Tuesday, September 20, 2016

From the archives: Civility, Freedom of Speech & #AcademicFreedom, 2014


Across the nation the calls for greater “civility” in public discourse have been increasing and along with them there are now the voices of concern over the consequences of such calls and the use of   such exhortations to chill free speech.  In the academy there is concern for academic freedom.

Chancellor of the University of California at Berkley who maintains that free speech requires civility   http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/sep/7/uc-berkley-chancellor-free-speech-requires-civilit/#by Jessica Chasmar - The Washington Times, Sunday, September 7, 2014
  • “Universities need less civility and more ‘shit‑kicking’” 

"Civility as a conversational virtue has much to recommend it. The enforcement of civility, however, especially among classes like academics particularly inclined to advance challenging ideas, should make us recall how the use of “tone” as a criteria for controlling discussion works."

University presidents who urge civility are not trying to stifle dissent or suppress speech. They are trying to make the campus an oasis of sanity. They are trying to urge faculty and students to showcase productive dialogue. That is part of what higher education owes the country. That is part of the cultural and political difference higher education can make.

It's one thing to encourage civil conduct and reasoned discourse, quite another to regulate expression in the name of such encouragement. But that is precisely what too many college and university administrators and trustees are threatening to do. The threat to free speech rights is real. As Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in   Education noted, in his experience, "campus administrators are most likely to deem as 'uncivil' speech that criticizes them or the university’s sacred cows." 
Incivility is a difficult problem for Americans, because its underlying issues are social. But restrictive gate keeping just serves to dampen the generative value of diverse voices engaging. The impulse to silence can be just as uncivil as the trolling that inspired it.

Posted from Diigo

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