- Balkinization: Is the Republican Effort to Destroy the ACA Dead?
- Related: Centrist lawmakers plot bipartisan health care stabilization bill – POLITICO
Seems like a good idea (well, except for ending the tax on medical devices, which I suspect just shows that a lobby’s influence can be bipartisan). But would GOP leaders in Congress even allow this to get a vote?
- Why Republicans Want the 2020 Census to Fail – Rolling Stone
Because a Census that undercounts Black and Latinx voters helps Republicans win elections, and they think that’s all that matters. Supporting the GOP means supporting anti-democracy; the GOP fights harder and harder against democracy, and I have yet to see a single Republican object to it.
- With New Hampshire, all of New England has decriminalized or legalized marijuana – Vox
- Jeff Sessions Treads on the Property Rights of Americans – The Atlantic
Some Republicans have opposed civil forfeiture, to their credit. But will opposition continue now that Jeff Sessions is calling for civil forfeitures to be increased? I hope so, but I won’t be surprised if not.
- Medicine’s Women Problem – by Aubrey Hirsch
Good autobio cartoon on The Nib, about misogyny and medicine.
- Maybe Taking the Arguments of Nazis At Face Value Is Bad | Noah Berlatsky on Patreon
- People Are Really Mad at the DCCC for Saying It Will Continue to Fund Pro-Life Candidates – Mother Jones
I have no idea what to think of this. If this really helps the Democrats regain a majority in Congress, then it protects abortion – having a Dem majority in Congress does more to protect abortion rights than having a minority that is 100% pro-choice. (To use an obvious example, pro-life Democrats will almost certainly still vote to confirm a pro-choice judicial nominee). But would this actually help the Democrats win a majority? Because if not, it’s an awful betrayal. Many smart people I respect are furious with the Dems over this.
- Trump administration argues federal law doesn’t protect gay employees.
- KING: Black victims should get the same justice as Justine Damond – NY Daily News
- Why Are Dogs So Friendly? The Answer May Be in 2 Genes – The New York Times
“…the friendliness of dogs may share a genetic basis with a human disease called Williams-Beuren syndrome.”
- WATCH: NRA TV hosts warn ‘white families’ will be ‘tortured and killed’ if Black Lives Matter succeeds
- Charlie Gard: facts, medicine, and right-wing fictions
- Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 117 – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Thomas Nast, the first great American political cartoonist.
- White Economic Privilege Is Alive and Well – The New York Times
“Fifty years ago, black upper-class Americans had incomes about two-thirds those of white upper-class Americans, while the black middle class — those in the 60th percentile — earned about two-thirds as much as its white counterpart. Those ratios remain the same today.”
- This long, long twitter exchange between two novelists, Chuck Wendig and Sam Skyes, is hilarious.
- The Trial of the Century That Wasn’t | History | Smithsonian
“The case against Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, would have been a legal showdown of the ages.”
- Protesters Demand Emmett Till Artist Dana Schutz Be Banned in Boston
A grand total of eight (five?) people signed the letter (who I suspect the right will paint as representing all liberals everywhere). The letter in effect says that because Schutz made one racist painting, none of her paintings should ever be displayed again. Regardless of if the painting is racist, that response is disproportionate and merciless, neither of which are good things to be. (The painting in question isn’t even in the exhibition they want shut down.)
- Speaking of Dana Schutz, this article by Coco Fusco is excellent: Censorship, Not the Painting, Must Go: On Dana Schutz’s Image of Emmett Till
- And also this very different take by Lisa Whittington: #MuseumsSoWhite: Black Pain and Why Painting Emmett Till Matters – NBC News.
(Above very clever cosplay by Brett.)
Republicans believe that the interpretation of data is inherently biased; they think that a lot of agencies have been biased in favor of Dems; and they now have gained control and want to use that bias in their favor.
The Census folks seem pretty great as far as I know. But any time you are debating between statistical models which would radically affect the outcome of a political race it is probably fair to say there are political considerations on both sides of the aisle.
As a very pertinent example, illegal immigrants are counted in the Census. But for pretty-obvious reasons we don’t know how many illegal immigrants there are, since they don’t usually line up to be counted and in fact they often avoid being counted.
So counting the number of illegal immigrants is always going to involve an estimate. And estimates have wiggle room; wiggle room is political. So I am not surprised that the parties will fight over it.
I sure hope this goes down. Civil forfeiture is horrible. Under Obama it increased immensely, and I had hoped Trump would end it. Increasing it further is madness. The Institute for Justice is a strong opposer, if you want some info. That said, the people who think of this as a republican problem are political hacks; this is a much bigger issue than Trump or Sessions alone.
