Sunday, February 20, 2005


Free speech means free speech for everybody

Harvey Silvergate discusses the irony of the protection Ward Churchill rightfully enjoys. An exerpt:

The primary lesson that I take away from this academic spectacle (“Where else but in higher education could such a farcical spectacle take place?” one asks) is the reliable old Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. For more than two decades now the academic left has been seeking—with a considerable degree of success—to censor and otherwise punish the right for its politically incorrect views on a wide range of social, political, and even intellectual/academic issues. Speech deemed offensive to “historically disadvantaged groups” or otherwise “regressive” has been punished as either “harassment” or “hate speech.” Now comes someone from the left mouthing words and ideas found highly offensive by those on the right (and indeed by many on the left), and he is roundly attacked, with a state legislator from Wisconsin, protesting Churchill’s scheduled March 1 lecture at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, describing his writings as a form of “anti-American hate speech.”

Ah, how the worm turns! What better proof is needed that all folks need to protect the rights of all other folks, because next year the target might be on one’s own back? This is the proven genius of our notions of academic freedom and constitutionally protected free speech, and especially of the doctrine of “viewpoint neutrality.” We all enjoy only so much liberty as we accord those we despise but who might be in the driver’s seat next time around.

Do you suppose the furor in the Colorado legislature calling for Mr. Churchill's firing will give pause to those who have broadly favored speech codes and prohibitions on "hate speech"?
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