More free speech kerfuffle at Williams College, a school on the road to becoming Evergreen State

Williams College, a very prestigious school in Williamstown, Massachusetts, is currently in the throes of a debate about free speech. In this case the professors (not all of them, but many) want Williams to adopt the Chicago Principles of Free Expression (the “Chicago Principles”). The students, however, don’t want any stinking principles; they want endless discussion about marginalization and oppression of minorities at the College and about how speech of some groups isn’t free, but “erased”. (You can read the student petition, signed by 363 undergraduates, here.) Unlike Berkeley in the Sixties, the roles are reversed here: it’s the faculty rather than the students who want free speech.

I wrote about this last week, posting an endorsement of free speech by Luana Maroja, a biology professor at the school.  Now the Williams Record, the school’s student newspaper, has several articles on the controversy. Note especially items 4 and 5, in which students, including the paper’s editorial board itself, either oppose free speech or waffle about it. Each headline (click on screenshots) is followed by a quote from the article (indented).

1.) A news report by two of the paper’s editors on the latest free-speech developments, which gives a pretty objective overview.

2.) A student writes defending free speech. Good for Essence Perry! In view of statement #4, in which angry students connect free speech to racism, I’ll point out that Perry appears to be a woman of color.

To combat bigotry like racism, sexism and xenophobia – beliefs that are rooted in ignorance and fueled by fear – we must be able to tactically invalidate their fallacies and falsities. Remaining ignorant of their arguments allows these ideologies to fester. It is important to understand the roots of hate ideologies; it isn’t acceptable or useful to simply label people as irrational. Yes, at first, it will make students feel uncomfortable. But we need to use that discomfort as a fuel to convince others of our ideas. We need to challenge ourselves to take into consideration their mindset, listen to their opinions to make our own ideas stronger and approachable.

Being “right” isn’t enough anymore; we need to connect and reach people of all types. This can only happen through discourse that provokes us and forces us to reflect on how we can make change.

3.) Luana writes a letter to the paper, largely reiterating what she wrote on this site and supporting the Chicago Principles:

When we hear unfamiliar and unexpected ideas, we are often disoriented and disquieted. This disquiet is the background noise of a brain that is working. After we process and assimilate the unfamiliar idea, and ponder it with our friends, we might find it is worthless and reject it outright. And once in a great while, we might find ourselves won over by a novel idea that we have never considered. If that is not happening to you from time to time, it is a sign that you have closed your mind to all ideas you don’t already accept. I will not attempt to stop those who stick their fingers in their own ears to block out what they don’t want to hear. But I don’t want them sticking their fingers into everyone’s ears.

As I said many times before, I have learned a great deal from hearing from people I deeply disagree with (e.g., creationists and climate denialists). In the end, that is the only way to have your counterarguments become clear, logical and ready to be used when the need comes.

4.) A student group bloviates at length about the dangers of free speech.

The writers, more than 20 undergraduates, are writing under the rubric of “Coalition against racism now” (“CARE Now”).  They start out simply rejecting the validity of a free-speech debate, because free speech is, to them, a ploy by racists and oppressors to silence the marginalized. Instead of a debate about free speech, they want the dismantling of racism on the Williams campus. They give no examples of such racism, and from what I hear of the place it’s extraordinarily inclusive. The piece, which you should read to hear the infusion of Marxist and postmodern rhetoric into modern undergraduate life, is a long whine by entitled students playing victims. A few quotes (my comments flush left):

It is vital to say that CARE Now is not interested in entering a debate about free speech in this current moment. A policy or committee that deals solely with free speech or expression is not the solution. Rather, we insist on recognizing the positioning of “free speech” for what it has become: moral ammunition for a conservative backlash to increasing diversity. As a grass-roots collective of student organizers, we are concerned with long-term base-building that far surpasses rebuttals to “free speech” crusaders.

This claim is ridiculous. Over 100 Williams professors signed the original statement endorsing the Chicago Principles, and it’s crazy to call them all of those professors conservatives opposed to increasing diversity.(I suspect that 90% or more of Williams professors are on the Left.) The statement goes on to assert that free speech is useless because it has no effect on dispelling the bigotry they claim to experience (but never describe). But they fail to recognize that without free speech, civil rights, gay rights, and women’s rights protestors would never have brought attention to these successful movements. Just imagine where we’d be if opponents of those movements had the right to censor calls for equality!

