Is Free Speech On College Campuses At Risk? | NBC News Now

Is Free Speech On College Campuses At Risk? | NBC News Now

August 22, 2019 5 By Stanley Isaacs


>>>A COLLECTIVE OF NONPARTISAN>>>A COLLECTIVE OF NONPARTISAN EDUCATORS WHO ARE CONCERNED EDUCATORS WHO ARE CONCERNED ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN HIGHER ABOUT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN HIGHER LEARNING TODAY. LEARNING TODAY.>>I JUST RECEIVED A CALL FROM>>I JUST RECEIVED A CALL FROM SECRETARY CLINTON. SECRETARY CLINTON.>>THEN CAME THE 2016 ELECTIONS.>>THEN CAME THE 2016 ELECTIONS. POLARIZATION SPREAD. POLARIZATION SPREAD. I READ HIS BOOK AND WANTED TO I READ HIS BOOK AND WANTED TO HEAR MORE. HEAR MORE. SO I SPOKE WITH JONATHAN AT THE SO I SPOKE WITH JONATHAN AT THE ANNUAL ACADEMY CONFERENCE IN NEW ANNUAL ACADEMY CONFERENCE IN NEW YORK CITY. YORK CITY. I AM SO EXCITED TO BE HERE I AM SO EXCITED TO BE HERE CHATTING WITH YOU AT THE ACADEMY CHATTING WITH YOU AT THE ACADEMY CONFERENCE. CONFERENCE. WHAT KIND OF A DISTANCE ARE THE WHAT KIND OF A DISTANCE ARE THE PEOPLE HERE AT THIS CONFERENCE PEOPLE HERE AT THIS CONFERENCE NEEDING ON THEIR COLLEGE NEEDING ON THEIR COLLEGE CAMPUSES? CAMPUSES?>>THERE’S A LOT OF ATTENTION IN>>THERE’S A LOT OF ATTENTION IN THE NEWS MEDIA TO SHOUTDOWNS AND THE NEWS MEDIA TO SHOUTDOWNS AND PROTESTS. PROTESTS. THAT’S JUST THE TIP OF THE THAT’S JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. ICEBERG. IF A VISITING SPEAKER COMES TO IF A VISITING SPEAKER COMES TO CAMPUS THEY MIGHT BE SHOUTED CAMPUS THEY MIGHT BE SHOUTED DOWN. DOWN. THE REAL THING THAT IS AFFECTING THE REAL THING THAT IS AFFECTING US IS THE SELF-CENSORSHIP US IS THE SELF-CENSORSHIP BECAUSE OF THE SOCIAL COST. BECAUSE OF THE SOCIAL COST. THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN A THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS IN A SOCIETY WHEN CERTAIN IDEAS SOCIETY WHEN CERTAIN IDEAS ATTAIN THE STATUS OF ORTHODOXY. ATTAIN THE STATUS OF ORTHODOXY. PEOPLE WHO QUESTION THEM WILL BE PEOPLE WHO QUESTION THEM WILL BE SHAMED, SHUNNED AND EXCLUDED. SHAMED, SHUNNED AND EXCLUDED. IF WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING IF WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ANYTHING CONTROVERSIAL IN CLASS, PEOPLE CONTROVERSIAL IN CLASS, PEOPLE ARE AFRAID IF THEY QUESTION THE ARE AFRAID IF THEY QUESTION THE DOMINANT IDEA ABOUT GENDER OR DOMINANT IDEA ABOUT GENDER OR GENDER DIFFERENCES OR GENDER DIFFERENCES OR IMMIGRATION OR MINIMUM WAGE OR IMMIGRATION OR MINIMUM WAGE OR ANYTHING, SOMEONE WILL SAY NOT ANYTHING, SOMEONE WILL SAY NOT OH YOU’RE WRONG, BUT OH YOU’RE A OH YOU’RE WRONG, BUT OH YOU’RE A BAD PERSON OR THAT’S RACIST OR BAD PERSON OR THAT’S RACIST OR SEXIST OR HOMOPHOBIC. SEXIST OR HOMOPHOBIC. SO