Sunday, April 24, 2005

Spin City

Anyone who has been following the trustee election is no doubt aware that the College pleads innocence on the charge of hostility to free expression. The official line -- despite all evidence to the contrary -- is that Dartmouth does not have a speech code. But what about the Zeta Psi case, you say, in which a single private, in-house parody newsletter led to a fraternity's permanent derecognition and expulsion from campus? The College has a pat little answer: Zete was punished for its conduct, not its speech. Says Robert Donin, the College's lawyer, in his recent letter to The Daily Dartmouth:
The Zeta Psi case falls squarely within the area of permissible regulation.... The statements in the Zeta Psi newsletter [...] targeted two specific students for personal abuse in a repeated fashion even after the organization agreed to end this behavior.
Fortunately, FIRE President (and Harvard-educated lawyer, thank you very much) David French takes Donin to task, pointing out that Dartmouth's charge of "harassment" against Zete is laughably weak:
I know of no case authority indicating that a person is denied or limited in their "ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program" when he or she is "targeted" in a communication so private that he or she couldn't find it without sifting through the trash. There is no court in America that has found "harassment" in similar circumstances.
Indeed. Predictably, too, Donin falls back on a cherished old shibboleth of the censors. Dixit Donin:
A long line of First Amendment cases recognizes that freedom of expression is not absolute. Even where the First Amendment fully applies, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. famously wrote, no one has the right to falsely yell "fire" in a crowded theater. Similarly, the First Amendment does not protect defamation, invasion of privacy, copyright infringement, threats or harassment, to cite just a few of the well-established, judicially approved limitations on free speech.
All of this is readily conceded; indeed, I wonder who exactly Donin is arguing this point with? No commentator I know of (certainly not trustee candidates Peter Robinson or Todd Zywicki, for whom, if you are an alum, you really ought to have voted by now) has suggested that actual defamation should be protected expression. (Indeed, Donin never explains why any of this is even relevant; does the Zete case fall into one of these categories? No? Then why bring it up?) Donin is fighting the straw man syllogism "if speech, therefore absolutely protected." It might be easier for Donin to argue with absolutist simpletons; but, to borrow from Rumsfeld, you argue with the opponents you have, not the opponents you wish you had. So Mr. Donin: can we please get back to the question at hand?

But perhaps I'm being too harsh on Donin; after all, it's not his fault his bosses so gleefully resort to heavy-handed punishment for puerile little jokes. So let's see what President Wright had to say about the matter in a recent speech to the Dartmouth Club of New York:
The Dean [of Residential Life Marty Redman, affable fellow by day, outraged Puritan by night] derecognized the fraternity because of the repeated publication of a newsletter that cruelly demeaned specific women on campus. This incident was about behavior, not speech -- the organization published articles describing the supposed [wrong: obviously fictional] sexual exploits of two undergraduate women who were identified by name.
(Um, er, I thought Zete's publication was speech, just one of those types that you can regulate -- no? Yes? Oh, never mind....) So Wright, too, relies on the harassing-conduct-not-speech line. Once again, David French brings us back to Earth (with some help from yours truly). French shows how thin the charge of harassing conduct is (ditto for the alleged violations of Minimum Standards, which actually provide the clearest evidence yet of a speech code applicable to 40% of the student population; all Dartmouth students should be aware of the backdoor tactic employed in the Zete case).

French aptly concludes:
A fraternity did something silly and tasteless and offended a significant (and powerful) segment of the campus community. Dartmouth found a way to punish that fraternity despite the fact that no pre-existing rule or code prohibited the fraternity's actions, and then President Wright and Dean Larimore drafted the letters that form the basis of the modern Dartmouth speech code as a warning against future offenders.

If Dartmouth respects free speech, it will not only repeal its speech code, but it will also re-recognize Zeta Psi. Four years of punishment in the absence of any violation of campus rules or regulations is enough.
Okay, so the College's lame arguments can be exhaustively refuted, and when they are, they are shown for what they really are: mere spin. But I must confess, I get very frustrated that these refutations are always necessary. Why does the College dig its heels in so? Why is Wright so hesitant to acknowledge the many ways in which expression -- edifying or otherwise -- can occur? Why do they insist on this facile distinction between conduct and speech? (Who's guilty of easy syllogisms now?)

Finally, why is the College so determined to punish a bunch of kids for silly but harmless jokes? (And please, please, nobody try to argue that the harm was psychological. Melissa Heaton -- the publication's main attraction -- took evident joy in her newfound celebrity. She went on The Today Show and spoke to any number of jouranlists. She told me personally that she relished the publicity. Melissa milked her fifteen minutes; it is simply false to say that anyone was harmed by this.)

