mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
Higher Education Watch
UC President: It’s Freedom of Speech, Not Freedom from Speech

Janet Napolitano, President Obama’s former Head of the Department of Homeland Security and now leader of the largest university system in the United States, is the latest high-profile college administrator to come out and forcefully criticize the campus crusade against liberal norms of speech and expression. A passage from her op-ed in the Boston Globe:

As president of the University of California system, I write to show how far we have moved from freedom of speech on campuses to freedom from speech. If it hurts, if it’s controversial, if it articulates an extreme point of view, then speech has become the new bête noire of the academy. Speakers are disinvited, faculty are vilified, and administrators like me are constantly asked to intervene.

The goal of our university education today should be to prepare students who are thoughtful, well-informed, and resilient. The world needs more critical, creative thinkers, and American higher education does a better job of producing them than any other higher education system in the world. We seek to make the world a better place for the next generation, and teaching the values and responsibilities of free speech is inextricably linked with this goal.

This is strong language from arguably the most influential higher education official in the United States. Unfortunately, Napolitano—who herself has been shouted down and heckled by students more than once during her tenure—tries to hedge her position later on in the piece in ways that muddle her original message.

First, she gestures in support of “safe spaces,” describing them as places where students “can gather with others of similar backgrounds to share experiences and support one another.” This is largely a straw man: When critics of the campus left denounce “safe spaces,” they are referring to the well-documented efforts by campus activists to create areas of campus where no one can voice opposition to their political agenda. We are not aware of anyone arguing that students should not be permitted to gather with other students “of similar backgrounds” if they so choose.

Second, Napolitano characterizes the recent University of Chicago letter to incoming students in support of academic freedom as “Speech Darwinism”. It’s unclear what this means. The UofC letter was a statement of commitment to open inquiry, and itself was a reaction to the increasingly widespread successes of campus activists to shut down classroom discussions, or have visiting speakers shouted down or banned. The letter made clear that “freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to threaten or harass others” and that “civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us.” It was not a brief for vulgarity and wanton disrespect, but for intellectual pluralism and fidelity to longstanding liberal norms.

All that said, Napolitano’s acknowledgment that American universities are facing a crisis of free speech, and her sharp criticism of illiberal activism, is an important step forward for the movement to save universities from the forces of censorship and intolerance. Let’s hope that a critical mass of students and faculty will back her up.

Features Icon
show comments
  • dfooter

    Napolitano tries to have it both ways. She is also a proponent of policing microaggressions, defined in a document circulated by her Office of the President to faculty and staff UC system wide. She is not a leader, more of a hack trying to reconcile irreconcilable positions. Not surprising given her background.

    • Jim__L

      Yeah, I was wondering about this myself — I haven’t been impressed by Napolitano’s tenure, either at DHS or at UC. If she’s had a come-to-Jesus moment that would be great, but I’d take a lot more convincing before I started singing her praises.

      • dfooter

        Don’t see much change of heart, per the last few paragraphs of WRM’s article. Rather, she is trying to be seen as a proponent of more traditional liberal values while inclusively addressing antithetical values. To me, this points out her lack of strong free speech values, and merely wants to be in the right spot politically. Of course, this ensures she won’t be able to see it coming when the campus intolerant hoist her on her own petard.

  • NOYB

    I find two things astounding about this article: first, the quality of the writing. It’s pretty cheesy and cliched. It seems written by a 7th grader for fellow 7th graders. It proves that the triteness of her speeches is not a function of her speaking ability, but of her innate idiocy.
    The second astounding thing is what a load of b.s. it is. Napolitano’s actions make clear she does not believe in free speech. Her statements in the op-ed about ‘faculty enforcing standards’ prove that she is anti-free speech. This same woman instructed her faculty last year not to say or tolerate the saying of these expressions and many more:

    – America is a melting pot
    – I believe the most qualified person should get the job
    – There is only one race, the human race (how the heck did this trite liberal platitude become too far to the right in just 20 years?)
    – America is the land of opportunity
    – Everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough

    This op-ed must be part of a smokescreen, something for her to point to and say she supports free speech because ‘look! I wrote this’, while she instructs faculty to suppress any attempt to question the liberal narrative of victimization and the overarching importance of race and of America and the West as bad things that must be re-engineered.

