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FIRE's Greg Lukianoff on the Tufts Punishment of Blasphemy:

An excerpt from his post:

So does [the item in the student newspaper] paint Islam in a nice light? No. Is it one-sided? Yes, but that was kind of the point. The students were responding to what they thought was a one-sided and overly rosy depiction of Islam during Islamic Awareness week. But is it unprotected harassment!? One certainly hopes not, or else "harassment" just became a truly lethal threat to free speech -- an "exception" that completely swallows the rule....

If what the complaining students wanted to say was that the [newspaper's] facts were wrong, then -- while this still would not be harassment -- that could have been an interesting debate. But instead, in sadly predictable fashion, the students plowed ahead with a harassment claim that, based on the hearing panel's decision, appeared not even to raise the issue of whether or not the statements in the ad were true, but turned only on how they made people feel.

To be fair, I take it the students' claim was that the collection of facts was one-sided and unfair -- but surely giving universities the power to punish students for newspaper articles that are seen by some as one-sided and unfair is a power that's lethal to freedom of discussion.

Lukianoff goes on:

I doubt that the Tufts disciplinary board thought through the full ramifications of their actions. If a Muslim student had published these same statements in an article calling for reform in Islam, would that be harassment? If Tufts wished to be at all consistent (a dubious bet here), it would be.

Since those students and faculty obviously did not think about the ramifications of this decision, we put it to you, President Bacow: do you think the publication of factual assertions should be a punishable offense if they hurt the wrong people's feelings, regardless of whether or not they are true?

johnd:
Lukianoff believes that students categorically should not be punished for publishing factual assertions. While I agree that religious issues should not be protected, there are pretty good counter examples to this claim. For example, I hope that Tufts would take issue with a columnist publishing a factually true list of rape victims on campus. I'm sure there are other examples. I feel the same way about outing victims of hate crimes.
5.11.2007 8:27pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I wonder if a pretty strong remedy isn't already theoretically available to the students:

TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 241
If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any
person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise
or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of
the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same;...

Granted, Tufts is a private school: but freedom of speech is a right and it is 'secured' (if only against the government) by the Constitution, which combination seems to fulfill the letter of the law.

We're not likely to see this tested since federal 'rights' laws tend to be enforced in support of federal policies and no policy of supporting free speech against private entities exists. But it's interesting to speculate.
5.11.2007 8:31pm
Viscus (mail) (www):

If a Muslim student had published these same statements in an article calling for reform in Islam, would that be harassment? If Tufts wished to be at all consistent (a dubious bet here), it would be.


Whatever side one takes on this issue, this particular statement by Lukianoff is logically flawed.

The speaker of a statement adds to the context.

Think about this. If you say sexually explicit things to your partner, that is probably not sexual harrassment. But if you say those things to a stranger or a coworker who is not your partner, it might not be.

Consistency does not require that one treat even identical statements by Muslims the same way as by non-Muslims. The identify of the speaker of often (but not always) a critical part of the context that goes to the meaning of speech.

One might criticize Tufts policy on many grounds, but this claim concerning logical consistency is off-base, at least as articulated by Lukianoff.
5.11.2007 8:32pm
frankcross (mail):
Porlock, that won't work. "Free speech" is not a right in the abstract. The freedom from government suppression of speech is the right. Without the government suppression, there's no violation.

We don't want businesses being prosecuted right and left for limiting what their employees say, do we?
5.11.2007 9:02pm
HLSbertarian (mail):
frankcross: One could say the same about Equal Protection of the Laws, but hasn't this section been applied to that right? (Not to imply that I think it was a good idea...)
5.11.2007 9:12pm
Johnny Magnus (mail):
Regarding the post by Viscus:

I do not think the speaker's identity is necessarily relevant. Your example of a one sexual partner speaking to another is factually distinct because the recipient knows the identity, intent, and intimate feelings of the other. Does your analysis change if the speech is anonymous? Do we protect the "injured" recipient by mandating an inquiry into the the speaker's identity? Requiring the speaker to identify themselves will certainly have a chilling-effect on the dissemination of healthy societal dissent. This would arguably intimidate a moderate Muslim from expressing views that are counter to a conservative and possibly numerically superior Muslim student body. The intent of the speaker, the impact of the message, and the attendant harm all have to be calculated by someone or the collective assigned to the duty; this I find most dangerous in a free society.
5.11.2007 9:17pm
The Colossus (mail) (www):
I think I'd test the policy by staging a sit-in and filing a grievance the next time a professor says anything remotely critical of the Pope -- say a feminist professor criticizing the Catholic church's position on abortion or birth control. We'd see how fast the administration would revoke the policy.
5.11.2007 9:53pm
Dave N (mail):
First, we know that the SPEAKER does matter to the PC police--note that Don Imus' repugnant comments got him fired but equally repugnant statements in rap lyrics merit little comment.

But I look at the logical absurdity of the Tufts' policy this way. If I were a Communist of Chinese descent, then I could complain because my feelings were hurt when people accurately described the homicidal tendencies of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot--well at least Mao. The same would be true if I were a German-American and someone said mean things about Hitler.
5.11.2007 9:57pm
PersonFromPorlock:
frankcross:

"Free speech" is not a right in the abstract.

But the Constitution only recognizes rights, it doesn't create them. So presumably the right of free speech exists independently of the Constitution's recognition of it. Free speech isn't "a right in the abstract," it's a condition of human existence.
5.11.2007 10:01pm
Vinnie (mail):
"I do not think the speaker's identity is necessarily relevant."

