Good message on free speech from UC Berkeley’s new Chancellor

Carol T. Christ, an academic (an English scholar specializing in Victorian literature), became the Chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley in March. Yesterday she issued a superb statement about free speech at Berkeley, a school that’s lately been embroiled in issues of no-platforming and even violence around proposed right-wing speakers like Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos. In my view, Berkeley hasn’t yet taken a very public or strong stand in favor of free expression, especially because that campus was the home of the “Free Speech” movement in the mid-Sixties. My own school remains the beacon and the model for supporting free speech among American universities.

Someone sent me Christ’s statement, which was posted on Milo Yiannopoulos’s Facebook page (does that make a difference to you?), but I also found it on the Berkeley News. It was sent to “the campus community”.  The bolding in her statement is mine.

From: “Carol T. Christ Chancellor”
Date: August 23, 2017 at 8:48:26 AM PDT
Subject: Free Speech

Dear Students, Faculty and Staff,

This fall, the issue of free speech will once more engage our community in powerful and complex ways. Events in Charlottesville, with their racism, bigotry, violence and mayhem, make the issue of free speech even more tense. The law is very clear; public institutions like UC Berkeley must permit speakers invited in accordance with campus policies to speak, without discrimination in regard to point of view. The United States has the strongest free speech protections of any liberal democracy; the First Amendment protects even speech that most of us would find hateful, abhorrent and odious, and the courts have consistently upheld these protections.

But the most powerful argument for free speech is not one of legal constraint—that we’re required to allow it—but of value. The public expression of many sharply divergent points of view is fundamental both to our democracy and to our mission as a university. The philosophical justification underlying free speech, most powerfully articulated by John Stuart Mill in his book On Liberty, rests on two basic assumptions. The first is that truth is of such power that it will always ultimately prevail; any abridgement of argument therefore compromises the opportunity of exchanging error for truth. The second is an extreme skepticism about the right of any authority to determine which opinions are noxious or abhorrent. Once you embark on the path to censorship, you make your own speech vulnerable to it. [JAC These are the canonical arguments for allowing “hate speech”]

Berkeley, as you know, is the home of the Free Speech Movement, where students on the right and students on the left united to fight for the right to advocate political views on campus. Particularly now, it is critical that the Berkeley community come together once again to protect this right. It is who we are.

Nonetheless, defending the right of free speech for those whose ideas we find offensive is not easy. It often conflicts with the values we hold as a community—tolerance, inclusion, reason and diversity. Some constitutionally-protected speech attacks the very identity of particular groups of individuals in ways that are deeply hurtful. However, the right response is not the heckler’s veto, or what some call platform denial. Call toxic speech out for what it is, don’t shout it down, for in shouting it down, you collude in the narrative that universities are not open to all speech. Respond to hate speech with more speech.

We all desire safe space, where we can be ourselves and find support for our identities. You have the right at Berkeley to expect the university to keep you physically safe. But we would be providing students with a less valuable education, preparing them less well for the world after graduation, if we tried to shelter them from ideas that many find wrong, even dangerous. We must show that we can choose what to listen to, that we can cultivate our own arguments and that we can develop inner resilience, which is the surest form of safe space. These are not easy tasks, and we will offer support services for those who desire them.

This September, Ben Shapiro and Milo Yiannopoulos have both been invited by student groups to speak at Berkeley. The university has the responsibility to provide safety and security for its community and guests, and we will invest the necessary resources to achieve that goal. If you choose to protest, do so peacefully. That is your right, and we will defend it with vigor. We will not tolerate violence, and we will hold anyone accountable who engages in it.

We will have many opportunities this year to come together as a Berkeley community over the issue of free speech; it will be a free speech year. We have already planned a student panel, a faculty panel and several book talks. Bridge USA and the Center for New Media will hold a day-long conference on October 5; PEN, the international writers’ organization, will hold a free speech convening in Berkeley on October 23. We are planning a series in which people with sharply divergent points of view will meet for a moderated discussion. Free speech is our legacy, and we have the power once more to shape this narrative.

Sincerely,

Carol Christ
Chancellor

This is an absolutely wonderful statement, and emphasizes again the need for those of you who worry about “hate speech” to read Mill’s great work On Liberty. I agree with Christ 100%, both with her arguments about the need for not restricting even speech one deems odious, and about the unacceptability of responding with violence. When Yiannopoulos was scheduled to speak on campus last February, his talk was canceled by the University because of violent demonstrations by outside “masked agitators”—in all likelihood Antifa adherents—who caused over $100,000 in damage. Since Ben Shapiro and Milo have been invited back this fall, I’m pretty positive that Antifa and like-minded thugs will once again try to shut their talks down. Christ promises they will be dealt with harshly (she means with the law, of course), and I’m glad to hear that. Shapiro is far more serious than Milo, and far more worth hearing, but if somebody doesn’t like their talks, don’t go to them. As Christ says, “Respond to hate speech with more speech.”