    She also says that in the 1960s UC students were 55% male, and that was a bad thing, but now they are 53% female and that is a good thing. So will the ratio become bad when women reach 54% or when they reach 55%? Or is it only bad when men are the majority, and it doesn’t matter how disproportionate the number of women is?

    • Jim__L

      Thanks for reaching back and pulling out Napolitano’s old policies, I couldn’t quite recall why the tone of this article seemed so inappropriate.

      Is she repudiating her old positions, or not? That would seem to be the relevant question.

  • Andrew Allison

    Your tax dollars at work!! Not just the Californians who pay for the UC-system, but the Federal taxpayers who fund the attendees. Read and weep. And the world wonders Why Trump?

  • Frank Natoli

    And if some students wish to have a “safe place” defined as absence of black students, what then? Exactly who may be “safely” excluded? Only political conservatives? Perhaps require a campus ghetto for then?
    As for freedom of not freedom from, Liberals like Napolitano have applauded SCOTUS decisions requiring freedom from religion for decades.
    They are congenital hypocrites.

  • FriendlyGoat

    On the general subject of safe spaces, is it unreasonable to notice that houses of worship or congregations with membership (Christian, Jewish, Islamic or other) are built on the idea of being safe spaces for only their own points of view? None of them are created and operated on the idea that they must invite in the representatives of opposing ideas and make themselves into perpetual public debates on the virtues or lack thereof in their own world views.

    We cannot reasonably suggest that an entire university be a “safe space” somehow protected from ANY particular points of view. But we also cannot reasonably refuse to permit certain segments to maintain their own “safe spaces” within that whole. The model for this is towns and cities which cannot and do not permit themselves to be “safe spaces” on the whole and yet the churches, synagogues and mosques exist as enclaves within the municipalities and generally are respected in their rights to be what they are—-without harassment.

    Someone will say that the 1st Amendment protects the free exercise of religion. Indeed it does, but the same 1st Amendment freedom of speech is now argued to mean that we all have a right to get into each others’ faces (or spaces) and speak against all those religions and/or anything/everything else. “Freedom of speech, not freedom from speech” to me is a buzz-phrase which “needs a little more work” (as they say). It has its similarities to the recent episode of Congress voting overwhelmingly to let certain victims sue Saudi Arabia, not realizing that the American government may be the number one deep-pocketed target for lawsuits in the entire world and we just saw most of our legislators invite those suits upon us.

    • Kevin

      Private property can be made safe spaces as its owner desires. However, suppression of viewpoints on public property being used for pubic purposes should not be permitted. If a club in campus wants safe spaces for its meetings, that’s fine (as long as other groups also have access to space to hold their meetings). Classrooms (used for classes) should not be safe spaces – though viewpoint neutral rules to allow for orderly classes to be held are fine.

      • FriendlyGoat

        I figured someone would raise the argument that the principal way to have a safe space for an idea is to own the property upon which it is thought or shared with rights to defend the borders of the property from thought dissenters. That way, “not freedom FROM speech” does not apply. One of my reasons for believing that the new buzz-phrase “freedom of speech, not freedom from speech” needs more work is precisely that. The new mantra invites your property argument and implies that people who own property actually do have more speech rights than people who don’t, by default.