Prejudice cannot be talked away; more “dialogue” is not the answer. Oppression can’t be fixed with rational debate because oppression is not rational. Once we all agree that bigotry simply is not an “opinion” that can be swiftly invalidated in a “two-way discourse,” that such discourse instead needs to involve dismantling the very institutional and systemic forces that demean and denigrate marginalized students, and that the faculty petition represents institutional anxiety towards a more diverse student and faculty population, then we can take steps and move forward. Perhaps the authors and signers of the faculty petition did not have the intent to harm and silence students and faculty of marginalized identities, but they have chosen to enter a national debate that is harmful, toxic and ultimately must be recognized by the faculty and administration. Intent does not equate to impact.

I will give just one more excerpt, but if you read the whole thing you’ll realize why I say that Williams is going the way of Evergreen State, becoming a place full of entitled and authoritarian students who don’t for a minute consider that they might be wrong, or even want to hear why they might be wrong. They’re too busy stringing together social justice buzzwords and feeling hurt. Have a look at the last sentence:

We do not need yet another committee to investigate how our educational environment can be made more “open and inclusive.” Again, we ask: open, and inclusive for whom? Instead, we challenge the Williams community to consider, together, the fundamental anxieties of “diversity” which underwrite the contemporary discourse of “free speech.” How might we offer forms of redress or protection to those institutionally, historically and currently imperiled bodies-in-question? We can and must make way for alternatives. Until then, all efforts at “dialogue” are but a ruse.

Beyond this statement, we have chosen to not comment on our next steps as we are focusing on building coalition and self-care.

Self-care? I don’t remember Martin Luther King and his allies withdrawing from debate to give themselves “self-care”—except perhaps to dress their wounds from police dogs and billy clubs.

These students instantiate what Stephen Fry was criticizing when he said, in a debate about political correctness (he was in favor of social justice but against its instantiation in “pc”), “My real objection is that I don’t think political correctness works. . .I believe one of the greatest human failings is to prefer to be right than to be effective. And political correctness is always obsessed with how right it is without thinking how effective it might be.”  (See his statements on the video beginning at 33:40.) These students perfectly illustrate what Fry objects to, for their anger and hectoring will not for a moment change the minds of those professors who endorsed free speech.

5.) The editorial board of the Williams Record waffles and waffles, totally unable to endorse principles of free speech while paying lip service to them. (Click on screenshot):

What is most disturbing about the anti-free speech stand of Williams undergraduates is the mealy-mouth defense of that speech by the student newspaper. While recognizing that they absolutely require free speech to operate as a newspaper, the editors can’t quite bring themselves to endorse the Chicago Principles or even the First Amendment. They want more “nuance” (always a word to raise red flags); they want a dialogue; but they don’t want Williams to endorse the Chicago Principles. They’d rather have endless discussion in which people flaunt their virtue in place of having a WRITTEN COLLEGE POLICY that codifies liberal rules for speech.  Voici:

The Record values freedom of expression as the very core of the work we do. We do not intend to lay out our own comprehensive policy on speakers at the College nor to decisively settle this issue; rather, we hope to contribute several important points to this larger debate on campus and across the country. . . .

. . . The Chicago Statement is in many ways a part of a branding strategy that plays upon the attention such disinvitations get [JAC: they’re referring to disinvitations prompted by objections from the Left, particularly against people like Milo Yiannopoulos], despite their relative rarity. It in no way is, nor should be, the be all and end all of principles for free expression on campus.

Here come the “nuances”:

We reject the binary that this debate has created on campus, in which signatories feel pressure to attach their name to only one viewpoint or the other. The question of who and what is given a platform at the College is a nuanced one, and the current debate around whether or not to adopt the Chicago Statement has oversimplified the issue to the detriment of the complexities at stake. . .

