Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Sifting and winnowing"

The University of Wisconsin regents may act to insure that controversial speech is protected. If they take the proposed action they will be doing better than those in authority at certain other public and private universities. From The Capital Times:
.... The resolution to be considered when regents meet Thursday and Friday in Madison calls on members of the university community to maintain civility and a climate of mutual respect during heated debate.

The statement invokes UW’s famed 1894 commitment to open inquiry through “fearless sifting and winnowing.” It also prohibits university community members from interfering with the freedom of others “to express views they reject or even loathe.”

The resolution will be taken up first by Board of Regents education committee on Thursday afternoon and sent to the full board on Friday. ....

The regents’ proposed resolution....declares that it is up to members of the university community, not for the institution itself, to judge what speech is “offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.” And for them, too, “to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress exploration of ideas or expression of speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose.”

The proposed resolution also cites legal limits to free expression, including genuine threats, privacy interests and false defamation. In addition, the university may under the law reasonably limit the time, place and manner of expression to ensure that it does not disrupt ordinary activities....
Next to the main entrance to Bascom Hall, University of Wisconsin, Madison