THE STUDENTS ARE MORE AFRAID. SO THE STUDENTS ARE MORE AFRAID. EVERYONE’S SCARED TO CHALLENGE. EVERYONE’S SCARED TO CHALLENGE. WHY BOTHER COMING TO UNIVERSITY? WHY BOTHER COMING TO UNIVERSITY? THE CREDIT GOES TO MY COAUTHOR. THE CREDIT GOES TO MY COAUTHOR. HE’S THE PRESIDENT OF THE HE’S THE PRESIDENT OF THE FOUNDATION OF INDIVIDUALS RIGHTS FOUNDATION OF INDIVIDUALS RIGHTS AND EDUCATION. AND EDUCATION. HE’S THE ONE WHO FIRST DIAGNOSED HE’S THE ONE WHO FIRST DIAGNOSED WHAT WAS HAPPENING. WHAT WAS HAPPENING. HE SAID WHAT’S GOING ON, HOW ARE HE SAID WHAT’S GOING ON, HOW ARE COLLEGES TEACHING STUDENTS TO DO COLLEGES TEACHING STUDENTS TO DO KA TASCATASTROPHE KA TASCATASTROPHE CATASTROPHIZING. CATASTROPHIZING.>>THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO FEEL>>THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO FEEL THAT THE ISSUE IS OVERBLOWN. THAT THE ISSUE IS OVERBLOWN. THEY FEEL THERE IS NO FREE THEY FEEL THERE IS NO FREE SPEECH ISSUE ON COLLEGE SPEECH ISSUE ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES. CAMPUSES. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO THOSE PEOPLE? PEOPLE?>>A POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR>>A POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR IN CANADA JEFF SACKS ARGUED IT’S IN CANADA JEFF SACKS ARGUED IT’S NOT MOST STUDENTS, IT’S NOT MOST NOT MOST STUDENTS, IT’S NOT MOST CAMPUSES. CAMPUSES. HE WAS RIGHT. HE WAS RIGHT. THERE ARE 4700 SCHOOLS IN THE THERE ARE 4700 SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES. UNITED STATES. THEY’RE NOT VERY POLITICAL. THEY’RE NOT VERY POLITICAL. THE STUDENTS ARE THERE TO GET AN THE STUDENTS ARE THERE TO GET AN EDUCATION. EDUCATION. THEY’RE NOT OUT PROTESTING. THEY’RE NOT OUT PROTESTING. SO AT MOST SCHOOLS THIS STUFF IS SO AT MOST SCHOOLS THIS STUFF IS NOT HAPPENING. NOT HAPPENING. WHAT IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE IS WHAT IS HAPPENING EVERYWHERE IS A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. A MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS. WE CAN COME BACK TO THAT. WE CAN COME BACK TO THAT. THE SHOUTDOWNS, THE SHAMING IS THE SHOUTDOWNS, THE SHAMING IS NOT AT MOST SCHOOLS BUT IT IS AT NOT AT MOST SCHOOLS BUT IT IS AT MOST ELITE SCHOOLS. MOST ELITE SCHOOLS. I’VE GONE AROUND THE COUNTRY. I’VE GONE AROUND THE COUNTRY. AT ELITE SCHOOLS I DESCRIBE AT ELITE SCHOOLS I DESCRIBE CALL-OUT CULTURE AND I ASK FOR A CALL-OUT CULTURE AND I ASK FOR A SHOW OF HANDS. SHOW OF HANDS. YOU GET LARGE NUMBERS SAYING, YOU GET LARGE NUMBERS SAYING, YES, THIS IS THE CULTURE HERE. YES, THIS IS THE CULTURE HERE. THE WAY TO RESPOND IS IT’S NOT THE WAY TO RESPOND IS IT’S NOT EVERYWHERE. EVERYWHERE. IT’S NOT A NATIONAL CRISIS. IT’S NOT A NATIONAL CRISIS. BUT IT IS A SEVERE