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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Don't trust the speech police

Jews must defend free speech, including hate speech against Jews, argues an editorial in Tablet, a Jewish publication. Jews "have an existential interest as a people in supporting free speech and constitutional rights for others — on the historically sound principle that they will soon be coming for us."

Photo: Stand With Us/Los Angeles Times

When the editorial gets to universities, it's a barnburner.

Once bastions of "free inquiry," American universities have "turned themselves into factories for conformity and increasingly bizarre, divisive, and hateful doctrines held by the loudest (and often smallest) factions of their faculty," the Tablet editors write.

After suppressing free speech and open debate with claims that "words are violence," university administrators are now trying to "hide behind principles that they have spent the past three decades gleefully and purposefully shredding."

"Abandon universities," if you must, they write. Do not abandon free speech.

. . . Maybe you should take the $350,000 that you were planning to give to some failing “university” for your kid’s education in higher Jew-hatred and buy him a bunch of acres of land, a shelf full of great books, and an online course in smart investing, or basic algebra.

"The answer is certainly not to give bad-faith actors at universities or the federal government even more power to police speech, in the hope that they will use it to 'protect the Jews',” the editorial concludes. "They will not." Instead, protect our American freedoms.

Universities have two sets of rules for free speech, writes Abigail Shrier on The Free Press. There's one for favored groups, another for the unfavored.

In 2017, American University issued "crime alert" calling for the arrest of a person who posted "Huzzah for Dixie" flyers showing a Confederate flag, she recalls. The university president issued a statement: “AU will respond strongly to attempts designed to harm and create fear,” she wrote. “When one of us is attacked, all of us are attacked.”

Punishment is meted out swiftly and mercilessly, and with no consideration for free speech principles, any time Confederate flag flyers are posted, any time students hold culturally insensitive themed frat parties, any time colleges uncover student use of the N-word while in high school (or even a word in Mandarin that sounds like the N-word), or even when students or faculty make the familiar conservative argument that affirmative action sets black students up to fail.

"Today, in the face of months of bloodthirsty cries aimed at Jewish students (“globalize the Intifada”), university presidents line up to assure the protesters of their right to free speech," writes Shrier.  

"Some bigotries . . . are accepted, tolerated, and rewarded with special dispensations and, indeed, goodies," she writes. But a vast array of "microaggressions" are swiftly punished. Don't try misgendering a classmate, much less displaying cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

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1 Comment

May 09

Even "It's OK to be white" posters elicited all sorts of gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. I don't know why anyone would spend the money to send their kids to these places, or why anyone would take on the kind of debt needed to self fund.

However, let's not conflate speech with intimidation. Policies that limit speech are abhorrent, policies that prevent agitators from blocking buildings and preventing education are not. Police who have arrested protestors for occupying buildings, blocking access to school facilities, or setting up shanty-towns in public areas are in the right and should be supported. Those agitators should be charged and, if found guilty, convicted. If they really have the courage of their convic…

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