Author delivers lecture on free speech

first_imgDr. Keith Whittington never expected to write on the topic of free speech. As Whittington introduced himself before his lecture on his new book, “Speak Freely: Why Universities Must Defend Free Speech,” on Thursday afternoon, he explained that he set aside projects more related to his specialty in constitutional interpretation to focus on an issue he could no longer ignore.“I think it’s critically important that we collectively think seriously about what it is we want universities to do and what that implies about how we ought to conduct ourselves on campuses and what we ought to tolerate and engage in on college campuses,” Whittington said.Whittington spoke as part of the Constitutional Studies’ effort to delve into American society’s conflicted attitude toward free speech and how it affects the conversations on college campuses. Whittington said that the issue of free speech is not a new one but that the American people have been grappling with its implications for as long as public opinion surveys have been used in research.“Regardless of what kind of audience you ask, whether it’s the mass public or lawyers or college students or the like, overwhelmingly Americans tend to say that they value free speech, they value the First Amendment, they value tolerance, they think all those things are very important,” he said. “But then when you start pressing them on, ‘Well, what about this particular example of speech that you find particularly repellent?’ well, then they start trying to carve out exceptions.”This dilemma, Whittington said, is part of the challenge of living in a liberal democracy, and it requires us to accept that supporting free speech means tolerating speech that is at times troubling. Whittington said this tolerance is especially important on college campuses, where the pursuit of knowledge is tantamount.“In the context of a university in particular, we’re particularly concerned with trying to press forward to better understand the world,” he said. “And pressing forward to better understand the world means leaving lots of space open for people to make mistakes, for people to ask hard questions, for people to come to uncomfortable answers in response to those hard questions. Universities lose a lot of their value if they can’t get to that anymore.”Throughout his lecture, Whittington discussed the importance of having an open environment conducive to what he called “robust intellectual inquiry,” which means issues of free speech and universities are intimately connected both for that reason and for the danger of allowing universities any power that could be used to suppress speech.“I think campus officials will do what they’ve always done, which is try to suppress speech they find particularly embarrassing and that they think might provoke public controversy and might draw unwanted news attention,” Whittington said. “That will stretch across a wide range of different conversations. That will sometimes mean silencing speakers on the right but also mean silencing speakers on the left. It will sometimes mean silencing minority speakers and sometimes it will mean silencing other kinds of speakers.”An attack on any kind of free speech, Whittington said, is an attack on all free speech; a speaker with views outside the norm can still have something to contribute to the conversation. Yet controversy for controversy’s sake, Whittington said, should never be the goal of inviting a speaker to campus.“When we’re making decisions about whom to invite to campus to speak, the goal should be neither to stack the deck with our closest allies nor to sprinkle in the most extreme provocateurs,” Whittington said. “The goal should be to make available to the campus community at large thoughtful representatives of serious ideas.”That responsibility to choose speakers wisely lies with both faculty and students since students deserve to have power over the debates in which they engage. Whittington said protest is a form of intellectual exploration and advocacy and that students have a right to protest, as long as their efforts do not destroy the free speech of others.“It’s perfectly reasonable to protest those ideas, to complain about those ideas, to have a public conversation about whether or not the given speaker has good ideas or bad ideas, whether or not it’s a good idea to invite a given speaker to campus and the like,” Whittington said. “But disruptions, disinvitations, tearing down signs, throwing out papers are all efforts to quash the communication of ideas and shut down the free exchange of ideas among students and others on the college campus rather than to advance that free exchange of ideas by advancing better ideas in their stead.”Ultimately, Whittington argued, university administration, faculty and students must allow themselves to be challenged in order to continue the debates integral to the purpose of the university.“If students are to prepare themselves to critically engage the wide range of perspectives and problems they will encounter in the world across their lifetimes, they must learn to grapple with and critically examine ideas they find difficult and offensive,” Whittington said. “ … Recognizing and respecting the principles of free speech is challenging, but there is no alternative if we are dedicated to pursue truth. And ultimately, to pursue truth is the noble and important mission of the modern American university.”Tags: Free speech, keith whittingtonlast_img read more