Get a redneck to stand on a street corner and read rap lyrics. Off he goes to jail for hate crimes.
There are words that I can not use in conversation that other races can and do.

"Does your analysis change if the speech is anonymous?"
No, that is some info in the speaker.
5.11.2007 11:09pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
Colossus:

I fear that you greatly underestimate the obtuseness and hypocrisy of the politically correct.
5.11.2007 11:19pm
RAH (mail):
Satire is historically meant to ridicule and humiliate and that can constitute harrassment. Perhaps the definition of harrassment should be readdressed. As much as I agree with TPS on the Islamic satire, the xmas carol was in very bad taste. TPS actually got off lightly in only being punished by taking away anonminity. I expected defunding of the paper. Beside it is likly that the Tufts President will change the punishment.
5.11.2007 11:26pm
Random Ranter:
What shortsighted buffoons the Tufts administrators are. The whole anti-anti-PC backlash (the anti-PC backlash being books like Tenured Radicals and Horowitz's "Academic Bill of Rights") has been leftists pointing out that giving people (presumably majoritarian) power to govern what is "fair" or "balanced" will lead to top-down ideological coercion, the very notion of which should freeze the spine of any honest leftist/liberal. "MTV generation" my foot--apparently no one can think further back than 1995 anymore, even regarding their own identity politics.

How glad I am I didn't apply there, not that anyplace else is much better.
5.12.2007 12:00am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
Porlock, that won't work. "Free speech" is not a right in the abstract. The freedom from government suppression of speech is the right. Without the government suppression, there's no violation.

Really? Better tell everyone; lawyers from Supreme Courts around the United States aren't aware. Even the many, many cases where the right to freedom of speech was dismissed in response to the company's right to freedom of association show that :

Korb v. Raytheon, Massachusetts, 1991
Although Korb has a secured right to speak out on matters of public concern, and he has a right to express views with which Raytheon disagrees, he has no right to do so at Raytheon's expense.


Remember, 18 USC 241 doesn't even require a person to actually be limited in their expression of a human or civil right, merely be injured, oppressed, threatened, or intimidated.

You could consider this an unconstitutional violation of a company's rights to freedom of association, but that's not going to go far politically, and would be quite problematic from the legal viewpoint. Artificial 'person's' rights aren't usually considered nearly as important as individual's rights.
5.12.2007 12:28am
Tyro:
Viscus the Tufts panel ruling apparently hinged on their sentiment that the ad violated a hostile environment standard. This standard purportedly ignores the identity of the speaker. The determination rests on the subjective experience of aggrieved parties.

Lukianoff asks whether the standard would actually ignore the identity of a Muslim speaker and answers that it should by its own terms.

If a Muslim criticizes Islam for a specific set of practices, and this criticism is experienced as hostility, or perceived to engender hostility, by other Muslims, the critic has created a hostile environment.
5.12.2007 12:29am
Waldensian (mail):

Get a redneck to stand on a street corner and read rap lyrics. Off he goes to jail for hate crimes.

Look, the Tufts situation is absurd. But this idiotic "if a white man did it he'd be in jail" stuff is equally stupid.

I know some rednecks. Some would say I am one myself. How's this: I'll bet you $1,000 I can go to any public street corner and read rap lyrics without being "sent to jail for hate crimes."

I might be beaten up by passersby, probably as much for poor rapping technique as for offensive language, but that's a different matter.

Rednecks and other people in this country can say all kinds of racist stuff in public. You might get fired from your job, but you aren't going to jail.
5.12.2007 12:51am
frankcross (mail):
gattsuru, I have no idea how that's a response to me. Free speech is not protected against private retribution, that's what your own case says. Along with a lot of others

And Porlock, you can philosophically debate whether or not free speech is a condition of human existence, but we're talking about the law here, and the law does not penalize private penalties for speech.
5.12.2007 1:04am
gattsuru (mail) (www):
I have no idea how that's a response to me. Free speech is not protected against private retribution, that's what your own case says.

That's quite true. Outside of Mr. Joe Huffman (who may instead be focusing on 2nd Amendment rights or PNNL's government contracted status), I'm unaware of anyone having even the mildest success using 18 USC 241 against a private company's violations of freedom of speech. Of course, I'm unaware of anyone else trying.

On the other hand, there are hundreds of court cases a Google away, all of which state that Free Speech is a right of its own. They'll almost immediately follow by noting that freedom of association comes first, but again that's only relevant here if you put a conglomerate 'persons' rights as superior to those of an individual. This 'living interpretation' of the First Amendment is the reason no President's Executive Order nor government contractor's internal policy can violate freedom of speech despite Congress itself being completely uninvolved. Given that your statement was not that free speech is unprotected, but instead that "'Free speech' is not a right in the abstract," something that many different Supreme Courts have disagreed with.

Stare decisis, biatch.
5.12.2007 1:18am
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
frankcross: One could say the same about Equal Protection of the Laws, but hasn't this section been applied to that right?

Not really. The restrictions on private discrmination have been based on legislation, premised on the commerce clause. The one exception I can think of is the ban on judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants, which I suspect hinges on (if I may reverse "hard cases make bad law") stupid laws make exceptional ones. If you have a statute whose rationale cannot be articulated except by a psychotic, a challenge to it is going to yield results that cannot be extended as a general rule of law. (Witness the fact that restrictive covenants can be used to do a bunch of things -- banning families with children, e.g. -- that most would find constitutionally repugnant if done by government).
5.12.2007 2:08am
A. Zarkov (mail):
"You might get fired from your job, but you aren't going to jail."

