Amherst College students protest free speech, issue onerous set of “demands”

November 15, 2015 • 10:45 am

The Daily Beast and the Washington Times both report that students at Amherst College in Massachusetts are, as some students did at Yale, protesting FREE SPEECH. It’s ironic that their right to protest in this way is made possible by laws permitting free speech. As the Daily Beast reports:

Students protesting at Amherst College have issued a list of demands to administrators that includes making them apologize for signs that lament the death of free speech.

A group calling themselves the Amherst Uprising listed 11 demands they want enacted by next Wednesday. Among them is a demand that President Biddy Martin issue a statement saying that Amherst does “not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the ‘All Lives Matter’ posters, and the ‘Free Speech’ posters.”

The latter posters called the principle of free speech the “true victim” of the protests at the University of Missouri.

I haven’t written about the protests at the University of Missouri, as I’ve waited to get more evidence about the incidents that sparked them, but you can see the Amherst students’ list of demands here. I reproduce it in full below, along with the long and surprising list of signatories. I find this document offensive, peremptory, and entitled. Read it all. “Demands” #4, as well as #5 and 6 (the ones asking that free speech be prohibited, and those exercising it be given “extensive training for racial and cultural competency”), and #8, and #11 are particularly invidious. Sure they can have forums to discuss this issue, and there may be real grievances that should be aired, but they shouldn’t be aired during class time.

1.    President Martin must issue a statement of apology to students, alumni and former students, faculty, administration and staff who have been victims of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latin racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/ indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism. Also include that marginalized communities and their allies should feel safe at Amherst College.

2.    We demand Cullen Murphy ‘74, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, to issue a statement of apology to students, alumni and former students, faculty, administration, and staff who have been victims of several injustices including but not limited to our institutional legacy of white supremacy, colonialism, anti-black racism, anti-Latinx racism, anti-Native American racism, anti-Native/ indigenous racism, anti-Asian racism, anti-Middle Eastern racism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, ableism, mental health stigma, and classism

3.     Amherst College Police Department must issue a statement of protection and defense from any form of violence, threats, or retaliation of any kind resulting from this movement.

4.   President Martin must issue a statement of apology to faculty, staff and administrators of color as well as their allies, neither of whom were provided a safe space for them to thrive while at Amherst College.

5.    President Martin must issue a statement to the Amherst College community at large that states we do not tolerate the actions of student(s) who posted the “All Lives Matter” posters, and the “Free Speech” posters that stated that “in memoriam of the true victim of the Missouri Protests: Free Speech.” Also let the student body know that it was racially insensitive to the students of color on our college campus and beyond who are victim to racial harassment and death threats; alert them that Student Affairs may require them to go through the Disciplinary Process if a formal complaint is filed, and that they will be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency.

6.     President Martin must issue a statement of support for the revision of the Honor Code to reflect a zero-tolerance policy for racial insensitivity and hate speech.

7.     President Martin must release a statement by Friday, November 13th, 2015 by 5:00pm that condemns the inherent racist nature of the unofficial mascot, the Lord Jeff, and circulate it to the student body, faculty, alumni, and Board of Trustees. This will be followed up by the encouraged removal of all imagery including but not limited to apparel, memorabilia, facilities, etc. for Amherst College and all of its affiliates via a phasing out process within the next year.

JAC: The Daily Beast says this about the “mascot” Lord Jeff: ”

They also insist the president condemn the “inherent racist nature” of school mascot Lord Jeff, a nickname for Jeffrey Amherst. Amherst was a British army officer commonly believed to have masterminded the idea of giving Native Americans smallpox blankets during the French and Indian War.

 The college’s FAQ pages says it “is accurate to say that Lord Jeffery Amherst advocated biological warfare against Indians, but there is no evidence that any infected blankets were distributed at his command.”

JAC: This is the only demand that I think merits immediate consideration; why celebrate someone who even advocated genocide against Native Americans. But of course the much-admired Thomas Jefferson himself was a slaveholder. That doesn’t excuse Lord Jeffs, of course, but he was the man who gave his name to the College. This is the unofficial mascot:

6339315452_0e9b7b7f28_z_display_image

8.     Dean Epstein must ask faculty to excuse all students from all 5 College classes, work shifts, and assignments from November 12th, 2015 to November 13th, 2015 given their organization of and attendance at the Sit-In.

9.     Do not threaten the jobs of the faculty, staff, or administrators that support our list of demands. Such threats will result in an escalation of our response.

10.   The Office of Alumni and Parent Programs must send former students an email of current events on campus including a statement that Amherst College does not condone any racist or culturally insensitive reactions to this information.

11.   Dean Epstein must encourage faculty to provide a space for students to discuss this week’s events during class time.

