[VIDEO] The Geography of Genius: Why Some Places are Better at Fostering Creativity 

Renaissance Florence, Enlightenment Edinburgh, Mozart‘s Vienna: why have certain places at certain times created such monumental leaps in thought and innovation? This is the question at the heart of travel writer Eric Weiner‘s latest book, The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places, From Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley.

“This is a book about process, about how creative genius happens and what are the circumstances,” Weiner explains. “I believe in the power of place and the power of culture to shape our lives in unexpected ways.”

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Traveling the globe, Weiner looked at the locations and cultures that fostered history’s greatest minds. Through his research he pieced together a list of ingredients he believes played a vital role in creating these “genius clusters,” including money, diversity, competition, and disorder.

“A little bit of chaos is good,” says Weiner. “The pot has to be stirred. If you are fully invested in the status quo—either as a person or a place—you are unlikely to create genius because you are too comfortable.”

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So can a government build a city that will generate the geniuses of tomorrow? Weiner thinks not. “I wish I could sit here and tell you that there was a formula and if you applied that formula you could create the next Silicon Valley,” he says. “There is no formula.”

About 8:30 minutes.

Camera by Austin Bragg and Joshua Swain. Hosted and edited by Meredith Bragg.


Melissa Click, Mizzou Professor in Viral Video, Charged with Misdemeanor Assault

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Melissa Click confronted a student photographer and a student videographer during the protests, calling for ‘muscle’ to help remove the videographer, Mark Schierbecker, from the protest area. Schierbecker’s video of his run-in with Clink went viral, and he filed a complaint with university police.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jim Suhr reports: A University of Missouri assistant communications professor was charged Monday with misdemeanor assault linked to her run-in with student journalists during campus protests last November, drawing a curator’s renewed calls for her ouster.

“I’m willing to listen to the possibility of other job actions involving her as long as they’re serious. The whole situation surrounding this has been stonewalling and an attempt to run out the clock by the university.”

—  Board member, David Steelman

Melissa Click, 45, faces up to 15 days in jail if convicted of the charge filed by Columbia city prosecutor Steve Richey, who retires next month and did not return messages seeking comment Monday.

[Read the full story here, at the Washington Times]

Click confronted a student photographer and a student videographer during the protests, calling for “muscle” to help remove the videographer, Mark Schierbecker, from the protest area. Schierbecker’s video of his run-in with Clink went viral, and he filed a complaint with university police.

That day’s demonstrations came after the president of the four-campus University of Missouri system and the Columbia campus’ chancellor resigned amid protests over what some saw as indifference to racial issues.

Days after the confrontations, Click said publicly she regretted her actions, and that she apologized to Schierbecker and all journalists and the university community for detracting from the students’ efforts to improve the racial climate on the Columbia campus. Read the rest of this entry »


In Flagrante Delicto: Middle School Teacher Christine Taylor Invited a Teen to Her Home for Pizza, But His Mom Walked In On…

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44-year-old teacher Christine Taylor of Naperville, Ill. has been accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old teen after inviting the teen and his mother to her home for pizza on New Year’s Day.

“Around 9 p.m., police said Taylor convinced the victim’s mother to allow him to walk Taylor’s dog with her. Instead of walking the dog, Taylor allegedly took the boy to her bedroom and sexually abused him.”

Taylor, a language arts teacher at Jefferson Middle School, allegedly convinced the mother to let her son go with her to walk the dog. Little did the mother know that “walk the dog” meant “take him to the bedroom.”

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“The mother apparently caught her in the act. Another resident in Taylor’s house called the police and Taylor was arrested.”

According to ABC7, “around 9 p.m., police said Taylor convinced the victim’s mother to allow him to walk Taylor’s dog with her. Instead of walking the dog, Taylor allegedly took the boy to her bedroom and sexually abused him.”