PROBLEM AT BUT IT IS A SEVERE PROBLEM AT MANY OF OUR MOST IMPORTANT MANY OF OUR MOST IMPORTANT SCHOOLS. SCHOOLS. STUDENTS ROUTINELY SAY THEY’RE STUDENTS ROUTINELY SAY THEY’RE AFRAID TO SPEAK UP. AFRAID TO SPEAK UP. IF YOU KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE IF YOU KEEP YOUR EYE ON THE SELF-CENSORSHIP RATHER THAN THE SELF-CENSORSHIP RATHER THAN THE SHOUTDOWN, THEN I THINK IT IS A SHOUTDOWN, THEN I THINK IT IS A CRISIS. CRISIS.>>THE CONCEPT OF SAFE SPACES>>THE CONCEPT OF SAFE SPACES AND TRIGGER WARNINGS. AND TRIGGER WARNINGS. YOU ACTUALLY SAY THESE CONCEPTS YOU ACTUALLY SAY THESE CONCEPTS ARE NOT GROUNDED IN ARE NOT GROUNDED IN PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH. PSYCHOLOGICAL RESEARCH. WHY? WHY?>>SAFE SPACES AND TRIGGER>>SAFE SPACES AND TRIGGER WARNINGS MAKE A LOT OF SENSE IF WARNINGS MAKE A LOT OF SENSE IF YOU DON’T REALLY KNOW MUCH ABOUT YOU DON’T REALLY KNOW MUCH ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY. PSYCHOLOGY. IF YOU HAVE THE IDEA THAT IF YOU HAVE THE IDEA THAT STUDENTS ARE FRAGILE, THAT A LOT STUDENTS ARE FRAGILE, THAT A LOT HAVE SUFFERED TRAUMA, THIS IS HAVE SUFFERED TRAUMA, THIS IS CERTAINLY TRUE. CERTAINLY TRUE. AND IF PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED AND IF PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED TRAUMA, WE NEED TO PROTECT THEM TRAUMA, WE NEED TO PROTECT THEM FROM REMINDERS OF THE TRAUMA. FROM REMINDERS OF THE TRAUMA. THAT SOUNDS RIGHT, BUT IT’S NOT. THAT SOUNDS RIGHT, BUT IT’S NOT. THE BASIC LOGIC OF FEAR IS THE BASIC LOGIC OF FEAR IS PAVLOVIAN. PAVLOVIAN. IF A PERSON HAS EXPERIENCED IF A PERSON HAS EXPERIENCED TRAUMA, YOU DON’T WANT TO TRAUMA, YOU DON’T WANT TO RETRAUMATIZE THEM. RETRAUMATIZE THEM. BUT THE WAY YOU GET OVER IT IS BUT THE WAY YOU GET OVER IT IS BY BEING EXPOSED TO REMINDERS BY BEING EXPOSED TO REMINDERS THAT ARE NOT FOLLOWED BY A BAD THAT ARE NOT FOLLOWED BY A BAD OUTCOME. OUTCOME. COLLEGE IS A GREAT PLACE TO GET COLLEGE IS A GREAT PLACE TO GET OVER THESE FEARS. OVER THESE FEARS. THE WORST THING WE CAN DO IN THE WORST THING WE CAN DO IN COLLEGE IS TO CONTINUE THE COLLEGE IS TO CONTINUE THE MASSIVE OVERPROTECTION AND MASSIVE OVERPROTECTION AND THAT’S WHAT WE’RE DOING. THAT’S WHAT WE’RE DOING.>>LET’S DIG INTO YOUR BOOK THE>>LET’S DIG INTO YOUR BOOK THE CODDLING OF THE AMERICAN MIND. CODDLING OF THE AMERICAN MIND. YOU DIAGNOSIS THIS CULTURE YOU DIAGNOSIS THIS CULTURE STARTING WITH THREE UNTRUTHS. STARTING WITH THREE UNTRUTHS. WHAT ARE THEY? WHAT ARE THEY?