Please acknowledge that all of these statements of apology are not the end all – that they are only a part of short-term healing and by no means achieve all of the goals we will set forth. We are in the process of finalizing long-term goals which we hope to collaborate on regularly with all members of the community.

By no means does this start/stop with the administration.

Students from:

AC Voice
ACEMS
African and Caribbean Students Union
Amherst Christian Fellowship
Amherst Dance
Amherst Equestrian Club Team
Amherst Soul
Amherst United Left
Athlete Bible Study
Asian Students Association
Association of Amherst Students
Black Students Union
Charles Drew Health Profession Society
The Charles Drew Memorial House
Chinese Student Association
Choral Society
Cross Country/Track & Field, Lacrosse, Softball, Women’s Rugby, Basketball)
Dance and Step at Amherst College (DASAC)
Divest Amherst
First-Generation Association
Gospel Choir
GlobeMed at Amherst College
German House
Hip Hop Club
Hillel
International Students Association
Japanese and Chinese Language House
Korean Students Association
La Causa
La Casa
Marsh House
Muslim Students Association
Multicultural Resource Center
Middle Eastern Students Association
Mental Health Education
Men’s and Women’s Ultimate
Multifaith Council
Native American Students Organization (NASO)
Newman Catholic Club
Peer Advocates of Sexual Respect
Purple Pride
Pride Alliance
Queer Resource Center
Remnant (Black Christian Ministry)
Roosevelt Institute at Amherst College
Sports Teams (Minority Students/ Allies in Football, Tennis, Field Hockey, Soccer, Baseball, Golf, Crew, Swim,
South Asian Student Association
Somos
Student Athlete Advisory Committee
Student Health Educators
Student Security
TransActive
Transfer Student Association
Women of Color Empowerment Group
Women’s and Gender Center
Women and Men’s Club Soccer
Women in Science

Almost nothing surprises me about American college students these days, but this seems a completely over-the-top list. And it makes me worry what will happen to these students when they’re forced to enter the real world after graduation.

Finally, in the interest of presenting opposing opinion, I’ll refer you to Ross Douthat’s column in today’s New York Times, “A crisis our universities deserve.” Douthat thinks that colleges, by their own actions, brought these protests on themselves.

h/t: Will

 

141 thoughts on “Amherst College students protest free speech, issue onerous set of “demands”

  1. How close to zero are the chances of some president finally giving the proper answer to these morons (which is one big “#$%@ you imbeciles”)?

    1. Hmmm, I wouldn’t be surprised if Putin did it. With a bit of tear gas, “pour encourager les autres“.

      1. You forget Putin is one of the silovaki & they say everything with polonium. Be careful who you have tea with!

        1. I shall use a long spoon and a beta-(IIRC) detector when supping with the man who keeps Medvedev as a pet Mishka.
          (I think there is a Russian insult in there – by design – but I’m not sure,

          1. Poor Medvedev. I think he could be really great if he wasn’t worried about Putin killing him.

            I saw a hilarious article on Moscow Times entitled “Sunday Funday with Dima and Vova” that showed the two of them hanging out and exercising. So hilarious!

            1. My recurring joke is that Medvedev is Putin’s little Mishka. “Medvedev” being a bear, and particularly a bear in “eat your head while roaring” mode, while mishkas are cute fluffy little baby bears. There’s a homosexual implication in there too. It is intended to be rude to both.

  2. How did Amherst know that smallpox was caused by a transmittable virus in 1754? Did he anticipate the pathogenic theory of disease a hundred years before Pasteur? I thought that most people subscribed to the miasma (bad air) theory of dosease back then.

    1. How did Amherst know that smallpox was caused by a transmittable virus in 1754?

      Observation. Things which have been in contact with the sick could also spread the sickness. Hence “quarantine”, which was a well established technique back then. (Eyam, for an example)
      Actually, just on it’s own, Eyam might have suggested the idea. The timing is not inappropriate. Though there were probably better-timed prompts.
      You don’t need a full-fledged theory of germ-spread disease to spot correlations and associations. Eyam imposed their quarantine … probably a bit before Leeuwenhoek even started making microscopes.

      1. If you read Amherst’s notes(always omitted in the telling of this story) he sent the blankets from the pox wards because they were considered the most plush and comfortable. He had no idea how disease was transmitted nor was he trying to commit to biological warfare.

        1. OK. I’ve no dog in this fight. Bad things done with good intentions. Not the first – or last – such example.

  3. Ugh, I just know I’m going to have to work with these people some day. The workplace is going to be a lot more totalitarian.

    1. And I’ve finally got a reason that it’s a Good Thing I can’t work or go back to uni. I don’t have to put up with entitled little sh*ts like this in the real world.