The mother apparently caught her in the act….(read more)

Source: Rare – ABC7


Academic Freedom Update: Student and Faculty Rights Bill Coming in Washington State

The bill is crucial to preserve academic freedom and the ability of faculty members to blow the whistle when they observe wrongdoing.

 reports: 2016 is right around the corner, and it promises to bring good news to college students and faculty members in Washington state. When the Washington State Legislature reconvenes in January, State Representative Matthew Manweller plans to introduce HB 3055, a bill that includes items on FIRE’s wish list.

“The bill’s wide-ranging scope includes a provision that would prevent campus administrators from forcing faculty members to affix “trigger warnings” on class syllabi that caution students that certain topics might be unsettling.” 

Included in the bill’s meritorious provisions is the Campus Free Expression Act (CAFE Act), similar to a new law in Missouri, which would prevent public institutions of higher education from limiting expressive activity in the open outdoor areas of campus to tiny, misleadingly labeled “free speech zones.”

“The legislation also forbids institutions from punishing students or faculty for so-called ‘microaggressions’—defined by proponents as ‘everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.’”

Another important part of Representative Manweller’s legislation is a provision aimed at ensuring faculty at the state’s public colleges have the freedom to speak out on institutional policy and matters of public concern without fear of reprisal. The bill is crucial to preserve academic freedom and the ability of faculty members to blow the whistle when they observe wrongdoing.

“Due process protections are also front and center in Representative Manweller’s comprehensive bill. Like legislation passed with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year in North Dakota, the bill would provide students accused of non-academic offenses that could result in lengthy suspensions or expulsions with the right to hire lawyers to represent them and fully participate in the campus process.” 

The bill’s wide-ranging scope includes a provision that would prevent campus administrators from forcing faculty members to affix “trigger warnings” on class syllabi that caution students that certain topics might be unsettling. Under the legislation, individual faculty members would decide if and when they want to include such warnings. The legislation also forbids institutions from punishing students or faculty for so-called “microaggressions”—defined by proponents as “everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.” Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] ‘The Real Threat To Free Speech Now is Conformism and Cowardice’

REASON TV with Spiked’s Brendan O’Neill

“The real threat to free speech now is conformism and cowardice,” says Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked and a columnist for Reason.com.

The 41-year-old Londoner has similarly blunt and outspoken views about “left-wing environmentalism,” which he calls “an apology for poverty” and simply the latest iteration of religious “end-of-worldism” in which “we will be judged for our sins.”

O’Neill is also a critic of European policies that he says marginalize religious and ethnic minorities even as they “protect” immigrants by passing hate-speech laws and banning burqas. “In their efforts to enforce Enlightenment values,” he says, policymakers “actually undercut them.”

O’Neill got his start at the defunct Living Marxism, the publication of Britain’s Revolutionary Communist Party, and these days he sometimes calls himself a “Marxist libertarian.” “It seems like a contradiction in terms,” he acknowledges, “but that’s because people haven’t read the original Marx and Engels, the early stuff…if you read the early stuff it’s all about liberating humanity from poverty and from state diktat and allowing them to have as free a life as possible.” Read the rest of this entry »


Zappa on Civics

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Roger Scruton: ‘These Left Thinkers Have Destroyed the Intellectual Life’ 

The philosopher talks to Mick Hume about politics, marriage and Islam.

Mick Hume writes: Ours is an age of intellectual conformism, in which expressing offensive opinions often seems to be deemed the worst offence of all; academia is decreed a ‘safe space’ where ‘uncomfortable’ ideas are banished, and using the wrong word can see you accused of committing a ‘microaggression’. And you are supposed to apologise at the first sign of a wagging finger.

“When I was in Paris in ’68 I became indignant at the total ignorance of the people who tried to tell me that this revolution was something important. I couldn’t argue with them about the thing that really mattered to me, culture. To them that was just ‘bourgeois’. This word bourgeois really got up my nose.”