76 comments:

Anonymous said...

Out of curiousity, since when has FIRE come to legislate all matters within Dartmouth College? That this obviously partisan organization is being mentioned at all in the Trusee election is shameful, since it is blatantly attempting to promote a reactionary agenda under the guise of "free speech."

Emmett said...

Anonymous, FIRE doesn't try to "legislate" -- merely persuade. Why are the College's defenders so afraid of that?

As for your assessment of FIRE's evenhandedness -- well, I can say that it is amply refuted by the facts. A review of FIRE's case archives readily shows that FIRE defends all comers. For instance, FIRE has defended Ward Churchill's rights to free expression; it has defended patriotic students at Central Michigan University, socialist students at West Virginia University, pro-life students at Washington University in Saint Louis, a socialist poet from the University of Alaska, the opponents of affirmative action at innumerable colleges and universities, and the NAACP chapter at the Catholic University of America -- just to name a few.

What's more, I can say that I know the character of FIRE very well. I worked there for two years and I wrote FIRE's press releases. I worked for the organization and its people; I know that those who work there are unquestionably committed to impartiality. The equality of individuals, regardless of political orientation, is at the core of FIRE's mission and identity.

Most troubling, however, is your assertion that, even if FIRE were a partisan group, its arguments amount to nothing more than cover for their devious ends. You seem to embody what Nat Hentoff -- columnist for The Village Voice, certified liberal, and member of FIRE's Board of Directors -- would call the "free speech for me, but not for thee" mentality. Even if you believe that FIRE promotes a partisan agenda, why are you afraid of that? Why have you so little faith in your own ideas that you fear what may occur if othes can challenge you and those who agree with you? You should, I think, have the courage of your convictions, and you should have a fair forum in which to voice your opinions. That is all FIRE seeks to promote.

Anonymous said...

TO,
You can't say you don't miss the eloquent ramblings of emmett hogan; it made review articles I completely disagreed with pleasurable reads. I think that its in the college's best interest from a PR standpoint to just rerecognize Zete on the grounds that none of the current Zetes were around at the time. Put them through an arduous year long process like they did with Phi Delt, and if they stay out of trouble, give em another shot. That said, the Zete incident was so tasteless it's hard to imagine that it's a good rallying cry for FIRE, the Greek system, or anyone.

On a related note Emmett, what do you think of what went down at Colgate?
-Janos

Emmett said...

Well TO, no pissing contest -- just pointing out that David French is well qualified to talk about the law of harassment. Also, I'm not sure where I spelled Donin's name incorrectly. As for "dixit," well, perhaps it's a bit pretentious, but I also happen to like it, so I used it. It's a nice word.

On anonymous's comment, I think that whoever posted is right to wonder why a "public interest" organization has recently become so relevant in the campus debates and why it always seems to be on the side of the Review and the fraternities.

Well, the reason here is because fraternities, conservative students, religious students -- these are usually the ones on the business end of hostility to free speech. It wasn't always this way, and it might not be again; but that's they way it is now, and only partisan blindness could prevent you from seeing that.

Also: listen to yourself. You sound like a xenophone, irrationally fearing outsiders.

Surely you've got a better answer than "I know these people."

Um, yes, and I made sure to mention them before I used that one. Did you forget the cases I mentioned?

I happen to think that federalism is a worthy government principle and one that's written into the Constitution, but when and administration that professes fidelity to federalism and yet participates in things like the Terry Schiavo debacle and the Raich v. Ashcroft prosecution, federalism begins to look more like a convenient talking point than a principle.

Em, I don't know what this has to do with anything.

Show me examples of where FIRE has come to the aid of liberally-minded students against a more conservative-minded college's policies and I'll concede that you've answered anonymous's question.

Em, I did, repeatedly. Go to FIRE's website and look up the cases at those schools in the post.

As for Janos -- what's up Janos, good to hear from ya. I'm not sure what you're referring to, though, with respect to Colgate.... Care to enlighten me?

Anonymous said...

Emmett, I do not lack faith in my ideas. I merely believe that FIRE has no place within the debate about the future of Dartmouth, since it is an organization that has no affiliation with the College and yet vigorously attempts to color the conversation in its colors (mostly, red).

And besides, they seem to miss the point that the university is not a laboratory for the First Amendment but, ideally, a marketplace of ideas vociferously and actively exchanged.