        Generally, though, I agree with you that a class in a classroom is not intended to be a safe space for a point of view. I also find your suggestion of the need for “viewpoint neutral” rules for “orderly” classes interesting. In that situation, the owner of the property (a public university here) would be saying all ideas are respectable (even if they aren’t) BECAUSE it does not want to be the premises for literal fight club.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Nice try, but sorry no….a public university is just that…public, hence it does not own property in the sense that a private one might. A public university thus cannot discriminate on the basis of speech because it is a public organ, while a private one can. It is hard to find a more simple and straightforward example of property rights than this. A private university is by definition not an organ of the government, and thus is not subject to limits on free expression or the restrictions upon such expression within its confines. A public university, by contrast, is a public organ, and an extension of the government, and is thus subject to basic first amendment limits on what it can restrict in the way of expression. This is the difference between private and public, and Constitution 101…

          A property owner enjoys the right to limit expression only on his property, not off it, hence he has no ‘extra’ speech rights, since outside of his own property (which he can exclude individuals from, for instance) he has no additional controls or abilities to limit speech. To suggest that he has ‘more speech rights’ is to ignore the essential aspect of property rights themselves.

    • NOYB

      While the cult of victimhood is followed with religious fervor and those who question it are denounced with the zeal of fundamentalists denouncing heretics, it is not a religion. And ‘freedom of speech’ is not a buzz-phrase for you or liberals to carve out exceptions and limits to in order to protect the closed minds of liberals and prevent the brainwashed from learning they have, indeed, been brainwashed. And your analogy to the vote on lawsuits by 9/11 victims is dumb. Freedom of Speech is the First Amendment and the foundation upon which democracy is built. The 9/11 bill is a law just passed by a Congress too lazy and dumb to actually read a bill and think of the consequences of passing it.

      • FriendlyGoat

        We need to remember that Congress not being permitted to pass laws abridging the freedom of speech is a concept actually in the Constitution and “not freedom from speech” is an add-on which is not in the Constitution. There are laws in most states which actually do afford most people some protection from my unlimited “speech”. These might fall under categories such as assault, disturbing the peace, lewd behavior, inciting a riot, making a false police report, frightening children, public endangerment, road rage. We really don’t want all these protections called into question by playing with the idea that no one should have any reasonable expectation of freedom from certain speech.

        I’ll admit that (my) raising the issue of the 9/11 law is tangential here, but I won’t go with “dumb”. It’s not that 97 senators were too lazy to read a bill. It’s that they were goaded in an election year into doing something incredibly stupid. I think being goaded into dwelling on NO freedom FROM speech is just as dumb.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Unbelievably dumb, even for you. The limits on speech by the state that are permitted are specifically held within the state’s overriding requirement to preserve the safety of its citizens, and have been found by a steady stream of court decisions going back over 200 years to be: 1) tightly focused, i.e. not to exceed immediate effects and clearly defined circumstances; 2) limited to specific state requirements; and 3) subject to strict scrutiny by the courts, not simply offered deference on the basis of a state’s declared goals. In practice this means that any attempt to limit speech can be and is subject to challenge by the speaker, and must be defended in detail. The idea that most of the categories you list above represent overall limitations on speech by the state without control is simply silly, not to mention several of the categories (frightening children?, assault?) have only the most dubious connection to speech int he first place. Some of the more reasonable examples (disturbing the peace, false police reports, deliquency of a minor, public endangerment) have little to do with speech, and even less to do with content of speech, and everything to do with subsidiary actions. For instance, disturbing the peace is about noise, light, etc. not about speech, and in fact can be accomplished without ever saying a word. Likewise false police reports do not represent speech, but rather abuse of public services, and hence are more likely a species of fraud. If you had any concept of what you were talking about, you might have done better bringing up libel, but even there you would have a problem because the ultimate defense against libel is truth (unlike the British legal system, where ‘the greater the truth, the greater the libel’). Put simply, limits on speech outside of bedrock state functions, narrowly defined and limited in scope, do not pass constitutional muster.

          Freedom from speech does not exist in any sense, and certainly the state has no basis for providing it to aggrieved individuals. A private institution can do this within its own property, but other than that, no dice.

