Sunday 20 August 2017

Laura Kipnis 2

I wish to bring up questions around freedom of speech and if certain efforts at sensitivity or 'keeping the peace' by way of censorship is a violation of such freedom. Questions that I have that arise from this discussion include: to what extent is hate speech a hate crime? Words hurt - so how should we address them? These thoughts come out particularly in light of recent events in Charlottesville and a growing movement of white supremacy in the United States.

Moreover, what is the role of humanities research such as art history in the maintaining of a democracy and in the fostering of an intellectual community that extends beyond the academic world? How are disciplines such as art history implicitly political and how to they encourage free speech in perhaps the most generative way? Does art history and other liberal arts disciplines fight against real racism, sexism and other forms of exclusion? 

Below are quotes extracted from her essay, 'My Title IX Inquisition', in The Chronicle of Higher Education, 29 May 2015.

“Much of this remains puzzling to me, including how someone can bring charges in someone else’s name, who is allowing intellectual disagreement to be redefined as retaliation, and why a professor can’t write about a legal case that’s been nationally reported, precisely because she’s employed by the university where the events took place. Wouldn’t this mean that academic freedom doesn’t extend to academics discussing matters involving their own workplaces?”

“I learned that professors around the country now routinely avoid discussing subjects in classes that might raise hackles”

“A well- known sociologist wrote that he no longer lectures on abortion. Someone who’d written a book about incest in her own family described being confronted in class by a student furious with her for discussing the book”

“what’s being lost, along with job security, is the liberty to publish ideas that might go against the grain”

“Ambivalent sex becomes coerced sex, with charges brought months or even years after the events in question. Title IX officers now adjudicate an increasing range of murky situations involving mutual drunkenness, conflicting stories, and relationships gone wrong. They pronounce on the thorniest of philosophical and psychological issues: What is consent? What is power?”

“With students increasingly regarded as customers and consumer satisfaction paramount, it’s imperative to avoid creating potential classroom friction with unpopular ideas if you’re on a renewable contract and wish to stay employed. Self- censorship naturally prevails”

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