You might not actually go to jail, but you will get threatened with it. You will get sued, and harassed by your own government as described in David Bernstein's book You Can't Say That.

I submit the example of "The Berkeley Three." All they did was petition their government for redress of a grievance. Specifically they didn't want a homeless shelter next to their house. They got sued by HUD and tormented by the DOJ. Their chief tormentor is now the governor of Massachusetts. HUD threatened to issue a subpoena for their meeting minutes, and threatened six-figure fines and a year in jail if the group didn't stop speaking out against the homeless shelter.
5.12.2007 7:00am
pst314 (mail):
If the editorial had portrayed America or Christianity as evil, the students would not have been punished. In fact, university officials would have climbed over each other to defend the students from any criticism whatsoever. Yes, much of academia has become degenerate.
5.12.2007 9:14am
whimsy:

We don't want businesses being prosecuted right and left for limiting what their employees say, do we?

We do have laws protecting whistleblowers who expose criminal offenses.

There is also the question of professional choice. In most cases, someone critical of company policy or executives can go work for another company. But what if there is no choice? In a response to an earlier discussion I brought up the case of the NHL which forbids criticism by players, coaches, managers, and club executives although they aren't employees of the NHL and there is no alternative to being under the authority of the NHL short of moving to another continent. What if state medical organizations or bars which license physicians and lawyers respectively but aren't necessarily branches of government prohibited criticism?
5.12.2007 10:15am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):
David Hardy writes:

The one exception I can think of is the ban on judicial enforcement of racially restrictive covenants, which I suspect hinges on (if I may reverse "hard cases make bad law") stupid laws make exceptional ones.
What makes that decision, Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) especially interesting is that throughout the 1930s and early 1940s, the federal government required those racially restrictive covenants as a condition of making loan guarantees to developers in some parts of the U.S.--probably because they were trying to make sure that property values didn't fall.
5.12.2007 11:14am
p. rich (mail) (www):
One of many problems with PC "speech codes" is that they can be applied and adjudicated in a completely arbitrary manner. A protected species (minority) only has to claim injury (He hurt my feelings, Mommy.) and a liberal administration can rush to some PC judgment du jour. Now this folly is ingrained and will have to be rooted out one idiotic example at a time.
5.12.2007 11:39am
Waldensian (mail):

You might not actually go to jail, but you will get threatened with it. You will get sued, and harassed by your own government as described in David Bernstein's book You Can't Say That.

I never said our government was consistent, or that its idiot bureaucrats never abused their privileges. Of course it isn't, and of course they do.. But show me a redneck sent to jail for rapping on a streetcorner. That was the claim. It was just flat wrong.
5.12.2007 12:03pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"If the editorial had portrayed America or Christianity as evil, the students would not have been punished."

If the editorial had seriously adressed the problems of Islam and/or Islamic countries instead of taunting, no one would have been punished either. If it had said Jesus slept with a prostitute, that Christians are violent and bigoted, and that Christianity teaches it's adherents to beat their wives, I imagine there would have been some response.
5.12.2007 1:50pm
J'hn'1:
One of the points prosecuted that I would like to see the Board answer from the opposite direction is the "protection from harassment" factor.
If students belonging to Rev Nutcase Phelps "church" insisted on the same rights and protections from harassment, would they get it?
If so, then I would scratch my head and let it go. If, OTOH, they would not get that same degree and enthusiasm of protection, then I have issues with the insanely appalling lack of judgment of the school.
Supporters of and Donors to the school would hopefully feel the same way.
5.12.2007 2:12pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Grover Gardner:


If the editorial had seriously adressed the problems of Islam and/or Islamic countries instead of taunting, no one would have been punished either.


So you get to define what is serious addressal of issues and who deserves to get punished? Wow, I'd hate to live in your dictatorship.
5.12.2007 3:15pm
LM (mail):
From the Tufts policy:

Our goal is to provide an interesting and pleasant environment that can help inform [students][...]. To do that, we'll occasionally have to exercise our editorial discretion. Think of this as an in-person discussion group, where having different voices is critical to a great conversation -- but where sometimes the leader has to deal with cranks who sour the conversation more than they enliven it.

Naturally, there's always a risk that this discretion will be used erroneously, no matter how well-intentioned the editor. But discussion groups [...] generally need an editor who'll occasionally make such judgments.


Oh, sorry, that's from the VC Comment Policy.
5.12.2007 4:23pm
frankcross (mail):
For the record, the President of Tufts addressed the Source's statement and criticized its content but emphasized:

"[t]he First Amendment protects freedom of speech and that includes most offensive speech."
5.12.2007 5:03pm
PersonFromPorlock:

For the record, the President of Tufts addressed the Source's statement and criticized its content but emphasized:

"[t]he First Amendment protects freedom of speech and that includes most offensive speech."

OK, that's what he said. Now, what did he do?
5.12.2007 5:36pm
Capitalist Infidel (mail) (www):
</blockquote>
If it had said Jesus slept with a prostitute, that Christians are violent and bigoted, and that Christianity teaches it's adherents to beat their wives, I imagine there would have been some response.