. . . Rather than adopt the Chicago Statement, then, we believe that the College should work internally to think about its values on inviting and disinviting speakers, as well as broaden the conversation about freedom of expression on campus. Questions to be considered might not only include speakers on campus, but also what other barriers to freedom of expression exist. What people or perspectives are commonly denied opportunities to speak, write and otherwise express themselves on campus? What categories of people (such as students, untenured or non-voting faculty and staff) do not enjoy the same systemic protection for their speech as tenured faculty do? Freedom of expression is central to our work at the Record and at the College; valuing such freedom, however, is far more complex than endorsing an outside set of guidelines entrenched in inflammatory debate. We ought to take advantage of the College’s immense resources and talent to foster an intentional dialogue about the many facets of this issue within our community.

What evidence is there that some categories of Williams people “do not enjoy the same systemic protection for their speech as tenured faculty do”? After all, look at all the anti-free-speech stuff that the students have already published, both in the newspaper and on The Feminist Wire.  Who has been denied opportunities to speak on campus? (Well, there was one right-winger mentioned in the first news report. . .).

It is shameful that a newspaper’s editors dissemble and dissimulate in this way, when what they should be doing is endorsing the First Amendment as construed by the courts. That after all, is what the Chicago Principles codify. The editors just can’t help hedging their bets by rambling on about “denial of free speech,” when in fact I strongly suspect that nobody at Williams has been denied free speech.

This craven waffling is not limited to the Williams Record. Our own student newspaper, the Chicago Maroon, ignoring my letter urging them to do so, adamantly refused to endorse the free-speech principles of its own university! It doesn’t get much more risible (and depressing) than that.

 

76 Comments

  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    Sub

  2. GH47
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    It was never about free speech. Obviously Leftists only wanted free speech when they were out of power in order to gain it, and now want it ended since they have power.

    • mikeyc
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      That’s a mighty fat brush you got there GH47. As a leftist and free speech absolutist, I take umbrage at being so sloppily painted.

      The right has a long, violent history on free speech issues so (to mix more metaphors) while you’re painting us leftists with that big fat brush of yours, pay attention to that glass house you live in. Wouldn’t be wise to start throwing rocks too.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:25 am | Permalink

        You might also remind GH47 that as we speak, In Wisconsin and Michigan the losers of the last election (republicans) have attempted a take over of government to erase the gains made by the democrats in those states. Does he not read the news?

        • Historian
          Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:38 am | Permalink

          I’m glad you mentioned this Randy. The attempt by Republican legislatures in lame duck sessions to shackle the powers of the incoming Democratic governors is a direct assault on democratic norms, particularly the concept that the party losing power in an election graciously turns over the power to the winning party. Once again, we see that democracy is the last thing of concern to the party of Trump. This is something to be alarmed about and is discussed here:

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2018/12/06/what-it-means-democracy-if-losers-elections-dont-relinquish-power/?utm_term=.b04240e20f3a

          • Randall Schenck
            Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:17 am | Permalink

            And if this one doesn’t set your hair on fire there is always the North Carolina method – good old voter fraud. You know that thing the republicans were searching for but just could not find. It is alive and well there in Carolina so now they may have to hold another election.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        You tell ’em, Mikey (mixed metaphors ‘n all 🙂 ). The Right has a miserable record on free speech, from the bluenoses to the red-baiters — from the ones who sought to censor Ulysses and Lady Chatterly’s Lover to the ones who created the Hollywood blacklists.

        The Left is the traditional home for free expression. Always has been, and for many of us, it still is.

  3. Davide Spinello
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    It is really time to grow up and study.

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    After it is all said and done and all the arguments and discussions are had, the Chicago policy should be entered and become policy. To do otherwise would be like an Evergreen.

    Those who are there to be educated seem not to care about being educated but are only there for social causes. You cannot run an institution in this way. The school already hired people to do this and they are not students. Name any other business or institution in the U.S. that operates in this way? There are none if they want to stay in business.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Unlike Berkeley in the Sixties, the roles are reversed here: it’s the faculty rather than the students who want free speech.

    There comes a time when the operation of the undergrad machine becomes so odious, makes one so sick at heart, that the faculty can’t take part. They can’t even passively take part. They’ve got to put their bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and they’ve got to make it stop.

  6. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    Good for Essence Perry. If every college across the country had a cadre just like her, we’d be a stronger and better Republic for it.

    • mikeyc
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      I think they do. Many, in fact. Many have been cowed into silence, though. There’s a reason the malefactors here are called the “authoritarian left”. I’m hoping that in near future more like Essence Perry speak up.

