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View Full Version : Freedom of Speech, But ONLY for Liberal Viewpoints??


OldDude
07-31-04, 08:03 AM
Obviously a "college campus" story as only professors believe this. It should be noted Fox labels this "opinion."
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,127629,00.html
Student Free Speech Deserves Protection
Saturday, July 31, 2004
By Scott D. Kahn
Recently, students at a Colorado university were told to write an essay on why President Bush (search) is a war criminal. When one student wrote instead that Saddam Hussein was the war criminal, she received a failing grade.

In fall, 2002, at University of California at Berkeley, the course description for "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance" warned, "conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections."

At Gonzaga University, officials sent a disciplinary letter to College Republicans who posted fliers around campus promoting a speech by David Flynn (search), author of “Why the Left Hates America.” University officials alleged that use of the word "hate" is "discriminatory" and forced the students to modify the flier.

While political correctness on campus may be old news, as a soon-to-be college freshman, I find stories like these disturbing. I am aware that I am embarking on what many consider to be literally a "liberalizing" experience, one that produces young adults more inclined to agree with Democratic policies than Republican ones. But there are also critics who claim campuses have become leftist propaganda machines that restrict free speech, marginalize conservatism and censor honest political debate who have plenty of evidence to support that view.

I imagine what it would be like to be a student at the University of Connecticut, where "inconsiderate jokes," "stereotyping," and even "inappropriately directed laughter" have been banned. Or to be the Cal Poly student found guilty of "disruption of a campus event" after posting a flier advertising a speech by conservative African-American author Mason Weaver.


The crime? Some students found the poster "offensive."

Throughout the United States, universities have clearly violated students' First Amendment rights in the name of multicultural tolerance. Additionally, many colleges require students to read leftist and socialist texts without offering books by conservative authors offering opposing viewpoints -- a policy that has been criticized as indoctrination.

Fortunately, students and constitutional rights organizations are fighting back. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (search), has successfully sued a number of colleges whose speech codes violate students' right to free speech.

The real solution to the problem, however, is not litigation. David Horowitz, founder of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, has recently proposed an academic bill of rights (available at Students For Academic Freedom) that would remove partisan politics from the classroom and encourage open debate on various policy issues.

Critics call the document a right-wing attempt to pack colleges with conservative professors, but a reading of the bill proves otherwise. One clause, for instance, stipulates: "No faculty shall be hired or fired or denied promotion or tenure on the basis of his or her political or religious beliefs."

In an article that appeared in “The Chronicle of Higher Education,” Horowitz argued, "The bill thus protects all faculty members -- left-leaning critics of the war in Iraq as well as right-leaning proponents of it, for example -- from being penalized for their political beliefs."

The Academic Bill of Rights is based on concepts found in the “General Report of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure,” a document adopted by the American Association of University Professors in 1915 that is rarely enforced today. The General Report declares that human knowledge is a boundless pursuit of truth, that all ideas are open to challenge and that no party or intellectual faction has a monopoly on wisdom.

Horowitz's bill seeks to uphold these values, asserting that academic freedom is dependent upon the protection of students' and professors' intellectual independence from legislative or institutional interference.

The report explicitly prohibits the left-wing propagandizing found on college campuses today, cautioning faculty against "taking unfair advantage of the student's immaturity by indoctrinating him with the teacher's own opinions" before the student is exposed to other points of view.

Among other things, the Academic Bill of Rights would prohibit professors from grading students on the basis of their political or religious beliefs, encourage the presentation of a variety of political opinions, demand equal allocation of funds for student political activities and condemn the obstruction of invited guest speakers and literature handouts.

Students and free speech advocates have already made significant progress in their defense of the First Amendment on campus. The Undergraduate Student Council at Brown University, where registered Democratic professors outnumber Republicans 30-1, unanimously passed an academic freedom resolution based on Horowitz's bill.

Furthermore, at Columbia University, where a professor recently wished for "a million Mogadishus" in Iraq -- referring to the murder of 18 U.S. servicemen in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993 -- a committee has been formed to address free speech and indoctrination issues.

