Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A college administrator nails free speech

One of the criticisms lobbed at old-school journalism is that corrections never get as much attention as the original stories. Well, that rule applies to the blogosphere as well and I want to do my part to give an important update.

I also want to give credit to a college administrator for bucking the trend and making a real contribution to the public discussion of free speech.

Last week a letter to students from U.C. Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks drew ire from first amendment circles because it seemed to say that he thought free speech needs to be civil. Well, Dirks read that criticism and issued a second statement to clarify his position.

My message was intended to re-affirm values that have for years been understood as foundational to this campus community. As I also noted in my message, these values can exist in tension with each other, and there are continuing and serious debates about fundamental issues related to them. In invoking my hope that commitments to civility and to freedom of speech can complement each other, I did not mean to suggest any constraint on freedom of speech, nor did I mean to compromise in any way our commitment to academic freedom, as defined both by this campus and the American Association of University Professors.


I'm used to seeing college administrators go the wrong way on free speech issues, and Dirks made some great nuanced points.

Hat tip to free speech crusader Ken White for the link.

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