« prev   random   next »

3
1

What Can't Be Debated on Campus - Amy Wax

By P N Dr Lo R following x   2018 Feb 17, 2:42pm 1,802 views   17 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    


The Wall Street Journal

IDEAS THE SATURDAY ESSAY
What Can’t Be Debated on Campus

Pilloried for her politically incorrect views, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax asks if it’s still possible to have substantive arguments about divisive issues.
What Can’t Be Debated on Campus

By Amy Wax

410 COMMENTS

There is a lot of abstract talk these days on American college campuses about free speech and the values of free inquiry, with lip service paid to expansive notions of free expression and the marketplace of ideas. What I’ve learned through my recent experience of writing a controversial op-ed is that most of this talk is not worth much. It is only when people are confronted with speech they don’t like that we see whether these abstractions are real to them.

The op-ed, which I co-authored with Larry Alexander of the University of San Diego Law School, appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Aug. 9 under the headline, “Paying the Price for the Breakdown of the Country’s Bourgeois Culture.” It began by listing some of the ills afflicting American society:

Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries.

We then discussed the “cultural script”—a list of behavioral norms—that was almost universally endorsed between the end of World War II and the mid-1960s:

Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime.

These norms defined a concept of adult responsibility that was, we wrote, “a major contributor to the productivity, educational gains and social coherence of that period.” The fact that the “bourgeois culture” these norms embodied has broken down since the 1960s, we argued, largely explains today’s social pathologies—and re-embracing that culture would go a long way toward addressing those pathologies.

In what became the most controversial passage, we pointed out that some cultures are less suited to preparing people to be productive citizens in a modern technological society, and we gave examples:

The culture of the Plains Indians was designed for nomadic hunters, but is not suited to a First World, 21st-century environment. Nor are the single-parent, antisocial habits prevalent among some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner-city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.

The reactions to this piece raise the question of how unorthodox opinions should be dealt with in academia—and in American society at large. It is well documented that American universities today are dominated, more than ever before, by academics on the left end of the political spectrum. How should these academics handle opinions that depart, even quite sharply, from their “politically correct” views?

The proper response would be to engage in reasoned debate—to attempt to explain, using logic, evidence, facts and substantive arguments, why those opinions are wrong. This kind of civil discourse is obviously important at law schools like mine, because law schools are dedicated to teaching students how to think about and argue all sides of a question. But academic institutions in general should also be places where people are free to think and reason about important questions that affect our society and our way of life—something not possible in today’s atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy.

What those of us in academia should certainly not do is engage in unreasoned speech: hurling slurs and epithets, name-calling, vilification and mindless labeling. Likewise, we should not reject the views of others without providing reasoned arguments. Yet these once common standards of practice have been violated repeatedly at my own and at other academic institutions in recent years, and we increasingly see this trend in society as well.

‘Hurling labels doesn’t enlighten, inform, edify or educate.’

One might respond that unreasoned slurs and outright condemnations are also speech and must be defended. My recent experience has caused me to rethink this position. In debating others, we should have higher standards. Of course one has the right to hurl labels like “racist,” “sexist” and “xenophobic”—but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. Hurling such labels doesn’t enlighten, inform, edify or educate. Indeed, it undermines these goals by discouraging or stifling dissent.

So what happened after our op-ed was published last August? A raft of letters, statements and petitions from students and professors at my university and elsewhere condemned the piece as hate speech—racist, white supremacist, xenophobic, “heteropatriarchial,” etc. There were demands that I be removed from the classroom and from academic committees. None of these demands even purported to address our arguments in any serious or systematic way.

A response published in the Daily Pennsylvanian, our school newspaper, and signed by five of my Penn Law School colleagues, charged us with the sin of praising the 1950s—a decade when racial discrimination was openly practiced and opportunities for women were limited. I do not agree with the contention that because a past era is marked by benighted attitudes and practices—attitudes and practices we had acknowledged in our op-ed—it has nothing to teach us. But at least this response attempted to make an argument.

Born on college campuses, free-speech debates have returned, leaving students, faculty and administrations caught in the crosshairs. WSJ’s Jason Bellini goes back to class to see why some students have had it with free speech.
Not so an open letter published in the Daily Pennsylvanian and signed by 33 of my colleagues. This letter quoted random passages from the op-ed and from a subsequent interview I gave to the school newspaper, condemned both and categorically rejected all of my views. It then invited students, in effect, to monitor me and to report any “stereotyping and bias” they might experience or perceive. This letter contained no argument, no substance, no reasoning, no explanation whatsoever as to how our op-ed was in error.