The controversy over bias in academia has even made it to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where lawmakers have taken up a legislative version of the bill. The Senate is expected to follow suit.

All these are good signs for students and professors across America, who should value intellectual diversity over partisanship and political indoctrination. The Academic Bill of Rights would protect all members of higher education, regardless of political or religious identity. To oppose the adoption of this document is to oppose the free exchange of ideas, a tenet of democracy that Americans have defended for more than two centuries.

Scott Kahn was an intern with Foxnews.com this summer.

Tommy Ceez
07-31-04, 09:35 AM
The 60's college radicals found out that the only job thier womans studies and philosophy majors could get them were back in the universities...sad.

silentbob007
07-31-04, 09:42 AM
My university is fairly conservative as universities go, so we only had a few protesters when Oliver North came to talk ;). Amazing, there were still those Bush = Hitler signs this summer, though.

DJLinus
07-31-04, 10:59 AM
You guys might find this site (http://www.collegebriefing.org/) interesting. It's chock full of links to college newspaper articles and editorials from across the country.

Goldblum
07-31-04, 11:03 AM
Wow, that is absolutely ridiculous. :down:

Groucho
07-31-04, 11:07 AM
Freedom of Speech doesn't apply to college papers, folks. The professor can give whatever grades he wants. The first amendment doesn't enter into it.

eXcentris
07-31-04, 11:27 AM
If I asked my students to write an essay on why Groucho is funny and one of them wrote an essay on why dork is funny instead, he'd get a failing grade too. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

rentonpunk
07-31-04, 11:33 AM
Originally posted by Tommy Ceez
The 60's college radicals found out that the only job thier womans studies and philosophy majors could get them were back in the universities...sad.

Considering my sister who has her masters (From the London School of Economics) in women and gender studies is living in Kosovo working and fighting for the reconstruction of women's rights - along with the many 60s college radicals. :rolleyes:

Applejack
07-31-04, 11:45 AM
Originally posted by eXcentris
If I asked my students to write an essay on why Groucho is funny and one of them wrote an essay on why dork is funny instead, he'd get a failing grade too. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

That is exactly what I was going to say... only a different example.

She should have expected an F. As far as the "conservative thinkers should not join" thing, I would assume it is because they might be offended by what was discussed and giving them a heads up.

I like how there is actually a guy who wrote a book called "Why the left hates America". I think it is amazing how through namecalling and personal attacks, the republicans have demonized those who disagree with them. That is why republican commentators are so annoying.

Tracer Bullet
07-31-04, 11:48 AM
Great... so they're trying to turn college classrooms into grade school, where teachers are afraid to teach anything other than what's on the school board approved curriculum. That's an excellent way to foster academic freedom. -ohbfrank-

OldDude
07-31-04, 11:50 AM
Whereas the example of "Bush is a war criminal" doesn't demonize anyone at all. Just as a reminder, the Senate authorized military action in Iraq.

bhk
07-31-04, 11:55 AM
I can't believe people are defending the prof. and the university. If her essay was poorly written and had mistakes, sure give her a failing grade but don't fail someone because of the subject she chose. I thought college was about expanding the mind. Obviously the prof. is a closed minded fool and wants to remain so.

RoyalTea
07-31-04, 11:55 AM
Originally posted by OldDude
Whereas the example of "Bush is a war criminal" doesn't demonize anyone at all. Just as a reminder, the Senate authorized military action in Iraq. yeah, but if they new the CIA intelligence was faulty, they would have never authorized military action.

RoyalTea
07-31-04, 11:57 AM
Originally posted by Applejack
She should have expected an F. As far as the "conservative thinkers should not join" thing, I would assume it is because they might be offended by what was discussed and giving them a heads up. the F was at Colorado. The "conservative thinkers should not join" was at Berkeley.

OldDude
07-31-04, 12:07 PM
Originally posted by eXcentris
If I asked my students to write an essay on why Groucho is funny and one of them wrote an essay on why dork is funny instead, he'd get a failing grade too. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech.