    2. Put the totalitarians into their own office. Lock the door. Send them food and water (by email) until they have got a clue.
      Oh, and invest in a JCB and some tonnes of quicklime. (JCB is EN_GB : probably about “backhoe” in EN_US, though how you’d mistake one for a rear-renting prostitute, I struggle to imagine).

    1. Bill Maher asked “who raised these little monsters” on Friday’s Real Time when discussing these university free speech phenomena.

      1. Answer : their parents. Who were allowed to parent without taking any training, passing any exams or anything.
        There is something there that I don’t understand – if I brought the surgery, I could become a parent, no questions asked (well, by the “Authorities”), but if I brought a child from $ThirdWorldCountry$ and tried to raise it … questions would be asked. Why the double standard?

  4. 4. President Martin must issue a statement of apology to faculty, staff and administrators of color as well as their allies, neither of whom were provided a safe space for them to thrive while at Amherst College.

    Maybe the events in Paris might remind people what the term “safe space” should actually mean.

    1. what the term “safe space” should actually mean.

      It’s a vacuum equidistant between the Milky Way, Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies. You’d need a skin-tight lead shield of about 5ft (I’m melting the lead now ; queue up over there ; heat-resistant clothing is advised.) thickness, and the journey might take some time.
      [very small print] Users of this service will need to provide and transport their own life support equipment and supplies.[/very small print]

    2. The more amazing bit to me is:

      Also include that marginalized communities and their allies should feel safe at Amherst College.

      As if administrators have any power over how those people *feel*. “I demand that you make me feel good!” Good luck with that.

    3. “neither of whom” ?

      What, there were just two of them?

      English is not these precious twinks’ strong point.

      cr

  5. At first, I thought you might have mistaken sarcasm for serious stupidity, but of course you wouldn’t, as I realized when I read the whole. The Administration should respond by putting up a billboard in the campus center of the entire list of demands and the signers – including the names of the individuals belonging to the organizational signers, if available. They all deserve to be “outed”.

    1. The Administration should respond by putting up a billboard

      Oh no. On the website, and immediately send it to the WayBack machine.

  6. Looking at the list of signatories, it’s easy to imagine these people were not thinking very deeply when they made their ‘X’. I can also imagine a lot of compliance derived from reflexive sympathy and group pressure. I wonder if, instead of a sit-in, they couldn’t hold in depth seminars on the first amendment.

    1. Learning to READ The Fscking Manual (or Contract) is an important “life skill”. It has been since … well, when I was old enough to go on holiday by myself, in the late 1970s.

          1. * = “oo” ?
            Kittehs like baby d*gs. This form of canine is permissible, surely. Until they become too tough.

        1. Shoot, you’re probably right. Let’s see…they can have a be-in. And anyone opposed to that can have a not-to-be-in.

          (Or they could have a bed-in and appropriate some Lennono culture…)

        2. I just realised that I don’t have a “like” button ; I guess it’s a function of a mobile advert-presenter.
          But “LIKE” nonetheless.

    1. Three students have started a hunger strike. There are intimations of additional civil disobedience if the administration fails to meet their demands.

      As an aside, a student wrote the following to The Amherst Student: “Where are you? If you wanted me to use my speech to protest, then why did you not stay to listen? Should I speak to your posters? I thought my speech was for conversation, dialogue, growth, consensus, democracy, and community? No? If not, tell me, what is my speech for? Let me be clear: When you proclaimed ‘free speech’ you meant to howl ‘shut up!'”

      Source: http://amherststudent.amherst.edu/?q=article/2015/11/12/free-conversation

      I have to wonder if the letter was written before the protesters demanded disciplinary action against those who created the posters. Would the letter’s author direct a similar critique toward the pseudo-anonymous nature of the list of demands.

      The assertion that freedom of speech is a means of silencing dissent is quickly becoming a common (and ironic) trope among the protesters.

      1. Three students have started a hunger strike.

        This is terribly insensitive to the anaorexic and bulemic communities.
        (And the starving. But they’re not on campus, so don’t matter.)

    1. I’ve not checked this story to verify that it’s true, but there are reports of students at various universities protesting that the Paris attacks were distracting people from the “terrorism” that was going on daily at American universities, and that the media were giving more attention to the Paris attacks because they were directed at ‘white people’.

      Putting aside the ridiculous and callous nature of these comments, they seem to have forgotten that there are not just white people living in Paris!

      1. For what it’s worth, the University of Missouri issued a press release indicating that Twitter accounts supposedly linked to campus activists were fraudulent.

        1. Thanks for that!

          I was hesitant to believe it, because it seems so massively stupid and insensitive.