I seriously doubt that!
5.12.2007 5:59pm
DrGrishka (mail):
Congress should start conditionioning federal aid to universities on their upholding of the First Amendment.

During the next HEA reathorization, Congress should insert language that would foreclose acees to federal fund to private universities whose speech codes are broader than what is permitted by the Constitution. Congress should mandate that universities certify their compliance and create a private right of action running to students who are subject to disciplinary measures that would not survive First Amendment analysis.
5.12.2007 6:10pm
Richard A. (mail):
As regards a university prosecuting a student for publishing a factually accurate list of rape victims: Unless the university is paying the printing fees, then this is no more business of theirs than if the local newspaper did the same. When I was a young lad running a newspaper funded entirely from student fees 30 years ago, we would not have hesitated to do this if we were in the mood and the administration would have had zero input, period. I fail to see why this would be an issue if the Tufts paper is student-funded.
5.12.2007 6:24pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
DrGrishka (mail):

Congress should start conditionioning federal aid to universities on their upholding of the First Amendment.


Agreed on publicly funded universities. However, shouldn't private entities have the right to enact speech codes? If you look it it logically, every private entity(house, business, school) is not entitled to grant 1st amendment protections. It might be repulsive to you and me, but then it's up to the free market to create schools, businesses where one can say what's on their mind.
5.12.2007 6:31pm
Mike BUSL07 (mail):
EIDE, the problem is that most private universities distribute materials to applicants and freshmen, promising an environment that cherishes vigorous debate, opens to all viewpoints, etc., platitudes, platitudes, platitudes. I agree that schools should have the right, but they can't have their cake and eat it too.
5.12.2007 6:57pm
DrGrishka (mail):
EIDE,

To the extent that universities refuse public money they can do what they like. For all I care, they can choose to admit only "pure Aryans." The thing is almost all universities take public money. And once they do, there is a quid pro quo. If they want public money, they (while maintaining their own right to speech of whatever kind) shall not interfere with student speech beyond the First Amendment boundaries.
5.12.2007 7:03pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"So you get to define what is serious addressal of issues and who deserves to get punished? Wow, I'd hate to live in your dictatorship."

I don't get to define anything in this case, and I don't run a dictatorship. I do believe that a private educational institution has the right to decide what crosses the line when it comes to university-funded student publications. I happen to think the Primary Source piece was needlessly confrontational and inflammatory. Sorry you disagree.
5.12.2007 7:29pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
a private educational institution has the right to decide what crosses the line when it comes to university-funded student publications

I agree. But it should not be able to misrepresent itself with regard to academic freedom. Students who choose to commit years of their life to study at Tufts have a right to know in advance that they will not have the same free speech opportunities as if they attended a public institution. Students who are enticed to make significant time and money commitments to a school should be able to sue if it does not live up to its promises with regard to free speech and due process in disciplinary matters.

And second, it should not get government funds if it is going to favor some religion or religions when it comes to censorship. So if a Catholic institution wants to prevent blasphemy against Catholicism and it wants public money, it should have to prevent blasphemy or equivalent disrespect towards all other religions and atheistic belief systems.

We should not have government money flowing to indoctrination centers that only allow one point of view: Islam is good (or bad), Catholicism is good (or bad), Mormonism is good (or bad), etc. It's one thing for a Catholic institution to teach that Catholicism is good and Mormonism is bunk, it's another entirely for that institution to prevent students from speaking out in disagreement.
5.12.2007 8:08pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Viscus: The speaker of a statement adds to the context.

So it's okay for a university to prevent blacks from saying things that it will allow whites to say?

Or it could prevent Muslims from saying certain things about Christianity, but allow Christians to say those same things?

That doesn't seem like free speech.
5.12.2007 8:24pm
Bernie Shearon (mail):

If it had said Jesus slept with a prostitute,



Sure sounds like the da Vinci Code to me. You get to make millions
5.12.2007 8:41pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Students who choose to commit years of their life to study at Tufts have a right to know in advance that they will not have the same free speech opportunities as if they attended a public institution."

The Student Handbook is available online for anyone to read.

"And second, it should not get government funds if it is going to favor some religion or religions when it comes to censorship."

Did I miss something? Is there an element of the story wherein Tufts favored one religion over another? Seriously, where was that discussed? I'll gladly cede your point if that was the case.

"It's one thing for a Catholic institution to teach that Catholicism is good and Mormonism is bunk, it's another entirely for that institution to prevent students from speaking out in disagreement."

As I've said before, I draw a distinction between disagreement and taunting or baiting students based on their race or religion.
5.12.2007 10:38pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Sure sounds like the da Vinci Code to me."

You mean all those people who think it's true are *wrong*??
5.12.2007 10:39pm
neurodoc:
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the University of North Carolina made a book on the Koran assigned reading material for incoming freshman, who would then discuss in their sections what they had learned about Islam. The assigned book had a decidedly favorable slant on Islam, neglecting portions of the Koran that might be seen by some as less than enlightened. I wonder if UNC would, like Tufts has done, censure those publishing an ad like the Tufts one for giving offense to Muslim students.

In 2004(?), the Duke Chronicle published an unabashedly antisemitic screed by a student columnist in the wake of controvery on that campus after a convocation there of the pro-terrorist International Solidarity Movement. The school's pusillanimous president, Broadhead, said nothing censorious about the rank bigotry, responding only with bromides of the Rodney King "can't we all get along" type. If the Duke paper were to publish anything remotely as offensive to its Muslim students as the aforementioned piece was to its Jewish students, does anyone think it would go unsanctioned by the school administration? (BTW, about 15 years ago, the same college paper was one of those who accepted Bradley Smith's Holocaust denial ads, defending it as an exercise in free speech and academic freedom.)