          • FriendlyGoat

            I’m going to bet you can walk right out on State Line and start yelling derisions (with or without obscenities) at your neighbors or passers by and “free speech” yourself right into the clink on one charge or another if you do it very long on the public street or from your own property into the public street or audibly onto the property of others. You won’t do it because you know that when you offend other people enough to convince them you are dangerous as a mental case, 1) They’ll have the police on ya, and 2) The arresting officer seriously will not take this essay of yours here into consideration.

          • f1b0nacc1

            If I start yelling at passers by or neighbors (with or without obscenities, though if I am going to yell, I would hardly miss the opportunity to make use of my command of the language…grin…) in such a way as to disturb the peace (either by threatening individuals or making overt disturbances that exceed normal noise thresholds) even if I am on my own property, I can absolutely be prosecuted for disturbing the peace. What you seem to fail to understand is that offending people or expressing a viewpoint that they don’t care for has nothing to do with this, it is the noise, not the content that is actionable. In point of fact if I can demonstrate to the courts that I am being prosecuted for the content of my speech, rather than for the manner in which it is delivered (i.e. if I am not noisy or overtly intrusive to individuals not on my property), then the case against me would be thrown out. Further, if I can demonstrate that my actions were prosecuted merely because of their content, I would have an interesting case against the arresting officer or a private case against those bringing charges in the first place. This is what you seem to miss, i.e. that content-based objections have absolutely no standing, while objections to threatening, intrusive, or otherwise hostile behavior is entirely fair game.

            To come back to our point of departure, a demand for a ‘safe space’ is content-related, and thus has no standing in a public venue, while in a private venue it is entirely reasonable, albeit ill-advised. If Harvard wishes to sully it’s good name by sustaining safe-spaces, they can expect no further checks from me, but that is the proper extent of my response to them. If I am prohibited from speaking in a public university, however….that is a different matter entirely, and fine organizations like FIRE have been doing good work to stop this ugly process.

            We disagree about many things, but I would think that you would defend the rights of expression to unpopular, even offensive points of view. An individual who threatens or otherwise disrupts the peace by nature of his actions does not have any expectation of protected speech, but one who merely wishes to address unpleasant truths does.

          • Jim__L

            You miss the salient point — FG is a mouthpiece for the Democrats’ party platform. Nothing — not even God Himself — is to stand in the way of rationalizing, defending, or arguing in favor of whatever the Democrats have come up with this news cycle.

            If FG has any capacity for independent thought deviating from this party line, I have not seen it. Paired against a Talking Points Memo bot, FG would fail the Turing test.

          • FriendlyGoat

            My objection to all of this is the extra-constitutional assertion by some these days that because we have “freedom of speech” then we must accept that no one has “freedom from (any kind of) speech”. I don’t believe it’s true with respect to “fighting words” and would offer this quote from the Supreme Court in Chaplinsky vs. New Hampshire (1942):

            “There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise any constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or “fighting” words those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas, and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality.”

            This case seems to indicate that we are not at liberty via the 1st Amendment to say “just anything” to another person on a personal level. When I hear talk of “no freedom from speech” from the conservative community, I “hear” a demand to be able to diss other people to their faces with NO LIMIT. I believe there are limits and we need to defend them in this polarized era. That’s what I’m doing here—–saying that “no freedom from speech” is not itself a constitutional concept and not a valid idea to have shoved down our throats from the fringe of conservatism.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Here is a quick pro-tip from a former law professor….Don’t quote cases that you obviously haven’t read or don’t understand. The court defines ‘fighting words’ VERY narrowly, and in fact even in the case you cite defined them very narrowly. The notion of ‘safe spaces’ and ‘freedom from speech’ that are de rigeur on today’s campuses (and that you have defended) would never pass muster because they fail to meet the simple, yet rigorous tests imposed by the court. They are not immediate, unequivocal, and obviously inciting in a clear manner readily agreed upon by a ‘reasonable person’. Like it or not, the limits are on the restrictions, not the speakers, and certainly not on speakers whose ‘crime’ is to disagree or belittle a fragile snowflake’s ego. Even citing a case that directly contradicts your argument (and in fact provides the basis for that contradiction) should embarass you, but I suspect you are beyond that….