  7. Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure whether to be discouraged or encouraged by incidents like this.

    Is it evidence that the authoritarian left juggernaut continues to unstoppably roll on, or evidence that the tide is (slowly) turning?

  8. BJ
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Oh, man, that debate with Stephen Fry. I clicked on the link and then remembered that I had watched it live, only to turn it off after too much of Dyson attacking his opponents for being white, shouting, and barely making a coherent argument after his first few opening minutes. What a fucking mess. Dyson showed in that debate the fundamental problem with the position these students have taken. He thought if he just shouted “racism” and “you’re white” enough, his opponents would lose all legitimacy and their arguments would hold no water. He didn’t think he needed to debate or discuss ideas. He was there to chide everyone for disagreeing with him and hurl abuse at them, rather than attempt to convince them and the audience through a dialogue on the subject.

    • Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:54 am | Permalink

      I really enjoyed that debate also. Dyson has appeared in other places, including Bill Maher’s show, if I remember correctly, and is given great respect. I’m guessing that they would award him less respect if they had seen his debate with Fry.

  9. Ken Kukec
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    The piece, which you should read to hear the infusion of Marxist and postmodern rhetoric into modern undergraduate life, is a long whine by entitled students playing victims.

    I’ve read the piece in full now myself. Although it’s certainly infected by vapid postmodernist rhetoric, can’t say as I see much in it that’s overtly Marxist. Then again, Marx’s own soi-disant followers engaged in such specious “revolutionary phrase-mongering” in his name, that, near his end, the carbuncle-ridden old man was moved to declaim “I myself am not a Marxist!”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

      Or, to be fair to Marx, “If they are Marxists, then I am not”.

      Which puts a slightly different slant on it.

      I’d love to hear the opinion any good old Marxist revolutionary of the thirties would have of these precious pomos.

      cr

  10. Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    In regards to the newspaper claim:

    “We reject the binary that this debate has created on campus, in which signatories feel pressure to attach their name to only one viewpoint or the other. The question of who and what is given a platform at the College is a nuanced one, and the current debate around whether or not to adopt the Chicago Statement has oversimplified the issue to the detriment of the complexities at stake. . .”

    I realize that it has been trendy (for so long that you’d think it would have become passe’) to reject “binaries”. However, there really is a binary it this case. You either claim that no legally allowable speech should be banned by administrations OR you think that some legally allowable speech should be banned. In this case, tertium non datur.

    There can still be a “nuanced discussion” among free people about who to invite to campus. But that is a different issue. The continual (and I suspect intentional) conflation of supporting free speech with supporting the invitation of racists to campus begins to wear on a person.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      That’s the thing about “binaries”: there’re only two kinds — good ones and bad ones. 🙂

      • mikeyc
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

        There are 10 kinds of people; those who understand binary and those who don’t.

  11. Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    “I will not attempt to stop those who stick their fingers in their own ears to block out what they don’t want to hear. But I don’t want them sticking their fingers into everyone’s ears.”

    A very nice turn of phrase indeed!

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

      Yes indeed! That’s going into my rhetorical arsenal. The force and clarity of that image contrasts strongly with the vague hedging of the Editorial Board.

  12. eric
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    we insist on recognizing the positioning of “free speech” for what it has become: moral ammunition for a conservative backlash to increasing diversity

    If it has become that, it’s because some on the left have stopped defending free speech, while some conservatives still do so (for debatable motives).

    This is what happens when you yield the high road to your opponent; their position starts to look better in the eyes of onlookers and fence-sitters. Even if they’re using that high road to try and get to some bad outcome, because of your actions they have it and you don’t.

    IOW, to the extent that this is a problem, it’s a problem of the left’s own making. If the left wing doesn’t want a defense of free speech to be associated with right wing ideals, they need to stop giving up on free speech.

    • Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      I think many on the Left assumed we had free speech in the bag and no longer had to fight for it, inside the US at least. I guess we were wrong.

      • DrBrydon
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

        One of my favorite observations on politics (courtest of Gore Vidal) is that in politics there are no ends, only means. Nothing in politics is settled (with the obvious exception of Carthage). Gains have to be maintained. We are in danger of losing the gains of the last century. The people who argue against free speech don’t think there have been any gains.

