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  • January 23, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    In a 2007 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Larry David’s troubles started when he expressed outrage at someone else’s use of the word “nigger.” Where did Larry go wrong? In decrying the perjorative use of the word “nigger,” he repeated the word “nigger.” His sin was not referring to it as the “N-word,” I guess.

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  • January 14, 2008
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    My mother believed firmly in civility: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything,” she plaintively advised; but even she didn’t take this maxim literally. My mother was smarter and more tolerant of dissent than a lot of college administrators today, who seem to regard graciousness as the highest educational value.

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  • December 11, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Once college students risked their lives challenging segregation and participating in voter registration drives in the deep South. Today, on many campuses, students fight for the right not to be offended, with the support and encouragement of college and university administrators. The hysteria about racial or ethnic slights and presumptively offensive speech that reigns on so many campuses is explored and exemplified by a recent article in the Boston Globe

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  • November 20, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By James F. Tierney

    Two weeks ago, Harvey Silverglate blogged about a federal Magistrate Judge, Wayne Brazil, who overturned a “civility code” at San Francisco State University on the grounds that it targeted speech and expression that falls under the protection of the First Amendment. (The case was brought by the officers of SFSU's College Republicans, who were investigated under the civility code when students complained they had insulted Muslims by stepping on the Hamas and Hezbollah flags -- which contain the word “Allah” in Arabic script -- during an anti-terrorism rally.

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  • November 15, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    By Harvey Silverglate

    H. L. Mencken, late in life, allowed himself to be interviewed by a young reporter from his hometown newspaper. The interviewer asked the grand old curmudgeon, "why, if you find so much that is unworthy of reverence in the United States, do you continue to live here?" Mencken answered the query with another question: “Why do people visit zoos?” Well, living right smack in the middle of the zoo that Harvard has become in its dotage, I now understand Mencken’s reasoning perfectly.

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  • November 08, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Free thought, free speech, and common sense are once again under attack at Brandeis, according to the Brandeis Hoot. Professor Donald Hindley has been accused of making a racist remark in class and ordered to submit to an anti-discrimination training course and the presence of a monitor in his class. In finding Hindley guilty and imposing punishment, the administration reportedly “acted on a single complaint and the results of a secret investigation that it undertook without Hindley’s knowledge.” We’ll be following the story.

  • November 04, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    University of Delaware President Patrick Harker grudgungly terminated the ideological re-education program exposed by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (and reported here last week.) FIRE has the story, which includes troubling accounts of threatened retaliation against students who declined to defend the now defunct "residence life" program and to demonize FIRE as an ideologically biased, conservative organization.

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  • November 01, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Earlier this week, a smart, worldly civil libertarian queried me about an email reporting that Harvard Law School had expelled a student for indirectly citing a work by a Holocaust denier in a paper about the Nazi’s judicial regime. The report was easily exposed as satire; but serious people took it seriously enough to wonder if it were true, and that was telling.

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  • October 23, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    Scholars have for centuries sought to define and promote the concept of academic freedom, and, while the exact definitions they’ve arrived at have varied, the underlying rationale has always been the same: to shield academics from political and religious pressure. For this reason, I’m a bit puzzled by the fact that many of the modern-day groups that describe themselves as defenders of academic freedom are also clearly political in nature and often seem to be promoting a political agenda rather than neutral principles of liberty.

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  • October 18, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    When the Anti Defamation League objects to blackballing a speaker accused of anti-Semitism, you know the speech police have gone too far. So it wasn’t surprising when the president of St. Thomas College in Minnesota apologized for vetoing a speaking invitation to Nobel laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a sometime critic of Israel.

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  • October 11, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    Hamline University prides itself on its commitment to diversity. Its website boasts that “Hamline’s five schools have more than 4,500 students, and each one of these students is different …Hamline isn’t a place where you ‘fit in,’ conforming to the Hamline mold. Rather, Hamline ‘fits in’ you, welcoming your unique contributions and valuing who you are.

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  • October 03, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    Thanks to Hillary Clinton, Wellesley retains a certain cachet, but most women’s colleges have suffered predictable declines in popularity and prestige since the late 1960s, when the top men’s school became coed. By the late 1990s, only 1.3% of all women receiving B.A. degrees were graduates of women’s colleges. Some single sex schools, (like Vassar and Skidmore) joined a trend they could not beat and began admitting men; others, like my alma mater, Smith College, struggled to find new raison d’etres: Smith offers an engineering program and boasts of the superior science education it provides for female students.

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  • September 24, 2007
    By Wendy Kaminer
    By Wendy Kaminer

    I can’t say I’m surprised by the enraged comments on my post on the Armenian genocide debate, below. I criticized the decision to boycott an ADL anti-bias program because ADL president Abe Foxman belatedly called the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians “tantamount to genocide,” and I questioned the wisdom of providing reparations to people whose distant descendents were the victims of genocide, or other state sanctioned crimes.

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  • September 18, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate
    A recent Princeton graduate, Christian C. Sahner, who just completed a fellowship at The Wall Street Journal, wrote a departing op-ed on September 5th, titled “Sexed Up Sex-Ed”, in which he complained about a mandatory freshman orientation presentation at Princeton that dramatizes the nature and degrees of consensual and nonconsensual sex among undergraduates.

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  • September 12, 2007
    By Harvey Silverglate

    A trend I refer to as the “corporatization” of the modern American university popped up the other day in a different context than the usual degradation of the academic curriculum or the punishment of free speech and academic freedom. It showed up in the architecture of the recently opened student center at the University of Vermont in Burlington

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