I have no truck with readers who have called for violence against those uttering what they see as “hate speech”, so don’t call for violence on this site.  The only justifiable violence in demonstrations is in pure self-defense, and that means no carrying weapons when you protest.

And good for Dr. Christ for making such an uncompromising statement. She’s the highest official at Berkeley, and she has power. I love the idea of a “free speech year,” which will surely stimulate a lot of discussion. And believe me, students need  that discussion.

Count on an English scholar to cite Mill!

Carol Christ, free-speech hero

h/t: Orli

72 Comments

  1. Rasmo carenna
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Wow, that is fantastic. But I wonder how long until some students call her an alt-right enabler or demand that she steps down or something…

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:33 am | Permalink

      That was my first thought, too.

      But, this is still a much welcome ray of hope.

      Wouldn’t it be nice if they could find a time and opportunity for Ayaan Hirsi Ali to give a speech?

  2. KD33
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Proud of my alma mater once again.

  3. Rachel
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Christ has spoken! (She’s the former president of my alma mater, Smith College, so I’m feeling rather proud and possessive.)

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 12:01 am | Permalink

      So, is her last name pronounced with a short or a long “i”?

  4. Craw
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Splendid.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    For Christ’s sake, it’s good to see someone take the tiller at Berkeley and set it on a free-speech course correction. Good to know, too, that it’s someone from the Professional Organization of English Majors.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes. This is Humanities and Social Sciences at their best.

  6. Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    A breath of fresh air. Most excellent.

  7. rickflick
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    I congratulate Carol Christ and Berkeley.

  8. Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I agree with Christ 100%

    Now that’s a sentence I never thought I’d read here.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, Jerry’s going to have to be careful of dishonest creationists. Again. 😉

      • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        OMG. You’re right. The Mother of All Quote Mines.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

          Hey, their motto is “since we can’t win with science, reason, or the law, we’ll try with subterfuge, misdirection, and lies.”

  9. Al
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    PCC(E) sez “I agree with Christ 100%”

    Expect your Christian critics to use this quote of yours out of context. 😉

    • wendell read
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

      I am guessing that they will not. We’ll see who is right

  10. borderline
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    FSWs (Free Speech Warriors) might want to consider that the interesting thing about free speech absolutism is that it’s almost always been highly selective, defending elites against marginal groups.

    John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty (1859) is an argument only for free speech for “human beings in the maturity of their faculties”

    By “human beings in the maturity of their faculties” Mill meant white people. He didn’t believe most of humanity could handle free speech

    Mill’s opposition to free speech for non-whites was not merely theoretical. At East India company he worked to limit freedom in India.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Umm. . . .that hasn’t been the ACLU or the American courts’ position. And what is your point about Mill? Are you trying to say that because he didn’t practice what he preached, we need not abide by the First Amendment and the courts’ interpretations? I presume you want to be the Decider about which speech should be limited. I suggest you go over to the Antifa and Pharyngula websites to find communion with the FSDs (free speech denigrators).

    • Craw
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      I hear Einstein was rude to his wife. So much for that E = mc^2 stuff.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        Sandy Koufax has been divorce twice. I guess he wasn’t really that good of a pitcher.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Astonishing.

    • Kevin
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Highly selective is right.

      Freedom of speech is much like predictive propositions. I can say that tomorrow it will not snow in my town. That’s hardly going to surprise anyone, and the statement remains incredibly uncontentious because its plausible to the point of being boring. But it’s predictive nonetheless.

      I can also say there are specific DNA markers that can show deterministically the limits of a person’s intelligence and that these markers can be related to race. Not all the science is unraveled, and this statement becomes much harder to verify, and, in some cases, be believed by someone who does not want it to be the case that genetics may actually limit intelligence.

      Boundary conditions to verisimilitude are everything to speech, that’s why free speech absolutism is inextricably linked to delimiting one world view from another, inevitably marginalizing idea holders.

      • Craw
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Gobbledy-gook. Telling people they may speak is a prediction that marginalizes their world view.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

      Even Mill was as hypocritical as you claim, so what? He can *still be right on the topic*.

      I am beginning to think that there’s something built into people which makes this sort of reasoning hard for them to understand. (Even I feel the tug of … “wait, this person is a hypocrite” before my training kicks in and I realize that’s irrelevant.)