            Conservatives who express opinions that differ on substance are often accused of being ‘threatening’ or ‘frightening’ those that demand safe spaces, when in fact what is being asked for is to be free of the opinions of others or uncomfortable challenges to their belief systems. I don’t deny that these are often unpleasant for the weak-minded whose quasi-religious devotion doesn’t handle challenges well, but that is part of being an adult in a free society. The courts have routinely rejected the ‘heckler’s veto’, for this very reason, recognizing that the obvious threat to liberty comes from those who wish to argue by telling their opposition to ‘shut up’, and to enlist the power of the state to enforce their ignorance.

            Keep in mind that nobody on the right is demanding that private universities or other private institutions be required to endorse or even tolerate opinions or speech that they find hostile or obnoxious. In point of fact, it is the Left that attempts to do this on a regular basis. Where there is a demand for tolerance is in the public square where the right (and to be fair, most of those on the left) demands that the state avoid interfering with basic civil liberties in speech.

            Another commenter here referred to you as lacking the capacity for independent thought outside of mindlessly mouthing Democratic talking points (I am paraphrasing), which I refrained from endorsing. I suppose that I should apologize to him for not immediately doing so, as your comment here demonstrates that you really don’t seem to be able to understand the real danger in what you are endorsing. There is a real chance that Trump will win in November (lets leave aside that discussion for the time being…), if he is really the menace that you have suggested he is in the past, and if the GOP is really that serious a menace to basic liberties, are you so utterly unaware of your own basic self-interest that you would advocate for government authority to restrict (even silence) speech based upon viewpoint with such thin pretexts?

          • FriendlyGoat

            When I hear conservatives making a point of carving out the exceptions I quoted to you from Chaplinsky—however narrowly defined—–to “no freedom from speech” or “not freedom from speech”, we’ll have a better discussion. Until then, this neo-right-wing insistence that the constitution is designed for giving us all a right to verbally slap each other needs some moderation.

            “the lewd and obscene, the profane, the libelous, and the insulting or “fighting” words those which by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace”—–are NOT insignificant and are not subject to being thrown away just because some GOP hack dreamed up a new buzz-phrase

            There ARE limits on the personal level. “No freedom from speech” is itself not a valid expression precisely because those limits do exist and you wish to pretend they don’t. Once again, I know why you won’t be testing your theory on real people, real cops or real courts.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You keep citing these ‘right wing’ transgressions, but I notice you are careful to avoid specific examples….I wonder why that is? Conservatives hardly try to carve out exceptions at the margin…that is typically the provenance of the Left…

            As for what those limits are, the courts have done a fine job of defining them over the years, and while I might object here and there to some of them (I didn’t care for the distinction between commercial and political speech, for instance, but this is more an academic thing rather than a substantive point),I am reasonably comfortable with them. What the right proposes for the most part is that the Left live within the limits to those limits, and not create new ones….the right not to be offended is not, for instance, within the limits that the courts have established. I challenge to you find anything other than the most extreme of the extreme on the right who are demanding new or expansive readings of existing speech law…

            The limits on the personal level are just that, personal…. If I test those with real people while I am on my property and do not violate existing law, I am quite safe and have no trouble with that. You keep pretending that there is some bright line that the Right wishes to cross….give me specifics…not just general frothing at the mouth…

  • Anthony

    Civil Liberties in the U.S. generally focus on individual Rights and Freedoms that government (Universities) is (are) obliged to protect, normally by not interfering in the exercise of those rights and freedoms – i.e., in this instance Freedom of Speech or “Freedom from Speech”. So, a pertinent question going forward is can college/university Trustees/Presidents/Administrators restrict individual Rights? Similarly, are “safe spaces” violative of Civil Liberties as understood in the American practice of limiting said liberties – for public safety, order, social goals, etc. as defined? Yet, a corollary question is are Universities following clear guidelines and established procedures (procedural safeguards) as they navigate this tension between individual liberty and University tolerated limits (countenancing “all sides” of issue of issue)?