          Then again, the gap between sincere views, parody, and deliberate exaggeration to provoke other people is getting ever narrower in this subject area.

      2. ” . . . reports of students at various universities protesting that the Paris attacks were distracting people from the “terrorism” that was going on daily at American universities . . . .”

        Obviously, I need to give these students a quitclaim deed to my life; I don’t have enough sense to see things as they are. Who am I, old enough to remember the Apollo moon landings, to dispute with these omniscient youngsters?

      3. there are not just white people living in Paris!

        You viviphile!There are dead people in Paris too, and don’t they deserve their feelings to be taken into account?
        OK, that’s maybe not my best worded sarcasm/ parody of the night. Vercingetorix strangle me if I’m wrong!

    2. I think that’s weak argument – you’re ignoring the context of that slogan. Neither side came out well from that silliness.

      The whole argument was based on wilful misunderstanding from both sides. The original slogan was “Black Lives Matter”. Do you take it to mean “Black Lives Matter TOO” or “ONLY Black Lives Matter”?

      It seems to me that the obvious intent of the original slogan was “Black Lives Matter TOO”. Under that interpretation, the response “All Lives Matter” seems like a refusal to acknowledge that there’s a particular problem with race and law enforcement.

      On the other hand, it’s clear that the response “All Lives Matter” was actually a response to a technical ambiguity. If the original slogan had meant “ONLY Black Lives Matter”, it would be quite reasonable to say “Although there has been a racial problem, all lives still matter”.

      The entire ridiculous argument was based on bad-faith assumptions, with both sides shoehorning the worst possible interpretation into what the other side actually meant.

      1. No wilful misunderstanding here. I understand perfectly why and how the phrase “black lives matter” came to be and it’s a mistake. The solution to racism is the ideal that all lives matter equally. “Black lives matter” is an exclusionary statement, whether intentional or not. And no I’m not talking about the exclusion of whites, but the exclusion of brown people, latino people, asian people, and every other type of people except black people. It’s just a terrible slogan that will never accomplish it’s intended goal.

        The only reason why black lives matter is because all lives matter. Saying “all lives matter” is most definitely not failure to acknowledge racism against blacks. Precisely the opposite. Don’t be fooled or bullied into thinking otherwise.

        This has gotten so ridiculous that people are being called racist unless they say “black lives matter.” It is wrong headed demagogic bullying. The people who say “all lives matter” are correct to correct.

        1. “No wilful misunderstanding here….“Black lives matter” is an exclusionary statement, whether intentional or not.”

          You are indeed wilfully determined to misinterpret the original slogan as “Only Black Lives Matter”, or “Black Lives Matter More”. You are wilfully refusing to accept the obvious and far more reasonable interpretation “Black Lives Matter Too”. Under the latter common sense interpretation, all your faux reverse-racism outrage simply evaporates.

          1. (I don’t disagree that it’s a terrible slogan, by the way. And I’ll even conceded that the ambiguity may have been intended to deliberately antagonize. I just think that any argument based on deliberate misinterpretation of ambiguous slogans – on both sides – is idiotic and detracts from the substantial issues.)

          2. No sir, I am fully aware of the various interpretations on offer. In no way do I take the slogan “black lives matter” to mean “black lives matter more.” I know what they meant, and I am pointing out that the slogan does a terrible job of communicating what they meant.

            If they meant “black lives matter too” they could change the slogan to “black lives matter too” but they won’t because the organizers want to be antagonistic. They are purposely creating an “us vs them” paradigm, or they would just change the slogan to make it more clear.

            Change the slogan to “black lives matter too” and I will sing it until the cows come home. But INTENTIONAL OR NOT, “black lives matter” IS exclusionary. It is also changeable. If they really want a powerful message, that says what they mean, “all lives matter” works best because it is fully inclusive, and includes black lives, and it most clearly states the ideal we all want to live by.

            Ask yourself why won’t they alter the slogan? It’s just like religion telling us they don’t really mean gay sex is an abomination but they won’t change those words in the book.

            1. “They are purposely creating an “us vs them” paradigm…”

              I wouldn’t way they were the ones who created that particular paradigm–it’s been around for a long, long time.

              1. Sorry, perpetuating, then. Continuing on with. Further supporting. etc.

                “All lives matter” is not something you need to say in a society where everyone is treated equally. It’s the kind of thing you need to say only when some lives are not being treated equally. So going out of your way to pointedly say “all lives matter” is most definitely acknowledging the existence of racism. We don’t need an exclusionary phrase to point that out. An inclusive one does a much better job. That is if peace is what you are going for. If you want to create divisive feelings, “black lives matter” is definitely the way to go.