Roger Scruton apparently didn’t get the memo. During our conversation, the conservative philosopher gently but unapologetically delivered blunt and cutting opinions on subjects ranging from Slavoj Zizek to Jeremy Corbyn, from banning the veil to Islamist terrorism, from homosexuality to fox hunting. Whatever anybody thinks of his views, they should surely endorse his aversion to the ‘radical censorship of anything that disturbs people’ and his insistence that the controversial ‘needs to be discussed’ rather than continually ‘pushed under the carpet’.

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“I decided, yes, of course there is such a thing as the bourgeoisie and you are it, these well-fed, pampered middle-class students whose one concern was to throw stones at working-class people who happened to be in a policeman’s uniform.’”

Now 71, Scruton has been the bête noire of British left intellectuals for more than 30 years, and gives them another beastly mauling in his new book Fools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left. It is a tour de force that, the introduction concedes, is ‘not a word-mincing book’, but rather ‘a provocation’. In just under 300 pages he Scruton-izes a collection of stars, past and present, of the radical Western intelligentsia – the likes of Eric Hobsbawm and EP Thompson in Britain, JK Galbraith and Ronald Dworkin in the US, Jurgen Habermas, Louis Althusser, Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze in Europe. An expanded and updated version of his controversial 51-wPXgmYqL._SL250_Thinkers of the New Left(1985), the book ends with a new chapter entitled ‘The kraken wakes’ dealing with the ‘mad incantations’ of Alan Badiou and the left’s marginally newer academic celebrity, the Slovenian Zizek.

[Check out Roger Scruton’s bookFools, Frauds and Firebrands: Thinkers of the New Left” at Amazon.com]

The slightly pained look on his face suggests that I am not the first to ask Scruton why he has devoted a book to taking on a collection of largely declining or deceased intellectuals and a culture that he concedes ‘now survives largely in its academic redoubts’. ‘They may seem like obscure intellectuals to the man in the street but actually they are still dominant on the humanities curriculum’, he explains. ‘If you study English or French, even musicology or whatever, you have to swallow a whole load of Lacan and Deleuze. Take Deleuze’s book, A Thousand Plateaus – the English translation has only been out a few years, but it’s already gone through 11 printings. A huge, totally unreadable tome by somebody who can’t write French.’

“Defending academic freedom against the forces of conformity matters to Scruton because ‘My life began, insofar as it had a beginning, in the university. That’s where I grew up, and I love my subject, philosophy, love the whole idea of the academic and scholarly life, that one has a place apart where people are pursuing the truth and communicating that to people who are eager to learn it.”

‘Yet this is core curriculum throughout the humanities in American and English universities. Why? The one sole reason is it’s on the left. There is nothing that anybody can translate into lucid prose, but for that very reason, it seems like a suit of armour around the age-old prejudices against power and authority, the old unshaped and unshapeable agenda.’

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“‘And this thing has completely destroyed the intellectual life.’ He considers these leftists prime culprits in what might be called the closing of the university mind, though ‘whether they caused the closing of the mind or are the effect of it is another matter’.”

Defending academic freedom against the forces of conformity matters to Scruton because ‘My life began, insofar as it had a beginning, in the university. That’s where I grew up, and I love my subject, philosophy, love the whole idea of the academic and scholarly life, that one has a place apart where people are pursuing the truth and communicating that to people who are eager to learn it.

[Read the full story here, at spiked]

And this thing has completely destroyed the intellectual life.’ He considers these leftists prime culprits in what might be called the closing of the university mind, though ‘whether they caused the closing of the mind or are the effect of it is another matter’.

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“Scruton’s powerful aversion to ‘the French gurus of ’68 and their jargon-ridden prose’ dates from that student revolt in Paris in 1968. It gave birth to a generation of radical thinkers, and, in the process, helped turn at least one young Englishman into a conservative.”