We hear a lot of talk about role models—people to be emulated, who set a positive example for students and others. In my view, the 33 professors who signed this letter are anti-role models. To students and citizens alike I say: Don’t follow their lead by condemning people for their views without providing a reasoned argument. Reject their example. Not only are they failing to teach you the practice of civil discourse—the sine qua non of liberal education and democracy—they are sending the message that civil discourse is unnecessary. As Jonathan Haidt of New York University wrote in September on the website Heterodox Academy: “Every open letter you sign to condemn a colleague for his or her words brings us closer to a world in which academic disagreements are resolved by social force and political power, not by argumentation and persuasion.”

It is gratifying to note that the reader comments on the open letter were overwhelmingly critical. The letter has “no counterevidence,” one reader wrote, “no rebuttal to [Wax’s] arguments, just an assertion that she’s wrong.... This is embarrassing.” Another wrote: “This letter is an exercise in self-righteous virtue-signaling that utterly fails to deal with the argument so cogently presented by Wax and Alexander.... Note to parents, if you want your daughter or son to learn to address an argument, do not send them to Penn Law.”

The University of Pennsylvania Law School’s campus.
The University of Pennsylvania Law School’s campus. PHOTO: WILL FIGG FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Shortly after the op-ed appeared, I ran into a colleague I hadn’t seen for a while and asked how his summer was going. He said he’d had a terrible summer, and in saying it he looked so serious I thought someone had died. He then explained that the reason his summer had been ruined was my op-ed, and he accused me of attacking and causing damage to the university, the students and the faculty. One of my left-leaning friends at Yale Law School found this story funny—who would have guessed an op-ed could ruin someone’s summer? But beyond the absurdity, note the choice of words: “attack” and “damage” are words one uses with one’s enemies, not colleagues or fellow citizens. At the very least, they are not words that encourage the expression of unpopular ideas. They reflect a spirit hostile to such ideas—indeed, a spirit that might seek to punish the expression of such ideas.

I had a similar conversation with a deputy dean. She had been unable to sign the open letter because of her official position, but she defended it as having been necessary. It needed to be written to get my attention, she told me, so that I would rethink what I had written and understand the hurt I had inflicted and the damage I had done, so that I wouldn’t do it again. The message was clear: Cease the heresy.

Only half of my colleagues in the law school signed the open letter. One who didn’t sent me a thoughtful and lawyerly email explaining how and why she disagreed with particular assertions in the op-ed. We had an amicable email exchange, from which I learned a lot—some of her points stick with me—and we remain cordial colleagues. That is how things should work.

Of the 33 who signed the letter, only one came to talk to me about it, and I am grateful for that. About three minutes into our conversation, he admitted that he didn’t categorically reject everything in the op-ed. Bourgeois values aren’t really so bad, he conceded, nor are all cultures equally worthy. Given that those were the main points of the op-ed, I asked him why he had signed the letter. His answer was that he didn’t like my saying, in my interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, that the tendency of global migrants to flock to white European countries indicates the superiority of some cultures. This struck him as “code,” he said, for Nazism.

Well, let me state for the record that I don’t endorse Nazism!

Furthermore, the charge that a statement is “code” for something else, or a “dog whistle” of some kind—we frequently hear this charge leveled, even against people who are stating demonstrable facts—is unanswerable. It is like accusing a speaker of causing emotional injury or feelings of marginalization. Using this kind of language, which students have learned to do all too well, is intended to bring discussion and debate to a stop—to silence speech deemed unacceptable.

As Humpty Dumpty said to Alice, we can make words mean whatever we want them to mean. And who decides what is code for something else or what qualifies as a dog whistle? Those in power, of course—which in academia means the Left.

‘Students need the opposite of protection from diverse arguments and points of view.’

My 33 colleagues might have believed they were protecting students from being injured by harmful opinions, but they were doing those students no favors. Students need the opposite of protection from diverse arguments and points of view. They need exposure to them. This exposure will teach them how to think. As John Stuart Mill said, “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”

I have received more than 1,000 emails from around the country in the months since the op-ed was published—mostly supportive, some critical and for the most part thoughtful and respectful. Many expressed the thought, “You said what we are thinking but are afraid to say”—a sad commentary on the state of civil discourse in our society. Many urged me not to back down, cower or apologize. And I agree with them that dissenters apologize far too often.

As for Penn, the calls to action against me continue. My law school dean recently asked me to take a leave of absence next year and to cease teaching a mandatory first-year course. He explained that he was getting “pressure” to banish me for my unpopular views and hoped that my departure would quell the controversy. When I suggested that it was his job as a leader to resist such illiberal demands, he explained that he is a “pluralistic dean” who must listen to and accommodate “all sides.”

Democracy thrives on talk and debate, and it is not for the faint of heart. I read things every day in the media and hear things every day at my job that I find exasperating and insulting, including falsehoods and half-truths about people who are my friends. Offense and upset go with the territory; they are part and parcel of an open society. We should be teaching our young people to get used to these things, but instead we are teaching them the opposite.

