdullahpur.

    I find that people who know other parts of the world understand how precious and rare a civil learning environment is.

  4. Alan Weick

    Ms. Kaminer is, of course, 100% spot on  if the goal is to teach people how to think critically.  But, unfortunately, the modern university is not there for that, despite claims to the contrary.  It is there to teach students what to think as it functions more as re-education camp than institution of intellectual exchange.

    The  above quote from Waterloo University is the Orwellian case in point.  It talks the talk of intellectual freedom but the actions of the university towards Ann Coulter expose the lie.

  5. Greg Lukianoff
    C
    Indaba: Your article on the professor and his poster about Firefire (I think) was interesting to my two sons, both of university age. …. · 38 minutes ago

    Ah yes, the Firefly case. I talked it last week here: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Firefly-Free-Speech-and-the-Danger-of-Questioning-Authority-on-Campus

    We get a lot of requests from students and professors who believe their free speech rights have been violated at colleges in Canada. FIRE does not and cannot help with cases outside the US. Do you have any recommendations on who can help them?

  6. Guruforhire

    I am reminded of Procrustes.

  7. flownover

    This is really tough for me, I have one remaining child in the house, 16 yr old. She is a sophomore and thinking about college as all her friends are and most everyone in the high school she attends goes to college .

    I can’t honestly think of any good reasons to go to college anymore. The tradeoffs of liberal mindset crap education versus the probable degree requirements of most jobs all collide with my vision of her just finding a good husband, but he would be subject to the same crap education and probably be as handicapped as the next schlub in the job market. 

    And then there is the tilted gender thing which says she might be the breadwinner , so how the hell should I attempt to influence her matriculation ? This is not easy, my other daughter got a fancy education and is selling fancy foodstuffs at retail . 

    Argh !! There are not enough seats at the Hillsdale table for me to want to send my youngest to college . Where is the list of conservative colleges ? And I can imagine her horror at the prospect of going someplace like Flint Michigan . 

    Anyone have any ideas ? …please……..

  8. Gretchen

    Well, Flownover, there is also Grove City College, possibly the only other school  besides Hillsdale  that accepts no federal money, including student loans.

  9. Tom Lindholtz

    What a charming idea.  After having spent 37 years of my life on a university campus I can only conclude that you’ve never been to one.  I know of few places where intellectual development and wide-ranging freedom of thought are less encouraged….especially in the arts, social sciences, and humanities where, it could be argued, it is needed most.

  10. Tom Lindholtz
    flownover: This is really tough for me, I have one remaining child in the house, 16 yr old. She is a sophomore and thinking about college as all her friends are and most everyone in the high school she attends goes to college .

    I can’t honestly think of any good reasons to go to college anymore. …

    And then there is the tilted gender thing which says she might be the breadwinner , so how the hell should I attempt to influence her matriculation ? This is not easy, my other daughter got a fancy education and is selling fancy foodstuffs at retail . 

    Argh !! There are not enough seats at the Hillsdale table for me to want to send my youngest to college . Where is the list of conservative colleges ? And I can imagine her horror at the prospect of going someplace like Flint Michigan . 

    Anyone have any ideas ? …please…….. · 2 hours ago

    I would not hesitate to recommend my alma mater: Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL.

  11. KC Mulville

    An idea without debate is like a steak without chewing.

    Sooner or later, someone is just going to choke to death.

  12. Crow

    The proliferation of universities’ administrative positions, the role of which is largely to play grand vizier to the grievance industry, has certainly  contributed to this trend, as well as the rising cost of education. 

    When there was a core curriculum requirement, this at least guaranteed that a student would be exposed to powerful thinking that challenged their preconceptions. Its abandon has not only threatened the very idea of the university, but has further diffused the re-education camp odor through too many universities’ programs.

  13. Indaba
    Alan Weick: Ms. Kaminer is, of course, 100% spot on  if the goal is to teach people how to think critically.  But, unfortunately, the modern university is not there for that, despite claims to the contrary.  It is there to teach students what to think as it functions more as re-education camp than institution of intellectual exchange.

    The  above quote from Waterloo University is the Orwellian case in point.  It talks the talk of intellectual freedom but the actions of the university towards Ann Coulter expose the lie. · 22 hours ago

    Alan, you are mixing up Ann with Christie Blatchford’s speech on her book about Aboriginal sabotage of a development. The students stopped Blatchford about the same time as Ann.

    Laurier and Waterloo just had a joint conference on intellectual freedom on campus. That is more than U of Ottawa has done since Ann Coulter’s visit which was blocked by students.

    My one son is at Laurier and since it a business school, it does not seem to have the left bias. My son is disappointed as he is on the debating team but does not get lefties as opponents.

  14. Indaba
    Greg Lukianoff

    Indaba: Your article on the professor and his poster about Firefire (I think) was interesting to my two sons, both of university age. …. · 38 minutes ago

    Ah yes, the Firefly case. I talked it last week here: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Firefly-Free-Speech-and-the-Danger-of-Questioning-Authority-on-Campus

    We get a lot of requests from students and professors who believe their free speech rights have been violated at colleges in Canada. FIRE does not and cannot help with cases outside the US. Do you have any recommendations on who can help them? · 21 hours ago

    First place to go is SUN media. They do Mark Stein interviews and it is the only media our PM lets interview him.

    There are lawyers who would fight the case and sue the university. I recommend that too.

    National Post newspaper is very good at writing well about free speech. They followed the Stein case very well. 

  15. Indaba
    Tom Lindholtz

    flownover: This is really tough for me, I have one remaining child in the house, 16 yr old. She is a sophomore and thinking about college as all her friends are and most everyone in the high school she attends goes to college .

    I can’t honestly think of any good reasons to go to college anymore. …

    And then there is the tilted gender thing which says she might be the breadwinner , so how the hell should I attempt to influence her matriculation ? This is not easy, my other daughter got a fancy education and is selling fancy foodstuffs at retail . 

    Argh !! There are not enough seats at the Hillsdale table for me to want to send my youngest to college . Where is the list of conservative colleges ? 

    Anyone have any ideas ? …please…….. · 2 hours ago

    I would not hesitate to recommend my alma mater: Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. · 18 hours ago

    Canadian universities are cheap versus the USA and the universities have a big international community who step up the academic pressure.

    A female in Canada has it made.

    Western and Queens have little of the leftie political stuff. 

  16. Alan Weick
    Indaba

    Alan, you are mixing up Ann with Christie Blatchford’s speech on her book about Aboriginal sabotage of a development. The students stopped Blatchford about the same time as Ann.

    Laurier and Waterloo just had a joint conference on intellectual freedom on campus. That is more than U of Ottawa has done since Ann Coulter’s visit which was blocked by students.

    My one son is at Laurier and since it a business school, it does not seem to have the left bias. My son is disappointed as he is on the debating team but does not get lefties as opponents. · 22 hours ago

    Thanks for the correction.

    The business schools may be an alternative to the traditional liberal arts cesspools.  Babson and Bentley, both located in the Boston area of all places, besides emphasizing business, require a core of liberal arts courses for their students.  When my daughter visited Babson, her campus tour guide told her that it was OK to be a Republican at Babson.  This is what it has come to at most universities: the politics that dare not say its name.

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