Free Speech Loses Ground as Harvard Retracts Offers to Admitted StudentsRoundup
tags: Harvard, free speech
Suppose you’re an incoming freshman at Harvard University, which in April reportedly rescinded admissions offers for the fall term to 10 students who had posted racist and obscene memes over the internet. Will the controversy make you more or less likely to speak your mind when you get to campus?
I think we all know the answer. And that’s what troubles me about Harvard’s decision, which will fuel an already-tense atmosphere of censorship at colleges across the country.
Let’s get two things straight from the start. First, the memes were profoundly hateful. One associated sexual practices among Jews with the Holocaust, another linked Muslims to bestiality, a third made light of pedophilia, and a fourth used the term "piñata" in reference to suicide by Mexican-Americans.
Second, there is no constitutional issue here. The First Amendment bars the government — not private institutions — from restricting free speech. So Harvard has the legal right to retract admissions offers from the people who trafficked in these images. What’s more, Harvard, like many colleges, has a policy that acceptance may be withdrawn if the prospective student engages in, among other things, morally compromising behavior.
But that doesn’t mean it was right to rescind the offers. By rejecting the offending students, the university reinforced the idea that students shouldn’t offend one another. And that’s inimical to free exchange and expression, which Harvard claims to prize over everything else. ...
comments powered by Disqus
- History Says Bloomberg 2020 Would Be a Sure Loser
- Then and now: How Trump impeachment hearing is different
- Poland asks Netflix to make changes to documentary about Nazi death camp guard
- What is a caliph? The Islamic State tries to boost its legitimacy by hijacking a historic institution
- Russian Historian Professor, Found With Bag of Severed Arms, Admits He Killed Student
- Black Perspectives Publishes Online Forum: "Researching, Teaching, and Embodying the Black Diaspora"
- Distinguished professor, civil war historian James I. “Bud” Robertson Jr. passes away
- Noel Ignatiev, scholar who called for abolishing whiteness, dies at 78
- Historians Elizabeth Catte, Rebecca Solnit, and Peniel Joseph Quoted in Washington Post Article, "The Democrats Are Moving Left. Will America Follow?"
- When Southern Historians Made History Themselves