There is some merit to that argument. If the assignment had been "Groucho, funny or not" I would agree with you. I think the prof needed to consider that there might be an opposing view that Bush isn't a war criminal, allowed students to argue either side, and judge on the merits of the argument, not his personal bias. I, of course, being a conservative monster really think he should be stripped on tenure if he has it and thrown into the street, but I'm just heartless.

Groucho
07-31-04, 12:08 PM
Originally posted by bhk
Obviously the prof. is a closed minded fool and wants to remain so. I don't disagree...and it's not an uncommon thing on college campuses, whether the assignment is political or not. My argument is that this has nothing to do with "Freedom of Speech."

eXcentris
07-31-04, 12:12 PM
Originally posted by bhk
I can't believe people are defending the prof. and the university. If her essay was poorly written and had mistakes, sure give her a failing grade but don't fail someone because of the subject she chose. I thought college was about expanding the mind. Obviously the prof. is a closed minded fool and wants to remain so.

The subject she chose? That's exactly the problem. She was given an essay topic and she chose to ignore it. The fact that that student did not agree with the topic chosen did not give her the right to change it.

eXcentris
07-31-04, 12:16 PM
Originally posted by OldDude
There is some merit to that argument. If the assignment had been "Groucho, funny or not" I would agree with you. I think the prof needed to consider that there might be an opposing view that Bush isn't a war criminal, allowed students to argue either side, and judge on the merits of the argument, not his personal bias. I, of course, being a conservative monster really think he should be stripped on tenure if he has it and thrown into the street, but I'm just heartless.

You can argue about the topic selection and, to some degree, about the way the prof conducts his classes but the fact that the student failed because she chose to ignore the topic selected has nothing to do with freedom of speech which is what the above article claims.

bhk
07-31-04, 12:17 PM
My argument is that this has nothing to do with "Freedom of Speech."


I've never argued that it was.

The subject she chose? That's exactly the problem. She was given an essay topic and she chose to ignore it. The fact that that student did not agree with the topic chosen did not give her the right to change it.
So if a professor assigned you a topic of an essay entitled:
"Why French-Canadians are morons", you would just write an essay in which you tried to prove that?
And if you wrote one that proved they aren't and failed, would you think that the professor was reasonable because that wasn't the subject?

bhk
07-31-04, 12:22 PM
Oh, and I don't remember having to write an essay in which something was given as a "fact" and we had to "find evidence" to support it even in high school.

eXcentris
07-31-04, 12:24 PM
Originally posted by bhk
I've never argued that it was.

So if a professor assigned you a topic of an essay entitled:
"Why French-Canadians are morons", you would just write an essay in which you tried to prove that?

No, I'd probably write about "Why my teacher is a moron" instead and get expelled. But that's not the point. :)

Duran
07-31-04, 12:26 PM
Recently, students at a Colorado university were told to write an essay on why President Bush (search) is a war criminal. When one student wrote instead that Saddam Hussein was the war criminal, she received a failing grade.

What university? How was the assignment worded? Was her paper well-written? Why didn't she follow the assignment?

You'll pardon me if I don't believe it was as simple as Scott Kahn would have me believe. If it was clearly wrong, why did he leave all the above information out?

OldDude
07-31-04, 12:29 PM
Originally posted by eXcentris
You can argue about the topic selection and, to some degree, about the way the prof conducts his classes but the fact that the student failed because she chose to ignore the topic selected has nothing to do with freedom of speech which is what the above article claims.

That's true. The article mixes the topics of freedom of speech and political indoctrination. The paper is more an example of the second. What about the college actions relative to both the Flynn and Weaver speeches? Those are more clearly "freedom of speech" issues but don't jibe with the "professor can indoctrinate students however he wishes instead of teaching them to think and write good papers" argument. I suppose it fits "the campus administration can indoctrinate students however it see fit. The real issue is the one-sidedness. Unlike here, there is no ebb and flow.

Is no one offended by professors teaching what to think instead of how to think? If Ann Coulter taught a course in how to be a conservative, would everyone be equally happy? Where is Senator McCarthy when you really need him? Discuss.

eXcentris
07-31-04, 12:29 PM
Also, although at first glance the topic "Why Bush is a war criminal" sounds silly, it could have merit in a class dealing with International Law for example and not necessarily mean that the teacher is a raving lunatic Bush hater.