Now, giving voice to certain reactionary elements often alienates minority/fringe groups (whether ethnic, social, gender, etc.), thus creating a din where little else is heard. As I remember from my time at Dartmouth, the Review usually sought to drown out dissenting opinions and mock those who spoke out for unpopular beliefs. Now, where is the freedom in that?

Let UPenn and Yale have their glowing reviews from FIRE, I am perfectly happy with our failing marks.

Anonymous said...

Re Colgate: http://www.thedartmouth.com/article.php?aid=2005041801020

Anonymous said...

FIRE's main importance and the bulk of its business are related to unconstitutional state regulation of speech at universities. It probably includes other schools in its list for completeness, or to keep itself on its toes, or because it also cares about places where students' right to speech is not guaranteed by the First Amendment even though FIRE has nothing to lend there but moral support. FIRE's relevance at Dartmouth is minimal.

T said...

I say it's far better that both of you sound like foreigners than that you fear them, as a xenophobe would.

Timothy said...

"Melissa milked her fifteen minutes; it is simply false to say that anyone was harmed by this."

Emmett- I can tell you're angry when a woman stands up against those who have wronged her.

Even if she came out "better" than she otherwise would have been, that does not change that she was harmed as a result of Zete's actions.

Melissa may have made lemonade out of lemons. That doesn't mean Zete didn't serve up lemons to her.

Anonymous said...

I still wonder why Zete's defense wasn't "everything we said was true." Probably because they didn't want to be further alienated than they already were. And probably because their defense on things like the promised "date rape tips" was that material wasn't true. But otherwise I speculate that everything they said about her WAS true.

Emmett said...

I merely believe that FIRE has no place within the debate about the future of Dartmouth, since it is an organization that has no affiliation with the College and yet vigorously attempts to color the conversation in its colors (mostly, red).

So your arguments for why FIRE should not voice its opinions are, in sum:

1. FIRE is an outsider, and
2. FIRE is conservative.

The first is true but irrelevant -- why does an organization devoted to free expression have to have some connection with Dartmouth to be able to speak about the state of free speech on its campus? Can't FIRE be involved on behalf of the public interest? Does your argument mean that FIRE can't voice its opinion about a school until it hires an alum or an intern or something from that school? (And why doesn't my association with FIRE satisfy you on this score, if you're so insistent on it?) Do you have an opinion about affirmative action in the UC system? If so, under your argument, what right do you have to express it?

It's worth noting that this argument against the troublesome outsiders is precisely the argument made by Southern defenders of Jim Crow in the 1960s, who regarded Northern civil rights advocates as interlopers. It suffers from the same defects and is also (though, of course, to a lesser extent) morally repugnant.

As for your second argument, it is, as I have mentioned before, both false and irrelevant. Even if FIRE were a conservative organization (which you continue to assert without addressing any of my arguments to the contrary), that does not mean it thus has no right to express its opinion about events at Dartmouth. Imagine if I were to say that the ACLU should not comment on Dartmouth's affairs because it colors things in a shade of blue. That wouldn't pass muster as a credible argument.

Now, giving voice to certain reactionary elements often alienates minority/fringe groups (whether ethnic, social, gender, etc.), thus creating a din where little else is heard.

Sigh.... FIRE is not reactionary, and FIRE does not seek to silence anyone. FIRE will of course fight to secure the free speech rights of all minority/fringe groups (which, on college campuses, are more likely to be conservative and religious students anyway).

More importantly, your argument is really very patronizing of the very "minority/fringe groups" you purport to defend. Why is it you feel they are not able to stand on their own two feet and defend their views as individuals? And your easy equation of conservative views with hostility to your "minority/fringe groups" is unfounded and insulting. You may think that liberal arguments are more likely to have the interests of your "minority/fringe groups" at heart, and you are of course entitled to think that; but that is no justification for denying conservative students the right to voice their opinions. That is pure censorship: prohibiting expression simply because you don't like what is being said.

Besides, since when is it "reactionary" to fight for free speech for everyone? Was the ACLU reactionary when it defended the Klan's right to march in Skokie, Illinois?

FIRE's main importance and the bulk of its business are related to unconstitutional state regulation of speech at universities. [...] FIRE's relevance at Dartmouth is minimal.

Sorry, Anonymous, but you are completely wrong here. (For one thing, you don't get to decide the scope of FIRE's mission.) FIRE is not concerned about state regulation alone. FIRE is concerned about the state of free speech in higher education (and the wider society) generally. Your assertion that FIRE doesn't concern itself with these sorts of things simply does not make it so. Check out FIRE's website, for crying out loud.

