Rethinking free speech on campus

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Free Speech on Campus. By Sigal Ben-Porath. University of Pennsylvania Press. 128 pages; $19.96 and £15.99.

INCITEMENT to violence is one of few exceptions the Supreme Court has carved out from America’s most celebrated constitutional right: the right to free speech. But on today’s college campuses, struggles over speech extend well beyond expression that encourages physical harm. In 2015 a lecturer at Yale was excoriated—and felt compelled to resign—after she raised questions about the college’s plea that students avoid culturally insensitive Halloween costumes. The next year the dean of students at the University of Chicago caused a stir by coming out against “intellectual ‘safe spaces’” where students “retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own”. Students have repeatedly succeeded in having invitations to controversial speakers cancelled, and even made tenured faculty fear provocative…Continue reading

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