(JD Heyes) Generally speaking there are no bigger champions of free speech than journalists and academicians; after all, members of both groups earn their livings publishing news and information.
But a disturbing new trend is taking root in America that promises to chill freedom of speech and, indeed, is already having a stifling affect.
As reported by The Daily Beast here and by NaturalNews here, the University of California – whose president, Janet Napolitano, is President Obama’s former Homeland Security chief – has implemented a new speech code that at once aims to celebrate America’s diversity while essentially tearing at the fabric of its traditions, culture and heritage.
‘That’s racist and sexist’
The DB report notes the irony thusly:
Fifty years after the birth of the free speech movement at the University of California, Berkeley, officials across the UC system are encouraging faculty and students to purge mundane, potentially offensive words and phrases from their vocabularies.
Administrators want members of campus to avoid the use of racist and sexist statements, though their notions about what kinds of statements qualify are completely bonkers. “America is a melting pot,” “Why are you so quiet?” and “I believe the most qualified person should get the job,” are all phrases that should raise red flags, according to the UC speech police.
Such phrases, we are being led to believe, constitute “microaggressions” – defined 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.”
So, the “solution” to ensuring freedom of speech, UC style, apparently is to limit speech.
One such microaggressive phrase: America is the land of opportunity. That’s “racist” and “sexist.”
So far the UC speech code “rules” are merely requests – but because they come from Napolitano, that gives them much more weight. As The DB reported:
On January 5, Napolitano dispatched letters to UC deans and department chairs inviting them to attend seminars “to foster informed conversation about the best way to build and nurture a productive academic climate.” That’s bureaucrat-speak for learn to keep your mouths shut.
As further noted by The College Fix, seminars were held on nine of the 10 UC campuses throughout the past school year. One professor who chose not to attend shared some of the details and education materials with the publication.
The “microaggressions” were contained in a handout entitled, “Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages They Send.” They were adopted from a book by Columbia University Psychology Prof. Derald Wing Sue, which lists dozens of examples of ordinary statements pertaining to America’s founding heritage that are now, somehow, offensive.
Saying, “There is only one race, the human race,” is offensive, for example, because it denies “the significance of a person of color’s racial/ethnic experience and history.”
“America is the land of opportunity,” really implies that “people of color are lazy and/or incompetent and need to work harder.”
Asking an Asian, Latino, or Native American “why are you so quiet?” is like giving the order “assimilate to dominant culture.”
And so on.
Oh, it’s a curb on free speech, alright
The really problematic issue here is how such insanity bodes for the country’s future. The California university system is attended by tens of thousands of students every year – students whose minds are filled with this ridiculousness and who carry it forth as they begin their professional lives.
Ironically, in response to an inquiry into the seminars by The College Fix, UC spokeswoman Shelly Meron said in an email that, “These seminars are not an attempt to curb open dialogue, debate or classroom discussions.”
That, of course, is patently false; if you are accusing someone of committing a “microaggression,” are you not then, by process, requesting that said offender not make such statements in the future?
If that’s not the epitome of chilling free speech, then neither were book burnings in Nazi Germany.
The political Right is most often accused of violating fundamental constitutional rights and principles over the religious objection to gay marriage, for instance, but this effort to curb speech is taking place on some of the most liberal bastions on the planet: American universities.
If we can’t say what we mean and mean what we say, how will we ever reconcile differences and solve our problems?