    TAI writes on this issue frequently but as someone long removed from University Campus life, I conditionally ask are we not to conflate civil discourse (civility and mutual respect) expectations in a pluralist society (and on campus) with the exercise of an assumed inherent right (Freedom of Speech) in the abstract despite American tradition of societal (organizational) limits.

    “The goal of our university education today should be to prepare students who are thoughtful, well informed, and resilient.” (Janet Napolitano) She states both a worthy and commendable goal that ought to devolve down to our citizenry too (God knows we could benefit societally). Are Universities really facing a crisis of free speech or are we imposing on the 4,000 plus accredited colleges in the U.S. the polarized politics currently roiling our country?

    • FriendlyGoat

      Great last sentence and great question. If “we” are imposing the game of polarization on the colleges, “who” is most interested in having the left-right slugfest “there”?

      • Anthony

        Thank you, FG. And you know the answer to your own question (trial lawyer – never asks a question you don’t already have answer to). But, it appears the so-called right side of our politics find children (young college students) on campus and their adult transitioning to be a first rate U.S. crisis culturally – no middle ground.

        Sometimes conveniently casting about for an enemy (some other) may help to assuage the real anxieties (slow economic growth, effects of globalization, status shifting/mobility threat, disaffection, etc.) and may deflect from facing serious internal questioning. No doubt, the country has some serious societal arrangements to contests going forward (perhaps next 10-50 years) but our young college students and their personal (as you said elsewhere) secular interactions would not be one of the serious challenges – “Mainstream political leaders (and others) face a challenging road ahead. They will need to adopt a fighting spirit and signal confidence in their cause….”

        • FriendlyGoat

          Here at TAI, a great deal is written by authors and commenters that the colleges (or their administrations, or faculty or students) are really, really, really unfair to the conservative school of thought. I wonder if this article describing a woman thoroughly indoctrinated in Trumpism would be fair game for a classroom discussion. The rightists would be falling all over themselves to paint themselves as substantially different from the woman in the article. And the leftists could ask, “In what way? Tell us why conservatism is right but her perception of it is skewed.”

          • Anthony

            1). Authors and commenters here do the expected given site’s orientation.

            2). Reading that piece you linked is both (but certainly not new) saddening and revealing in that poverty, ignorance, bias, sexism, and parochialism all lend themselves to exploitation, unknowingly or unknowingly.

            3). The subject (Melanie Austin) of the article has (from her point of view) gotten “the dirty end of the stick”. Yet this has been done by her own (whatever that means to the inclined) of which she’s barely conscious.

            My point, FG, is that the masses are handicapped in that they are ready believers in the tales and promises of nimbler wits; they are prone to give credence to the improbable or doubtful. That is, regrettably, they believe some obvious charlatan is going to do something very good for them. In short, FG, they are victims of their own choices – nobody really protects them from themselves but many will take advantage of their gullibility under false guises = Obama, Leftist, blacks, Latinos, Globalist, Elites, etc. (the conservatism you imply perhaps). People in general are far more responsive to blandishments than to reason.

            “While all men may have been created equal, whatever that means, what strikes the most casual observer is the disparity of age, circumstance, capability and conditions. And, considering people in general with respect to their judgmental powers, what is most unequal about them is their intelligence….So the electoral system, then, is the setting for a cat-and-mouse game between the greater part of the demoralized public and the practicing politician, who knows what he wants for himself and usually advantages the judgment of an incapable but misdirected public.”

