“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.)
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.
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 »
Christian Schneider writes: When Mark Twain gave one of his fantastical lectures, he was keenly aware that many in the audience didn’t believe his wild stories. He bragged that his long speeches contained many facts, but that he “expected everybody to discount those facts 95%.” Nonetheless, he maintained, “all through my life, my facts have had a substratum of truth.”
The year 2014 was a year in which the truth lay beneath the surface, not in facts, but in “narrative.” It was a year in which political activists frequently relied on the Italian maxim, “se non e’ vero, e’ ben trovato” — while it may not be true, it is well-founded.
Perhaps the most prevalent narrative of the year was found in a mere gesture. Following the August death of African-American teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a white Ferguson, Mo., police officer, protesters adopted the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture, adopting the narrative that Brown was attempting to surrender when he was shot. Yet the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that Brown attacked officer Darren Wilson in his squad car, then charged at Wilson in a second altercation before Wilson shot Brown to death.
Nonetheless, narrative trumped facts, and looters set Ferguson ablaze on the night the grand jury announced its decision to not charge Wilson with Brown’s murder. Even after all the forensics and testimony were made available, the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture lived on in protests around the country. In essence, “hands up, don’t shoot” became a stand-in for African-American distrust of police departments around the country; distrust intensified by the officer-instigated deaths of Eric Garner in New York, Tamir Rice in Cleveland and Dontre Hamilton in Milwaukee.
Yet poor areas weren’t the only place where the wish became the father of the facts. On college campuses, feminists pushed the “rape culture” narrative, trying to convince Americans that sexual assault on elite campuses was more prevalent than in violent Third World nations. Read the rest of this entry »
Paul Joseph Watson writes: After illustrating their enthusiasm for repealing the Bill of Rights, a video shows Americans happily signing a petition to support a “Nazi-style Orwellian police state,” in what easily represents the most shocking footage of its kind to date.
Citing issues with how the government shutdown has impacted the ability of the police to “keep the community safe,” Dice tells San Diegans that there is a need to “increase the Orwellian system.”
“Not a problem,” responds one man as he signs the petition.
“We just want to model it after the Nazi Germany system to keep people safe and secure,” Dice tells another individual.
After signing the petition to “implement the Orwellian police state,” another man responds, “You find the pot of money though,” apparently more concerned about how much a Nazi-style police state would cost than its actual consequences.
“They’re trying to cut the budget by 20 per cent so we just want to make sure that we can model the police state after the Nazi Germany system,” Dice tells another couple who sign the petition, before adding, “Thanks for supporting the police state.” Read the rest of this entry »
Letting localities make their own decisions would stifle silly secession efforts
By Glenn Harlan Reynolds
Since the election, we’ve seen more interest in secession. Hundreds of thousands Americans in all 50 states have petitioned to secede. Is the United States breaking up?
Nope. No more than in 2004, when disappointed Democrats were talking about secession, and circulating maps of America divided into “The United States of Canada” and “Jesusland.” (This formulation even inspired a not-bad futuristic novel by Richard Morgan about a United States that did split.) Seceding over a presidential election is silly.
So why talk about seceding? Well, partly to register disapproval. Though I doubt President Obama is losing sleep over it, that his White House petition site is full of calls for secession is certainly an indication that many aren’t overjoyed by his re-election.
But people also talk about secession for more serious reasons. They feel that the central government doesn’t respect them, forces them to live under laws they find repugnant and takes their money away to pay off its own supporters. You see secession movements based on these principles in places like Scotland, Catalonia, Northern Italy, and elsewhere around the world. Some might succeed; others are less likely to. But in every case they represent unhappiness with the status quo.
America has an unfortunate history with secession, which led to the bloodiest war in our history and divisions that persist to this day. But, in general, the causes of secession are pretty standard around the world: Too much power in the central government, too much resentment in the unhappy provinces. (Think Hunger Games).
So what’s a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights — and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.
Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism, and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
It’s a nice plan. Beats secession. Maybe we should give it another try.
via USA Today