Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Universities set dangerous precedent in cancelling conservative speakers out of fear for causing others to become targets

We’re not willing to risk anyone’s safety”.  Susan Svrluga writes in the Washington Post about the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) recent refusal to allow a “white nationalist” (Richard Spencer) to speak on campus.  That story links to an earlier Metro Section story today about the dilemma universities face when controversial speakers, especially conservatives, want to hold “free speech” rallies. 

Campus Reform reports that Milo Yiannopoulos will spend hundreds of thousands on security for his proposed rally at Berkeley.  Has he made that much from “Dangerous”?  It’s not that easy to do this with self-publishing.  I know because I do this myself with the “Do Ask Do Tell” series.  

All of this highlights an metastasizing problem:  schools and companies fear liability if they allow a “controversial” party a voice on campus and combative elements (like Antifa) harm their customers.  It’s a new kind of liability, for “causing” others to be targeted over a political issue when the property owner knows the speaker has a combative or militant adversary.  It’s a sort of hostage taking, or heckler’s veto.

This concept could spread quickly. Would landlords be liable for letting a controversial figure live in the building?  And what is controversial?  I understand that the KKK is unacceptable to most people (more or less like ISIS).  But, in fact, most of Milo Yiannopoulos’s writings (if you bother to read them) are actually rather reasonable;  he simply attacks individual dependency on “identity politics” and “intersectionality”.  True, Milo goes over the top with some of his antics and hyperbole (his video on hazing), which I personally take as just that but which some minorities don’t find funny. But then protesters turned on libertarian writer Charles Murray, for his willingness to talk about biology and race, in the past.  Where does it stop?

All of this hooks up to the concept of “implicit content” (previous post) and “gratuitous publication” (designed to attract attention or cause emotional provocation without a paying customer to carry its risk).

Then there is the bizarre AP story of Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the New York Times for defamation for blaming her for “political incitement” before the Virginia baseball field shooting by a left-wing extremist, thrown out of court, but the concept is Milo-dangerous (Bloomberg ).   The New York Times published an excerpt from the Judge’s ruling. 

Update:  Aug 31

Now Ryerson University in Toronto has cancelled a free-speech event out of security concerns, as in this story.   James Turk wrote a guest blog post for Rick Sincere, here.  The left chants "this shit stops now ... either you're with us or against us." 

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