If student papers at these schools were to publish any harsh criticisms of the Catholic Church apropos issues of reproductive rights or same sex marriage, say like those that got Jon Edwards' bloggers in trouble, I very much doubt there would be sanctions for anyone.
5.13.2007 4:31am
frankcross (mail):
Actually, Broadhead wrote that he was "deeply troubled" by the column which "revived stereotypical images that have played a long-running role in the history of anti-semitism" and that prejudice against Jews must be resisted in the same manner as prejudice against blacks, gays, and others. He said the column was "highly dangerous" because it reflected the "dehumanizing logic of prejudice."
5.13.2007 12:49pm
neurodoc:
President Brodhead responds to recent column in The Chronicle

The following letter was sent to the editors of The Chronicle on Wednesday, Oct. 20:

I was deeply troubled by a column in The Chronicle on Monday because it seemed to display the same habits of thought. The column was headed "THE JEWS," as if Jews were susceptible to group definition, and though its author probably did not mean to, it revived stereotypical images that have played a long-running role in the history of anti-Semitism.


Good, Brodhead was "deeply troubled" by the scurrilous column that must be read to be appreciated for how virulently antisemitic it was. But note, the president of Duke, formerly a top administrator at Yale, thought "its author probably did not mean to...reviv(e) stereotypical images that have played a long-running role in the history of antisemitism"?! I think it not probable, but highly improbable, indeed simply unbelievable, that the student, an African-American who seemed to be channeling Louis Farrakhan, did not intend to revive those stereotypical images.

Brodhead's response, that you have quote in a disjointed way which distorts his official statement, did not address itself only, nor indeed primarily, to the profoundly offensive Kurian column. Rather, it began and continued as another of his apologias for the school's decision to host that ISM conference a short time before. Counter-attacking critics of that decision by his administration, Brodhead served up this outlandish crap:
I received many reasoned expressions of concern, but also some attacks on Duke's decisionthat were astonishing in their virulence. Among the things I found troubling in these messages was the tendency to think of the conference's supporters in this way: You, Duke student, can be thought of as belonging to a group that contains terrorists and terrorist supporters. Therefore, you are indistinguishable from terrorists and deserve as little opportunity to exercise your rights as they do.

Brodhead chastised most forcefully those who objected to Duke's playing host to an organization that has given aid and comfort to those whose intent is to kill Israelis, charging them with employing "disindividuating (sic), dehumanizing logic of prejudice" against the Duke community. Kurian's antisemitic attack on fellow Duke students, well Brodhead would cut him maximum slack ("probably did not mean to... revive() stereotypical images that have played a long-running role in the history of anti-Semitism.")

The Duke story is a shameful one, with many lessons to be taken from it. For those interested in all the details, they can look to the January 2005 issue of Commentary and what actually ran in the Duke Chronicle.

5.13.2007 2:22pm
neurodoc:
Re Duke's response to antisemitism. Here is the link to the aforementioned column by Philip Kurian in the 10/18/04 issue of the Duke Chronicle. Does anyone think I mischaracterized the piece by referring to it as an "unabashedly antisemitic screed"? (Strike, "The school's pusillanimous president, Broadhead, said nothing censorious about the rank bigotry," since as pointed out by frankcross, Duke's president did say something of censorious nature. I'll stick with "bromides of the Rodney King 'can't we all get along" type'," though.)



If The Chronicle had run an attack on Duke's African-American students anything like Philip Kurian's attack on, does anyone believe that the President Brodhead would have put his arm around its author, saying as he did of Kurian, "(he) probably did not mean to... revive() stereotypical images"? The campus might have been in flames had there been an attack of that sort on African-American students, and the author, as well as the school paper, would have suffered reprecussions. I am certain the school would have responded with much, much more than a tepid statement like the one Brodhead produced. Since Muslims also enjoy "victim" status, I think the school would have reacted more decisively if they were targeted in the manner Kurian targeted Jews. (Read the Kurian piece and compare it to the ad that ran at Tufts. I think the latter pales in comparison to the former, but perhaps that is a reflection of my own sensitivities.)
5.13.2007 3:10pm
neurodoc:
Don't know what is happening with my attempts to link to Brodhead's statement and the original column ("The Jews") by Kurian. They seemed to be there correctly bracketed when I went to "post comment," but I see they do not appear above. Here's another try, and if they don't work, then sorry, try going directly to The Chronicle for them.



5.13.2007 3:15pm
frankcross (mail):
neurodoc, I agree with you that these things are not treated exactly equally, but want to note that it's more a matter of degree than of kind.

Wicked things said about perceived "underdogs" of society are viewed more seriously than wicked things about perceived "overdogs." Which seems reasonable to me.

Jews now are perceived overdogs in the United States. Which says some good things about our society but I concede still makes me nervous because they are such a numerical minority.
5.13.2007 3:26pm
neurodoc:
frankcross, however good your intentions may be, and I have no reason to doubt them, I think you miss the implications of your remarks. If Jews are "perceived overdogs in the United States," that does not "say() some good things about our society." Jews as "overdogs" is the stuff of very dangerous classic antisemitic stereotypes, that is Jews as disproportionately powerful, seeking dominance or control of others, etc. Hitler certainly played that trope, as have others before and after to him, with horrible consequences.