Indeed, if anything, FIRE is probably more concerned about private universities, where students are less likely to have recourse to legal remedies that are, at least, available at public schools.

At private schools, it takes more than persuading a judge or jury -- it takes cultivating and promoting an atmosphere that tolerates dissent. FIRE is interested in Dartmouth because the debate that rages there is directly the sort of debate in which FIRE is engaged as its central purpose. If Dartmouth's attitude towards free speech can change, then there's hope for many other schools out there.

Emmett- I can tell you're angry when a woman stands up against those who have wronged her.

Even if she came out "better" than she otherwise would have been, that does not change that she was harmed as a result of Zete's actions.


Tim, this is circular, and cheap. I think women should always stand up to those who wrong them (men too, for that matter); the question here is whether she has actually been harmed. You're essentially saying that even if she suffered no harm, there's no denying that she suffered harm. I'm telling you that, based on what she told me, she herself did not feel harmed; instead, she got a perverse enjoyment out of it all. That seems like it should be pretty authoritative.

There's no need for spurious accusations here. I don't condone Zete's behavior, and if Melissa Heaton had felt deeply offended by it, I would certainly be sympathetic. (Indeed, other girls were mentioned, and I'm sure their reactions were different from Melissa's; since I assume they genuinely felt embarrassed or hurt, I say their feelings are entirely justified and I feel very sorry for them.)

But Melissa did not feel harmed, and yet she claimed just that, gleefully making hay of the matter. I think that sounds like hypocrisy. In fact, those other girls mocked in the paper for whom I do feel sympathy might have been spared the embarrassment they felt if Melissa Heaton hadn't been scrounging around in the trash. I'm not saying it's better that these things not come out; the truth, after all, is always a good in itself. But Melissa Heaton wasn't interested in truth, she was interested in making hay; and I really, strongly doubt that she gave any thought to the other people who might be embarrassed as a result of her self-serving behavior.

But otherwise I speculate that everything they said about her WAS true.

Not to my knowledge -- I understand it was supposed to call her slutty by depicting exaggerated and fictional exploits. It's a common, effective, and perfectly acceptable tactic; the Onion uses it a lot to call Bush dumb, for instance. In any event, I don't suspect the things they said were true (while I do accuse her of hypocrisy, I don't think she's a slut or anything like that).

Finally, Janos, as for the Colgate thing: it's simply ridiculous. In fact, I would really be surprised if it weren't well beyond their contractual powers; if they are forced to give in, I could see them getting a declaratory judgment undoing it all on the basis of duress.

It's really shocking that a college would be so willing to resort to such strong-arm tactics. What a shame.

Timothy said...

Emmett claims of me: "You're essentially saying that even if she suffered no harm, there's no denying that she suffered harm."

Uh, no.
She can suffer -10 harm from Zete, and then get +20 benefit from talking to the press. Or maybe she only got +5 benefit from talking to the press. Who knows. It doesn't matter. She was still harmed by Zete, in the sense that 'they' did her wrong. Maybe she was not harmed by the whole 'Zete incident' taken a whole, but that doesn't change the fact that Zete did her wrong. Lemonade from lemons.

Emmett said...

Timothy, your observation is correct, but unless we think that the College should be moral enforcers, it's irrelevant. The College should not punish speech on the basis of moral harm alone. Even a claim of harassment requires that the speech somehow interfere with the enjoyment of educational benefits in some tangible way (for the record, this could include serious emotional and psychological harm). My point is not that Melissa Heaton wasn't insulted, or that Zete's comments were hunky-dory. Rather, I'm saying that the demonstrable fact that, in the end, Melissa Heaton suffered no tangible harm -- and, indeed, the fact that she turned their insults to her advantage -- really takes the wind out of the College's sails when it comes to justifying such harsh punishment.

Emmett said...

(And again, I remind you that the main offical charge was, after all, "harassment.")

Timothy said...

Emmett says: "I'm telling you that, based on what she told me, she herself did not feel harmed"

"But Melissa did not feel harmed, and yet she claimed just that, gleefully making hay of the matter."

These statements are in tension, to say the least. A woman claims she was harmed, but Emmett says he knows she was not because of what the woman told him. So if we take Emmett at his word (unless he has more secret information), Emmett is saying that there is no way that Melissa could have been harmed or offended and later took joy in publicity. What an offensive notion.