Scruton’s powerful aversion to ‘the French gurus of ’68 and their jargon-ridden prose’ dates from that student revolt in Paris in 1968. It gave birth to a generation of radical thinkers, and, in the process, helped turn at least one young Englishman into a conservative. ‘I was there in Paris and I was indignant at the stupidity of what I observed. I was a normal young person in England, I was brought up in a Labour Party family and as far as I had any views they’d be vaguely on the left.’ His father was a working-class lad from Manchester who became a schoolteacher and moved his family south, where Scruton attended High Wycombe Royal Grammar School, played bass guitar and listened to The Beatles before being expelled shortly after winning a scholarship to Cambridge University. Read the rest of this entry »


Suicide in The Fast Lane: European Civilization in Accelerated Decline, Politically Correct Universities ‘Are Killing Free Speech’

British universities have become too politically correct and are stifling free speech by banning anything that causes the least offence to anyone, academics argue.

Javier Espinoza writes: A whole generation of students is being denied the “intellectual challenge of debating conflicting views” because self-censorship is turning campuses into over-sanitised “safe spaces”, they say.

“A generation of students is being denied the opportunity to test their opinions against the views of those they don’t agree with.”

“The College does not share Cecil Rhodes’s values or condone his racist views or actions.”

Oriel College says the statue of Rhodes, on a building he paid for, jars with the values of a modern university. It is facing a battle with Historic England, which has listed the statue as an object of historical interest.

Writing in The Telegraph, the academics, led by Frank Furedi, professor of sociology at the University of Canterbury, and Joanna Williams, education editor, Spiked, say it is part of a “long and growing” list of people and objects banned from British campuses, including pop songs, sombreros and atheists.

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“Students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university.”

They say the “deeply worrying development” is curtailing freedom of speech “like never before” because few things are safe from student censors.

Because universities increasingly see fee-paying students as customers, they do not dare to stand up to the “small but vocal minority” of student activists who want to ban everything from the Sun newspaper to the historian David Starkey.

“In September, the University of East Anglia banned students from wearing free sombreros they were given by a local Tex-Mex restaurant because the student union decided non-Mexicans wearing the wide-brimmed hats could be interpreted as racist.”

The letter says: “Few academics challenge censorship that emerges from students. It is important that more do, because a culture that restricts the free exchange of ideas encourages self-censorship and leaves people afraid to express their views in case they may be misinterpreted. This risks destroying the very fabric of democracy.

A student wears a sticker calling for the removal of a statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the campus of the University of Cape Town

“An open and democratic society requires people to have the courage to argue against ideas they disagree with or even find offensive. At the moment there is a real risk that students are not given opportunities to engage in such debate.

[Read the full story here, at the Telegraph]

“A generation of students is being denied the opportunity to test their opinions against the views of those they don’t agree with.”

Calling on vice-chancellors to take a “much stronger stance” against all forms of censorship, they conclude that “students who are offended by opposing views are perhaps not yet ready to be at university”.

Freedom of speech carries a burden of responsibility which shouldn’t be overlooked.

A crane prepares to lift the university of Cape Town’s statue of Cecil John Rhodes from the position he has occupied for over 100 yearsNtokozo Qwabe, who set up the Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford campaign, is one of more than 8,000 foreign students who have been able to study at Oxford because of a Rhodes Scholarship, paid for by the Rhodes Trust, which was set up by Cecil Rhodes in his will.

Professors have complained recently that they are being bullied online by students who are easily offended by opposing views.

In recent months, students at British universities have banned, cancelled or challenged a host of speakers and objects because some found them offensive. Maryam Namazie, a prominent human rights campaigner who is one of the signatories to the letter, was initially banned from speaking at Warwick University because she is an atheist who, it was feared, could incite hatred on campus. She spoke at Warwick in the end. Read the rest of this entry »


Poll: Most College Students Reject Absurd ‘Microagression’ Culture, #BlackLivesMatter

A new scientific poll sanctioned by Young America’s Foundation and conducted by Inc./Woman Trend shows the majority of college students reject the “microaggression,” politically correct culture plaguing campuses around the country. Specifically, the poll shows college students rejecting the use of gender pronouns…(read more)

Source: Katie Pavlich


Kentucky Fried Microaggression

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Gastronomically correct students at an ultra-liberal Ohio college are in an uproar because the cafeteria food isn’t ethnically accurate enough.

