April 5, 2016

AS DO ALL THINKING PEOPLE: Chicago Tribune editorial takes aim at campus free speech codes.

Conservative newspapers aren’t the only ones taking notice of the long, slow, humiliating death of free speech occurring on college campuses across the country.

In an editorial, the moderate Chicago Tribune has taken schools to task for the erosion of free speech rights, writing that “free expression is not faring well on American college campuses these days.” After acknowledging that no one is suggesting students be able to spew racial or misogynist sentiments, the Tribune’s editorial board suggested schools be wary of going too far when it comes to cracking down on speech.

“But it’s important not to go so far in protecting undergraduates that they lose the spontaneous and open interactions they need to understand the world and the society in which they live,” the Tribune wrote. “An education that spares students from unwanted challenges to their thinking is not much of an education.”

While noting that some schools have taken at least tepid stances against college snowflakes, the Tribune praised the University of Chicago, which issued a statement last year strongly supporting debate and free speech.

“[D]ebate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the university community to be offensive, unwise, immoral or wrong-headed,” UC wrote.

Part of the problem, the Tribune wrote, is an overly broad definition of “hostile environment” and “harassment” that have come from the Obama administration’s Education Department. Recently, the American Association of University Professors condemned this broadening of the definitions and the consequences that have come from it.

There’s nothing in Title IX that actually supports this definition. That’s entirely the creature of the Education Department’s fanciful “interpretation.”

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