      • Craw
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        Most people think ad hominem is sound.

      • borderline
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

        The issue is that he was not advocating for absolute freedom of speech. Claiming that he was is intellectually dishonest.

        I’m mystified that people don’t recognize the problem of misrepresenting him and his motives.

        • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          I’m mystified that you have problems with how Mill acted while his book, as a standalone document, doesn’t have those problems and can be used to defend free speech for everyone.

          Or maybe you’re just smarter than the rest of us. . . .

          • borderline
            Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

            In his introduction to On Liberty Stuart states that his arguments for free speech are not absolute.

            “It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood. Those who are still in a state to require being taken care of by others, must be protected against their own actions as well as against external injury. For the same reason, we may leave out of consideration those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage. The early difficulties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, perhaps otherwise unattainable. Despotism is a legitimate
            mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion.…”

            • Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

              Granted; I forgot that. But so what? You are using all this stuff in some weird way to argue against free speech in America, not against Mill. Leave it alone.

              • Posted August 29, 2017 at 11:55 am | Permalink

                One of the reasons I regard the Enlightenment as so profoundly important is, although it has limitations, it includes the means to overcome them!

        • BJ
          Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

          So if someone says something but doesn’t practice it perfectly, that makes their statement wrong? If I say we shouldn’t beat people to death for jaywalking, but then I do it, does that mean the idea I promoted was incorrect?

          This is your argument. All I did is make it look as absurd as it is.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      I just love it when someone claims that a flaw in a great thinker invalidates his/her great thoughts. There must be some name for that logical fallacy.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        Well, I found one site that just called it the hypocrisy fallacy.

        It seems to me to be tangentially related to the ad hominem fallacy.

        • Posted August 26, 2017 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. I see from Wikipedia it is also called Tu Quoque (you too). Saying that should silence the other guy. 🙂

    • Historian
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      “FSWs (Free Speech Warriors) might want to consider that the interesting thing about free speech absolutism is that it’s almost always been highly selective, defending elites against marginal groups.”

      It would be nice if “borderline” could provide some examples of this assertion. Even if it is true (which I think would be very difficult to prove as a general principle), isn’t the solution to work to provide marginal groups a megaphone loud enough to counter the elite speech?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

      “… thing about free speech absolutism is that it’s almost always been highly selective, defending elites against marginal groups.”

      Were that the case, the remedy would be to work to extend free speech to those marginal groups, not to cut off anyone else’s. The expansion of human rights has depended heavily on the ability to advocate openly for those rights. The first thing any autocracy seeking to subjugate marginal groups does is restrict free speech.

    • BJ
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      So, who in America today does not have a right to free speech, if the idea is “highly selective”? Hmm? Are only the rich allowed to speak? Or is it some other group that alone holds this right?

      Perhaps you should base your argument, if you have one, on the law, rather than some vague notion of what you think someone from the 1800’s really meant when he wrote about extending free speech to all.

    • revelator60
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      By “human beings in the maturity of their faculties” Mill meant white people.’

      And today by “human beings in the maturity of their faculties” free speech champions mean ALL people. Problem solved, and with little difficulty. Mill’s idea was not taken to its natural conclusion by its originator because he had a limited definition of mature human beings, not because his core idea was wrong. The definition has expanded to fulfill the idea.

      “free speech absolutism is…almost always been highly selective, defending elites against marginal groups”

      The free speech laws of the United States guarantee ALL groups equal protection under the law. All free speech “absolutists” wish to do is maintain those laws and the equality they preserve. Any attempt to change them will create marginalized groups by allowing the government to choose sides and decide what speech it doesn’t like.

      Let me remind everyone that the free speech we enjoy is a hard-won freedom. In the United States even movies were once denied free speech and subjected to censorship. A hundred years ago protesters who spoke against World War I were jailed. Abroad, we have evidence of what happens when governments limit free speech: you can go to jail in Turkey for insulting the President; in Russia you can be jailed for protesting; in China even the internet is regulated to scrub discussion of “harmful” ideas; and the “hate speech” laws of Europe are routinely abused and have done little to counter the racist right.

      It is clear that when governments limit Free Speech, they do so for their benefit. The irresponsible members of the extremist Left are under the delusion that eliminating Free Speech will deprive the far Right of its voice. But it is far more likely that the Left will be the persecuted party, jailed for “hate speech” against Christianity, for insulting the President, for supposed “racism” against whites. The possibilities for abuse are endless!

