Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Small worldism: Instapundit blogs (quite rightly), of course) against the idea of Harvard Law adopting a speech code governing in-class discussions, and approvingly refers to my own University of Chicago's policy on such matters, which I've quoted several times in Campus Watch discussions. A longer segment of the policy is as follows:

"At the University of Chicago, freedom of expression is vital to our shared goal of the pursuit of knowledge, as is the right of all members of the community to explore new ideas and learn from one another. To preserve an environment of spirited and open debate, we should all have the opportunity to contribute to intellectual exchanges and participate fully in the life of the University.

"The ideas of different members of the University community will frequently conflict and we do not attempt to shield people from ideas that they may find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even offensive. Nor, as a general rule, does the University intervene to enforce social standards of civility."

(For some internal administrative reasons I now know these words almost by heart; we talk about them, and about the principles behind them, a lot around here.)

This story came to light thanks to the efforts of the Boston Globe's crack higher-education correspondent, Patrick Healey, whom I've known personally if casually for many years. (Patrick also broke the Harvard grade-inflation story last year.) I knew him through mutual friends at Brown, my alma mater; and Brown's in the blog-news today, too as Tapped and Instapundit rightly praise President Ruth Simmons for her understanding and defense of free debate on campus. (Note that the they're praising took place more than a year ago-- not that that makes it less praiseworthy, but sometimes the seamlessness of blog-linking makes old stories appear new.)

I'll say for the record that the regulation of merely offensive speech in classroom settings is an utterly noxious idea. I shan't blog about it at length at the moment, though; I'm just disappointed that this isn't as obvious at Harvard as it is to me...

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