              2. I certainly can’t disagree with anything in this comment. And please see my latest response to you below.

            2. I do think saying “all lives matter” comes off as dismissive in this context, and I think it’s okay for protesters to be a bit selfish and provocative. The BLM movement has certainly gained a lot of attention from people in power that blacks hadn’t been getting before.

              But I also agree that they’re setting up an “us vs. them” situation. I remember that one of the questions asked of the candidates (by an audience member) during the first Democrat debate was “Do black lives matter or do all lives matter?” as though they were mutually exclusive! Such a horribly loaded question…

        2. I agree that the phenomenon in your last paragraph is a sign that the discussion is going way too far. In the beginning, though, I thought and still think the “Black Lives Matter” was appropriate. Until there are vids posted of unarmed people of other races being shot or strangled to death by police, I think it was needed.

            1. Sigh. I should have known better than to say that.

              I’d like to see the numbers for all races compared to their percent of the population, though.

              1. Most unarmed people killed by police are not black, but those stories don’t get reported much in the national press. If you want some numbers, The Counted is a project by The Guardian to collect information about the people killed by police in the United States. (Shame we need a UK newspaper for this…)

                In absolute numbers, whites are killed the most by far. Per capita, blacks are killed the most by far. Per interaction with police (i.e. “which race is most likely to be killed in a given encounter with police”), it seems to be about equal between blacks and whites.

                Personally I think that last question is most relevant to the issue of police killings, and if it’s nearly equal between the races then the real question should be why blacks have so many more interactions with police.

              2. I think the per capita numbers are the most important. I also think you’re right about “the real question should be why blacks have so many more interactions with police.”

                Racial profiling has been proved in many communities including in Kalamazoo, MI, my closest city. Blacks are more likely to be pulled over for minor offenses, such as not signaling or having a headlight out, than whites are. Blacks are more likely (again, per capita) to live in poverty…

                I don’t want to sound like a SJW here, but the fact is, there are some socio-economic factors that play into this, in addition, of course, to just plain racism.

              3. I’m sure both of those are a big part of it. In this interview, ex-cop Michael Wood talks about how the police routinely go into poor neighborhoods to get their arrest numbers up. They’re afraid of arresting “a judge’s son” if they go into wealthier neighborhoods, so they don’t. It’s easier to pick on the powerless poor, and those tend to be black. (I think we shouldn’t base cops’ performance reviews on how many arrests or tickets they make, because it sets up this perverse incentive…)

                It’s also a fact that blacks commit violent crime at a greatly disproportionate rate (the majority of murders, robberies, etc. in the US despite being only 13% of the population), and that contributes to an increase in police encounters, and the most dangerous kind of encounters at that. But that crime is surely also caused by socioeconomic factors, including gang violence fueled by bad drug policies, along with poor education, etc…

                It seems almost nobody in power really wants to address the real causes, though. For instance, I don’t think the war on drugs will be ended in my lifetime, despite its obvious failure at its own goals and the horrible side-effects: gangs, police militarization, asset “forfeiture”, huge money wastage, 50000 SWAT raids per year… And ending the war on drugs so we can break the strangehold of gangs in black neighborhoods is just one step of many that aren’t being taken.

              4. A most welcome elaboration and a couple of new, very important points as well. Thank you Adam.

                Peace with drugs is so overdue!

            2. Most likely the number would be that it disproportionately happens to black people. But it also happens a lot to hispanic people, brown people, asian people and even white people. That the numbers are slightly higher for blacks is no reason to exclude all others with the slogan, “black lives matter.” Especially when the phrase “all lives matter” is the very ideal that “black lives matter” is based on. The only reason why black lives matter is because all lives matter.

              1. OK, I’ll agree that you are right about which statement is meaning-wise most appropriate, and also that some of the spin-off from the “Black Lives Matter” movement has become way too PC, if not prejudiced, itself.

                I do think that there’s some truth in the point that the original “All Lives Matter” counter movement wasn’t created from the purest of motives, either, or by liberals. It is a shame that the “All” version wasn’t employed originally.

              2. Agreed that both socio-economic factors and racism play huge rolls in an unfair justice system that disproportionately targets blacks. My heart bleeds for the suffering of black people under such a system and I want nothing more than to end this horror. In such a society, we need to scream at the top of our lungs that all lives matter. By pointedly making this statement we are acknowledging that our justice system has yet to achieve this most important goal.

                The people who coined the “black lives matter” slogan knew exactly what they were doing. No they were not trying to say “only black lives matter” but they knew full well that the slogan would be retorted with “well all lives matter” and this is when they would pounce. They were knowingly creating a litmus test for racists. If you can not say “black lives matter” or worse yet you reply with “all lives matter” bingo we found ourselves a racist.