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

        The irresponsible members of the extremist Left are under the delusion that eliminating Free Speech will deprive the far Right of its voice. But it is far more likely that the Left will be the persecuted party, jailed for “hate speech” against Christianity, for insulting the President, for supposed “racism” against whites. The possibilities for abuse are endless!

        Precisely!

    • Taz
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

      the interesting thing about free speech absolutism is that it’s almost always been highly selective, defending elites against marginal groups

      Whereas enforced limits on speech are never used against marginal groups, right?

  11. Mark Perew
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    sub

  12. darrelle
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Chancellor Christ’s letter is damn nice to see. I hope the Year Of Free Speech goes well.

    I do have one bit of criticism though, about this . . .

    “The first is that truth is of such power that it will always ultimately prevail; . . .”

    This sounds like a left over from a past age that we should know better these days to take figuratively at best. Truth does not always prevail. At least not within a span of time that does any good for people alive at the time. Also untruths that were previously prevailed over rise again and come back to haunt us time and time again.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing against free speech only that I don’t think this argument rates as a good philosophical justification for it. Although I suppose one could take it as a goal to strive for. Use it to motivate the usually quiet, unseen majority of people to speak out against untruths.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      “magna est veritas et praevalebit”

      But only if we are careful.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        “Good triumphs over evil when it’s better organized, better trained, better armed, sneakier, and gutsier than evil.” (Malcolm Azania)

        Note: when quoting this, I take “better armed” metaphorically.

    • Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      “Truth does not always prevail. At least not within a span of time that does any good for people alive at the time. ”

      I’m sorry but this looks like you’ve contradicted yourself. Anyway, did Mills really mean that truth will “always ultimately prevail” but only for those living at the time? Or did he mean something like; “the arc of the moral universe is long…”?

      • darrelle
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        I doubt you are actually sorry, and why should you be?

        But in any case I see no contradiction. I simply said that if you want to take ultimate literally then Mill’s statement loses meaning for people who happen to be alive during all that time in which truth has not yet prevailed.

        “Anyway, did Mills really mean that truth will “always ultimately prevail” but only for those living at the time?”

        I don’t know, but I really doubt it. That’s why I decided to say that I think Mills statement is flawed. I think it’s flawed because it doesn’t (seem to) take into account that the truth ultimately prevailing doesn’t do any good for the people around during the times when the truth hasn’t yet prevailed.

        Among other things. Among those other things is that I don’t know of any convincing evidence that the truth always ultimately prevails is actually accurate no matter how you parse it. About the best I think we can say is that we have made some progress over the course of our history.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 24, 2017 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          I entirely agree. I think ‘the truth will prevail’ is a polite fiction and maybe a worthy aspiration.

          Aside from the slowness of the process, I have an immediate problem with that word ‘truth’. I’m highly suspicious of it.

          I’m not here talking about that pomo ultra-relativist BS that insists on alternative ‘truths’ for different cultures. The Earth is the shape it is regardless of what someone’s culture says. Scientific facts are the nearest thing to ‘truth’ that we have.

          But in any real situation, there are so many facts and data points that, if they were all presented to us at once, we would be swamped; we wouldn’t even be able to build a mental picture of the overall situation. To comprehend it, we (or some narrator) has to extract a small sample of relevant facts and assemble them into a picture or a story that we can comprehend. And we call that ‘true’. But as soon as that happens, inevitably selection bias must creep in – even if no falsification is involved. So different narrators may have markedly different versions all of which are equally ‘true’ – for them.

          This is why my BS detector emits a warning beep as soon as anyone talks about ‘the Truth’.

          cr

        • Diane G.
          Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

          I entirely agree as well, and that declaration of Mill’s immediately set off alarm bells in my head for exactly the reasons you state.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      If you examine the instances in which truth has not prevailed over falsity, you’ll find it was invariably due to truth being denied the opportunity to compete in a fair and open ideational marketplace.

      • darrelle
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

        I am not so sure about that. Unless you include peoples’ inclination to hold to certain beliefs because of ideological commitments that have little to no basis in reasonable assessment of evidence (i.e. truth) to be a denial of opportunity to compete in a fair and open ideational marketplace.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I’m not saying everyone will be convinced of the truth even in a fair and open marketplace. There are always those who will cling obstinately to falsity despite the evidence. But I’m convinced a sufficient number will be persuaded to permit the truth to prevail.

          • darrelle
            Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

            I wish to take part in your assuredness! At the moment my glass is half empty though.

            • Diane G.
              Posted August 24, 2017 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

              As is mine, alas.

              • darrelle
                Posted August 25, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

                Do they have free refills? I’ll take one!