Well, it should, but nonetheless it actually doesn’t. This is Congress’ job and we have known how to fix it forever: amend the law. And yet even in 2009-10 with a majority in both house and senate and with a democratic president, this didn’t get fixed. Instead, Obama tweaked the results through executive power at EEOC. But not only is that bad in this case (what a President can do, another can undo) but it was bad in the general case (when presidents try to override laws, bad things happen.)
I keep saying this but people and especially liberals should be very wary of rules of interpretation that circumvent the normal process of getting what you want. Maybe you like the EEOC and maybe you don’t but unlike Congress, you don’t get any direct say in its membership. It is a small body without any political obligations. Are you really sure that you want it to basically have the power to change title 7? Do you have any credible way to distinguish the EEOC from any other agency, or to distinguish the modifications you like from the modifications you hate? Etc.
This from the link:
That’s not just ordinary bullshit – that’s quality bullshit there. Apparently on this basis you can only make art about black suffering under racism if you yourself are black. So therefore the art is racist. And, therefore the artist is racist.
This is the kind of thing that is causing accusations of racism to lose their impact and to be more and more simply ignored. Art does not become invalid based on the race of the artist or on any other personal characteristic they have. No one group has the privilege of having the exclusive right to use art to explore or interpret the experiences of that group. The world of art is filled with great art made by people of a completely different race, creed, sex, age or what have you than the subject matter of the art itself.
I fail to see how any reputable institution can even consider to the point of seriously addressing any demand that NONE of that artist’s work be exhibited because of the great offense that group takes against one of her works. If these people attempt to actually block access to the exhibition (not that I’ve seen that threatened, but based on what we’ve seen in the streets in reaction to Pres. Trump’s election and on college campuses in reaction to conservative and provocative speakers the possibility cannot be discounted) the police should immediately be called to clear them away.
This is what happens when you have a group of people who think that they are clearly morally superior to their opponents, whose morals include the concept that the ends justify the means, and who think that their intelligence and morals mean that they should be in charge regardless of the actual forms of government. And who additionally bought into all the hype about conservative thought being relegated to the dustbin of history after Pres. Obama’s election and figured they would always be in charge.
Civil Forfeiture: so you know, there’s lots of writing about this in conservative blogs. They would like to see Att’y Gen Sessions booted out of his cabinet position on this alone.
One more thing and then I’ll wait for any reactions. North Carolina has passed what they call the “Restore Campus Free Speech Act”. 80 – 31 in their House (including 10 Democrats voting “Aye”, about 25% of them) and 34 – 11 in their Senate on a straight party vote. The governor didn’t sign it but let it become law without his signature.
Apparently initial provisions requiring institutional neutrality, the right to recover court costs if one’s rights under the act were violated, what areas of a campus must be presumed public forums and a requirement that anyone twice found of interfering with the free speech rights of others be expelled were removed or weakened.
Overall I’d say this was a positive development and a model for other States to follow. I’m curious about the straight party vote in the Senate and the Democrat-only opposition in the House. I wonder why this should be a partisan issue?
I think Berlatsky’s arguments are just horrible:
“One more time: the fantasy that the left is especially aggressive and evil and is forcing people into alt right political nastiness is an *alt right talking point.* I don’t give a shit who says it; Judith Butler, Richard Rorty, Jonathan Haidt, John Chait,—it’s anti-PC boilerplate, and it’s bullshit. ”
The idea that John Chait should be lumped in with the alt-right is just ridiculous. Just because the alt right makes an argument doesn’t make it false. And yeah, the alt-right is more dangerous than the left at this point, but that doesn’t the left isn’t nasty at this point.
And yes, the poor state of the economy is a factor in the alt-right’s rise. Historians generally agree that the poor state of the economy was a necessary factor in the rise of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t other factors involved or absolve their supporters of responsibility. It just means that if someone had offered the general populace another way to better their lives, things could have been different.
Regarding transgression, the Left is just as willing to transgress norms as the right, contrary to Berlatsky- Act Up invading St. Patrick’s, Obama attending a
church service where the minister claimed that the US government created AIDS, William Ayers getting an emeritus professorship, the constant glorification of Communists, etc.
“A grand total of eight (five?) people signed the letter (who I suspect the right will paint as representing all liberals everywhere). ”
So #Notallsjws ?
The healthy eating video is on point. Nutritional science just isn’t very advanced. I strongly suspect that there are at least a few powerful unknown variables that make good advice for some people actively bad advice for others. This ends up making nutritional science a mess because few of its public proponents are anything less that prophet like in their style about adopting whatever principle they hold. It is entirely too faddish to be trusted.
