The Corner

Fish On Free Speech

I can’t read it myself because I don’t have Time$elect. But a reader sends me this excerpt from Stanley Fish’s new blog regardling the Columbia thugfest:

 Once one understands the true nature of the event, one understands too the scope (and limits) of the university’s responsibility. In the context of what is essentially a piece of entertainment, Columbia, or any other university, does not have the responsibility to protect free speech or encourage democratic debate or stand up for academic freedom. These resonant phrases, invoked at the drop of a hat by parties on every side, are simply too large for what is going on. The university’s responsibility is, rather, to safety and (relatively) good order. Just as you don’t want your rock concert to end in the destruction of property or the injury of spectators (although you do want a little unruliness; it belongs to the genre), so you don’t want the provoked energies of those present at a campus spectacle to break up either the program or the furniture. After all, tomorrow is another day and a new act will be coming to town (on October 10th it was I), and it won’t come if the university gets the reputation of assembling crowds which it cannot then control.


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