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Chapter 6 - What Went Wrong?

Campus Unrest, Viewpoint Diversity, and Freedom of Speech

from Part I - The Advocatus Diaboli: Reflections on Free Thought and Free Speech

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 February 2020

Michael Shermer
Affiliation:
Chapman University, California
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Summary

The impetus for this article began with a question I was tasked to answer: “Is Freedom of Speech Harmful for College Students?” The query came from my alma mater California State University, Fullerton, for a 2015 symposium they were hosting on the title question, partly in response to a controversy the year before captured in this headline in the Orange County Register: “Cal State Fullerton Sorority Sanctioned for ‘Taco Tuesday’ Party” What was the sorority’s sin? “Cultural appropriation.” That is, appropriating someone else’s culture as your own. Seriously? How could free speech possibly be harmful to anyone, much less college students whose introduction to the invigorating world of ideas begins with the premise that any and all topics are open for debate and disputation? I shouldn’t have been, given that signs had appeared the previous few years – starting around 2013 – with the deplatforming of controversial speakers; the emphasis on protecting students’ feelings from ideas that might challenge their beliefs; the call for trigger warnings about sensitive subjects in books, films, and lectures; the opening of safe spaces for students to retreat to when encountering ideas they find offensive; and the dispersal of lists of microaggressions – words, phrases, statements, and questions that might offend people. This article is my hypothesis of what went wrong.

Type
Chapter
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Giving the Devil his Due
Reflections of a Scientific Humanist
, pp. 64 - 78
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • What Went Wrong?
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.007
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  • What Went Wrong?
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.007
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • What Went Wrong?
  • Michael Shermer, Chapman University, California
  • Book: Giving the Devil his Due
  • Online publication: 28 February 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108779395.007
Available formats
×