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Colleges and politicians promote free speech for some but insist on civility for others

Sep 22, 2018 by

Some views are allowed to go unchallenged in higher education today, writes Kamden K. Strunk, while those from marginalized groups are told to be polite.

By Kamden K. Strunk –

The past 18 months have been marked by profound changes in the sociopolitical landscape. Within a context of increasingly visible white supremacism, nationalism, heterosexism and transmisogyny, campuses have become contested ground. These dynamics are a continuation of patterns in U.S. politics and society, but following the 2016 election, the visibility of these oppressive ideas and movements has increased. Alongside that increase is a renewed contestation of the contours of “free speech” on campuses. So-called free speech organizations have pushed for an unlimited, absolutist definition of what kinds of speech should be permitted on campuses and in classrooms, with free speech claims and lawsuits leading to events like the white nationalist rallies that have taken place on campuses around the country, including my university’s campus last fall.

Recently, discussions surrounding free speech have shifted to include civility. That is, while campus speech should (according to the current rhetoric) be in no case limited for far-right extremists calling for the elimination of some human rights and in some cases even advocating for genocide, marginalized faculty should be “civil” and “sensitive” in their speech.

Source: Colleges and politicians promote free speech for some but insist on civility for others (opinion)

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