How is it that Jews ought to be seen as "overdogs" more than Protestants, who face no discrimination in this country?

And it is not that "these things are not treated exactly equally;" it is that they are treated so very unequally by "enlightened" types like the pusillanimous Brodhead.

Do you think that Duke's Jewish students and those outside the Duke community should have brushed off that antisemitic rant that The Chronicle published, because they should be secure enough at Duke and in this country to dismiss it as being of no consequence? Do you think that Duke's response to what went on there in the Fall of '04, that is the ISM convocation followed by this antisemitic piece in the school paper, was what was called for under the circumstances? I certainly don't, and I think it all very revealing, especially when put side by side with this matter at Tufts and what has happened on other campuses when Muslims take offense at the exercise of the academic freedom of others on those campuses.

That Holocaust denial ad years ago, the ISM conference, the Kurian piece, the Gang of 88, etc., there are common themes there about what is and is not encouraged/discouraged at Duke and elsewhere. (BTW, are you a Duke alum?)
5.13.2007 4:17pm
frankcross (mail):
Nope, not an alum (and hate their basketball team).

And I understand your concern about treating Jews as overdogs. Jews in America are in fact pretty successful financially and politically. They may be able to protect their interests but as I said, it makes me nervous.

I don't see the responses from the presidents of Duke and Tufts as being so radically different and it remains to be seen if Tufts takes any action at all in this case. The invocation of the hearing is very dubious in my view, but I don't know if such an option was even available in the Duke case.
5.13.2007 4:36pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
WHat I'm getting from this forum is that 10% are trying to spin censorship of anti-Muslim views into something acceptable, understandable and desirable. Also, from the sevearl previous posts we have a antisemitic apologist(frankcross) for Duke university. Shameful. It's amazing how he thinks Jews are "Favored" in America when Muslims are chanting "Death to the Jews" at every university and demonstrations on streets carrying signs like "Death to the Jews", and "behead all those who insult Islam". Frankly, I'v seen a few thousand leftists on these kind of forums DEFENDING that type of Islamonazism.
5.13.2007 4:39pm
LM (mail):
EIDE,

Frankcross' mistake was the poorly coined term, overdog. I don't think he meant what it implies, i.e., the disproportionately influential and privileged status neorodoc properly rejected (at the very least) on historical grounds. I think he just meant that we (Jews) are sufficiently integrated into the general population that we are no longer under. Calling him an anti-Semite is no more justified than calling the President a racist, and I think you owe him an apology.

As for chanting "Death to the Jews," I'm not aware of it going on "at every university," though it certainly seems to be a popular pastime in the Arab world. It makes me more inclined to believe I'm on the right side of the conflict, and less inclined to renew my Passport.
5.13.2007 5:25pm
rc:
Keep in mind that the real story is not that a person challenged the Muslim community. We can argue whether or not his approach was appropriate, or if his statements are true... but that's all irrelevant.

What's relevant is that the school has rules to restrict speech... for the benefit of tranquility, etc. 'Stay within the lines, the lines are our friends.' Which is fine, so long as the line drawers are honest.

Remember that the line drawers allow an entire Cause awareness week, and fund the accompanying student clubs and in-class books and lessons pertaining to the Cause. But when one guy creates one (possibly unwise) critical newspaper ad, he gets kicked out school.

The story here is not whether the ad-writer is right, it's whether the line-drawers are honest.

The only way speech enforcement can achieve its goal of order and shelter is if that enforcement is fair. Otherwise, it's just favoritism and controlling censorship.
5.13.2007 5:26pm
LM (mail):
Was he kicked out of school?
5.13.2007 5:33pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
'Wicked things said about perceived "underdogs" of society are viewed more seriously than wicked things about perceived "overdogs." Which seems reasonable to me.'

Not to me.

Besides, you haven't defined wicked. If I say that Jews kidnap and sacrifice Christian babies, that is both wicked and untrue; if I say that Muslims (with trivial exceptions) demean and oppress women, that is neither wicked nor untrue, but I bet many (or most) Muslims would react as strongly as Jews (and decent gentiles) would to the first statement.

One reaction would be justified, the other not. Seems to me that the truth value of a statement is more important than whether anybody wants to hear it.
5.13.2007 7:21pm
Grover Gardner (mail):
rc--

The real story? Hmmm. You say "challenged," I say taunted. And it certainly is relevant whether or not the piece was appropriate.

Yes, the school has rules that restrict speech. Every school or college I've ever attended or worked for has, to varying degrees, rules that restrict speech and behavior to one degree or another. It's not a public free-for-all. It's a place where people pay a lot of money to send their kids, and as such they are expected to enforce certain standards of conduct.

No one was kicked out of Tufts. The writers for Primary Source were told to sign their work in the future. We can argue whether that was fair treatment or not, but let's retain some regard for the facts.
5.13.2007 8:40pm
neurodoc:
For whatever reason, I couldn't set it up as a link here, but you can paste the web address below into your browser and get to that extraordinary Kurian piece, "The Jews". Eliminate the spaces I put in to get around the requirement that "words" be less than 60 characters in length.)

