No Talking in Class

Campus liberals sacrificed free expression on the altar of political correctness
by Staff, Utne Reader
January-February 2011

Anthony Russo / www.russoart.com


Content Tools

Related Content

My Airplane, My Friend

A little more affection for airplanes could fight the fear of flying....

Could 2010 Be the Year of the Censor?

Open University's Nigel Warburton looks at recent censorship scandals Denmark, the UK, and Ireland a...

Children in Mexico Save the Bats

An author helps locals combat superstitions and myths to save the targeted creatures from harm….

Freekeh Foods Debuts Organic Freekeh Line

Expanding its line of the popular roasted green wheat, Freekeh Foods is proud to launch its certifie...

The tendency of 1990s’ campus liberals to sacrifice free expression on the altar of political correctness has given way to even more insidious examples of fear and paranoia. Attorneys Greg Lukianoff and Will Creeley, in the pages of Free Inquiry (Aug.-Sept. 2010), argue this trend will leave America’s universities, once defined by the Supreme Court as “peculiarly the marketplace of ideas,” increasingly isolated, insulated, and intellectually sterile.  

Exhibit A: Yale University’s decision to remove images of the Prophet Muhammad from The Cartoons that Shook the World, a book by Jytte Klausen that analyzed the violent controversy that erupted in 2006 after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 editorial cartoons satirizing the Islamic icon. Yale University Press, which signed-on to publish the work, initially signed-off on the manuscript, but after a second review conducted by anonymous consultants, the university “yanked the images from the book due to what Yale Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer admitted to be an unspecified, generalized fear of retaliatory violence.”  

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, for which Lukianoff serves as president and Creeley works as director of legal and public advocacy, Yale’s decision both betrayed its own exemplary stated commitment to freedom of expression and represented a troubling trend.  

Among the many examples cited: New York University threatened to ban a public discussion about the Muhammad cartoons if they were actually displayed. At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign the student newspaper dismissed two editors for reprinting the images. The University of Chicago asked a student to remove a insulting sketch of Muhammad from his dorm room door and pen an apology.  

Conservatives are infamous for assaulting the Ivory Tower’s tradition of open-minded debate too, of course. In the wake of 9/11, though, Lukianoff and Creeley say that liberal thought police are even more likely to punish expression that is either socially conservative, mocks the academy’s overly protective tendencies, dares challenge Islamic fundamentalism, or, in a bit of irony not lost on Free Inquiry, criticizes Israeli policies in Palestine.

Correction, 01/05/11: This version of this article now states correctly that Yale only betrayed its stated commitment to freedom of expression and did not violate the First Amendment, because, as a private university, it is not required to uphold the Constitution.

 

jan-feb-2011-cover-thumbnailThis article first appeared in the January-February 2011 issue of Utne Reader.








Post a comment below.

 

zooey
1/26/2011 10:24:52 AM
As I understand the press reports the cartoons were perceived as an assault on all Muslims. In a very general way, this seems to me to be similar to the reaction I would expect if a young man hung center-folds on his dorm room walls. On the surface it seems to me that these two situations should be handled in a similar fashion. Is the author ready to fight to for men (or women) to hanging center-fold type art in their room, locker, or office, even though it may offend other people? Or did I misunderstand something about the logic of this article.

zooey
1/26/2011 10:22:05 AM
As I understand the press reports the cartoons were perceived as an assault on all Muslims. In a very general way, this seems to me to be similar to the reaction I would expect if a young man hung center-folds on his dorm room walls. On the surface it seems to me that these two situations should be handled in a similar fashion. Is the author ready to fight to for men (or women) to hanging center-fold type art in their room, locker, or office, even though it may offend other people? Or did I misunderstand something about the logic of this article.








Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!