RonF – As far as I can see, that law would force campuses to give platforms to creationists, anti-vax activists, flat earthers, hollow earthers, and so forth, if even one student invites them to speak. It will lead to potential lawsuits against universities for teaching, say, evolution or climate science without also teaching the opposite views.
I have complex views about free speech and its place on campus. But one thing I don’t have any doubt about is that there shouldn’t be political or religious meddling in science education, just like there shouldn’t be political or scientific meddling in religious education. Any law that attempts to protect “free speech” without protecting science education is a non-starter for me.
I have no problem with the law forcing schools to give a platform to any of those people. I should think that it would be entirely legitimate for the school to size the venue commensurate with the interest (you don’t have to require the school to give them a venue that will hold 1000 people when only 10 sign up to hear it). That won’t interfere or meddle in science education – the best way to keep people from falling for bogus ideas is to expose them to them and to the arguments against them. I disagree that the law will require the schools to teach creationism in a class whose subject matter is evolution. Will there be a lawsuit intending to establish such? Probably. There’s always lawsuits. But I’m betting they’ll fail and then we can all get on with our lives.
My views about free speech and its place on campus are not complex at all. There is no place in the world where free speech should enjoy more protection than on a college campus. People should be free to express harebrained, provocative and even toxic ideas on campus. That’s the best way to expose students and faculty to those ideas faults and to the arguments that dispose of them. Students are going to run into such ideas as they leave campus and go into the real world and they need to learn how to deal with that kind of thing in a rational fashion instead of an ignorant or emotional one. Better they make their mistakes in those regards on campus than in the workplace.
What really gets my goat about the Dana Schutz protesters is that if you accept their logic, Bob Dylan never should have written “The Ballad of Emmet Till.” Abel Meeropol never should have written “Strange Fruit.” If they had their way and white artists never engaged with black issues, white Americans would be even less educated and even less empathetic to black issues than we are now. They are essentially advocating a form of artistic segregation, which would have the inevitable effect of heightening other forms of segregation in our country. “We don’t need white allies” seems to be a theme among some of the more radical SJWs, and I’m sure it’s an attitude that fills one with great self-satisfaction and righteous fury, but it is obviously untrue.
RonF, my biggest problem with the legislation–and discussions of campus free speech in general–is that it sites the heart of free speech, not in the speech rights of the campus community itself, but in the speech rights of guests to that community.
Do you think not inviting ot disinviting a Creationist speaker will mean that issue is never brought up on campus?
In any case, I would expect this law to reduce guest speakers, not increase them. If inviting a speaker is an irrevocable decision, look for policies around inviting them in the first place to get much tighter.
RonF – any law requiring the institution to remain “neutral” on topics of controversy will certainly affect the teaching as well as public discourse. The moment a creationist (or a climate denier, or a Holocaust denier, etc.) comes onto campus, the administration will not be required to take a neutral stance towards their views. An institution that allows its employees to directly contradict such views in their teaching is not taking a neutral view. A university that hires only staff that take on side of a controversy can also be arguing to not be neutral. Etc.
A university should allow freedom of speech to its students, I certainly agree there. But that should be done in a way that allows the university, as an institution, to have its own views. This law is very clearly designed to limit the ability of the universities – and therefore, university staff in their official roles – to express their own voice and views.
I agree that people should be free to express whatever ideas they want on campus. But I also think that the university should be free to subject those ideas to scrutiny. I do not believe that this law, at least as described by the link you gave, provides sufficient protection to the freedom of the university staff to determine how they best educate their students.
The actual text of the law is here. There isn’t anything in the law that seems to cabin the way in which a University expresses it’s own views. Rather, it strictly limits speech restrictions to viewpoint and content-neutral restrictions under First Amendment jurisprudence and then adds this:
This might come into the classroom if, for instance, a professor required students to write a letter to a member of congress expressing support or opposition to something or other. That kind of thing does happen. I would be okay with a law that prevented it.
Nothing I see in the text would inhibit a professor from expressing his or her own views, however.
What worries me is this:
There are certainly some activities that protestors do that genuinely do “infringe up on the rights of others to engage in and listen” – physically blocking entrances so no one can get in, for example, or violence.
But it’s also the case that some right-wingers effectively consider any protest at all (well, from the left) to be an act of censorship. Without any limits on what can be taken to “infringe” on someone’s “listen”ing, this law could be used against any protestors at all who do anything other than standing silently a half-mile away from whatever they’re protesting.
Fibi – thank you for the text. That wording you quote does indeed help alleviate my main concern.