RoyalTea
07-31-04, 12:32 PM
Originally posted by eXcentris
... not necessarily mean that the teacher is a raving lunatic Bush hater. rotfl

eXcentris
07-31-04, 12:32 PM
Originally posted by OldDude

Is no one offended by professors teaching what to think instead of how to think? If Ann Coulter taught a course in how to be a conservative, would everyone be equally happy? Where is Senator McCarthy when you really need him? Discuss.

I understand your point perfectly. But as I alluded to above, I'd have to know more about this class, this teacher, and the context in which that essay was given before I conclude that that teacher is simply trying to push a political agenda.

das Monkey
07-31-04, 12:32 PM
• Applejack •

I think it is amazing how through namecalling and personal attacks, the republicans have demonized those who disagree with them. That is why republican commentators are so annoying.
Stop stealing <b>Groucho</b>'s joke. Oh wait ... you're serious? :(

das

OldDude
07-31-04, 12:34 PM
Originally posted by eXcentris
Also, although at first glance the topic "Why Bush is a war criminal" sounds silly, it could have merit in a class dealing with International Law for example and not necessarily mean that the teacher is a raving lunatic Bush hater.

In such a class, having everyone write from the same viewpoint is clear bullshit and you know it. The course would be much more interesting if the class were divided into pro and con (whether by assignment or choice) and the papers were used to generate debate and argument on the issue. Learning to blindly repeat after the prof "George is a war criminal" is the kind of thing you do in church (except the mantra is different). It is indoctrination, pure and simple.

Groucho
07-31-04, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by das Monkey
Stop stealing <b>Groucho</b>'s joke. Oh wait ... you're serious? :(:lol:

To be fair, I originally stole that joke from dork.

RoyalTea
07-31-04, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by Groucho
Freedom of Speech doesn't apply to college papers, folks. The professor can give whatever grades he wants. The first amendment doesn't enter into it. I don't think that "Freedom of Speech" and "1st amendment" are exactly the same thing.

Tracer Bullet
07-31-04, 12:41 PM
Originally posted by OldDude
In such a class, having everyone write from the same viewpoint is clear bullshit and you know it. The course would be much more interesting if the class were divided into pro and con (whether by assignment or choice) and the papers were used to generate debate and argument on the issue. Learning to blindly repeat after the prof "George is a war criminal" is the kind of thing you do in church (except the mantra is different). It is indoctrination, pure and simple.

I have to repeat what eXcentris said: what is the name of the teacher? What course was this for? What university did this occur at? Was this actually the name of the topic? The Fox News article doesn't even give us the answer to these very basic questions.

Here's an article from the weekly free paper in Chapel Hill, NC on this topic that I found very interesting:
http://indyweek.com/durham/2004-03-31/cover.html

eXcentris
07-31-04, 12:44 PM
Originally posted by OldDude
In such a class, having everyone write from the same viewpoint is clear bullshit and you know it. The course would be much more interesting if the class were divided into pro and con (whether by assignment or choice) and the papers were used to generate debate and argument on the issue. Learning to blindly repeat after the prof "George is a war criminal" is the kind of thing you do in church (except the mantra is different). It is indoctrination, pure and simple.

I'm sorry but again, without knowing more I can't agree. What class was this? What other essay topics were given before/after that? What if the point of this essay was to have the students look at international law to see if Bush could indeed be tried as a war criminal. How do you know that the essays weren't used to generate debate and argument? You are drawing an "indoctrination" conclusion based on the essay title alone. What if the essay title was "Bush is a war criminal?" instead of "Bush is a war criminal." That '?' alone would make a huge difference.

OldDude
07-31-04, 12:48 PM
Originally posted by TracerBullet
I have to repeat what eXcentris said: what is the name of the teacher? What course was this for? What university did this occur at? Was this actually the name of the topic? The Fox News article doesn't even give us the answer to these very basic questions.



Exactly why I remarked that it was labelled an "opinion" piece on the website (main page). That label didn't carry over to what I c&p'd and I thought it was relevant.

