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"I'm afraid that hallways and office doors are not 'free-speech zones.'"
October 19, 2006 10:19 AM   Subscribe

As Americans, we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.
posted by EarBucket (47 comments total)

 
First they came for Dave Barry, and I said nothing because Dave Barry suckes balls...
posted by spicynuts at 10:22 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Bah, they're just trying to make the ten best conservative schools list.
posted by Krrrlson at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2006


Then, I realized that Dave Barry Sucks Balls would make a great name for a rock band.
posted by dr_dank at 10:24 AM on October 19, 2006


Marquette now has a lock on First Place for the Doublespeak Award — along with, of course, the federal government.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:27 AM on October 19, 2006


I'm a little rusty on my Constitutional law, but where is the reference to "free speech zones" in that document, and how does it define them?
posted by psmealey at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2006


Man, today is just full of great news.
posted by dead_ at 10:31 AM on October 19, 2006




I would hope that a faculty member (fully tenored) would then put the sign up on their door. If it were then taken down, Marquette will then need to become .com and not .edu.

Without that happening, this is still disturbing a University would react this way. (Right now it is one Dept. Chairman, but I am not hearing the President say anything...)
posted by fluffycreature at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2006


I'm guessing these Marquette guys look the other way when they see a sign that says "kill all muslims".
posted by wfc123 at 10:38 AM on October 19, 2006


I'm a little rusty on my Constitutional law, but where is the reference to "free speech zones" in that document, and how does it define them?

If the university is private, they have a right to control speech on their property the same way that your employer has the right to control speech inside their building. I think. Not sure.
posted by spicynuts at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2006


You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Free-speech Zone. But we’ll still need to see your papers, citizen.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:41 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Guys, the free speech zone is just a little behind you. Little more. Little more. Perfect.

/springs trap door
posted by fleetmouse at 10:45 AM on October 19, 2006


A free speech zone means you have the right to say "fuck you." To yourself. While you sit in there.

You can come out when you are ready to behave.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


"This incident at Marquette is part of a truly disturbing trend," Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), said in a release.

Freedom of speech does not include the right to quote FIRE in a crowded topic.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2006 [4 favorites]


You know, he could always just sue the school. But of course, that would jeopardize his bid for tenure. Oh, but when he gets tenure, baby! Look out!!

From my perspective (working at a small liberal arts college in Ohio), most - and I say most, not all - academics are weak-kneed, desperate, lacking integrity, and more than willing to stomp over their fellow faculty members; with a smile on their face, they will happily lay down for any issue presented by the administration in order to either further or maintain their career. In a majority of conflicts, politics and a desire to maintain a perceived status quo trumps common sense and the integrity of the school/department/student, including issues regarding speech, active discrimination, and other seemingly unconstitutional infractions.
posted by billysumday at 10:48 AM on October 19, 2006


"Free speech zones" are defined in case law, specifically with respect to college campuses, malls, and Presidential events. (It's one of those things we have to be fearful of the federal government for -- activist judges!)

Basically, it supposedly balances the private property rights of the landowner with the First Amendment. In exchange for having their rights protected most everywhere, campuses and shopping centers are allowed to designate "reasonable" free speech zones where they don't impose restrictions. There isn't much telling them how big they can be or how many there are.
posted by dhartung at 10:52 AM on October 19, 2006


most - and I say most, not all - academics are weak-kneed, desperate, lacking integrity, and more than willing to stomp over their fellow faculty members; with a smile on their face

How is this different from the corporate world?
posted by spicynuts at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


Big deal. Just replace it with a different Dave Barry quote.

"It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent."

Boy, ain't that the truth...
posted by jefbla at 11:04 AM on October 19, 2006


I'm Al Keider, and I approve this message.
posted by Mister_A at 11:05 AM on October 19, 2006


how many of you/us are at work? Are you in your free speech zone?
posted by edgeways at 11:09 AM on October 19, 2006


most - and I say most, not all - academics are weak-kneed, desperate, lacking integrity, and more than willing to stomp over their fellow faculty members; with a smile on their face

How is this different from the corporate world?
posted by spicynuts at 11:02 AM PST on October 19


Well, there you go - universities and colleges are just like corporations. Somehow, though, I bet you'd get an argument from an academic that that's not the case.
posted by billysumday at 11:12 AM on October 19, 2006


According to the university policy South quoted in his email to Distler, student teachers are allowed to participate in free speech "when he/she speaks or writes as a citizen," but when speaking or writing as a teacher, the university "imposes special obligations."

Does it mean that if he appends a disclaimer to that quotation on his door that says something like, "I display/approve this quote as a citizen, not as a teacher of this institution.", he is good to go ?
posted by forwebsites at 11:12 AM on October 19, 2006


Im afraid of americans
Im afraid of the world
Im afraid I cant help it
Im afraid I cant...

sorry... Bowie just seemed really appropriate right now...
posted by Doorstop at 11:16 AM on October 19, 2006


I find the very concept of 'Free Speech zones' appalling. I honestly wonder how different the United States would be if during the anti-Vietnam and civil rights protests, people had been corralled into fenced off areas.

