Political Correctness and the Modern University — Counter | Point

| TBS Staff

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Depending on which side of the debate you fall, political correctness is either a justified call for greater sensitivity and inclusion or an outright affront to our 1st Amendment rights. At TBS Magazine—and in the spirit of the kind of civil discourse that should take place on college campuses everywhere—we believe there is plenty of room for debate.

We've given a lot of thought to the issues of political correctness and free speech. While our authors disagree on some fundamental points, we all agree that this is a subject that warrants open and honest discussion.

Thom Johanson takes on speech codes, lauding the University of Chicago's recent policy decision discarding so-called “safe space” restrictions in favor of unfettered free speech. He makes the argument that political correctness is the enemy of productive academic debate.

David A. Tomar addresses the economic imperatives that frequently inform campus speech policies while recognizing the value of promoting on-campus inclusion. He makes the argument that while its detractors claim political correctness stifles free speech, on-campus equality and racial harmony are in far greater peril today than are our First Amendment Rights.

Check out the preview below and click on the links to follow the whole debate:

Campus Speech Codes and the 1st Amendment

By Thom Johanson

The issue of free speech is at the forefront of controversy on American campuses today. We are constantly confronted with the question of how best to engage in robust academic discussion while at the same time guarding our students against language that is viewed as excessive, inflammatory, or even bordering on harassment. Schools across the country have taken a range of positions in attempting to strike a balance for the benefit of their students. In many instances, schools reflect these positions in speech codes, sets of rules designed to curtail speech or stifle expression that some might view as hurtful.

In spite of their best intentions, speech codes are a direct impediment to a full education, in the classical sense. Unfortunately, the “closing of the American mind” is an educational fad largely imposed by those who claim to embrace human diversity but who react with horror when it comes to the diversity of ideas. The speech police have imposed a “feelings over thought” hierarchy with consequences that are frequently laughable but also potentially disastrous. Speech codes are a political tool and should been seen as such. Moreover, for those who do not wish to be infringed upon, resistance to these codes is the only rational response.

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Political Correctness University: What's become of free speech on college campuses?

By David A. Tomar

Political correctness is at once a calling card for liberal activism and an epithet leveled by the conservative guard. As unrest ripples across campuses nationwide, and as demonstrations achieve a level of visibility that would have been impossible in the pre-Web era, the pressure on universities to respond has also never been greater.

But how each university responds is a matter of some variety. Those who believe there is a wholesale cultural thrust in which colleges are spinelessly yielding to the demands of an entitled and emotionally fragile generation of students are mistaken. So too are those who believe colleges are collectively and callously defying progress. The truth is somewhere in between and differs from one school to the next.

This is because, like most decisions a college must make, political correctness is an economic one...

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