>>THE FIRST IS WHAT DOESN’T>>THE FIRST IS WHAT DOESN’T KILL ME MAKES ME WEAKER. KILL ME MAKES ME WEAKER. HUMAN BEINGS ARE ANTI-FRAGILE. HUMAN BEINGS ARE ANTI-FRAGILE. KIDS NEED STRESS. KIDS NEED STRESS. THEY NEED CHALLENGES. THEY NEED CHALLENGES. THEY NEED CONFLICTS. THEY NEED CONFLICTS. THEY NEED TO BE TEASED, EXCLUDED THEY NEED TO BE TEASED, EXCLUDED NOT LOTS OF TIMES BUT SOMETIMES NOT LOTS OF TIMES BUT SOMETIMES IN ORDER TO LEARN HOW TO DEAL IN ORDER TO LEARN HOW TO DEAL WITH IT. WITH IT. THE SECOND GREAT UNTRUTH IS THE SECOND GREAT UNTRUTH IS ALWAYS TRUST YOUR FEELINGS. ALWAYS TRUST YOUR FEELINGS. IF I SAY SOMETHING BECAUSE THIS IF I SAY SOMETHING BECAUSE THIS IS MY EXPERIENCE, THAT’S A FACT, IS MY EXPERIENCE, THAT’S A FACT, YOU CANNOT CHALLENGE IT. YOU CANNOT CHALLENGE IT. THIS IS ANT THET CAL TO TEACHING THIS IS ANT THET CAL TO TEACHING CRITICAL THINKING. CRITICAL THINKING. THE MOST DANGEROUS OF ALL IS THE THE MOST DANGEROUS OF ALL IS THE THIRD ONE, LIFE IS A BATTLE THIRD ONE, LIFE IS A BATTLE BETWEEN GOOD PEOPLE AND EVIL BETWEEN GOOD PEOPLE AND EVIL PEOPLE. PEOPLE. THIS IS THE BASIC LOGIC OF THIS IS THE BASIC LOGIC OF TRIBALISM. TRIBALISM. IF YOU WANT TO BUILD A DIVERSE IF YOU WANT TO BUILD A DIVERSE SOCIETY, PEOPLE HAVE TO LEARN TO SOCIETY, PEOPLE HAVE TO LEARN TO GIVE EACH OVER THE BENEFIT OF GIVE EACH OVER THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT, NOT JUMP TO THE WORST THE DOUBT, NOT JUMP TO THE WORST POSSIBLE REASONING. POSSIBLE REASONING.>>ONE THING I THINK IS>>ONE THING I THINK IS CHALLENGING THAT I’M HEARING CHALLENGING THAT I’M HEARING FROM PEOPLE OF COLOR IS THEY FROM PEOPLE OF COLOR IS THEY FEEL WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN FEEL WHEN THEY HAVE BEEN OPPRESSED FOR SO LONG AND OPPRESSED FOR SO LONG AND THEY’VE HAD TO ENDURE SO MUCH., THEY’VE HAD TO ENDURE SO MUCH., IT’S DIFFICULT TO BREAK OUT OF IT’S DIFFICULT TO BREAK OUT OF THAT THINKING. THAT THINKING.>>I DO UNDERSTAND THAT.>>I DO UNDERSTAND THAT. THAT IS SOMETHING AS EVERY THAT IS SOMETHING AS EVERY INSTITUTION IS BECOMING MORE INSTITUTION IS BECOMING MORE DIVERSIFIED AND TRYING TO BE DIVERSIFIED AND TRYING TO BE MORE WELCOMING, WE CERTAINLY MORE WELCOMING, WE CERTAINLY HAVE TO THINK THROUGH ALL THOSE HAVE TO THINK THROUGH ALL THOSE ISSUES AND WE HAVE TO WELCOME ISSUES AND WE HAVE TO WELCOME INPUT FROM BLACK STUDENTS, GAY INPUT FROM BLACK STUDENTS, GAY STUDENTS. STUDENTS. FOR EXAMPLE, IF FRAT BROTHERS FOR EXAMPLE, IF FRAT BROTHERS WANT TO SING A SONG WITH THE “N” WANT TO SING A SONG WITH THE “N” WORD IN IT, YOU CAN CLAIM THE WORD IN IT, YOU CAN CLAIM THE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO FREE FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH BUT WE STILL SHOULD BE SPEECH BUT WE STILL SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXPEL YOU FROM A ABLE TO EXPEL YOU FROM A UNIVERSITY. UNIVERSITY. WE HAVE TO THINK THROUGH ALL WE HAVE TO THINK THROUGH ALL THESE ISSUES BUT WE HAVE TO THESE ISSUES BUT WE HAVE TO FOCUS ON INTENT. FOCUS ON INTENT. THIS IS A PARTICULAR MOVE THAT’S THIS IS A PARTICULAR MOVE THAT’S MADE BY SOME ACTIVISTS. MADE BY SOME ACTIVISTS. THEY SPECIFICALLY SAY, WE COVER THEY SPECIFICALLY SAY, WE COVER IT IN THE BOOK, IT’S NOT INTENT, IT IN THE BOOK, IT’S NOT INTENT, IT’S IMPACT. IT’S IMPACT. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU MEANT, ALL THAT MATTERS IS HOW I MEANT, ALL THAT MATTERS IS HOW I FELT. FELT. IF THAT’S THE CASE, EVERYONE HAS IF THAT’S THE CASE, EVERYONE HAS TO WALK ON EGGSHELLS. TO WALK ON EGGSHELLS. WE’VE ALL AGREED IT DOESN’T WE’VE ALL AGREED IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU MEANT. MATTER WHAT YOU MEANT. IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE IT DOESN’T MATTER IF YOU’RE TRYING TO BE HELPFUL. TRYING TO BE HELPFUL. ALL THAT MATTERS IS I WAS ALL THAT MATTERS IS I WAS OFFENDED AND WE HAVE A BUR OFFENDED AND WE HAVE A BUR BUREAUCRATIC PROCEDURE FOR BUREAUCRATIC PROCEDURE FOR PUNISHING YOU. PUNISHING YOU. THE FIRST IS YOU HAVE TO SOMEHOW THE FIRST IS YOU HAVE TO SOMEHOW CULTIVATE MORAL HUMILITY WHICH CULTIVATE MORAL HUMILITY WHICH IS TOUGH TO DO. IS TOUGH TO DO. SIMPLE THINGS LIKE START PI SIMPLE THINGS LIKE START PI ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE PERSON ON ACKNOWLEDGING THAT THE PERSON ON THE OTHER SIDE IS RIGHT ABOUT THE OTHER SIDE IS RIGHT ABOUT SOMETHING. SOMETHING. IT CAN BE A LITTLE TINY THING IT CAN BE A LITTLE TINY THING BUT A LITTLE BIT OF BUT A LITTLE BIT OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND YOU’VE ACKNOWLEDGMENT AND YOU’VE CHANGED THIS PERSON’S CHANGED THIS PERSON’S PSYCHOLOGY. PSYCHOLOGY. THEN THE CONVERSATION GOES SO THEN THE CONVERSATION GOES SO MUCH BETTER. MUCH BETTER. THAT’S ONE. THAT’S ONE. TWO IS WE’VE GOT TO GET A HANDLE TWO IS WE’VE GOT TO GET A HANDLE ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BY WHICH I MEAN ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BY WHICH I MEAN I THINK EVERYBODY SPENT A LOT I THINK EVERYBODY SPENT A LOT LESS TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA. LESS TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA. SOCIAL MEDIA BRINGS OUT THE SOCIAL MEDIA BRINGS OUT THE WORST IN US. WORST IN US. IT SUCKS US IN TO PETTY IT SUCKS US IN TO PETTY SQUABBLES OF US VERSUS THEM. SQUABBLES OF US VERSUS THEM. WASTES HUGE AMOUNTS OF TIME. WASTES HUGE AMOUNTS OF TIME. AGAIN, IT’S ALMOST PERFECTLY AGAIN, IT’S ALMOST PERFECTLY DESIGNED LIKE A VIRUS TO GO DESIGNED LIKE A VIRUS TO GO INSIDE AND ACTIVATE THIS ANCIENT INSIDE AND ACTIVATE THIS ANCIENT TRIBAL PROGRAMMING. TRIBAL PROGRAMMING. STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AS MUCH AS STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. YOU CAN. AND THOSE WOULD BE MY MAIN AND THOSE WOULD BE MY MAIN PIECES OF ADVICE.