Students at Oberlin College are so angered by the “insensitive” and “culturally appropriative” offerings at their Dascomb Dining Hall that they are filling screeds of protest in the school newspaper and even demanded a meeting with Campus Dining Service officials and the college president.

“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture.”

At issue are foods such as General Tso’s chicken being served with steamed chicken instead of fried — which is not authentically Chinese, and simply “weird,” one student bellyached.

[Read the full text here, at New York Post]

Others were up in arms over Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwiches served with coleslaw instead of pickled vegetables on ciabatta bread — rather than traditional French baguette.

“How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”

“It was ridiculous,” Diep Nguyen, a freshman who is a Vietnam native, told The Oberlin Review, the school newspaper.

“How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”

“So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”

Not only that, but the sushi rice was undercooked in a way that was, according to one Japanese student, “disrespectful” of her culture.

That student, Tomoyo Joshi, a junior from Japan, was very offended by this flagrant violation of her rice. Read the rest of this entry »


Where Speech Is Least Free In America 

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George Leef writes: A good argument can be made nowhere in America is free speech less safe than on private college and university campuses.

“There is a limit to ‘bait-and-switch’ techniques that promise academic freedom and legal equality but deliver authoritarianism and selective censorship.”

On public college and universities, the First Amendment applies, thus giving students, faculty members, and everyone else protection against official censorship or punishment for saying things that some people don’t want said. A splendid example of that was brought to a conclusion earlier this year at Valdosta State University, where the school’s president went on a vendetta against a student who criticized his plans for a new parking structure – and was clobbered in court. (I discussed that case here.)

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But the First Amendment does not apply to private colleges and universities because they don’t involve governmental action. Oddly, while all colleges that accept federal student aid money must abide by a vast host of regulations, the Supreme Court ruled in Rendell-Baker v. Kohn that acceptance of such money does not bring them under the umbrella of the First Amendment.

Demotivated students sitting in a lecture hall with one girl napping in college

[Read the full story here, at Forbes]

At private colleges, the protection for freedom of speech has to be found (at least in most states) in the implicit contract the school enters into with each incoming student. Ordinarily, the school holds itself out as guaranteeing certain things about itself and life on campus in its handbook and other materials. If school officials act in ways that depart significantly from the reasonable expectations it created, then the college can be held liable. Read the rest of this entry »


Harvard Apologizes for Distributing Social Justice Placemats

“To suggest that there is only one view on each of these issues runs counter to our educational goals.”

Read more…

Source: campusreform.org


[VIDEO] Yale Students Sign Petition to Repeal the First Amendment

Political satirist Ami Horowitz tests the waters at Yale University to see if today’s Ivy League students would actually sign a petition to repeal the first amendment.


The Real Cause Of Campus Racism 

University of Missouri Turmoil

The champions of “diversity” treat students of color differently and encourage them to self-segregate.

James Huffman writes: Like the 1812 earthquake that rumbled from its epicenter at New Madrid, Missouri, to New England, Georgia and other distant locations, this fall’s protests at the University of Missouri spread to colleges in every corner of the country.

“The core of the problem is that the vast majority of our colleges and universities have made race and racial differences central to almost everything they do. And to make matters worse, those who accredit our universities make attention to race in admissions and programming a condition of accreditation.”

At Harvard, a group of law students launched a campaign to remove the school’s seal because it contains the coat of arms of a slave owner. At Dartmouth, students and faculty marched in solidarity with black students at the University of Missouri in what was called a “black out” (the marchers all wore black). After days of protects at Yale, the university president announced plans for more academic study of race and ethnicity and for improvements in the experiences of people of color. At Princeton a debate inspired by objections to the university’s use of the name of former university president (and president of the United States) Woodrow Wilson is ongoing. Everywhere, university administrators are scrambling to assure their students of color that their schools really do care.

“Do students of color hang out together because they feel disrespected and discriminated against—because they are excluded? Or is it a matter of choice rooted in racial pride, perceived cultural difference, and a desire to preserve and protect that difference from the dominant white culture?”