This is “both sides” nihilism. Yes, political considerations are always part of – well, anything policy-related at all. That’s not a reason to not worry about racist disenfranchisement, or to pretend that settled scientific questions are unsettled.
Whether or not climate change is real is a question that people answer, in part, politically. That doesn’t change the overwhelming evidence, and scientific consensus, that climate change is real.
Whether or not statistical sampling is more accurate than a head-count, for a population like the US’s, is a question that people answer, in part, politically. That doesn’t change the overwhelming expert consensus that statistical sampling is more accurate.
And this is where ideological centrists – by worrying more about their zeal for the middle ground than they do about substance – go wrong.
Furthermore, doing a head-count census well requires a lot of personal one-on-one contact – it means hiring workers to go door-to-door, to talk to homeless people, etc.. Insisting on a head-count while slashing funding is a formula for a bad census – and one that will certainly count well-off white people more accurately while systematically undercounting other groups. So the issue isn’t just statistical sampling vs head-count; it’s also the choice of the GOP to tie the Census’ hands to make sure they do a bad job on the head-count.
Amp – I agree that the part of the law that you quote in #14 is more of an issue than the part I quoted earlier. IANAL, but I think your concerns are somewhat attenuated by the word “substantially” in the phrase “substantially interferes with the free expression rights of others, including protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of others to engage in and listen to expressive activity.”
I would feel more comfortable if the word “substantially” appeared again right in front of “infringe” but I think courts will interpret it that way regardless (again, IANAL).
Since Fibi has alleviated your concerns, I have erased my commentary on your comment, except for one statement:
I disagree – at least, for public universities. I find that I agree with the following from the University of Chicago’s Kalven Committee’s Report on the University’s Role in Political and Social Action. Were I in a position to do so, I would require every public university and every private university receiving tax funds to adopt and enforce the following as policy.
If there are such, I believe there are very few and that their opinions in the matter will not influence the interpretation and enforcement of this law.
Perhaps the university administrators who have permitted protestors to engage in “physically blocking entrances so no one can get in, for example, or violence.” with no consequences should have considered the results of their inactions beyond their own campus. But far too many of them think that they are beyond criticism or control by the public and either agree with the aims of the protestors or are too weak willed to actually execute the obligations of their office in the face of a vocal minority – and so now we have this law. I’m sure that there will be court cases that further refine this, but I don’t think overall there will be extreme restrictions resulting.
How widespread do you think this problem is? I did a bit of searching. Stanley Kurtz at the National Review wrote Year of the Shoutdown: It Was Worse Than You Think summarized the shoutdowns of the 2016/17 acedemic year, concluding “If this is not a complete list of the lesser-known shout-downs of the 2016-17 academic year, it is probably close.”
Frankly I was shocked – shocked by how SMALL this problem is.
His grand total of this terrible problem that “Was Worse than you think” Only fifteen incidents (3 were at Berkeley). There are over 5,000 colleges and universities in the U.S.. I’m not going to defend most of these incidents. But, Kurtz himself acknowledges that the “shoutdown” at Georgetown was “deftly handled”, and that “the disruption itself only lasted a minute or so.” So, he was clearly scraping the bottom of the barrel there.
In his blog post against the rather mild pushback on identity politics from the so-called “dirtbag left” and author Angela Nagel’s analysis of alt-right trolls, Noah Berlatsky said some variant on “Nazi’ twenty times.
Letting that reductio ad Hitlerum do all the heavy lifting and you’ll grow weak, Noah.
Sorry, Amp, but Spicer had declined his invitation to Dancing With The Stars.
Keep calm and carry on.
Alt-Right: We’re nazis!
Someone else: I agree with your self-description.
Alt-Right: Reducto ad-Hitlerum!
@Ben#23- I think that LTL FTC was arguing that Berlatsky was trying to smear Nagel, Judith Butler, Haidt and Chait with the Nazi/alt-right label. You can disagree if that’s what he was trying to do but since usually none of those people are considered alt-right, if he was trying to that, that is indeed a reducto ad-Hitlerum.
In Defence of the Bad, White Working Class
Michael, since three of those names only come up in the comments, and the comment in question didn’t use the term “Nazi” or any variant on it (unless LTL FTC considers “alt right” a variant term of “Nazi,” but I don’t think he does, or his count would have been much higher than 20), and LTL FTC’s comment was about “the blog post,” I doubt that’s what LTL FTC meant.
In any case, in context, it’s ridiculous to say Berlatsky was calling those people Nazis. He was criticizing them for “cosigning the arguments of alt right Nazis,” but that’s obviously not the same as saying that these people ARE alt-right Nazis.