(BTW, a decade earlier, a Columbia student Sherod Baker was doing the Farrakhan rant against Jews in The Daily Spectator, with the school's administration declining to take any meaningful actions in response. A great many similarities to the Duke episode, though if I recall correctly, Baker's outpouring of hate came in serial installments.)

http://media.www.dukechronicle. com/media/storage/paper884/news/2004/10/18/
Editorialcolumns/The-Jews-1471620.shtml

And here's what the school's president had to say in response.

http://www.dukenews.duke.edu/2004/10/
presidentcolumn_1004.html
5.13.2007 9:33pm
Tracy W (mail):
If the editorial had seriously adressed the problems of Islam and/or Islamic countries instead of taunting, no one would have been punished either.

May I ask you what you think is not serious about:
- attempts to suppress books (fatwa against Salam Rushdie)
- slavery
- putting homosexuals to death
- treatment of women
- rape of young girls
- violence to people of a different religion
- killing people of your own religion
- tearing out a woman's eyes?

Do these things amuse you? Do you believe that they are they trivial? Do you think that these (leaving aside the historical issue of slavery) are not problems in Islamic countries? If you do not think these are serious problems, may I ask you how bad does something have to be before you regard it as serious?

These (leaving aside the historical issue of slavery) strike me as terribly serious issues that are significant problems of Islam. So personally I think the editorial was being punished for seriously addressing the problems of Islam and/or Islamic countries.
5.13.2007 9:46pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Grover Gardner:

You have no intellectual honesty. You know that Jews are taunted yes taunted daily on university campii by Muslim students. Yet, you never utter a peep about it, since the Jews are "overdogs", I guess they deserve to have "death to Jews" shouted at them as they're walking from class to class. Would you support the immediate explusion of any student who taunts?
5.13.2007 10:53pm
frankcross (mail):
Well, maybe I shouldn't have used the word overdog, it was just meant in contrast to underdog. And I'm on a campus and Jews are not taunted daily by Muslim students. But my point is that just as those who would suppress speech that criticizes Muslims are terribly overheated, so are many of those who get up in arms over what is yet a pretty modest response to speech (and the response apparently had little or nothing to do with the segment of speech related to Muslims).

Now I think EIDE just called me antisemitic. I'm cool with that, it's free speech, if absurd to anyone who knows me. And he declared that another person he doesn't know is lacking in intellectual honesty. This is the sort of arrogant self-certainty that leads to suppression of speech. When reasoned disagreement gives way to such namecalling, argument becomes hate, and speech is unsafe.
5.13.2007 11:48pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Proof of anti-Jewish activity at UC Irvine in 2002 by Muslims:

Campus Incidents
5.14.2007 12:06am
Grover Gardner (mail):
"Do you think that these (leaving aside the historical issue of slavery) are not problems in Islamic countries?"

I'm sure they are. If so, they should be addressed in a serious way. And the people who are responsible for such things should be held accountable and asked to answer for them. Are the Muslim students at Tufts responsible for them? Are they themselves guilty of such acts? Do they deserve to be taunted with the clearly sarcastic phrase "peaceful Muslims" at the end of the article?

So I'll ask you: should every Muslim student at Tufts be compelled to answer for every aspect of Islamic teaching and politics? How about someone like this young woman:

http://tinyurl.com/2a87wy

or this one:

http://tinyurl.com/23kdca

Perhaps they should be forced to assure us that they're "peaceful Muslims".

Has it occurred to you that perhaps some of the Muslim students at Tufts are here in America precisely because they want to escape repression and/or violence in their home countries? That they would like to work for change in the Middle East and elsewhere? Should we demand that they denounce and forswear their religion to prove that they're "serious"? Should we hand out a questionaire asking them if they were raised to kill non-believers and torture their spouses?

And why are we "leaving aside" the issue of slavery? Because we'd *all* have to answer for that one?
5.14.2007 2:13am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Here's my answer, EIDE:

At "my" university, you have a political or religious beef, then get your facts straight be specific, put it out there, put your name on it and you're good, as far as I'm concerned.

Take a shotgun approach, implicate an entire group or race, add a not-so-subtle hint of mockery and disrespect, and you'd better be ready to answer for it.

Violence and vandalism? Out with you. Political activism against a state or regime? Feel free but not on "my" time or using "my" resources. Participate in violent or hateful demonstrations? Better have a pretty good explanation or it's aloha-time on the steel guitar.
5.14.2007 2:35am
Grover Gardner (mail):
...and I hope I shouldn't have to add, to my second paragraph, that obscenity and name-calling are *not* considered permissible forms of expression. Nor is hiding behind the cloak of anonymity.
5.14.2007 2:41am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Counterfactuals, "(if the group involved had been...., can anyone imagine....) prove nothing. Even if the implicit conclusion is as close to perfect as possible, there remains no proof.
However, they do bring up a question: Has the counterfactual actually occurred? Has a student paper dissed Jews? Has a Muslim group on campus dissed Jews? Seems so. What happened next? Did a Jewish group, or did a group of Jewish students object? If so, what happened? If not, why not?
5.14.2007 10:07am
Grover Gardner (mail):
Good questions, Richard. Did these things happen at Tufts? If so, was the university consistent in it's approach? I'd be genuinely interested to know.
5.14.2007 12:44pm
neurodoc:
Richard Aubrey, Are you alluding to someone's earlier post or something that transpired on a particular campus, perhaps Tufts or Duke?