                We need to acknowledge that racism is a human quality that exists in black people too. We’ve all see black on black racism. Black people calling other black people not black enough to be black. Tiger Woods, Barak Obama, Bryant Gumbel have all been called not black by blacker blacks. There is also black racism towards other races, not just whites but including whites.

                Now might I suggest that both the “black lives matter” slogan and the “All lives matter” retort originated in the respective racist divisive elements of both communities.

                And yes I’m with you, I wish the original slogan had been “All lives matter” or at least “black lives matter too” but it wasn’t and it wasn’t for a reason. A very bad reason.

              3. Sigh. Sorry that was opaque. I meant it to be a joke on me. And by referring to “a Matt,” to imply something like, “people who make me rethink things.”

              4. Oh, sorry back, Diane. The joke would not have been lost on me if I had known it was you. Somehow your name was not on that post and I thought you were a stranger.

                Please continue your efforts to not be cynical. I’m actually not cynical at all about the human animal, or our nature. Our hardware is fine it’s all that funky software everyone is running. And it’s not their fault. They didn’t install it.

              5. Thanks for pointing out my error. I don’t like to advertise my eddress, and PCC has kindly changed the name field to what it should be.

                Nice metaphor. 🙂

      2. Surely “All lives matter” includes green lives too. Which might present a problem for vegans. “Dead bean with your water?”
        Incidentally, that’s a very nice bit of lamb (shoulder roast with thyme). Nom nom nom.

  7. The issue of Thomas Jefferson’s relationship to slavery is a complex one.

    He seems to have on some level really hated slavery but been unable or unwilling to extricate himself from slave ownership, and waffled to keep good relations with Southern states.

    Christopher Hitchens defends Jefferson’s overall record in his book on TJ, and there is a whole Wikipedia article just on Jefferson and slavery.

    1. I find the condemnation of notable, historical figures for acting like their contemporaries difficult to support. It’s a lazy form of iconoclasm. Yes, Jefferson was a slave-holder. So were many others in America and abroad. Would we seek to own slaves today? No. But does the fact that Jefferson did own slaves mean that other things he did, which we still find admirable, should be forgotten or denigrated? Whatever their faults were, Jefferson, and even Amherst, helped make the modern world that is mature enough to reject their failings.

  8. I was looking at the Amherst College newspaper’s website this morning. There was, not surprisingly, an article about the protest. One person left a comment asking what it means to say that the statement is signed by “students from” the listed organizations, as opposed to the organizations themselves? Does it mean that the listed organizations are not signatories? That reading would seem to be supported by the way “sports teams” are listed. I also don’t normally think of dance and choral groups as political.

    Of all the demands the two which offend me the most are the demand that offending students (i.e., those who offended the mob) should “be required to attend extensive training for racial and cultural competency,” and the threat of escalation.

    What is competency in this context vs. sensitivity, which is, I think, the normal term? (And what does extensive mean?) This strikes me as nothing more than a Maoist self-criticism session.

    As for the threat of escalation, any direct action would move this out of the realm of free speech for the students involved.

    I would hope that the President and Board of Trustees at Amherst would remember that ALL the students at Amherst have rights to be heard, and to live without fear of harassment. I am not optimistic, however.

    1. I do not know of the deeper motivations of those who publicly declared ‘All lives matter’ in this case. But in other instances where this was said (Hillary Clinton had said it a while ago, for example) it was meant to be well intended. The meaning I think was: Black lives matter, white lives matter, police lives matter’, and so on. I get it that the statement is obtuse since law enforcement has become racialized and so we need to be especially vocal the rights of black people. Their lives matter more right now b/c their lives are more under threat from law enforcement. But I think that the people who made that statement in the other cases did not mean ill; they just did not think it all the way through.

    2. I also don’t normally think of dance and choral groups as political.

      There’s at least one Athenian who might welcome the return of politics to terpsichore and chorea. One Aristophanes. (Sorry – hand over to the resident classicists for necessary spellung correkshun)

  9. The only thing here that I might agree with is the bit about the Lord Jeff mascot. The very name of the university is arguably tainted by the issue, real or not, but one can say much the same for every institution named after the slave holder T. Jefferson. I admit to feeling a bit mixed on that whole issue.

    Many colleges and universities require their incoming freshmen to read a particular book before they enter. These are often heavy on appreciating diversity and inclusivity, and I think that is great, but now it seems the pendulum has swung a bit too far and needs to be brought back to plumb. It was Jefferson who said: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
    Are there books about freedom of speech that could recommended as required reading for all Freshmen? There is a short list in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Books_about_freedom_of_speech for starters.