(That said, I haven’t listened to the podcast that Noah was criticizing, so I can’t say if his criticism of Nagel is fair or not.)
LTL FTC, given that the essay spent a lot of time discussing the actual, historical Nazis, dismissing it for using the term “Nazis” seems silly.
When Is Speech Violence and What’s the Real Harm? – a response to the When Is Speech Violence essay by Lisa Feldman Barrett in the New York Times.
Recently the sports pages in the Chicago newspapers noted the 40th anniversary of the Disco Demolition game at old Comiskey Park where the White Sox played. I and my wife were there. It was supposed to be a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. The White Sox were drawing poorly, so they had a promotion wherein you could enter the ball park for $1 and a disco record. Between games those records would be blown up by a local DJ from a rock radio station who had made a name for himself heaping contempt on disco music.
The White Sox were drawing about 21,000 to a game. They expected a few thousand more to show up. They were not prepared when 47,000+ showed up – the final figure will never be known because a great many inebriated or stoned youth overwhelmed the ticket takers and jumped the turnstiles before the ball club simply closed the gates. The first game proceeded normally against an overflow crowd. Alcohol and weed were being freely passed among the crowd, most of whom were paying no attention to the game and many of whom were wandering all over the ball park in the aisles and concourses.
After the first game the large crate of records was hauled out to center field on top of a protective tarp. After some commentary from the DJ it was “blown up”. The show on the field was over, the mess cleaned up and the players came out to warm up.
Some kid, likely high as a kite, ran out from the left field grandstand and ran around on the field for a minute. White Sox security made the fatal mistake of not tackling the kid and arresting him. About a score of kids in the right-field grandstand saw what fun that was and, noting the absence of consequences, ran out on the field. At that point the left-field grandstand emptied, the right-field grandstand emptied, security escorted the players off the field, and it was on. Kids all over the field, fires set from various debris, hunks of the outfield and infield dug up by hand and thrown around. I was among those chanting a takeoff of the chant used when an opposition pitcher was relieved – in this case “Na na na na, na na na na, hey assholes, get off the field”. To no avail. The Chicago Police, mounted, showed up and in what had to have been a remarkable experience for them were loudly cheered as they cleared the field. But, the damage was done, the field was unplayable, and what has remained the last forfeit in major league baseball was called.
Those incidents you note are the first kid to run out on the field. The administrators’ failure to deal with them properly – with fines, suspensions and dismissal from their schools – is a failure that will, if repeated, lead to campus chaos, actual injuries and the kind of lasting damage to those schools that the University of Missouri is (thankfully) facing right now.
Ron, I don’t buy the relevancy of your anectode for a variety of reasons, which I may get into later. But, even if I did, I don’t understand how you can see the one kid who ran onto the field as THE problem where the line needs to be drawn. There were probably dozens of bad decisions made prior to that –
1.) Framing the event as “blowing up disco” was bound to bring in a dispropotionate number of unruly young men. That’s not necessarily bad in and of itself. But, when you’re planning an event which you know is going to attract such elements, it is important to plan for those elements to show up.
2.) Keeping the price so low was bound to bring in large numbers of people. Again, not bad in and of itself, but there is a responsibility to plan.
3.) Not requiring any prior booking made planning for numbers difficult if not impossible.
4.) Not having a clear ceiling on howevermany-thousand would be admitted made turning people away at the door when the venue was full difficult, if not impossible.
5.) Not having adequeate crowd control measures in place made turning people away, particularly thos who were visibly drunk and disorderly impossible.
6.) Not reacting to the crush by immediately calling in reinforcements and making it clear that people being drunk and disorderly would be removed.
7.) Going ahead with a highly charged display in front of a crowd that was clearly about to explode.
8.) Not catching the first guy to run out onto the field.
The the whole way the event was framed and (un)structured was problematic. from start to finish. I see points 3-5 as the points we should focus on. But even at point 8, as long as you catch the kid running out onto the field and throw him out, your point will be made. I don’t see any need to fine, arrest or prosecute him as long as he agrees to leave peacefully (as some of the people involved in the so-called “shout-downs” did).
In my opinion, if the protesters are non-violent, leave peacefully when told to, and let the event go on (as was the case at Georgetown) I don’t think that it is right to even call it a “shout-down”. It’s just a protest.
I have many more thoughts on this, but it is a crazy time right now at work, so it might be a while.