    • Nicolaas Stempels
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

      Yes, eric. there you touch on an important part. Reactionaries thrive on caricatures of the left. These students are grist to their mill. Are these students unable to see that?

      • DrBrydon
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        Goes both ways, doesn’t it? Not everyone on the right is a racist or wants to eliminate abortion. It’s merely convenient to paint your opponents with the worst, especially as an excuse not to talk to them.

  13. eric
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Prejudice cannot be talked away; more “dialogue” is not the answer. Oppression can’t be fixed with rational debate because oppression is not rational.

    Yikes. This is the left? I am saddened. Though my optimistic side says these are the squeaky wheels, not representative of the whole.

    • Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Yes, but there’s where you are wrong. As these people graduate, this kind of thinking is migrating to our companies and our politicians. Corporate human resources departments are somewhat analogous to college administrators and are adopting their ideas. Similarly for some politicians as seen in a recent Kirsten Gillibrand tweet:

      • BJ
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:19 am | Permalink

        “Our future is female”

        Sounds like equality to me!

      • Historian
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

        Gillibrand just won an overwhelming victory in her bid for re-election as a senator from New York. Apparently, she is considering a run for the presidency in 2020. I fear that such sentiments, although honestly held, will significantly reduce her national appeal.

        • Davide Spinello
          Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

          I hope so.

        • eric
          Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          You’re saying a US Senator made a public statement containing honestly held sentiments? Would you be interested in perhaps buying this bridge I’m selling…?

          Okay, that’s a bit jaded, but I do expect the vast majority of them are far more realpolitik about social issues than they might project to their constituents.

          • Historian
            Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

            On occasion politicians speak the truth. If Gillibrand was primarily concerned with political advantage, she would never have made such remarks. They will not help her gain the Democratic nomination for president, if that is what she is hoping for.

      • eric
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        Maybe. But these are also young adults, trying out independence for the first time in their lives. They’re experimenting with career, relationships, and how to be socially active. Those experiments will cause changes in their personalities and preferences and – as much as this thought may horrify them – they’ll typically mellow as they get older. I am certainly not the same person I was at 20. Few of us at middle age or beyond could say they are.

        So, I expect many if not most collegiate firebrands will become professionally behaved private and public citizens in a few years. The edges will soften, as they do for most people. Ask them now, and they’ll of course tell you that will never happen. They’ll give some modern equivalent of Pete Townsend’s “hope I die before I get old!” sentiment. Then most of them will – like Pete Townsend – go on to grow old (both figuratively and literally).

        • Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

          Yes, I agree, but they are doing lasting damage now. I just read about a college professor who used the old joke, “Ladies’ lingerie” when the door opened and now he’s fighting to keep his career:

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/opinions/she-called-his-elevator-joke-offensive-he-called-her-complaint-frivolous-whos-right/2018/05/03/43ba4084-4ee1-11e8-af46-b1d6dc0d9bfe_story.html

          Of course, this is not really just students and they aren’t the origin of this kind of thinking.

          • eric
            Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

            In the ’80s people did lasting damage via false memory accusations. In the ’50s it was the communist scare. I’m sure there was some mob-mentality damage done in other decades too. There are always damaging irrational social causes. That doesn’t mean we should passively accept this; we should fight it. But it also means we shouldn’t expect or proclaim that this is a linear trend that will go on forever unless we stop it. It will likely fade over time even if we do nothing; we do something to try and limit the damage it causes in the meantime, or help it come to a ‘natural end’ earlier than it otherwise would.

            • Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

              Those are two good examples. It doesn’t take the whole population to be scared to do real damage. I’m sure if you were to take a poll on the “lady’s lingerie” issue, most people would think it ridiculous to accuse the man of anti-feminism. (Actually, I do worry that the results would be worse than I expect.) Still, the man might lose his job.

              • eric
                Posted December 6, 2018 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

                His comment was a 1970s British sitcom reference. While the professor who took umbrage was 51, it’s not like “Are you Being Served” was part of everyone’s cultural zeitgeist growing up. It’s easy to see how someone who was *5* when the show started airing might have, y’know, missed the reference.