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‘Gardening’ Pot.

first_imgOn “Gardening in Georgia” this week, host Walter Reeves’ assignment is to design a pleasing plant combination in a pot for his wife’s garden club meeting. He shows how the simple, silly phrase, “Uppy, Downy, All-aroundy,” can help you quickly design a pot or a flower bed.”Gardening in Georgia” will air Wednesday, Aug. 15, at 7:30 p.m. and will be rebroadcast Saturday, Aug. 18, at 12:30 p.m. on Georgia Public Television.On this week’s show, guest David Bradshaw from Clemson University guides Reeves through his collection of heirloom vegetables, some hundreds of years old.’Turkey Gizzard’ Bean’Turkey Gizzard’ bean was discovered in the gizzard of a gobbler. Indian pumpkin was selected by swamp-dwelling Native Americans for its long keeping ability. Snake bean produces beans that look like a nest of snakes as they droop to the ground.Reeves also looks at powdery mildew, a plant disease with a perfectly descriptive name. Powdery mildew affects many landscape plants, and Reeves shows how to diagnose and manage it.”Leaves of three, leave it be.” Reeves shows how to identify common vines by counting the number of leaflets on each leaf. It really helps to know which is poison ivy.”Gardening in Georgia” airs each Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and is rebroadcast every Saturday, usually at 12:30 p.m. Learn more about the program at the show’s Web site.The show is designed specifically for Georgia gardeners. It’s produced by the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and GPTV. UGA CAES File Photo Walter Reeveslast_img read more

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PETER HITCHENS: Abortion treats one minority as less than human. So who’s next?

first_imgDaily Mail 3 June 2018Family First Comment: “The truth is that modern abortion campaigners are fervent dogmatists who impose their new ideology everywhere, on any excuse. They know the truth about it. But they don’t mind. They want a very different world from the one we grew up in, and now they are going to get it. And once one vulnerable, voiceless minority has been classified as less than human, who will be next?”This is pretty much the end of Christian Europe. The old Commandment ‘Thou Shalt Do No Murder’ has been repealed, by the Irish vote to legalise abortion on demand.There has always been some leeway about killing – mainly self-defence and Just War. But the great religion that formed European civilisation was always against the destruction of innocent life.What follows isn’t an argument about whether or even when abortion is right or wrong. I’ll leave that to you. It is about what abortion is, and how the law works.Oddly enough, when Britain relaxed its abortion laws 50 years ago, the issue wasn’t as clear-cut as it was for Ireland last month. In the 1960s, we knew far less about unborn babies than we do now. There were no ultrasound scans.The miracles of medicine which nowadays frequently save tiny premature babies were unknown.It was much easier for supporters of abortion to believe that unborn babies weren’t really human – a belief they spread by their use of the chilly Latin word ‘foetus’. They don’t use Latin to describe anything else in their lives, so why do they use it in this case?It was also possible to claim, as the legalisers did, that making abortion easier wouldn’t turn it into a form of contraception.Back in the 1960s, they argued it was all about a small number of desperate women forced against their will to have babies through no real choice of their own.Who believes that now, when Britain has 180,000 abortions a year, many of them involving women who have undergone the procedure more than once before?There was also a claim that there were many thousands of dangerous back-street abortions. But seek facts on this, and you will run into trouble.At the time, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (in the British Medical Journal of April 2, 1966) said of such claims: ‘These are without any secure factual foundation of which we are aware.’They said there were, on average, 50 fatal abortion attempts each year in England and Wales. This was undoubtedly tragic and gruesome, but did it really justify legalising abortion on demand?Most people don’t realise that before 1967 many legal abortions were already taking place in Britain (about 3,000 a year in NHS hospitals, probably many more in private clinics), just much more tightly regulated.In short, Ireland has no real excuse for rushing to copy this country, which had taken its decision on the basis of several false assumptions, and in some ignorance of the facts about the unborn.READ MORE: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-5799467/PETER-HITCHENS-Abortion-treats-one-minority-human-whos-next.htmlKeep up with family issues in NZ. Receive our weekly emails direct to your Inbox.last_img read more

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