“Running onto the field” is something that a surprising number of people are inclined to do. But most of them don’t necessarily want to do it all that much, and most of them don’t want to get punished. So if you impose and publicize sufficient consequences then you can hopefully prevent the vast majority of potential runners. Those who care enough to get punished will still run; you can’t stop everyone but you can make the problem much better.
Similarly, “block speakers and/or act inappropriately in response to speech” seems to be something which a lot of people are inclined to do. But most of them don’t necessarily want to do it all that much, and most of them don’t want to get punished. So if you impose and publicize sufficient consequences then you can hopefully prevent the vast majority of potential block/inappropriate folks. Those who care enough to accept punishment will still do it; you can’t stop everyone but you can make the problem much better.
Deterring bad behavior is especially important when the threat of bad behavior is causing problems and is affecting what you are trying to protect. The more that people act out, then the more expensive it is to hold events (security, etc.) and it can act to stifle events in advance even without any actual bad behavior. If you allow bad behavior to grow and become common, that decision has consequences.
You are correct that there were other steps that could have helped to head off the issue. There are also many good reasons why those didn’t happen. However, the fact that they were not taken does not excuse the actions taken by the person who ran out on the field or the failure of the authorities to respond in such a fashion as to deter further such acts.
I can’t speak for ball parks in other cities, but here in Chicago at both the baseball stadia (we have two) and at the football stadium it is SOP that anyone running out on the field will be arrested by the Chicago police, charged, stand trial and at least fined. The ball clubs make a point out of doing this and publicly naming the perpetrator and his punishment. In fact, I know that Soldier Field (where the Bears play) has an actual on-site holding cell for excessively unruly patrons. They think it has a deterrent effect and I agree. And no, I have not seen that cell from the inside.
The bottom line is that I disagree with you. When an arranged/scheduled speaker who is in front of an audience that has shown up for the purpose of hearing that speaker is disrupted it is a direct assault on free speech. That act should be stopped and punished to the point that it acts as a deterrent to others from doing so. People who assault free speech should not be accommodated.
I can’t recall if you felt this way when the tea party was shutting down Democratic town halls when the ACA was being debated or not. My view at the time was that such people should be allowed to have their say, but be removed if they refuesed to give others a chance to speak. I was not angry that they spoke up, or even that they disrupted events. I was upset that they didn’t give others their chance to speak. That is to say, my position about the ideal arrangement is consistent regardless of ideology. I don’t see counter speech as an assault on free speech unless it materially damages the ability of the original speaker to speak.
That being said, individual venues should have the right to dictate how much disruption within the venue is tolerable to them. Which is to say, individual univeristies should set their own policies. Berkely is going to allow a lot more protest than Princeton and that is right and good given the different natures of the institutions.
As for the deterrent effect of punishment, the scholarship on that is mixed. Inconsistenly applying draconian punishments, like expulsion, doesn’t work. Punishment also often has the effect of getting people to focus on not getting caught, rather than on not violating the rules at all (eg. anti-fa protestors not connected to the university come in, because expulsion is not a threat to them). On the other hand, relatively small punishments applied consistently work best. Mark Kleinman has written a lot about this reguarding drug use. They also have the benefit of not ruining young people’s lives over one stupid mistake.
In other words, problems arise when you don’t have a level playing field. That whole Disco Demolition thing got problematic because they had that big lumpy pitcher’s mound. The trick is to enforce a consistent, level playing field, as in football and soccer. Problem solved.
We may agree. But you seem to think you’re disagreeing with RonF, so let me clarify:
1) Does the use of “assault” serve as any sort of indicator of the type of bar you are setting here? If you replace “assault on free speech” as “problem we should address” is that still true?
2) When you talk about “materially damages the ability to speak,” how wide is your universe? IOW, do you mean “materially damages the speaker’s ability to convey message in the planned manner, in the planned setting, to the planned audience?”
That’s what I mean. If you plan to give a live panel speech in an auditorium, and you end up forced to give a video conference to a bunch of people huddled outside the building, I view that as a “material issue” even though you are still technically “able to speak.”
Sure, basically. But do you agree that this is a tricky issue insofar as Berkeley is a public institution? For me there is a crucial distinction between those two schools. Does that apply for you?
It’s true that fast, consistent, and unavoidable punishment has been shown to work surprisingly well in some circumstances, to deter relatively-minor crimes. However those punishments are still quite a ways above “nothing”. And they are dependent on the “fast, consistent, unavoidable” aspect.
Colleges lack those dependencies, so this would take a while to fix. Moreover, if there is a hug variation between colleges that makes it even harder. And finally, it is very hard to find an acceptable level of punishment which will work. This is a problem EVERYWHERE in colleges, not just for FA issues!!