Disliking, avoiding and shunning people who don’t share our politics is not good for our country. We live together, and we need to solve our problems together. It is also always possible that people we disagree with have something to offer, something to contribute, something to teach us. We ignore this at our peril. As Heather Mac Donald wrote in National Review about the controversy over our op-ed: “What if the progressive analysis of inequality is wrong…and a cultural analysis is closest to the truth? If confronting the need to change behavior is punishable ‘hate speech,’ then it is hard to see how the country can resolve its social problems.” In other words, we are at risk of being led astray by received opinion.

The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner. We should return to doing that on our college campuses and in our society at large.

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/paying-the-price-for-breakdown-of-the-countrys-bourgeois-culture-20170809.html
1   anonymous   ignore (null)   2018 Feb 20, 11:14am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

Screw her. I went to law school with 166 men in my class and one other woman. and no women in one class above us and only one woman in the other class. All wanted to date me (I did not date them) but none wanted me to have a job.
2   HEYYOU   ignore (16)   2018 Feb 20, 11:42am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

It's not my fault.

by Amy Wax & Larry Alexander:
"Too few Americans are qualified for the jobs available. Male working-age labor-force participation is at Depression-era lows. Opioid abuse is widespread. Homicidal violence plagues inner cities. Almost half of all children are born out of wedlock, and even more are raised by single mothers. Many college students lack basic skills, and high school students rank below those from two dozen other countries."

Freedom of choice is not prohibited for moronic retards.
Dying dumb is a virtue for some.

Not having the success of Kochs & Soros types makes one a loser.
I'm wrong again! It's becoming a habit.
If one chooses to be a loser, then they can be called a SUCCESS.

On the topic of "The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner", 1861-1865
3   Ceffer   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 20, 2:00pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

P N Dr Lo R says
The proper response would be to engage in reasoned debate—to attempt to explain, using logic, evidence, facts and substantive arguments, why those opinions are wrong.


Why would anybody want to do this? Pitt Bull ad hominem is the order of the day, anything else is just too much fucking work.
4   HowdyThere   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 20, 6:19pm   ↑ like (5)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Amy Wax is clearly trying to initiate the fourth Reich because she said; well I didn't really understand what she said. Without being specific though, it sounded kind of racistsy. While I haven't actually had her on a scale, she clearly weighs the same as a duck, so burn her!!!
5   jazz_music   ignore (4)   2018 Feb 23, 11:43am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

The weapons and tactics to end conversation are well defined and have no connection to any political side or point of view.

I can list them if some want to see what they are.

This is a right wing site and the dominant side uses the weapons continually and in gang tactics to silence offending opinions.

I see no difficulty labeling SJW, virtue signal, special snowflake to either side, but if you fail to high five alt right bigots you be grouped here with all the ills in society.

Does it offend you that academic institutions lean left or does it instruct you? Which higher learning leans right? military academies I bet. The service is full of poor southerners, officers from the ownership class, and institutions like the Air Force are among the most conservative organizations in the nation.
7   P N Dr Lo R   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 23, 1:09pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

jazz_music says
officers from the ownership class, and institutions like the Air Force are among the most conservative organizations in the nation.
As I would expect them to be.
8   Patrick   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 23, 1:15pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

P N Dr Lo R says
The American way is to conduct free and open debate in a civil manner. We should return to doing that on our college campuses and in our society at large.


And on patrick.net!
9   Patrick   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 23, 1:25pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

P N Dr Lo R says
The proper response would be to engage in reasoned debate—to attempt to explain, using logic, evidence, facts and substantive arguments, why those opinions are wrong. This kind of civil discourse is obviously important at law schools like mine, because law schools are dedicated to teaching students how to think about and argue all sides of a question. But academic institutions in general should also be places where people are free to think and reason about important questions that affect our society and our way of life—something not possible in today’s atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy.


I agree, but I have little hope that reasoned debate will get anywhere in the current climate.

My conclusion from many attempts at debate is that very few people actually want to use reason. They just want evidence to justify their desired conclusions, and part of that evidence is simply getting agreement from others - a kind of tribal belonging that is impervious to actual debate. "See, N number of people can't be wrong!"

Actually, they can all be wrong no matter what N is. The earth was never flat, no matter how many people believed it.

People feel before they think, and they think to justify their feelings, not to change them. Whether they feel threatened by guns or globalization, you're just not going to be able to reason with them until you can somehow reassure them that they are in fact safe, or at the very least that you personally are on their side and mean them no harm.
10   TwoScoopsOfWompWomp   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 23, 1:37pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

We have to take back control of State Universities. This is very easy; State Legislatures can impose Free Speech/Free Debate clauses on University Funding.

The irony of a "Pluralistic" Dean asking the lone voice of Modernist Values to shut up so the dominant PoMo paradigm can continue unchallenged, and not recognizing the cognitive dissonance required to state such a position, is a sign that the adults outside of academia must reimpose standards.

