Racism, Sexism and Academic Freedom: A Bibliography

May 16, 2011

In the wake of the Charles Murray incident on the Earlham campus this spring, something about which I’ve commented here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), I’ve been doing some reading — in many cases re-reading things I’d read two decades ago.

On campus here at Earlham we had an energized discussion of the Murray incident on our faculty listserv, and this discussion tracked through many of the issues raised in the early-mid 1990s in a forceful argument among a number of prominent intellectuals.  That argument addressed possible limits to academic freedom that might be considered on grounds of anti-racism or anti-sexism.  This earlier discussion was provoked by some ugly incidents on college campuses in the late 1980s that came to be described as hate speech (other definitions here and here).

In response to these incidents, many college campuses adopted hate speech policies, or revised harassment policies to include hate speech.  For example, one university’s policy began as follows:  “Discriminatory harassment includes conduct (oral, written, graphic or physical) directed against any person or, group of persons because of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran’s status and that has the purpose or reasonably foreseeable effect of creating an offensive, demeaning, intimidating, or hostile environment for that person or group of persons.”  For public institutions, the courts declared these hate speech policies  unconstitutional as violating the First Amendment.

Independent or private institutions have more latitude with regard to the First Amendment, but such institutions do have to consider issues of “academic freedom,” a concept distinct from but usually closely allied to the First Amendment. (To take one example, Emory University’s policy today on “discriminatory harassment,” goes out of its way to square itself with academic freedom.)

In the early 1990s, an exchange ensued  among some of this country’s finest public intellectuals about racism, sexism and academic freedom.  Were the courts right to strike down “hate speech” policies?  Could such policies be squared with academic freedom?  The exchange began with “If He Hollers, Let Him Go,” by Charles Lawrence III, a graduate of Haverford and Yale Law School, then teaching at Stanford Law School.  Lawrence defended restrictions on racist speech.  A number of others responded, often rising to insist that academic freedom had to give wide latitude to offensive speech.

Below are citations to a number of the most important of the articles in this exchange.  Because these materials are under copyright, I cannot make provide links to them, but they are likely avail;able to your local library.  Also included are important policy statements from the American Association of University Professors and the American Civil Liberties Union.

The articles listed here focus on race.  Those interested in the issues around gender and pornography might begin with Catherine MacKinnon, Only Words (Harvard University Press, 1993).  See also her article in the Freedman and Freedman (1995) collection cited below.

1990    Charles R. Lawrence, “If He Hollers Let Him Go,”Duke Law Journal, 431 (1990).  Reprinted in in Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment.  (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993), pp. 53-88.

1990          Nadine Strossen, “Regulating Racist Speech on Campus,” Duke Law Journal, 484 (1990).  Reprinted in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Anthony P. Griffin, Donald P. Lively, Robert C. Post, William Rubenstein, and Nadine Strossen, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, (New York: New York University Press, 1994), pp. 181-256.

1993          Charles R. Lawrence III, Mari J. Matsuda, Richard Delgado, and Kimberlè Williams Crenshaw, “Introduction,” in Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment.  (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993), pp. 1-15.

1992          American Association of University Professors, “On Freedom of Expression and Campus Speech Codes,” Endorsed by Committee A of AAUP in June, 1992, and first published as an AAUP statement of policy in Academe, July-August 1992.  Now included in AAUP, Policy Documents and Reports (The Red Book).

1993          Henry Louis Gates, “Let Them Talk,” in The New Republic, September 20 and 27, 1993.  Adapted and expanded into “War of Words: Critical Race Theory and the First Amendment,” in Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Anthony P. Griffin, Donald P. Lively, Robert C. Post, William Rubenstein, and Nadine Strossen, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, (New York: New York University Press, 1994).

1994          American Civil Liberties Union, “Hate Speech on Campus,” Statement of the American Civil Liberties Union, December 31, 1994

1996          Louis Menand, “The Limits of Academic Freedom,” in Louis Menand (ed.), The Future of Academic Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), pp. 3-20.

1996          Ronald Dworkin, “We Need a New Interpretation of Academic Freedom,” in Louis Menand (ed.), The Future of Academic Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press), pp. 187-198.

There are four edited volumes that collect these and other important articles:

1993          Charles R. Lawrence III, Mari J. Matsuda, Richard Delgado, and Kimberlè Williams Crenshaw, Words That Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech and the First Amendment.  (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993).

1994          Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Anthony P. Griffin, Donald P. Lively, Robert C. Post, William Rubenstein, and Nadine Strossen, Speaking of Race, Speaking of Sex: Hate Speech, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, (New York: New York University Press, 1994).

1995          Monroe H. Freedman and Eric M. Freedman (eds.), Group Defamation and Freedom of Speech: The Relationship Between Language and Violence (Westport: Greenwood Press: 1995)

1996          Louis Menand (ed.), The Future of Academic Freedom (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996).

Advertisements

About Doug Bennett

Doug Bennett is Emeritus President and Professor of Politics at Earlham College. He has a wife, Ellen, and two sons, Tommy (born 1984) and Robbie (born 2003).
This entry was posted in Academic Freedom. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Racism, Sexism and Academic Freedom: A Bibliography

  1. AMac says:

    I come to this post after reading , Steve Sailer’s discussion of the treatment accorded Charles Murray in March of this year.

    Pres. Bennett, you expressed your opinions on academic freedom and the benefits of considering diverse points of view — including, by definition, unpopular points of view — in the post “More on Intolerance” (the second “here” link in this post’s initial paragraph). Your position is admirable. It is both remarkable and ominous that your perspective is at such odds with the prevailing views in academia today.

    Some Earlham students may be unfamiliar with Inner Party chairman Emmanuel Goldstein’s famous explanation of Crimestop. It means

    the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.

    Essayist Paul Graham explored a similar theme in his piece What You Can’t Say.

    I will close with a third citation. The brave actions of the fire-alarm-pullers to protect their peers from Murray’s crimethink brought this C.S. Lewis quip to mind —

    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s