To show how impossible this can seem, here’s a non-FA example from 2015 (I pulled this one because it’s old news.) Assume the following: (a) you run the school; (b) you are supposed to prevent that protest, and future ones like it; (c) you get to decide how to stop it; and (d) you magically can impose all rules and punishments in advance, so the students were knowingly breaking them and taking on the risk.
What type of punishment do you think is appropriate? Who gets punished?
Typical problems to consider: You can’t really fine people, not to mention it would selectively hurt poor students. You probably can’t dock their GPA. You probably can’t kick them off campus (and out of their housing) without notice and a hearing, and if you do, it will (again) have the worst effects on the poorer students. You probably have free rein to mess with extracurriculars and sports, though (a) that will only hurt some folks and (b) it may cause damage to other folks who did nothing (should the play be cancelled just because the director broke some minor rules?) Also, don’t forget your decision is in the public eye.
SAFETY VALVE: If you want, you can retroactively pass a state law which you can point to as appropriate justification for your actions.
Good luck with your decision. Lord knows it’s not an easy job ;)
I can’t remember them doing that. But if they did, then they should have been arrested for it. I’m completely non-partisan with regards to the First Amendment. I don’t care whose ox gets gored.
For a private entity I agree completely.
I have two points on that. First, a university should lead the nation, or indeed the world, in ensuring that the principles of free speech are upheld. A university that permits speech to be suppressed by a heckler’s veto is not worthy of the name. Second, a public university – or a private university that gets public money – has to ultimately answer above their administration to the public and it’s representatives. Appeals to “academic freedom” notwithstanding, at some point people who actually respect the founding principles of America will be heard from.
Absolutely not. The principles of free speech should be applied exactly the same in both institutions. What is permissible speech and what is not, and what manner of protection it is afforded is not a function of geography or the whims of a college administrator.
Ron – Suppose that protestors yell (or use noisemakers) for five minutes, and then they stop and the speech goes on.
Should they be arrested, in your view?
How about if protestors outside the hall are chanting. Inside the hall, the chanting can only be heard faintly, and the speaker has a microphone so can definitely be heard above it – but the speaker feels that the chanting is creating an environment he can’t speak in.
How about if the speaker is making their speech, but hecklers in the audience are calling out comments – “booo!” “You stink!” etc – every minute or two. But the speech goes on. Arrest?
I’m just wondering, because I’m not sure where you think the line should be drawn.
IMO, this depends on a lot of information which isn’t in your post. It’s an incredibly squishy area. The majority of situations are “don’t arrest people” or perhaps “don’t arrest anyone but the ringleaders.” And some are in the middle ground of “have security remove them and shoo them away.” However, doing it occasionally will arguably reduce the overall number of confrontations.
If someone says “people who use noisemakers will be arrested” and if there are big signs saying “noisy people will be arrested” and if there is a big group of folks who are gleefully blowing vuvezelas in the auditorium while staring at a cop marching towards them with handcuffs: Yes, they probably should be arrested.
At some point the decisions will require the input of a decision making person/authority, and that means that some decisions will be wrong. So I view this as an inherent tradeoff between different types of error. Stopping a speaker is error; stopping non-disruptive speech is error; allowing disruption is error. This is true whether you want that authority to aim towards “protecting the official speaker,” or towards “not interfering with listeners even if they may disrupt things.”
But even though there are error tradeoffs, they are not always even. The error ratio increases vastly at the poles and the overall error is lower away from the poles.
If you are sicking security on everyone who disagrees, you’re going to have a crazy-high false positive rate and a zero false negative rate. You can really reduce the rate of false positives if you change from punishing “everyone” to “most” without significantly increasing the false negatives. Your net error rate goes down.
Similarly, if you’re not ever punishing anyone you’re going to have a crazy-high false negative rate, and a zero false positive rate. You can really reduce the rate of false negatives if you change from “nobody” to “a few people” without significantly increasing the false positives. Your net error rate goes down.
I am heavily biased towards speech, so I generally think we should start at the “not ever punishing anyone” baseline. But many settings, especially colleges, appear to be at the near-zero punishment level. It is likely, at least IMO, that a small increase (5%? 10%?) which focuses only on the worst offenders would have some effect and would also have a very low false positive rate.
1) Yes. And if a group of protesters seeking to drown out a speaker are allowed to do so for 5 minutes before action is taken to stop them the people in charge ought to faces consequences from whatever authority they report to.
2) If the people in the back of the venue can clearly hear the speaker, no, and I’m not all that concerned about the speaker’s feelings.
3) If the speech goes on without interruption, no. But if they are interfering with the speaker, yes.
