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University of California Students Could Soon Be Granted a New ‘Right’ That Critics Say Will Turn Free Speech on Its Head

"Chillingly, the policy says the University 'will respond promptly and effectively to reports of intolerant behavior and treat them as opportunities to reinforce the University’s Principles Against Intolerance.'"

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The University of California Regents are set to make a determination Thursday on a new policy that would give students the “right” to be “free from acts and expressions of intolerance.”

First Amendment supporters have been sounding the alarm in the days leading up to the decision as they claim it would infringe on the free speech of students while attempting to shield students from things they might find offensive.

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The University of California Regents “Statement of Principles Against Intolerance” reads:

The University of California is committed to protecting its bedrock values of respect, inclusion, and academic freedom. Free expression and the open exchange of ideas – principles enshrined in our national and state Constitutions – are part of the University’s fiber. So, too, is tolerance, and University of California students, faculty, and staff must respect the dignity of each person within the UC community.

Intolerance has no place at the University of California. We define intolerance as unwelcome conduct motivated by discrimination against, or hatred toward, other individuals or groups. It may take the form of acts of violence or intimidation, threats, harassment, hate speech, derogatory language reflecting stereotypes or prejudice, or inflammatory or derogatory use of culturally recognized symbols of hate, prejudice, or discrimination.

Everyone in the University community has the right to study, teach, conduct research, and work free from acts and expressions of intolerance. The University will respond promptly and effectively to reports of intolerant behavior and treat them as opportunities to reinforce the University’s Principles Against Intolerance.

Talkline host Hoppy Kercheval strongly criticized the proposal in a column on Wednesday, claiming that the policy “entangles itself in a web of pious political correctness on the issue of intolerance that is self-contradictory as well as unconstitutional.”

Kercheval then imagined how campus officials would go about enforcing the thought policing that he believes would occur should the policy be implemented:

So hate speech (whatever that is) and derogatory language (again, fungible) would violate the policy.  Chillingly, the policy says the University “will respond promptly and effectively to reports of intolerant behavior and treat them as opportunities to reinforce the University’s Principles Against Intolerance.”

Perhaps campus officials are planning a thought gulag where purveyors of intolerance can get their minds right.

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The Regents later added an “addendum” that included a “non-exhaustive” list of “behaviors that do not reflect the University’s values of inclusion and tolerance.” They include:

• Vandalism and graffiti reflecting culturally recognized symbols of hate or prejudice. These include depictions of swastikas, nooses, and other symbols intended to intimidate, threaten, mock and/or harass individuals or groups.

• Questioning a student’s fitness for a leadership role or whether the student should be a member of the campus community on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, national origin, citizenship, sex, or sexual orientation.

• Depicting or articulating a view of ethnic or racial groups as less ambitious, less hardworking or talented, or more threatening than other groups.  Depicting or articulating a view of people with disabilities (both visible and invisible) as incapable.

Read the entire proposed policy here.

(H/T: Washington Post)

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