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University Shadow Boxing

THE SHADOW UNIVERSITY: The Betrayal of Liberty on America‘s Campuses. By Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate. The Free …

THE SHADOW UNIVERSITY: The Betrayal of Liberty on America‘s Campuses. By Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate. The Free Press, $27.50, 415 pp.

Before you contribute, lend your good name, or send your child to a university or college, you should ask the administrators if their school has a speech code. If it does, insist that they get rid of it. If they refuse, walk away. You simply do not want to be associated with the forces of leftist repression that unfortunately have come to dominate so many of America‘s leading college campuses today. You think this must be an exaggeration?

So did I until I read this comprehensive survey of how universities and colleges throughout America are systematically denying freedom of speech to students and faculty while at the same time categorizing students by ethnicity and genetics.

Sure, we’ve all heard of some spectacular cases in which progressive witchhunts got out of hand. For example, the famous “water buffalo” case at the University of Pennsylvania in which a student, Eden Jacobowitz, yelled at some black sorority sisters to be quiet when they were loudly disturbing his studies. He called out that they were “water buffalo.”

The sorority sisters complained that racial epithets had been yelled at them. Jacobowitz was the only student who admitted to shouting at the sorority members. Under the leadership of then-President Sheldon Hackney, the Penn administration decided to pursue Jacobowitz.

The sad fact is that University of Pennsylvania history professor Alan Kors and first amendment attorney Harvey Silverglate have collected a disturbing and shameful catalogue of prosecution. The shadow university, with its shadow curriculum, dominates freshman orientation, residential programming, extracurricular student life, the promulgation of codes, and regulations, and the administration of what passes, on our campuses, for justice.

The ultimate force of the shadow university is its ability to punish students and, increasingly, faculty behind closed doors, far from public and even campus scrutiny. “It is almost inconceivable that anyone of good faith could live on a college campus unaware of the repression, legal inequality, intrusions into private conscience, and malignant double standards that hold sway there,” write Kors and Silverglate.

“Protection of free speech is not needed for inoffensive, popular speech with which all or most members of a community agree. Such speech is not threatened. Freedom is required precisely for unpopular speech, the toleration of which is one of the marks of a free society,” write the authors. “The essential purpose of a speech code is to repress speech.

“This University believes that your sons and daughters are the racist, sexist, homophobic progeny-or the innocent victims-of a racist, sexist, homophobic, oppressive America. For $30,000 per year, we shall assign them rights on an unequal and compensatory basis and undertake by coercion their moral and political enlightenment.”

The defender of free speech, however, is forever being told, on American campuses, that he or she is seeking, specifically, to make the campus safe for “racism,” “sexism,” or “homophobia.”

The ACLU’s Morton Halperin said in 1989, “There are no cases where universities discipline students for views or opinions of the left, or for racist comments against non-minorities.” And in general this is still the case.

Ronald Bailey is the science correspondent for Reason magazine and editor of Earth Report 2000, which will he published by McGraw-Hill this summer.

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