                I’m not surprised someone was offended by his comment. I do however agree the follow-on has been complete overreaction. Not every idiotic failed joke by a 75-year-old needs to be treated as a stoning offense.

              • Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:15 am | Permalink

                I watched the show. I am pretty sure the joke is way older than that. Perhaps from the Henny Youngman era.

                I also am not surprised that someone took offense in this day and age. That doesn’t make it right. I don’t even see it as an idiotic joke, just not a particularly funny one.

                I believe this complainant should have to explain exactly how they are hurt by the joke and how it is anti-feminist. Department stores exist and have lingerie departments to this day. He could have just as easily said “Mens wear” and the joke would have been just as effective (or ineffective). Perhaps the choice of “lingerie” was the key. However, the fact that it refers to undergarments doesn’t play a role in the joke that I can see. It has provides no prurience at all. There is no implication of man’s dominance over women. The man is playing the role of elevator operator which is hardly a position of power and what power it has is not over women in particular. I just don’t get it.

              • Merilee
                Posted December 7, 2018 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

                Stupid to get upset at this. Was the woman in the elevator when he said it, or outside waiting to get on. Either way it’s hardly a big deal.

          • Gabrielle
            Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

            According to his university pages, he still has his job. The incident appears to have ended back in the spring.

      • Adam M.
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

        Reminds me of the oft-heard lists you see and hear, of the form “X, Y, and Z are welcome in our home” or “as a Congresswoman I will stand for X, Y, and Z”. Usually it goes something like “women, people of color, LGBTQIA, the undocumented, …” and I can’t help but think “So, basically you welcome/support/represent everyone except people like me. Thanks…”

        Our corporate HR department recently rolled out a big “diversity” initiative. While it’s not at the level of open contempt for white males one hears about in some parts of Google, the rhetoric clearly implies that white males are at best less desirable than others, and I wonder what course it’ll chart in the future.

        • eric
          Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

          Oh please. There’s a women’s history month and a black history month but not an explicit white guy history month because every month is white guy history month. You don’t need an “initiative” to ensure you are fairly treated; you’re fairly treated without them. Asking for one is just whining. It’s like a rich person asking why the government doesn’t give him food stamps too. Oh, the unfairness of it!

          • Adam M.
            Posted December 6, 2018 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

            I never said anything about “white history month”, so I’m not sure where you’re getting that from. I never asked for an initiative in favor of white people, either.

            I do take umbrage at the trend to denigrate white men in general as responsible for society’s ills (or worse), often without any analysis of whether that’s really the case or whether currently living average white people are responsible as opposed to just historical or exceptionally powerful ones. Especially when it’s not just random people on Twitter but here among my coworkers.

            (As for “fair treatment”, whites are the only underrepresented ethnic group exempted from our “proportional representation” goals; I think we’re down to about 20% now in my division and something like 50.4% overall (i.e. significantly underrepresented). I wouldn’t mind if that was the result of fair competition, but when it’s the result of hiring mandates coming from above it doesn’t feel too fair. But that’s not my gripe; my gripe is just about white-blaming rhetoric in society.)

            • eric
              Posted December 6, 2018 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

              Okay, I won’t make generalizations, I’ll stick to your specific complaint. Please tell me how your corporate HR’s rhetoric clearly implies that white males are at best less desirable than others.

              • Adam M.
                Posted December 7, 2018 at 1:30 am | Permalink

                If I list them out it may sound like whining, but here it is anyway.

                * Hiring policies to increase the proportion of every ethnic group except whites, which is effectively a policy to decrease the proportion of whites, even though they’re already underrepresented. (Whites are the only group that the company doesn’t have a goal to obtain at least proportional representation for.)

                * Wording in the diversity newsletter like ‘We need to do better: white males continue to dominate positions of power’ although they’re underrepresented even at the executive level. (I also notice that they use words like “dominating” or “controlling” when referring to whites or white males, but “achieving success” for other groups, even Asians, who are vastly overrepresented at all levels. 29 out of 32 people in my group are Asian, including all managers, and all but two of the executives above them. (27 of those 29 are Indians.) I don’t begrudge the Asians since they’re smart, but who is dominating? It does bug me that the company employs so many H-2B temporary workers. (All 29 are non-citizens, and nearly all are H-2B hires.) I don’t think the company is being honest when they claim that they can’t find Americans who can do the work. I think they just want to reduce labor costs.)