I'm not saying that every woman who says she is harmed must be. Emmett is claiming he knows that Melissa did not actually feel agreived. How many of you think it likely that she was thinking of her TV interview when digging through that nasty trash at Zete? Yeah right. She may have enjoyed that after the fact, but that was not her likely motivation.

Timothy said...

That last comments of mine were composed before Emmett's previous two.

Emmett said...

Timothy, you're right to say that Melissa Heaton probably did not have delusions of celebrity in mind when she was digging for the Zetemouth. And she may even have been genuinely hurt and offended when she first learned what was written about her. But simply put: yes, she basically told me that she did not think it was such a big deal, but she enjoyed the celebrity and the chance to cause trouble for the frats, and for Zete in particular. She also told me that she thought permanent derecognition was a harsh punishment, but she loved the fact that she was "winning" (her word). I remember the conversation as if it happened yesterday.

Sometimes legitimate motives deliquesce into illegitimate ones; the distinction is not always clear, but it is always an important one when weighing moral culpability or credibility. My point is that Melissa Heaton has no moral credibility because her claimed victimization does not square with her petty, callous, and vindictive attitude.

Timothy said...

"My point is not that Melissa Heaton wasn't insulted..."

Well, you said she was not harmed.

You said "Melissa Heaton wasn't interested in truth" How do you know that? Merely because she said she enjoyed the publicity? Must she remain a wounded person forever to count as "harmed"? Does some one who stands up for themselves and becomes proactive, and even enjoys standing up for themselves, automatically not become a victim, even if they suffered a geniune insult or harm? I think you would not deny (I hope) that a reason person could be enraged or seriously offended by this action of Zete's, especially after they promised they would stop. What a bind to put women in. Whatever you want to say about the legal merits of the case, honestly realize the problems out there.

Timothy said...

Again, my last post composed before Emmett's previous.

Emmett said...

Timothy, mere insult cannot be automatically equated with actionable harm. To do so would mean allowing the College to police the morality of its students' expressions.

Does some one who stands up for themselves and becomes proactive, and even enjoys standing up for themselves, automatically not become a victim, even if they suffered a geniune insult or harm?

Certainly not, and I hope I haven't given that impression. When a person chooses to defend herself, that fact should not be held to suggest that she was not actually harmed. But that's not what we have here. We have the public Melissa Heaton, bursting with outrage and pain, and the private Melissa Heaton, whose motives are petty, self-serving, and regrettable.

I don't agree with your assessment because I don't believe she was being "proactive" or "standing up" for herself.

Moreover, I think we would still expect of a person who is rightfully indignant that she not use her rightful indignation as an excuse to abandon her moral compass. Even Melissa Heaton felt that the punishment was too harsh, but didn't care because she was winning. Are we simply to ignore this?

Timothy said...

Emmett- Suppose that the college reasoned as you have in your discussion on this board (the parts that I have specifically addressed, not all your reasoning). Suppose that the college justified its decision by saying that Heaton was not harmed since she was obviously enjoying the publicity.

Wouldn't Heaton then feel aggreived? and rightly so? (or just because she was not 'winning'?) And then wouldn't she have suffered harm? Hmmmm....

Timothy said...

Emmett- I'm curious what you think of this... (and the comments)

http://freedartmouth.blogspot.com/2005_03_13_freedartmouth_archive.html#111084624764519251

Timothy said...

"Tim, this is circular, and cheap. I think women should always stand up to those who wrong them (men too, for that matter); the question here is whether she has actually been harmed. You're essentially saying that even if she suffered no harm, there's no denying that she suffered harm... There's no need for spurious accusations here."

Anyway, I hope you realize where I was coming from and no longer think what I said was circular, cheap, and spurious. Why the switch from 'Tim' to 'Timothy' by the way, old friend?

Emmett said...

Suppose that the college justified its decision by saying that Heaton was not harmed since she was obviously enjoying the publicity.

Well, this would be inappropriate. As I said, even obvious enjoyment of publicity does not mean a person was not harmed; but it may (and, I argue, does here) suggest that other, more revealing motives were at play.

Besides, the College should only be asking whether Heaton suffered some actionable harm. If the evidence suggests that she is publicizing the events not just out of righteous indignation, but for self-serving reasons, well then it would surely be justified in taking this into account when deciding if real harm was suffered.

Emmett said...

Sorry Tim, didn't want simply to assume it was you. There might be some other horribly wrong Timothy out there. Heh heh heh....

Timothy said...

Emmett- Can you imagine the College saying "Even Melissa Heaton felt that the punishment was too harsh, but didn't care because she was winning. Are we simply to ignore this?"