I get that there are issues about it on private property; shopping malls, privates schools, etc. But even then as long as that free speech doesn't overtly interfere with the commerce of the mall or education of the students, there should be every effort made to allow people to express themselves.
posted by quin at 11:22 AM on October 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


It's political correctness gone mad!

Oh, wait. It's only political correctness gone mad when it's a conservative being told to shut up by a liberal.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:26 AM on October 19, 2006


On Sept. 5, Philosophy Department Chairman James South informed Distler via email that the sign had been taken down because it was "patently offensive."

Alrighty, the next logical action is to incite a legal battle to decide the meaning of the words "patent" and "offensive". No, actually, let's just put in some grunt work and start with "aardvark" and proceed to "zymurgy". We can have a judicially approved language to start off, then we can start deciding which words or combinations thereof should be subjected to the free speech zoning ordinances. Speaking of which, we need to decide whether they will be "anything goes" versus "obey your master" type zones, or whether there will be shades of gray, such as "no criticism of authority" zones. We really need to get this ball rolling, folks.
posted by aliasless at 11:28 AM on October 19, 2006


"The real University is not a material object. It is not a group of buildings that can be defended by police. He explained that when a college lost its accreditation, nobody came and shut down the school. There were no legal penalties, no fines, no jail sentences. Classes did not stop. Everything went on just as before. Students got the same education they would if the school didn’t lose its accreditation. All that would happen, Phædrus said, would simply be an official recognition of a condition that already existed."

--ZMM
posted by ZenMasterThis at 11:30 AM on October 19, 2006


Though on further reflection, I don't know that this was necessarily a violation of his freedom of speech. The First Amendment protects our speech from the government or one of it's agencies trying to silence us. If this was his employer, I don't know that the Fist Amendment applies. (Whether or not it should apply is a different story.)
posted by quin at 11:31 AM on October 19, 2006


The First Amendment protects our speech from the government or one of it's agencies trying to silence us. If this was his employer, I don't know that the Fist Amendment applies.

Indeed. Now, had it been a student with a t-shirt that said something about the government or Bush or anything else that Herr South disliked, then you'd have some serious ACLU ass kicking going on. Employees are not afforded First Amendment rights during business hours.
posted by spicynuts at 11:34 AM on October 19, 2006


I don't know that the Fist Amendment applies.

I can think of quite a few people to whom I'd like to apply a Fist Amendment.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:37 AM on October 19, 2006


It amazes me that anyone would find that statement "patently offensive." Humorous? yes. Mildly offensive to some people? perhaps. Patently offensive? hardly.
posted by caddis at 11:40 AM on October 19, 2006


Actually, I'm pretty sure this is an application of the Frist Amendment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:56 AM on October 19, 2006


Actually, I'm pretty sure this is an application of the Frist Amendment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:58 AM on October 19, 2006


If it were then taken down, Marquette will then need to become .com and not .edu.

Most universities have been desperately straining to become, in spirit if not in literal fact, .com rather than .edu for some time now. This is why research that doesn't immediately lead to the generation of money has been gutted over the last thirty years or so.

We are pack mammals. As such we organize ourselves into packs and meta-packs, chunked into social classes. We might make individual exceptions, but largely, our treatment of people is based on where it is in the pack structure that we perceive them to fit. An academic, however eminent, is an "employee" in the minds of school administrators, and therefore is expected to show throat. When he does not do so (because in his mind, they are far below his social class), administrators react with fear and anger, and immediately move to intimidate the academic.

Over the last fifty years at least, a social meme has been changing the pack/class structure. (1) Everything, except that which is excluded by point 3, can be viewed as having owner(s), a dollar value, an income, and an outgo. (2) Class borders are now almost exclusively monetary, to the point where present fiscal value trumps race, recent immigration. The merchant is accepted with open arms into the upper class, so long as he remains comparably wealthy. Members of the long-term upper class no longer consider it declasse to sell real estate to merchants. Upper class members whose wealth is no longer comparable to wealthy merchants--and even those whose wealth is comparable, but who do not work for a living--are accordingly forced down-class through buyups of expensive real estate, at prices it would be "foolish" (see point 1.) to refuse. Universities count as real estate, for such purposes. (3) The social values of the nouveau-riche merchant class can be summed up as (a) a very strong deprecation of anything "controversial", anything that might in any way cause the formation of an opinion that would lead the buyer to refuse to buy from the merchant on emotional grounds. If you must express opinions, or engage in "controversial" behavior, then you should do so in private. Thus the hostility to blogs. Thus the hostility to liberalism. Thus the submissive stance towards complainers, however idiotic: bowing and scraping and falling over oneself to "address complaints". Thus the hostility to free journalism. (b) Members of this class are always "on the clock", in their minds, and judge their families and employees accordingly. They see the behavior of any inferiors for whom they are responsible as reflecting directly on themselves. Thus intrusive employment contracts. Thus hostility to welfare, or any other treatment of the lower classes that does not make them preferably into peons, or otherwise, cause them to disappear.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 12:00 PM on October 19, 2006 [3 favorites]


Once again, free speech != 1st amendment.

