Free speech is guaranteed by our Bill of Rights. It’s core to America. Free speech is under assault by progressives all across the US-especially in our nation’s universities and public school systems. Hopefully, we started to turn a corner yesterday.
I am really proud of what one of my alma maters did. The University of Chicago sent a letter to the incoming class of 2020. Safe spaces and trigger warnings are bullshit. Here is the text of the letter.
Welcome and congratulations on your acceptance to the College at the University of Chicago. Earning a place in our community of scholars is no small achievement and we are delighted that you selected Chicago to continue your intellectual journey.
Once here will you discover that one of the University of Chicago’s defining characteristic is our commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression. This is captured in the University’s faculty report on freedom of expression. Members of our community are encouraged to speak, write, listen, challenge and learn, without fear of censorship. Civility and mutual respect are vital to all of us, and freedom of expression does not mean the freedom to harass or threaten others. You will find that we expect members of our community to be engaged in rigorous debate, discussion and even disagreement. At times this may challenge you and even cause discomfort.
Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called “trigger warnings,” we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual “safe spaces” where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.
Fostering the free exchange of ideas reinforces a related University priority–building a campus that welcome people of all backgrounds. Diversity of opinion and background is a fundamental strength of our community. The members of our community must have the freedom to espouse and explore a wide range of ideas.
I am enclosing a short monograph by Dean John W. Boyer, the Martin A. Ryerson Distinguished Service Professor in History and Dean of the College, which provides a helpful primer. This monograph, entitled Academic Freedom and the Modern University: The Experience of the University of Chicago, recounts the history of debate, and even scandal, resulting from our commitment to academic freedom.
If you are interested in some of the source material mentioned in Dean Boyer’s book, you can find links to the important reports (e.g. the Kalven report, the Stone report, etc.) at the website maintained by our University provost at http://freeexpression.uchicago.edu/.
Again, welcome to the University of Chicago. See you in September!
A while ago, the University of Chicago lead the charge against the movement to suppress debate at college campuses by forming the Committee on Free Expression. That committee published a manifesto that has been adopted by some other colleges around the US. One of them being Purdue. I highly encourage you to read it and think about the concepts it illustrates.
This has nothing to do with being liberal or conservative. It does have a lot to do with being an American. It does have a lot to do with individual liberty-and having individual liberty ensures that we have free markets. When a society values the collective over the individual, it is exceedingly hard for free markets to find a home. It’s also hard for capitalism to reach it’s full potential.
Free speech also comes with responsibility. Where there is responsibility, there are consequences. Free to choose means that if you fail, or don’t do as well as someone else there should be no alternative force to “make it equal”. In America, we all are born with inalienable rights-and we are free to pursue happiness. But, we aren’t guaranteed happiness or outcomes.
There is only one way to guarantee equal outcomes, and it’s at the tip of a spear.
America always was a capitalistic society. But, that’s changing rapidly as we devolve into a more European like government managed crony capitalist system. It’s too bad more people don’t recognize it. I am seeing more and more cases of outright discrimination-and it’s the hard left actively discriminating and silencing anyone that doesn’t tow their line. I am glad the University of Chicago is creating a campus wide safe space for ideas to collide, for people to debate and for individual freedom to blossom.
tip of the hat to my friend Glenn Reynolds, Professor of Law at Tennessee and author of Instapundit.