    1. “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

      Did he mean domestic or foreign tyrants?

      1. Because America has feasted on the blood of numberous foreign tyrants in recent years. Excluding Allende.

  10. Always hard to follow the views of Douthat, and his summaries of college downfall over the past 60 years fits more to his dislike of the liberal left than any full explanation for the current “crisis” in the schools. Overly pampered is probably true but exploited is a different tune. He does not really provide any solutions for the current condition but like many in the conservative wing simply wishes for the good old days.

  11. “We are in the process of finalizing long-term goals…”

    Oughtn’t they have sorted this bit out first? I think this is the most chilling sentence; it should be translated as “We haven’t yet worked out what we want or why we’re doing this, but once you give in to our initial demands we’ll set about working out how much more we can get away with.”

    1. “We are in the process of finalizing long-term goals…”Oughtn’t they have sorted this bit out first?

      Fair point. If we were talking about mature political actors (people who act, not people who perform ; sorry, see “Aristophanes” above), this would be an obvious expectation. But such forethought and planning requires maturity.
      Now it’s not so surprising, is it?

  12. … uh-hummm … what? No ageism?! That’s racist! Who the F wrote this? Young whippersnappers?!

    (Off-stage): HEY – THAT’S PEDOPHOBIA!

    I demand an apology!

    My belly button looks interesting!

    1. They left out speciesism, too. (Although that actually is a thing. But no one seems to be demanding brachiating bars in dorms…)

        1. Glad you like it. 🙂

          Come to think of it, that would be kind of fun…just swinging yourself down the hallway…

          1. I’ve made a similar joke about brachiating between doors when there is a door and another right after. I think it’s a great joke but no one really gets it.

            That’s why I come to WEIT where the good jokes are appreciated!

  13. Why is having a statue of Jeffery Amherst celebrating him? Rather than erasing history, his statue and his story could be used as a teaching moment – proof of how dominant the views that the protesters disapprove of once were.

    1. proof of how dominant the views that the protesters disapprove of once were.

      But that might introduce the idea that truths are mutable in the eyes of history (NB : the laws of physics give not one iota of shit about history; chemistry is physics with bigger bits; etc), and the possibility [SHOCK! HORROR!] that the deeply held opinions of today may be the embarrassments of tomorrow.
      I sense a disturbance in the Force – of a thousand thousand delicate snowflakes melting under the gas axe of reality.
      Incidentally, having had a couple of friends during and since student years with deeply disfiguring facial burns (difficulty of eating level), I’m surprised to see no calls to ban the whole Star Wars Tri-IV-V-VI-VII-IX-A-B-C-IGiveUp-ology as being denigrating to burns victims.

    2. There’ve been campaigns to rename a somewhat minor street in Montreal which also shares his name. To some, it seems that the name would be like putting up a street in (say) Poland named Hitler, for what that’s worth. (That’s what I was told. I don’t necessarily endorse.)

      We all agree the latter would be horrible (to put it way too mildly). But where does one draw the line? I don’t know how to adjudicate these things …

  14. “10. The Office of Alumni and Parent Programs must send former students an email of current events on campus including a statement that Amherst College does not condone any racist or culturally insensitive reactions to this information.”

    Surely there is at least one alumnus who did not give Amherst his contact information and/or who does not want to hear anything whatsoever from Amherst – or especially from these precious student tyrants.

    1. The use of the word “must” throughout just added to getting my back up. Who are they to tell anyone else what they “must” do. Even “should” would be an improvement.

      As for contacting all alumnus, they must have been taking lessons from the JWs/Mormons/SDAs.

      And maybe things work differently in unis in the US, but what’s this about using lecture time to discuss the situation? Sounds like high school. Still, they apparently need permission to be away from the lectures to attend their sit-in, so maybe it is run like a high school.

      This is a situation that seems to invite the admonition most of us stopped hearing long before we got to uni: I’ll start treating you like an adult when you start acting like one.

      1. Agree with everything you said!

        And I’ve have preferred “we request that” over both “must” and “should.”

      2. It is a list of demands, not a list of requests. I think “must” is proper usage here. It’s about the only thing I agree with, though.

        1. Sigh, you are correct. I’d like to know on what standing they feel they have a right to make demands in the first place, though.

          Just as paying customers? (I’ll bet Uncle Sam is doing a lot of the paying…)

        2. The usage is proper. My comment, and I think Diane’s too, was about the attitude behind its usage. To me it’s not just what they’re asking for that’s the problem, but the way they go about it. That was my problem with “must.” Quite apart from anything else, it’s just plain rude. (I think I’ve already used those words in another comment today!)

