“One has to wonder what kind of ‘awareness’ Islamic Awareness Week was intended to cultivate. Evidently, a free and frank discussion wasn’t - and isn’t - a welcome outcome. And one has to wonder exactly when students became so delicate and so allergic to dissent, even to matters of historical fact.”
Further to this post and this one, Lepton has steered my attention to another example of censorship in the name of religious ‘sensitivity’. From an article by Greg Lukianoff, president of the campus free speech campaign group, Fire:
“Today, Fire announced the decision by a disciplinary panel at Tufts [University] to find the conservative student newspaper, The Primary Source, guilty of ‘harassment’ for, among other things, publishing a satirical ad that listed less-than-flattering facts about Islam during Tufts’ Islamic Awareness Week.”
The advert, available here, suggests a week of alternative discussion topics to “supplement the educational experience.” Topics include slavery in Islamic history, intolerance of criticism, the treatment of gay people and the role of women under Islamic law.
“So does this paint Islam in a nice light? No. Is it one-sided? Yes, but that was kind of the point. The students were responding to what they thought was a one-sided and overly rosy depiction of Islam during Islamic Awareness Week. But is it unprotected harassment? One certainly hopes not, or else ‘harassment’ just became a truly lethal threat to free speech - an ‘exception’ that completely swallows the rule.
This is perhaps the most troubling and far-reaching aspect of this case. The Primary Source published a satirical ad filled with factual assertions and because this angered people it was ruled to be unprotected harassment. If what the complaining students wanted to say was that the TPS facts were wrong, then - while this still would not be harassment - that could have been an interesting debate. But instead… the students ploughed ahead with a harassment claim that, based on the hearing panel’s decision, appeared not even to raise the issue of whether or not the statements in the ad were true, but turned only on how they made people feel…”
So, a panel of faculty and students will not permit “attitudes or opinions” that are deemed – tendentiously - to constitute “harassment” and to create a “hostile environment.” Even when that “harassment” takes the form of factual statements which those complaining, including the University’s Muslim Students Association, have yet to refute. One therefore has to wonder what kind of “awareness” Islamic Awareness Week was intended to cultivate. Evidently, a free and frank discussion wasn’t - and isn’t - a welcome outcome. And one has to wonder exactly when students became so delicate and so allergic to dissent, even to matters of historical fact.
Oddly, the Tufts panel doesn’t appear concerned by the “hostile environment” created by institutional censorship and denial. Nor does it seem troubled by the conflict between the panel’s judgment and the University’s own stated belief in “foster[ing] an intellectual climate in which students feel free to express their thoughts, however controversial.” On a number of campuses, here and overseas, practised victimhood and misplaced sentimentality now trump the testing of ideas. And when facts and feelings are at odds it seems that feelings will prevail - at least when those feelings are declared by members of certain favoured groups.
Speak freely via the comments. Update: Fear and Hate. Two definitions of “hate speech”.