Ironically, we're in this position because Modernists gave Post Modernists tenured professorships, which the latter then turned around and used to only hire PoMos like themselves.
11   Patrick   ignore (0)   2018 Feb 23, 1:46pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
State Legislatures can impose Free Speech/Free Debate clauses on University Funding


I agree. Universities exist in theory to promote the exchange of ideas, not the exchange of idea:

https://www.theonion.com/college-encourages-lively-exchange-of-idea-1819577755

College Encourages Lively Exchange Of Idea
Students, Faculty Invited To Freely Express Single Viewpoint


The public could demand that tolerance for other points of view be a requirement for all university funding and grants.
12   jazz_music   ignore (4)   2018 Feb 23, 2:14pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Patrick says
The public could demand that tolerance for other points of view be a requirement for all university funding and grants.

Here are SOME of the examples of universities where hirings, promotions, curriculums will all be reviewed for compatibility and approvals for Koch brothers agendas. 100-150 donors get listed as Anonymous too, bet your ass that their wishes and agendas are sure as hell not anonymous.

There comes a push for universities to maximize donations and tuitions and they start turning into a big racket that serves as a high price trade school that eliminates the need for on-the-job-training to save donors money. Industrial educations are not really educations at all, they are job training. Students get ripped off and dumbed down by it, they get a diploma, they get to feel smart and safe pro-capitalism thoughts and everything.



https://www.philanthropy.com/factfile/gifts/5?GiftYear=2017&order=DonorDisplayName_cu&direction=asc
13   BlueSardine   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 23, 2:21pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

I high five those that give me a chuckle on both sides,yet I do not detect any personal grouping.
#fakeassumption
jazz_music says
I see no difficulty labeling SJW, virtue signal, special snowflake to either side, but if you fail to high five alt right bigots you be grouped here with all the ills in society.
14   dr6B   ignore (1)   2018 Feb 23, 2:44pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

TwoScoopsPlissken says
We have to take back control of State Universities. This is very easy; State Legislatures can impose Free Speech/Free Debate clauses on University Funding.

State University regents should vet University Presidents/Provosts - do not hire SJW's, do not hire individuals with fake "education" credentials etc. State legislators also could limit budget spent on bureaucracy. One can look at extremely educational picture that shows where money really goes. I suspect that creating SJW atmosphere on campuses is good for administration, as they can create New Offices for Helping Bob or Mary which is chaired by a person netting hundreds of thousands and who is useless.

15   jazz_music   ignore (4)   2018 Feb 23, 4:13pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

drB6 says
State legislators also could limit budget spent on bureaucracy. One can look at extremely educational picture that shows where money really goes.

Look again and learn that the HUGE FUCKING SALARIES go to "administrators" who are mostly what gets hired ONLY REASON IF THEY CAN BRING IN DONOR MONEY.

Greed.

Corruption.

A bunch of pompous bastards and that's all they fucking do.
16   TwoScoopsOfWompWomp   ignore (2)   2018 Feb 23, 4:16pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

drB6 says


That's not even the big increase; which happened beginning in the late 70s/early 80s.

And in 1980, about 80% of all Profs had tenure; the majority of undergrad courses were taught by tenured professors, today it's half that. So basically, we replaced tenured professors with 6 figure Admins while contract employees and teaching assistants teach the Undergrads.

All Admins hate controversy and just want to find a "Happy Meal" Policy that gives everybody a crappy burger and a little plastic toy.

Admins used to be Professors who taught pretty much at the same school for 20-30 years, as a reward for their devotion to the Institution. Now it's been professionalized, and an Admin stays maybe 2-3 years before trading up.
17   jazz_music   ignore (4)   2018 Feb 23, 4:18pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Guys it's the same all over. They invented synthetic "securities" we crashed once we are going to crash again REAL SOON TOO and worse. The same crook in charge of the last crash is now in charge of our economy.

Money has invaded EVERY FUCKING THING THERE IS and gotten into its pants to squeeze real hard as if it were starving, while it is really gorging itself on the futures of the younger generations.

That is why it is so very important for us to talk about gay cakes, tranny bathrooms, fucking Trump gaffs never ending, of course guns, race, liberals as antichrist, fake news, etc etc etc.




The Housing Trap
You're being set up to spend your life paying off a debt you don't need to take on, for a house that costs far more than it should. The conspirators are all around you, smiling to lure you in, carefully choosing their words and watching your reactions as they push your buttons, anxiously waiting for the moment when you sign the papers that will trap you and guarantee their payoff. Don't be just another victim of the housing market. Use this book to defend your freedom and defeat their schemes. You can win the game, but first you have to learn how to play it.
115 pages, $12.50

Kindle version available


about   best comments   contact   one year ago   suggestions