            1. Why punch up when you can punch forwards?
              I defer to your superior knowledge in fighting against girls. I always took the “run away” option in that case. Girls fight really dirty.

              1. About the direction of punch, or the evilness of girls fighting?
                The nails, the nails!

    2. For #10 can only mean that no one is allowed to disagree with these positions, since doing so automatically means you are racist/culturally insensitive.
      What a bunch of puffed up dictator wannabes.

  15. I did not see the Yale and U.of Missouri as the same, at least not initially. Yale was kind of the same as this anti-free speech business and protect us from everything zone. Missouri was about race and the belief that the school had done damn little about it for some time. There were specific actions taken, such as dropped insurance and cancelled work with planned parenthood. When racial incidents happened the school did little or nothing. When demands were issued the school took them under consideration and created committees to spend months studying the matter.

  16. What’s particularly galling is students protesting free speech can do so because of that very freedom. What they are saying in essence is “Free speech for me, but not for thee.”

    1. And it seems that they have found an inspired way to unite fascists of all ideologies here. All fascists can agree that anyone who disagrees with them should be forced to shut up.

      Thus
      “…part of short-term healing and by no means achieve all of the goals we will set forth. We are in the process of finalizing long-term goals”

      In other words, working out the nitpicky details of exactly WHO should be forced to shut up will be dealt with by a joint committee at a later date.

  17. Hopefully the Left will do what the conservatives have always been unable to do, to not let the fanatical edges control the conversation. These woefully misinformed students do not represent intelligent progressive values, they are not advancing real equality and opportunity for all, and they need to be told that.

    And that’s the saddest part of this and of Mizzou, is that they are causing the real issues of discrimination and inequality to be obscured.

  18. I worry less what will happen to them when they enter the real world, and more what will happen to everyone else. The last thing today’s already overly PC workplace needs is these infants trying to get the rest of us fired for singing White Christmas at an office party.

    1. “I’m dreaming of a Cafe-au-Lait Saturnalia …
      Just like the ones I used to know …”
      Sorry, but at least one person in this conversation lost his virginity to a “half caste”. And enjoyed it. [EVIL GRIN]

  19. I keep thinking of blending memes. Imagine a Starbucks red cup with a dictate about what words and speech are forbidden.

    1. Be careful what you wish for.
      The knocking on your door are the Thought Police. They’re calling about your copyright violations.

  20. In reference to the New York Times piece.
    I still have the same job I had in 76.
    I went to Uni in 1980 and because, I always wanted to, was seeking knowledge. (Corny perhaps)
    LaTrobe Uni had a fabulous philosophy department then.
    A few years later I new some kind of writing was on the wall when they started dropping various humanities subjects for things like “Golf Course Management”.
    Eek.

    1. “Golf Course Management”

      Proper arrangement of the anti-tank mines in the bunkers. How to arrange the “blade cutter” to keep the green level. Intersecting machine-gun fields of fire on the 18th. Difficult subject.

  21. I clicked the link given for the demands, and noticed two other articles at the Amherst site it leads to. The two people who started a hunger strike have ended it.

    The notable thing is that they apologize to every one for starting it, without due consideration for everyone. Then they apologize for posting about it, without going through all the correct steps. Or something.

    They seem to live in a little world where everyone is constantly apologizing to everyone else for everything. I don’t think they even realize how constraining the world they have build for themselves really is.

    I probably need to apologize for posting this, for instance. And to apologize for saying probably, when it is obviously certainly the case, and who am I to think otherwise.

  22. I think the entire 11-point document can be summed up in one word, “Bullshit!”

    One would feel almost tempted to get that written on a T-shirt, but I rather doubt one would feel safe (for any value of ‘safe’) walking around campus wearing it.

    cr

  23. They forgot to list ageism. I guess we have to make them apologize for the oversight.

    Groups sometimes means little to no thinking.* I am not sure all members of these groups are fit to study in college.

    Speaking of little thinking, this is beyond the pale:

    “9. Do not threaten the jobs of the faculty, staff, or administrators that support our list of demands. Such threats will result in an escalation of our response.”

    Translation: ‘We threaten you in order to be protected from putative threats.’

    * As I remember it in experiment groups can act cleverer than individuals. But I assume same as intelligent individuals have more means for deception, including deceiving himself/herself, groups can act more stupid than any individual too.

  24. It’s incredibly ironic that the Hip Hop Club is a signatory given how much Hip Hop groups like 2 Live Crew expanded free speech by winning legal cases in the 1980s.

    Genie’s out of the bottle, folks.

  25. The surest indication that your ideas are bankrupt: You know they can’t stand on their own in the marketplace of ideas; but, rather, you must suppress discussion or criticism of them.

    This applies equally well to these students and the religious crazies.

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