                * They always highlight employee accomplishments in the diversity newsletters. I don’t think there has ever been an accomplishment by a white person featured there. I know that whites aren’t considered “diverse” for whatever reason, even though the whites in the building hail from every continent and speak a diversity of languages, but I’d expect a positive feature at least once in a while. We still do a lot of the work, after all. But I can’t even recall a positive word; usually whites simply aren’t mentioned, but when they are it’s in the context of ‘too many whites; we need more diversity’.

                * The company provides special support, networking, and career resources for every group except straight white males, even for the Asians, who I would think need it least. I know it’s not politically correct to have any white-only things, but why not just provide the extra resources to everybody, then?

                That said, I can’t say I personally feel oppressed or anything. I still have a job and my immediate coworkers treat me fine. But I do feel like some kind of line has been crossed with the change from quietly implemented hiring mandates to open advocacy for fewer whites, even if the actual policies are the same. I do worry a bit about the future now.

        • Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          I agree that both of those things leave much to be desired.

          The thought expressed in your first paragraph captures the problem with Dems in the 2016 election. They spent so much energy on the identity politics, they didn’t seem to notice that it left out many of the largest identities. Also, while social justice is an important goal, it isn’t everything.

          As far as corporate diversity efforts go, they are just too heavy handed to be effective. They piss people off more than achieve desired goals.

          • mikeyc
            Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

            “They piss people off more than achieve desired goals.”

            Aye, there’s the rub. It sometimes seems (!) that the desired goal isn’t to correct past wrongs or level the playing field, but to assume control over others. Many SJWs don’t really want diversity – they want power and it can be hard to distinguish those motives from the more benign. That these concerns cannot even be discussed is why they persist.

          • Adam M.
            Posted December 7, 2018 at 3:11 am | Permalink

            Speaking of heavy-handed, as part of the initiative everyone has to make a written statement to their manager describing what they plan to do to help increase diversity, and we’re supposed to be judged on our progress…

            • Gabrielle
              Posted December 7, 2018 at 7:15 am | Permalink

              It sounds like from your previous post above, that your company is taking advantage of diversity initiatives to justify hiring IT personnel from overseas, using the H1-B visa process. It also sounds like a heavy-handed way to justify to the Dept. of Labor why so many people from overseas are being hired. It’s using diversity as a cover to paper over unfair hiring practices.

              Out of curiosity, have your company’s ‘diversity efforts’ actually increased the number of blacks and Hispanics working at your firm?

              As for me, my company has had a low level diversity effort going on for 2 years now. As far as I can see, from looking over the photos of new employees posted on our intranet, there’s little to no difference in the make-up of who is being hired.

              • Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:32 am | Permalink

                You are assuming that using H1B to hire IT people is unfair. I was a software company CEO for most of my life and I can guarantee you use of H1B is not about saving money in most cases, regardless of what the politicians and the “patriots” might tell you. Unless you are Google, Apple, or another high-profile company, it is extremely hard to find qualified IT people. It has been difficult for a long time but now it is ridiculous. Many technology companies are limited by their ability to hire good people. Many smaller companies are bought by larger companies only in order to bring the smaller company’s employees onboard. It also should be recognized that if a company can gain advantage by bringing really good people into the country, they will likely hire Americans too.

            • Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:23 am | Permalink

              Yes, that’s the kind of thing that really pisses me off. It declares everyone as guilty while, at the same time, the HR department shifts the burden of solving the diversity problem away from themselves. Presumably the HR people go home thinking they’ve done their job well.

  14. Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    It has probably been pointed out by others but, after reading this, it seems that much of the students’ motivation is seeking of power. While some may say that PC is not effective, people are listening to these students and the college administrators that enable them. What they are doing IS working in the sense that it gives them to the power to dictate to others. Most of them probably don’t realize it but this is also why they argue against free speech. They realize that the power they have at this time is vulnerable. The more they can protect it by refusing to discuss it and not giving an inch, the longer they can maintain it. It is not so much about freedom from oppression as it is about power.