You honestly wanted the college to pay attention to it? You expect them to say 'Emmett Hogan says Melissa Heaton said this so there's no actionable harm'? What I think you mean by 'we' is those of us discussing this publically. But I cannot see how a judicial procedure could take into account something like this.

Timothy said...

I know you value your opinion, Emmett, but even I can't believe that you think it should change a decision so drastically.

Timothy said...

"As I said, even obvious enjoyment of publicity does not mean a person was not harmed"

Gee, wonder how I could have thought otherwise with such early statements like "Melissa milked her fifteen minutes; it is simply false to say that anyone was harmed by this."

We all know what that semicolon means!

Timothy said...

By the way, you mention those other girls besides Melissa:
"Indeed, other girls were mentioned, and I'm sure their reactions were different from Melissa's; since I assume they genuinely felt embarrassed or hurt, I say their feelings are entirely justified and I feel very sorry for them."
Well, let's say that some of the other girls felt harassed or wronged or whatever. They may even have wanted Zete to be punished as it was. Should the College really change its policy and not derecognize because you think Melissa Heaton is having a little too much fun and has 'lost her moral compass'?

Emmett said...

Tim, as for the link you provided:

It seems Horowitz jumped the gun a bit. Too bad, it happens to the best of 'em. He should be more careful next time.

But the question really does seem tendentious to me. Furthermore, the two introductory sentences are presented as assumptions that do not adequately describe the way I, for instance, would describe those same events. I agree with Justin that "critique" would have been better. I will say, however, that I don't object to the use of the Iraq War as a test case for a theory that, presumably, was within the purview of the class.

Emmett said...

No, I think they shouldn't have punished them because they did nothing that they should punish -- it's not significant enough to warrant punishment on a campus that acknowledges its students' freedoms. But Melissa Heaton's particular undeserving state certainly bears on the question.

Timothy said...

By the way, Emmett, your argument reminds me of this argument against reparations:

1. Typical arguments about reparations claim that reparations should be given because person X is worse off and person Y is better off because the ancestor of person Y did an injustice to the ancestor of person X (such as enslaved them). But for this historical injustice, person X would have been better off. The problem is that since any major event like slavery is likely to affect who is born, person X cannot honestly say they are worse off as a result of that historical injustice, unless he would literally be better off not being alive.

2. Or, let's keep it within one person's lifetime, to eliminate that problem:
Should Germany say to a well-off American Jew that he or she should not get reparations for being forced out of Germany or surviving the holocaust, because but for that event the Jewish person would not have fleed to America? And if that person had not fleed to America, they would not have had all that opportunity with which to become wealthy? Even if reparations should not be given, the Jew was wronged and harmed by Germany.

Timothy said...

Emmett- wrong post- scroll down to "Did Trustee Candidate Todd Zywicki know about the 1987 'Zete Sex Papers'?"

Try this link:
http://freedartmouth.blogspot.com/2005_03_13_freedartmouth_archive.html#111084624764519251

Timothy said...

"But Melissa Heaton's particular undeserving state certainly bears on the question."

How?

Emmett said...

Tim, I'm on your side with the example from reparations for Jewish victims of the Nazis, but I distinguish them by referring to the degree of difference between them and here. With Melissa Heaton, the moral case is not offensive enough -- or, ought not be considered offensive enough -- to trigger punishment in a free society. It is weakened because Melissa Heaton was not really harmed and took cynical advantage of her claimed victim status; but it is fatally weakened only because Zete's behavior ought not be punished by any administration content to leave its students to run their own lives.

Anonymous said...

Emmett, I am not in any way patronizing the minority groups I think FIRE is attempting to stifle. I am merely suggesting that minority groups are often placed in marginal positions and have trouble enough being heard. If conservative views, which are expressedly aimed at silencing these groups (c.f. any issue of the Dartmouth Review), are allowed more freedom on campus, we will lose the diversity of debate that a college should strive for.

If you think FIRE can have its opinion on Dartmouth matters, I will not necessarily argue with that. But what I abhore is the aggresive fashion in which it has injected itself into this debate, effectively hijacking the arena.

And you should know that Zywicki and Roberston sound like parrots in their emails to the alumni, squaking the only two little phrases they know "FIRE rates Dartmouth as..." and "Much like T.J. Rodgers, I will..."

No wonder Prof. Ackerman sent out that now-famous email. I share her views, and I think we will soon discover that most alumni do, as well.

Emmett said...