Regarding my last comment in #35 – I’d forgotten that Princeton was a private university. They have more right to regulate free speech on campus than Berkeley, which is a public university. However, Princeton is supposedly an elite school. On that basis they should be one of the strongest defenders of free speech.
“If they are interfering with the speaker” – but if the speaker stops speaking for a few moments, then you could reasonably argue that the speech has suffered an interruption and the speaker has been interfered with. You don’t put in any qualifiers at all.
In any case, to me, your position on number 1, and perhaps on number 3, seems anti-free speech. You want people arrested for speaking out in public about political matters, even if they’re not actually preventing someone else from speaking (having to start late, even for five minutes, is not being prevented from speaking). That’s being against free speech.
The super rare lump was removed successfully. Along with all my breast tissue and my nipple. I’m down to 4 favorites. But I do have a nifty 6″ scar. There was absolutely no pain, which seems to have boggled the surgeon. But, hey, no nerves, no pain. Just a big numb patch which may remain numb and may not. But the nerves above the numb spot are easily confused. Any slight touch is either being cut or mildly burned. Not real pain, just weird. We’ll see if it ever gets sensation back. If not, it’s gonna make the tattoo really super easy for me. You know the old saying, “When God eliminates a piercing, get three new ones?” Yeah, I totally followed that.
As long as my body doesn’t decide to grow another one and hide it fro me for a long time, I’m in the clear.
I think George Washington said that.
If a group of people are out in a public park and two or 3 of them are shouting down someone else, that’s free speech and if the person being shouted down doesn’t like it, too bad. And if it’s a group of neo-Nazis or white supremacists give me a call, I’ve got a loud voice. But if a group of people have engaged a venue and a speaker for the purpose of hearing that person speak, free speech does not mean you can go in there and shout them down. Your right to free speech does not mean you can prevent anyone else from speaking for any length of time in such an arranged scenario. Think about it; where does this lead? Five minutes is arbitrary. If 5 minutes is reasonable, why not 10? Why not 30? I think that 30 minutes would be unreasonable – but then I think 5 minutes is unreasonable. And if one side of a given issue can do this, why not another? This could make it impossible for anyone to sponsor or hire a venue for a presentation and have a reasonable expectation of actually presenting their speech. The way things are going these days, if a mob of people stand up and start shouting down a speaker the speaker and the audience would legitimately fear for their safety.
In this kind of scenario the people who hired or otherwise reserved a venue have primacy of rights and have a right to stop others from interfering with the event. That’s not a violation of free speech, it’s a protection of it.
Nope. I looked it up on the Internet and it was Abraham Lincoln, definitely. Godspeed Jake.
RonF – the thing I don’t understand is why you take the rights of guest to a university community to supercede the rights of students. In my view, a university is compelled to protect the speech rights of its staff and students above anyone else, including invited speakers. I would support the type of measures you indicate if a student protester is trying to prevent another student from giving a speech. I would also support them if outside protesters are trying to stop an outside speaker, because in that case the invited speaker gets primacy. But I think the situation is more complex when students are trying to protest an outside speaker. I don’t think they should be allowed to prevent them from speaking completely, but they should be allowed to try (in other words, I think the protesters should be dispersed but as long as they leave peacfully and didn’t do anything illegal, there should be no long-term punishment, even if the speaker had to be delayed)
I’m very glad to hear it, Jake. Thanks for letting us know.
That’s good news, Jake. Thanks for letting us know.
Because those guests have the backing of the students who invited them, and of the school, and of the students/staff who want to hear from them.
But don’t those speech rights also link to invitees?
Let’s say I have ideas on poetry; I want to share them but I’m not especially well-spoken–maybe I have a stutter. Should my ability to rent a hall and share my ideas with the public be defined by my own limitations? Why shouldn’t I be permitted to engage RJN if I want to, and have him speak? Those who oppose my poetry ideas can rent the hall and give their own presentation; they don’t need to mess with mine.
Let me generalize that and see if it still makes sense:
1) You think XXX is bad.
2) You don’t think people should be allowed to do XXXX.
3) You know there are people who want to do XXX.
4) You think it’s very important that those people are allowed to try to do XXX, and that the attempts are wholly protected.
Doesn’t this conflict? Won’t it result in more XXX? Isn’t that bad?
Ampersand, I apologise for being insensitive on the Charlottesville’s thread.
Thanks for saying that, Desipis. I appreciate it.
Van Driver Hits Pedestrians in Barcelona, Killing at Least 12 in Terror Attack.
Glad to hear (mostly) everything went well, Jake!