  15. Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I object to the Chicago principles because they restrict the rights if the university to an unnessary degree. The school should have the final say on speech in campus.
    Williams students were pretty radical back in the 1960s. The momentum has bit chsnged. They are even more radical now. These are probably grandchildren of tge students I knew back then. Beating the same drum two steps farther over. And two steps louder.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      I think the argument here is – The school or the students. There is a difference.

    • pseudo-diogenes
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      I support the Chicago Principles because they recognize the rights of community members in the clearest way to date. The students and the faculty should have the primary voices on campus. The repeated conflation of supporting the freedom of students and faculty to speak and listen with automatically providing a platform for all possible speakers is disturbing.

      • Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        I don’t agree. The university has to pay all the bills for and clean up as well ad has all the liability. The trustees are respondible for running and maintaing the university. Finsl decision belongs to the university.

        • pseudo-diogenes
          Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

          Fair enough; assuming neither of us are trustees, it would follow that our opinions on the issue doesn’t matter. Do you disagree?

    • DrBrydon
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      For a public school there should be no question about free speech. Even for a private school censorship tends to be arbitrary, and we see lots of examples of school administrations trying to siffle criticism of themselves.

  16. DrBrydon
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Prejudice cannot be talked away; more “dialogue” is not the answer.

    Aside from disagreeing with that statement, I shudder at what the solution would be, if dialogue is not the answer. Presumably, it is some sort of repression. Dialogue is only not the answer if the other guy is violent, or if you are unwilling to be patient. These folks want this fixed NOW, and everyone else can take it in the neck.

    • Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yes, it is all about repression aka power. These students seem to own the floor right now. Ironically, they are the most in need of deplatforming.

  17. SecMilChap
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I once served gazpacho to some Minnesotans, descendants of German immigrants. I’d write to the Spanish embassy and ask for suitable duties of atonement, but WikiPedia states that gaszpacho was developed in southern Andalusia, and that “…Gazpacho is widely eaten in Spain and Portugal…” Therefore all Spanish and Portuguese (Galicians & Basques, too) who are not from south Andalusia are as guilty as I; I don’t feel guilty any more for Cultural Appropriation. Besides, it goes well during a MetroDC summer for folks from MN!

    • Posted December 7, 2018 at 11:49 am | Permalink

      And here I thought it was from Latin America (Argentina, I thought). Of course, it uses everyone’s favourite Peruvian fruit …

  18. BJ
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    When I heard about the whole affair I said oh no, Williams College won’t do

  19. Curtis
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    It is interesting that the college newspaper thinks that the phrase “free speech” is an abomination that can no longer be spoken by progressives.

    For example they say “The Record values freedom of expression as the very core of the work we do.” and “Freedom of expression on campus is an issue that should greatly concern those of every political ideology.”

    Well done. Abandon basic rights and decency and then wonder why people vote for the opposition.

  20. rickflick
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Oy vey!

    • Curtis
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

      That sounds like cultural appropriation to me.

      • rickflick
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        That deserves another: Oy vey!

  21. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    For me, the biggest reason to insist on free speech is that today’s PC students simply cannot tell the difference between the alt-right, classical conservatism, honest conservatives, scoundrel conservatives. TO ge authentically “nuanced” you have to understand conservatism is on a spectrum.

    • mikeyc
      Posted December 6, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      That’s because to these kids four legs are good, two legs are bad.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 6, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

        Four legs are good, two legs are bad better.

        There, the pigs fixed to for you.

    • Posted December 6, 2018 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Of course they lump everyone into either “woke” or “non-woke” categories. Breaking down the non-woke into subcategories is just not something they care about. As many have said, I think our best angle is to convince them that they are not going to achieve their social justice goals by simply applying a wokeness test. That would only succeed if everyone sought to be woke and that is definitely not the case.

  22. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted December 6, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    what they should be doing is endorsing the First Amendment as construed by the courts

    Indeed, they should obey the law of the land. They *may* dislike it and want to change that (hate speech laws, say) but that would mean a movement like the US Civil Rights movement. (And then they would likely want to rely on the US law, or at least the liberal UN Human Rights declaration balancing the rights, in order to propagate that movement.)

  23. Posted December 6, 2018 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Interestingly, those in favour are speaking on their own behalf as individuals. Those against – to judge from the editorial bylines – are faceless collectives.


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