            Where the Public goes Wrong, FG, is not that it’s completely off the rails but that it accepts as plausible candidates not people of proven knowledge, ability and purpose but people who appeal to various unexamined prejudices – they love obvious charlatans.

            And, thanks for the link.

          • FriendlyGoat

            You’re welcome.

          • Jim__L

            The charlatan Obama had 90% approval ratings when he was inaugurated. White Guilt is a wondrous thing.

            Once he started doing his Leftist thing, it was all downhill from there — which is a reasonable counter-argument to the idea that the Public pays no attention to evidence.

          • Anthony
      • Tom

        The Left.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    The FACT that this has become an issue, means that the American Higher Education system IS NOT producing the more critical, creative thinkers that Education Insiders claim.

  • Tom Scharf

    Color me skeptical, very skeptical. I think I will judge her actions, not her words.

    This is the same Napolitano who started using the phrase “man caused disaster” instead of terrorism. She is buried up to her neck in political correctness.

    “Napolitano was asked about her terminology in March 2009 by a German news magazine, Der Spiegel. Using the term “man-caused disasters,” she replied, “demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.”


    “Speakers are disinvited, faculty are vilified, and administrators like me are constantly asked to intervene.”

    Perhaps this is the true motivation prompting Napolitano’s statement, the annoyance of having to “intervene.”

    Just a thought.

  • InklingBooks

    Quote: Second, Napolitano characterizes the recent University of Chicago letter to incoming students in support of academic freedom as “Speech Darwinism”. It’s unclear what this means.

    My hunch is that the term regards traditional free speech as a temporary concession, much like Darwinian “survival of the fitest.” Ideas regarded as ‘unfit,’ say the defense of one man-one woman marriage, will be tolerated for a time before being treated as extinct. I doubt that is the POV of the University of Chicago. It is, I suspect, more likely to be her POV. For a time, she’ll tolerate dissent, but only for a time.

    Perhaps she’s playing the same deceptive game the president of Columbia played when I heard him speak to alumni in Seattle. Certain politically incorrect people had been banned from even walking onto the campus. To sound more balanced, he claimed that those who’d tried to silence speech they did not like had been disciplined. Suspecting a deception, I checked on what the latter meant. Nothing was entered into their public record, merely a note slipped into these student’s file, a note that in all probability would never leave the folder. It was less that a slap on the wrist.

    This is a classic elitist attitude. “Deplorables” are so beneath their contempt, one need not be truthful to them. Lies are not only permitted, they’re seen as necessary.

    I also agree with another poster (NOYB). Follow the link and read Napolitano’s article for yourself, starting with that dreadful first paragraph. Many middle-school students could write better than this Janet Napolitano. It’s is clumsy and awkwardly worded. How did she get this far in academia? Perhaps by being unabashedly politically correct and toeing the party line. It definitely wasn’t by being smart and articulate. It’s so bad, I’m surprised the Boston Globe published it, apparently without the appearance of any editing.

    –Michael W. Perry, co-author of Lily’s Ride

    • InklingBooks

      I’ll add a bit more. Even the title of her article, “It’s time to free speech on campus again” is grammatically incorrect. I really doubt the Boston Globe would make a blunder that bad, so it must come from her.

      Here’s an example her clumsy writing. Take note that writers do their best to make their writing begin smoothly, so her blundering in this first paragraph is all the more revealing. It’s not just that she can’t write. She doesn’t even know what good writing is.

      WHEN I WAS growing up, a favored comeback to perceived censorship was: “It’s a free country!” Whether this was spouted at a parent, a sibling, or an erstwhile friend, what it meant was people could speak their minds, that such freedom of speech was not only encouraged but guaranteed in the United States of America, so long as you didn’t yell, “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

      My sympathy goes out to all those connected in any way with the University of California system. There’s clearly rot at the top.


© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service