      • Kevin
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

        There are substantial opportunities to find truth that religions are false, but the majority of people choose not to do so. Open marketplaces can fill themselves with truths in plain sight and still be ignored.

        In the free space of ideas, religions have predominately striven to be voluntarily or mandatorily restrictive which leads not only to their insulation but also the proclivity of falsity over truth.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I’m not so sure.

        I can think of no law of nature or physics that says the truth (or even, narrowly defined, an accurate collection of facts) *must* prevail. I think it’s generally desirable but I think there’s an ‘is-ought’ fallacy going on there.

        And secondly, you mention an ‘ideational marketplace’. That brings in aspirations, as well as facts. ‘All people have equal rights’ is surely an aspiration, not necessarily a fact. Again, I can’t think of any law of physics that says so.

        So I don’t think ‘the truth will always prevail’ is either completely true (!) nor is the ‘truth’ always readily definable.

        I support free speech but I don’t think that argument is valid.

        cr

    • Posted August 25, 2017 at 7:05 am | Permalink

      Yeah, truth ultimately prevailing is wishful thinking. On the other hand,

      The second [argument] is an extreme skepticism about the right of any authority to determine which opinions are noxious or abhorrent.

      That hits the nail right on the head.

  13. Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Chancellor Christ radiates integrity. Perhaps she should offer a spine transplant to George Bridges.

  14. Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Woohoo! Good news!

  15. Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Karl Popper, citing Plato, wrote as follows in “The Open Society and Its Enemies”, suggesting that tolerance of intolerance may not be sustainable, that intolerance might have to be criminalized. But note the nuance:

    “…the paradox of tolerance : Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. In this formulation, I do not imply, for instance, that we should always suppress the utterance of intolerant philosophies ; as long as we can counter them by rational argument and keep them in check by public opinion, suppression would certainly be most unwise. But we should claim the right even to suppress them, for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument; they may forbid their followers to listen to anything as deceptive as rational argument, and teach them to answer arguments by the use of their fists. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant. We should claim that any movement preaching intolerance places itself outside the law, and we should consider incitement to intolerance and persecution as criminal, exactly as we should consider incitement to murder, or to kidnapping ; or as we should consider incitement to the revival of the slave trade.”

    p. 226 at
    https://monoskop.org/images/4/42/Popper_Karl_The_Open_Society_and_its_Enemies_The_Spell_of_Plato_Vol_1_1st_ed.pdf

  16. BJ
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    That is a phenomenal and deeply heartening statement by Ms. Christ. I imagine she will suffer quite a lot of resistance from a segment of her student body, which makes her commitment even braver (and more necessary).

    • Travis
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

      Even better than the UChicago letter from last year!

      Meanwhile, up here in Guelph I anticipate an email telling men to not rape women, or something along those lines regarding rape culture, like last year’s email chain.

  17. Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful content expressed beautifully. (That gal can write!) I wish her, and Berkeley, every success in this endeavor (and, it’s about time!) Welcome back Berkeley, home of free speech!

  18. westrwjr
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank God (Christ)!

  19. Posted August 24, 2017 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Even from a long distance it feels like a dollop of sanity has emerged in Berkeley. What is interesting, to constant posturing, threatening (as in looming) conflicting behaviours to freedom of speech is the role of the law and her willingness to use it and how it should be, regardless of what position you hold.

  20. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    This is an absolutely wonderful statement, and emphasizes again the need for those of you who worry about “hate speech” to read Mill’s great work On Liberty.

    Mill’s wrote before the UN Declaration of Human Rights and its appeal to balance free speech with protection of minorities, and Christ worries not about it. So maybe Mill had a point, but that may be superseded by Enlightenment advances.

    The more the argument becomes about how US has democratically chosen to apply the UNDHR, and the less it applies on a global democratic scale the less I become convinced that this is a realpolitik concern.

  21. Posted August 24, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  22. Posted August 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps the opponents could buy out the hall and then boycott entering the auditorium, stand outside, encircling the auditorium, and refuse to let un-ticketed spectators enter. Yes, it would be expensive, but perhaps the odious speakers would get the point.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 25, 2017 at 12:00 am | Permalink

      The point that leftists are against free speech?

  23. Dale Franzwa
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Hooray for Berkeley’s rebirth as a defender of free speech! When I was there briefly in 1958, free speech was everywhere: on campus, in the halls (students discussing everything), in the classroom. Later, off campus with the protests against the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in San Francisco. Good news, indeed.

  24. Craw
    Posted August 25, 2017 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Good thing she doesn’t work for ESPN, with a name like that.

  25. Posted August 25, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    This is beautiful! Sums up the argument for free speech in a nutshell.


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