Of course, if the article did have those things, you'd be complaining the teacher was "outted." eh?

spainlinx0
07-31-04, 12:51 PM
You never had a writing assignment in school where you had to argue a viewpoint that you didn't share? Maybe then next week the paper could have been "Why Clinton was a terrible president." My teachers would make us do this often for the reason that it was necessary to understand the other side, even if you don't agree with them.

I'm not saying that's the situation here, but as others have mentioned, you wouldn't know it from this article.

OldDude
07-31-04, 12:52 PM
Originally posted by eXcentris
I'm sorry but again, without knowing more I can't agree. What class was this? What other essay topics were given before/after that? What if the point of this essay was to have the students look at international law to see if Bush could indeed be tried as a war criminal. How do you know that the essays weren't used to generate debate and argument? You are drawing an "indoctrination" conclusion based on the essay title alone. What if the essay title was "Bush is a war criminal?" instead of "Bush is a war criminal." That '?' alone would make a huge difference.

I'd buy "Is Bush a war criminal?" I'd even buy assigning students to a side if it was a law course as we all know lawyers have to argue POVs they don't believe in. Back to the activities surrounding two speeches and the "conservatives keep out" sign. I bet "blacks would be better advised not to take this course" would go over really well. But apparently, it is fine to discriminate against conservatives, while complaining that they demonize people. All part of the standard liberal education.

OldDude
07-31-04, 12:56 PM
Originally posted by spainlinx0
You never had a writing assignment in school where you had to argue a viewpoint that you didn't share? Maybe then next week the paper could have been "Why Clinton was a terrible president." My teachers would make us do this often for the reason that it was necessary to understand the other side, even if you don't agree with them.

I'm not saying that's the situation here, but as others have mentioned, you wouldn't know it from this article.

Nope. I was lucky. My teachers wanted to know whether I could think and argue my views in print. They might assign the "who" but not the viewpoint that had to be taken. I was free to take the viewpoint on the matter that I wished. It was obvious that it was more work to take a viewpoint contrary to the prof because he would (subconsciously, I hope) grade harder, but my profs always supported it and I got good grades on most of the papers. I guess education has changed in 40+ years, not for the better in my view.

Tracer Bullet
07-31-04, 12:58 PM
Originally posted by OldDude
Exactly why I remarked that it was labelled an "opinion" piece on the website (main page). That label didn't carry over to what I c&p'd and I thought it was relevant.

Of course, if the article did have those things, you'd be complaining the teacher was "outted." eh?

No, I wouldn't. If the teacher really did give this sort of assignment in the way the article makes it seem, I wouldn't be asking these questions.

And does labelling something "opinion" automatically make it okay to write something that ignores facts?

RoyalTea
07-31-04, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by OldDude
Nope. I was lucky. My teachers wanted to know whether I could think and argue my views in print. They might assign the "who" but not the viewpoint that had to be taken. I was free to take the viewpoint on the matter that I wished. It was obvious that it was more work to take a viewpoint contrary to the prof because he would (subconsciously, I hope) grade harder, but my profs always supported it and I got good grades on most of the papers. I guess education has changed in 40+ years, not for the better in my view. there have been plenty of times I got a paper back from a college prof or a high school teacher in which they told me they disagreed with everything I said, but they respected the way I made my case. still got A's.

OldDude
07-31-04, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by TracerBullet
No, I wouldn't. If the teacher really did give this sort of assignment in the way the article makes it seem, I wouldn't be asking these questions.

And does labelling something "opinion" automatically make it okay to write something that ignores facts?

Because it is not a news story about the teacher (where omitting that stuff would be inexcusable), it is an opinion piece about the practice. Although I also prefer better documentation of the examples used in opinion pieces. Like you, I prefer very hard and confirmable evidence that they are real and not made up. Fact is, most opinion pieces and editorials don't do that.

