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SHORT TAKES


May 16, 2013

Reactions to the Feds' New College Harassment Code


“FIRE is right to note that fair, inclusive enforcement of this mindlessly broad policy is impossible. But I doubt it's intended to be fairly enforced. I doubt federal officials want or expect it to be used against sex educators, advocates of reproductive choice, anti-porn feminists, or gay rights advocates, if their speech of a sexual nature is "unwelcome" by religious conservatives. The stated goal of this policy is stemming discrimination, but the inevitable result will be advancing it, in the form of content based prohibitions on speech. When people demand censorship of "unwelcome" speech, they're usually demanding censorship of the speech that they find unwelcome. They usually seek to silence their political or ideological opponents, not their friends—all in the name of some greater good.”
—Wendy Kaminer, The Atlantic

“Conservative student groups must flood the systems with complaints about every Vagina Monologues performance, classroom reference to “testosterone poisoning,” and every single “Sex Week” event until reason returns. It’s an Alinsky principle: Make them live up to their own book of rules. And remember: There’s a lot to make conservative and libertarian students feel uncomfortable on almost any campus.”
—Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit

“So, to say the least, this new mandate will have a chilling effect on sexual speech on campus.  There’s no way you could discuss any sexual behavior in class.  Not only couldn’t you discuss Lolita,  Shakespeare and the racier parts of the Old Testament might have to be purged from the curriculum.  I make a big deal of the issue of the relationship between incest and philosophy that Aristophanes brings up in a witty and vulgar way in the Clouds. Students don’t usually welcome the opportunity to have a conversation about incest, and especially about how questionable their revulsion to it is. Book V of the Republic, with the community of women and all that—that always creates a bit of an unwelcoming environment for some students.  Well, it’s supposed to; it’s supposed to get them thinking about the possibility that what we regard as natural sexual differences are merely repressive conventions.  Once I’ve written that, I realize that we just won’t be able to teach most of the content of “women’s studies” classes anymore. A big objection any professor would have to these Puritanical regulations is that they empower student affairs staffs to have a bigger role in schoolmarmishly regulating the campus environment, including assuming a more intrusive role in determining what goes in the classroom and in ordinary conversations between professors and students, and students and students.”
—Peter Augustine Lawler, Big Think

…what defenders of free speech on campus, such as the estimable FIRE, among others, may miss is the contradictory place the university has become. Having embraced the sexual revolution and encouraged an atmosphere of promiscuity, much of higher education has now created a legalistic, centralized crackdown on talk about sex. We have become what Tocqueville implied our condition would be without the influence of mores: a bureaucratic nightmare. If we can’t rule ourselves, we will have rules, myriad of them, made for us.”
—Ken Masugi, Library of Law and Liberty

“Obama promised fundamental transformation. This is part of it. Freedom of speech is sacrificed, and a new army of sexual-harassment “specialists” will descend on America’s campuses to enforce the new dispensation.”
—Mona Charen, NRO

 

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