At Duke, it certainly happened that, to use your words, "a student paper dissed Jews." (I would say "attacked Jews") There was a good deal of outrage on the part of some in reaction to the 10/04 column entitled "The Jews," and delight by the antisemites and white supremecists who had a field day with it, making great use of The Chronicle's website to add their hateful expressions. The student paper let the "visiting" antisemites and white supremecists go on for weeks. In this way, "free speech" was served and the author's contention that "Jews constitute the most privileged 'minority' group in this country. Among the top 10 universities, Jews enjoy shocking overrepresentation..." debated. The school administration did shockingly little (I was shocked by Kurian and the Duke administration, not Jewish "overrepresentation" at top schools), and eventually it blew over.

The above is "factual," not "counterfactual," whatever that means. As to whether "a Muslim group on campus dissed Jews," it has certainly happened at San Diego State, where Jews have felt physically threatened by Muslim students rallying in support of Palestinians. ("Seems so."?!)

Interestingly enough, the what stirred Kurian to attack "The Jews" was his perception that their efforts to keep the Palestinian Solidarity Movement convocation from being hosted by the school was "in defiance of free speech at Duke." Kurian, an African-American honors student, cast himself as a champion of "academic freedom" ("I tend to err on the side of complete academic freedom"), saying "I would probably let the Ku (sic) Klux Flan hold a conference on campus, as long as it could be couched within the framework of serious discussion." I find it very hard to imagine such a convocation of racist bigots ever being permitted to take place at Duke, though the school did host the PSM, a group which has supported terrorism. And if a KKK person, say David Duke, so much as set foot on the campus, I expect the place would explode with rage. I doubt that Kurian would attack fellow African-Americans for acting "in defiance of free speech at Duke" as he did Jews for that imagined "offense." But on many campuses what is sauce for the goose is not always sauce for the gander.
5.14.2007 1:15pm
neurodoc:
It matters whether at Tufts there was something more than Islamic Awareness week to "provoke" that criticism of Islam by the Prime Source? Wasn't 9/11 and other murderous attacks on the West by those acting in the name of Islam sufficient to justify scrutiny of the religion, and yes to "provoke" criticism of it?
5.14.2007 1:24pm
Christopher Cooke (mail):
I will play the contrarian for a moment: Perhaps many Tufts students and faculty attend or teach at Tufts because it is a private institution, and as such can pass and enforce restrictions on so-called "hate speech" that are designed to protect ethnic and religious groups from overt expressions of intolerance. If so, then the University, by "disciplining" the Primary Source, is being true to its constituents.

Also, Eugene's posts, by focusing on the anti-Islam column more than the Christmas carol ---e.g., "Tufts Punishment of Blasphemy"--is not being entirely fair to the disciplinary committee, which plainly addressed both. In this case, Eugene, you can't blame the person who writes the headlines (as many reporters do) because that's you. We don't know if there would have been any punishment at all, if the Primary Source's "sins" were limited to the one anti-Islamic piece. Perhaps publishing both pieces pushed the PC code enforcers to act, whereas only one transgression would not have warranted a response.
5.14.2007 3:13pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
neurodoc. I have no information about other happenings at Tufts.
The point, which your research supported, is that when some counterfactuals are found in real life--thus no longer being "counter"--the presumed result of the counterfactual is the actual result of the factual. IOW, the Jews, among others, don't get much in the way of instutitional protection. Like, duh.
The question not addressed so far is whether the Jewish groups asked for redress or protection, and if not, why not.
5.14.2007 5:14pm
neurodoc:
The question not addressed so far is whether the Jewish groups asked for redress or protection, and if not, why not.
Various Jewish groups and individuals protested loudly and repeatedly Duke's hosting of the PSM convocation and The Chronicle's publication of "The Jews" column. They got little or nothing by way of "redress or protection" from the school. I believe allowing openly antisemitic and racist types to go on posting to the student newspaper's website for weeks, while the bigots' own websites directed traffic to the Duke one, compounded the injury. Brodhead was pretty quick off the mark in response to the lacrosse crisis, and notably slow and "measured" in response to the Jewish community's concerns.
5.14.2007 5:48pm
neurodoc:
Eugene's posts, by focusing on the anti-Islam column more than the Christmas carol ---e.g., "Tufts Punishment of Blasphemy"--is not being entirely fair to the disciplinary committee, which plainly addressed both.

Christopher Cooke, I think EV addressed himself to this in the comments section of an earlier thread on this same subject. Whether you agree or disagree with him, he did set forth his reasoning there.
5.14.2007 5:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
neurodoc: That accords with my--so far--adequate memory of the issues.
What that means is that the counterfactual--"Imagine if the groups had been reversed. What do you think would have happened?" implying that the result would have been far different--was correct. It is only a bit of a stretch to say that it provides at least some validation for other counterfactuals which have not been tested or whose tests we have not yet seen.
5.15.2007 9:03am
D Lacey (mail):
I can't figure out the contradictions in all the comments. I would think the only consistent stances are - freedom of the student press for both the Duke student and the Tufts one, or restriction of freedom of the press when it regards religious prejudice, for both.

The complaints about one private University president standing up for a student's right to write and the student press right to publish his writing, and the complaints about the punishment from another private University in a different case, can't be so much as which religion you happen to prefer, can it? I hope, anyway.





(bunch of stuff talking about legal issues deleted because I don't know them well enough to make such assertions in an audience with so many legal experts)
5.15.2007 6:38pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
D. Lacey. Hope, if it makes you feel better.
5.16.2007 9:12am