Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Saunders' Law


Barry Saunders, of the N&O in Raleigh, has an interpretation of freedom of expression, in the press and at colleges. He says, "freedom of speech means you can say what you want. But you still gotta take the ass-whuppin'" if people disagree with you. Is that so hard?

Look at what is happening to Phil Kurian, because he wrote this. People are offended. Our Prez takes a hand.

I have come to believe that nobody but Barry Saunders (and, of course, your own K. Grease) understands the nature of freedom of speech in private universities.

First, 1st Amendment pretty much doesn't apply. It says "CONGRESS will make no law...." Nothing about Larry Moneta. Universities have "in loco parentis," like it or not.

Second, even if you get to speak, you are not guaranteed an audience, or agreement from whatever listeners you do get.

Finally: you have no formal protection against getting offended, or upset. People go nuts if they get offended, and act like their own (nonexistent) "rights" against being upset somehow trump other people's rights to express their views. A commitment to freedom of expression, as a means to improving education, means that sometimes people are going to get offended.

Which made me think of this handy Name-Calling List. Since nothing is more upsetting than an opponent who is making a better argument than you are, using logic and evidence and that sort of thing, your best bet is to be a big crybaby and act all hurt. Call the person beating you in an argument names! These will come in handy; make sure you commit them to memory:

  • Person winning an argument with a conservative--A godless communist
  • Person winning an argument with a liberal--A heartless fascist
  • Person winning an argument with a black person--A racist
  • Person winning an argument with a Jewish person--Anti-Semitic
  • Person winning an argument (accented speech) with a white person--A foreign terrorist (use "Islamic extremist" if they look Arab.)
  • Person winning every argument with me--Dear*

(*I call her "dear" because she's my wife. And, yes, Snookums, you are right!)


Anonymous said...

Prof. M,

I'm not sure you and Barry have this whole 1st commandment thing down. Noted commentator, N. Maines, of some Dixie Chickens or somesuch, told me that Dubya was shredding the whole BOR because the public didn't want to buy her records. Also my pocket copy of the BOR has something in it about Howard Stern, but the framers used really small writing so its tough to tell.

--John S.
T '99

Ed Cone said...

What is happening to Kurian, other than getting the ass-whuppin he deserves?

He exercised his right as an American to publish an ignorant article. Others are exercising their right to call him on it.

Has he been suspended? Arrested?

If not, then it seem that the system described by Saunders is working fine.

What's your beef?

Ed Cone said...

Let me clarify, as I did in a post at my own blog: by including in the post about the response to Kurian your list of replies to people who have just won an argument, you make it look like you are saying Kurian won the argument, and that he does not deserve the ass whuppin' he is absorbing.

Anonymous said...

Dixie Chicks perfect example. She didn't want to take the ass-whuppin for saying something. You don't get immunity from harm, economic or personal. You just get immunity from arrest. Good on ya!