But we should know the name of the prof, the name of the course, the name of the student, the date the assignment was given, the grade she received, and the link to a copy of the paper so we could decide for ourselves if the grade was fair, as well as the disciplinary actions if any the school took against the prof and/or the student. (and if either was "hot," a pic)

mikehunt
07-31-04, 04:35 PM
having everyone write a paper from the same viewpoint is fine if it's a topic with solid facts to base it one such as "how to reduce costs" or something. but on an opinion paper that is making a huge accusation like "why bush is a criminal" it's ridiculous
"do you feel bush is a war criminal, why or why not" would have been a much better assignment

Otto
07-31-04, 05:54 PM
Has nobody here ever taken a debate class? One of the things you do in a debate class is to learn how to argue, essentially, any position given to you. Whether you agree with it or not is not the point, the point is how well you can argue that position.

"Why Bush is a War Criminal" is exactly the kind of loaded position you'd be given in such a debate class. The goal is to argue it to the best of your ability, not to express what you may personally think. Even the most wacked out crazy positions like "the USA did not actually land on the moon" or "everybody but me does not really exist" are fair game for such a class. In fact, the more ludicrous the position, the better.

Being able to argue something that you don't believe is highly important in honing your debating skills, and that's one of the reasons they do it. Also, it gives you a sense of perspective and helps you to learn why it is you think what you think and thus makes you better able to express what you think.

If this was a debate class, the student most certainly deserved that failing grade. Not sure that it was a debating class, but still, there's other classes where I can see this sort of thing being done as well.

nemein
07-31-04, 05:58 PM
Originally posted by Otto

"Why Bush is a War Criminal" is exactly the kind of loaded position you'd be given in such a debate class.

I agree w/ some of what you said but if a "debate" is what was really desired the question should have been phrased as "Is Bush a War Criminal?". By phrasing it as "Why Bush is a War Criminal" that assume the end you are looking for and that's not a good basis for a debate IMHO.

Sloth911
07-31-04, 06:13 PM
I went to U. Penn for graduate school, and I was punished several times with low grades (first C in 5 years of college) for no "throwing up" the liberal rhetoric the post-doc "taught me" on my term papers.

Why? Cause our class was based on her thesis and it made her very angry that I was critical of what she tuaght me.

I gave up and decided to reword her lecture notes, pretend I had a vagina and write these liberal bullshit papers that she would give me A's on.

The liberal bias that excudes from most liberal arts programs/colleges is scary.....

Trigger
07-31-04, 06:24 PM
Do I have to be the one to point out that this article is from FOXNEWS? Right-wing media crap. So one assignment is "why is bush a war criminal" according to foxnews... perhaps it was "explain whether Bush is a war criminal or not" or perhaps it's simply taken out of context. The person got a failing grade because they didn't follow the assignment.

And to jasonr114 - there's nothing scary about a liberal bias... liberals are in favor of people having more rights and less government and whatnot. The Democratic party doesn't represent most liberals... in fact, most of the protestors at the DNC were liberals.

Otto
07-31-04, 06:48 PM
Originally posted by nemein
I agree w/ some of what you said but if a "debate" is what was really desired the question should have been phrased as "Is Bush a War Criminal?". By phrasing it as "Why Bush is a War Criminal" that assume the end you are looking for and that's not a good basis for a debate IMHO.
No. The goal in a debate class is to argue a given position, not to argue YOUR position. It somewhat defeats the purpose to allow the student to choose their position. If you only wanted to argue your position, then you should take a philosophy class.

The purpose in a debate class is not to spur debate or to have debates, its to teach people effective debating methods and techniques. You are assigned sides (pro-Bush vs. anti-Bush, for example) and then you have to argue that side regardless of what you personally think about the subject. Arguing a side you disagree with quite often shows how effectively you can debate the position.

The idea is to teach how to debate, not how to take sides. Arguing for something you agree with is a lot easier; arguing for something that you disagree with shows how good you are at arguing in the first place, as well as making you think about the other side's viewpoint (always a useful skill in creating your arguments for a debate).

A "debate" is not what is desired in such an assignment; a defense of a given position is what is desired.

Supermallet
07-31-04, 07:01 PM
Originally posted by RoyalTea
The "conservative thinkers should not join" was at Berkeley.

Heck, I thought that was Berkeley's slogan! ;)

wmansir
07-31-04, 07:35 PM
I haven't found any more info via google on the U of Colorado example, except that it was a criminology class and the essay was part of a midterm exam.