If conservative views, which are expressedly aimed at silencing these groups (c.f. any issue of the Dartmouth Review), are allowed more freedom on campus, we will lose the diversity of debate that a college should strive for.

You have got to be kidding me. First of all, it is wrong and insulting for you to say that conservative views are aimed at "silencing these groups" (especially when you're the one seeking to bar one side from the debate!). You don't get to tell us what our goals are; I can assure you, your cartoonish impression of the motives of conservatives is disgracefully wrong. Heck, all I am saying is that conservatives should be able to participate in the debate, to have a place at the table; you are the one who says that one side in the debate should not be heard. You are the one with censorship as your purpose.

You say that conservative voices should be excluded from the debate in order to promote diversity of debate? This is absurd. All that is promoted by your suggestion is the monopolization of debate.

Furthermore, do you really believe that minorities, gays, liberals, etc. on campus don't currently enjoy an administration stacked with eager fellow travellers? Given the toxic levels of political correctness in the ranks of the College's bureaucracy, do you really contend that their position really so precarious that merely expressing a conservative view threatens -- somehow -- to silence them? If you do, then I have a bridge to sell you.

Your attitude is striking in its arrogance. Hyperbole doesn't help, and your efforts to gussy up your hostility to other points of view as mere concern for the ability of others to express themselves rings hollow. It can never be maintained as a general rule that one point of view should not be expressed merely because of the response it might provoke, be it rebuttal or silence, in those who disagree. The individual bears the moral responsibility for defending his views when they are challenged; it is entirely inappropriate (especially on a college campus) to call down the heavy hand of authority to do it for him by barring critics. If, as you seem to fear, gay rights advocates (for example) will not voice their opinions because conservative students are free to voice theirs (an extremely unlikely proposition, to say the very least -- if anything, they'll probably redouble their efforts), then the blame is with those gay rights advocates themselves. I have no sympathy for them if they are cowed by a mere argument. If they lack the courage of their convictions, the conservative students should not be punished for it. If they find themselves unable to defeat the conservative point of view, or even if they could not be bothered mounting a refutation, then they hold their ideas -- if they continue to hold them -- not as reasoned convictions, but as unthinking prejudice. This is precisely the sort of thing that a college education is supposed to discourage.

Your hostility to the free exchange of ideas is very, very troubling. I hope you do not represent the general attitude on campus.

Random 04 said...

"I am not in any way patronizing the minority groups I think FIRE is attempting to stifle. I am merely suggesting that minority groups are often placed in marginal positions and have trouble enough being heard. If conservative views, which are expressedly aimed at silencing these groups (c.f. any issue of the Dartmouth Review), are allowed more freedom on campus, we will lose the diversity of debate that a college should strive for."

A couple things bother me with this comment.

First, isn't the Review a minority group? Last time I checked conservatives are definitely a minority on Dartmouth's campus. I agree with you that the college needs to strive for diversity, and that minorities need some amount of protection, but you seem to be advocating selective protection for the groups that you happen to agree with. The conservative voice is a dying breed on Dartmouth's college, and if there is any sort of diversity that DEFNITELY needs to be protected at a flourishing college it is viewpoint diversity.

Second, I find your argument that FIRE has no place in this argument largely disingenuous. I doubt that you'd be making the same argument if LAMBDA or the NAACP tried to have its voice heard if there were gay or black issues going down on campus. It's the same deal here. There's a group on campus that is being suppressed. There is a non-profit organization that professes to have some sort of expertise in the area and whose mission it is to try to rectify such situations, so it vociferously voices its opinion. If you are going to knock FIRE, at least be honest and say it's because you disagree with them. Don't start yapping about "It's not their place, blah blah blah" because I seriously doubt you would consistently hold that position in other situations.

Emmett said...

If you think FIRE can have its opinion on Dartmouth matters, I will not necessarily argue with that. But what I abhore is the aggresive fashion in which it has injected itself into this debate, effectively hijacking the arena.

Aggressive? How has FIRE been aggressive? All FIRE has done is commented -- pointedly, to be sure, but respectfully and fairly. What constitutes "aggressive"? Where is the line? And besides, even if FIRE is "aggressive," why does that mean that they should then not be allowed to comment?

And how have they "hijacked" anything? As Susan Ackerman's letter shows, the defenders of the status quo are hardly powerless. Failure to mount a good response is, more likely, proof of the status quo's indefensibility than it is proof of the "aggressive" "hijacking" of the debate. Kindly address the merits of their arguments; again, your hyperbole doesn't help.

