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Too Far



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Having condemned the viciousness and hypocrisy of Peter Kirstein, I must say that I think St. Xavier has gone too far by relieving Kirstein of his teaching duties, even if only for a semester. The best way to combat Kirstein’s outrageous statements is by making arguments and issuing condemnations, not by banning him from the classroom. True, the case against punishment is not iron clad. Professor Kirstein’s outrageous letter did violate the standards of professionalism promulgated by the American Association of University Professors. It would be perfectly fair to take Kirstein’s actions into account in a tenure decision, and a teacher who grievously and persistently insulted his students in class could not be allowed to continue with impunity. But in a case like this, while punishment may not be categorically illegitimate, it is nonetheless best to act on the principle that the best remedy for offensive speech is more speech. Punishing Kirstein will only license craven and politically correct administrators to silence the speech of anyone who dares defy campus orthodoxy, not matter how politely they speak.



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