In response to the continuing protests, much has been written and spoken about how universities can best serve the interests of their students of color. Those who sympathize with the protesters argue that students of color, in particular, should be nurtured and protected from uncomfortable experiences that distract from their education. Others insist that true education depends on students experiencing discomfort so they are better prepared to cope with the discomforts they will inevitably face in the future. No doubt there are good points to be considered on both sides of the question. Every campus has its boors and jerks whose bad behaviors might warrant chastisement from university officials, although peer disapproval is almost always a more effective remedy.

“Are colleges and universities responsible for the isolation and exclusion the protesters claim to experience, and for the de facto segregation that exists on most campuses? In significant ways they are, but not, for the most part, for the reasons said to justify the protests at the University of Missouri and elsewhere.”

Whether and when offensive speech should be prohibited are more difficult questions. The boundary between gratuitous verbal assault and the free expression essential to the academy is not always easily drawn, although a few institutions have followed the example of the University of Chicago in making clear that their default position is free speech.

“Sadly, Americans seem to lose any capacity for reasoned discussion when alleged personal assaults are said to stem from racial animus. Disagreements deteriorate into verbal and often physical violence, with an almost conclusive presumption of racism whenever racism is alleged. In this climate, college administrators see only two options.”

Sadly, Americans seem to lose any capacity for reasoned discussion when alleged personal assaults are said to stem from racial animus. Disagreements deteriorate into verbal and often physical violence, with an almost conclusive presumption of racism whenever racism is alleged. In this climate, college administrators see only two options. The can resign, as did the University of Missouri president and the dean of students at Claremont McKenna (after writing an email to which students of color took offense). Or they can accede to protesters’ demands for safe spaces, sensitivity training, trigger warnings, expanded diversity offices, and rapid response to allegations of discrimination and hurt.

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“The can resign, as did the University of Missouri president and the dean of students at Claremont McKenna (after writing an email to which students of color took offense). Or they can accede to protesters’ demands for safe spaces, sensitivity training, trigger warnings, expanded diversity offices, and rapid response to allegations of discrimination and hurt.”

But there is a third way. Colleges and universities should examine how their own policies and programs encourage racial division.

“But there is a third way. Colleges and universities should examine how their own policies and programs encourage racial division.”

At the time of the University of Missouri protests, a story in the New York Times reported that students of color at the university felt isolated and disrespected. They, particularly the black students, tend to hang out together. According to a student quoted in the Times story, an area in the student center where blacks sit is called “the black hole.” There is little real integration, say both white and black students. Visit the cafeteria of almost any campus with even a small population of black students and you will see the equivalent of the University of Missouri’s black hole. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] REASON TV: Do College Students Hate Free Speech? Let’s Ask Them

The faculty council at Occidental College is considering instituting a system for students to report microaggressions perpetrated against them by faculty members or other students.

Reason TV visited Occidental’s campus to find out what exactly constitutes a microaggression. One Columbia psychology professor defined the term this way: Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, which communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

After exploring the limitations of a microaggression reporting system, we discussed broader free speech issues with the students in the wake of a month of campus protests that resulted in the resignations of several faculty members and a university president.

Most of the students defended free speech in principle, if not always in practice. This is consistent with a recent Pew Research Center survey, which found that although 95 percent of Americans agree that people should be allowed to publicly criticize government policies, support erodes when the question turns to offensive speech. While a majority of millennials still believe that the government should protect speech offensive to minorities, a whopping 40 percent believe the government should restric such speech. Read the rest of this entry »


Amherst: D’Souza Engages Leftist College Students’ Social Justice Arguments

D’Souza gets accosted by a freshman, and a reasonably intelligent one, with a pair of questions about white privilege and Islamic militancy arising as a reaction to American imperialism. You won’t believe his response…


Constitutional History in Obama’s America

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via Kim Carroll, Twitter


Happy Human Rights Day!


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