A violation of constitutional rights? No. A violation of free speech (as a good policy that should be enacted by any University to facilitate academic inquiry and necessary dissent, especially in a philosophy department, at least to the extent that it protects passive, non-intrusive, non-disruptive speech such as a posting on a bulletin board)? Absolutely. And the department chair has the chutzpah to claim that he's a "strong supporter of academic freedom?" Shame on this school for such bogus anti-intellectual horseshit.
posted by SBMike at 12:02 PM on October 19, 2006


Once again, free speech != 1st amendment.

Noted. I struck the firstamendment tag.
posted by EarBucket at 12:35 PM on October 19, 2006


most - and I say most, not all - academics are weak-kneed, desperate, lacking integrity, and more than willing to stomp over their fellow faculty members; with a smile on their face

How is this different from the corporate world?
posted by spicynuts at 11:02 AM PST on October 19


Well, there you go - universities and colleges are just like corporations. Somehow, though, I bet you'd get an argument from an academic that that's not the case.
posted by billysumday at 11:12 AM PST on October 19



As an academic, I'd certainly argue that that's not the case, as would you (I infer). But I think spicynuts is not equating universities with corporations, but rather saying that people are mostly the same no matter what they do for a living, or what "world" in which they work. You wouldn't make a bad living betting on people's consistent selfish spinelessness in any setting.

The biggest problem facing universities, as pointed out upthread, isn't a lack of free and open discourse among academics, but the corruption of the business paradigm among adminstrators.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:13 PM on October 19, 2006


The quote from Dave Barry seems quite appropriate from him, because Advocates for Self-Government lists him as a celebrity libertarian and a close friend of the libertarian economist, Sheldon Richman. Dave Barry may be a genial goofball, but he has some very staunch antistatist beliefs.
posted by jonp72 at 1:14 PM on October 19, 2006


Me, speaking to my grandchildren... When I was your age, a man could speak his mind whenever and wherever he liked. We used to have this thing...called the Constitution...made it the law. None of that dagnab "Free Speech Zone" nonsense. No sir!
Grandchildren, making that "Grandpa is nuts" motion Suuuure you did, Grandpa. Now move back into the FSZ circle before the Thought-Cops see you.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:37 PM on October 19, 2006


most - and I say most, not all - academics are weak-kneed, desperate, lacking integrity, and more than willing to stomp over their fellow faculty members;
Well, that's the death of tenure for you. Long live the $25,000/year one-year contracted adjunct assistant professor!
posted by DenOfSizer at 2:50 PM on October 19, 2006


It wasn't that long ago that Republicans huffed-and puffed about Federal tyranny (Waco, Ruby Ridge, black helicopters in general). Now, they're slavish devotees to power for its own sake, especially that of the Executive branch. The difference? Mostly who's POTUS, but also who's running Congress.

Which is a long way of saying, yet again, IOKIYAR.
posted by bardic at 3:24 PM on October 19, 2006


A. those sentiments mirror Thomas Jeffersons'
B. Arthur Butz
(Northwestern is a class act)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:05 PM on October 19, 2006


Also ever notice the bastards always 'turtle' first?

"While I'm a strong supporter of 'X,' ahmana have to do something completely contrary to it"

(Btw bardic, lotsa folks who were pissed off by the federal tyranny in those examples feel they have been beached by Bushco, but wouldn't be the first time politicians postured to gain power - 'Villians ye are and villians ye will remain')
posted by Smedleyman at 5:10 PM on October 19, 2006


It wasn't that long ago that Republicans huffed-and puffed about Federal tyranny (Waco, Ruby Ridge, black helicopters in general)

Eh, that was all a bullshit pose to get the mouthbreathers to vote the Democrats out of office. Seriously, did you think that Tom Delay and Dick Cheney gave more of a fuck about some ex-guitar playing nutjob with a messiah complex, or some separatist asshole in the woods of Idaho than Janet Reno did?

As for references to the Constitution, I know what Marquette did in this case isn't unconstitutional, I was just struck by the administrator's use of the Orwellian "free speech zone". As much eye rolling is it induced around the 2004 conventions, I found it especially jarring in the context of an academic setting.
posted by psmealey at 5:13 PM on October 19, 2006


If it was bullshit, it was bullshit that worked incredibly well. If I could discover the magic behind the meme that Dems are crooked politicians out to get you, while Republicans are crooked politicians out to get you but they like NASCAR so they must be OK, the DNC would pay me at least a million dollars.
posted by bardic at 6:00 PM on October 19, 2006


And I'm a Dem who likes NASCAR, so I should be made king as well. Get to work, America.
posted by bardic at 6:05 PM on October 19, 2006


Philosophy Department Chairman James South . . .

The philosophy dept did this? There's got to be some irony or something like irony to this fact . . . but I've just lost the morale I'd need to find it.
posted by treepour at 6:12 PM on October 19, 2006


This guy, Lukianoff (from FIRE) refered to the quotation in question as a "harmless joke". WTF?

A joke? I don't find it remotely funny. I consider it a statement of fact. Perhaps a fact that we didn't need to think of much, prior to December 2000, but a fact none the less.
posted by Goofyy at 11:50 PM on October 19, 2006


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