And you should know that Zywicki and Roberston sound like parrots in their emails to the alumni, squaking the only two little phrases they know "FIRE rates Dartmouth as..." and "Much like T.J. Rodgers, I will..."

Thank you for enlightening me.

Emmett said...

That said, the Zete incident was so tasteless it's hard to imagine that it's a good rallying cry for FIRE, the Greek system, or anyone.

Oops -- Janos, I missed this aside of yours. I'll simply say that I doubt the Klan's right to march in Skokie was a great rallying cry for the ACLU, either -- unless you believe, as I do, that it is a positive good to defend the free speech rights of everyone, regardless of point of view.

It's important to remember that no one ever gets in trouble for saying they love puppies; it's usually speech that is objectionable or offensive to some well-protected group that occasions censorship. So whenever you're defending someone's right to free speech, odds are that person is in trouble because he offended someone. We do have a selection bias, but it comes with the territory, and there's nothing more you can say about it except "oh well."

Emmett said...

As I remember from my time at Dartmouth, the Review usually sought to drown out dissenting opinions and mock those who spoke out for unpopular beliefs. Now, where is the freedom in that?

As I re-read these comments, I am struck yet again by how absurd they are. For goodness' sakes, how does a newspaper "drown out dissenting opinions"? Don't like what you read? Don't read it! Write a rebuttal column! Start a fire with it! You make it sound like the Review is driving around campus with a blaring bullhorn. Again, hyperbole does not help!

Dartlog Editor said...

TO's post from April 24 at 11:40 PM had a long URL that messed up formatting. I'm reposting it here with a better-formatted link.

----------

Eh... Donin has law degrees from UPenn and London. Why the resume pissing contest? You can at least spell the guy's name right.
Link

Perhaps you'll disappear for a couple of days, read your post again, and realize that it's a masturbatory rant full of cutesy asides that adds nothing to French's arguments. Do you actually say "dixit" when you're talking to your friends?

Stripped of extraneous crap, above post says:

Donin tries to obfuscate by dragging in the First Amendment and stuff like harassment and copyright infringement, French and Herman rightly call him out on it, what is there still to argue? On what basis does Dartmouth still claim to respect free speech and not have a speech code?

Great points. No need to obscure them with gloating.

On anonymous's comment, I think that whoever posted is right to wonder why a "public interest" organization has recently become so relevant in the campus debates and why it always seems to be on the side of the Review and the fraternities. Surely you've got a better answer than "I know these people." It's well and good to take short comment posts and spin them into whatever you'd like to pretend they actually say, but I don't think that anyone is suggesting that "free speech" in its purest form is inherently partisan.

Rather, the implication is that maybe FIRE is selective about which examples of suppression it chooses to go after. I happen to think that federalism is a worthy government principle and one that's written into the Constitution, but when and administration that professes fidelity to federalism and yet participates in things like the Terry Schiavo debacle and the Raich v. Ashcroft prosecution, federalism begins to look more like a convenient talking point than a principle.

Show me examples of where FIRE has come to the aid of liberally-minded students against a more conservative-minded college's policies and I'll concede that you've answered anonymous's question. Until then, I'd say that you're doing the same thing of which you accuse Donin, which is beating up a strawman because it's easier than confronting the real argument.

Anonymous said...

Emmett -

I know that you are intent on exposing what you think are inherent contradictions in my argument but I maintain that certain socio-historical factors support my point of view regarding minory groups and restrictions speech.

First of all, allow me to admit I actually wrote some articles for the Review, so I think I speak from rather firm ground when I make my charges against it. For all intents and purposes, the Review has seemed at times like it is a step away from standing on the Green with a bullhorn, with its shrill rhetoric against the Freedman/Wright administrations and a veritable legion of campus activists. But I suppose croquet mallets will do for now.

Historically, there is inarguably a case against the Review: from the destruction of the shanty town on the Green to Laura Ingraham's covert taping of a gay student group's proceedings to DeSouza's racist articles in "ebonics." What is wrong with wanting to protect students from this sort of virulent activity? What place does it have on campus? Students wishing to express conservative viewpoints have many proper outlets to do so - from what I know, the Beacon is even back in print.

Worst of all, you seem to think that opinions have no effect and mrely evaporate in ether, though you know perfectly well that hate crimes are regularly incited by the writings/sayings of so-called "thinkers" like Matthew Hale and other demagogues operating under the guise of free speech. In response, historically weak groups will simply retreat into silence, unless we offer them assurance and protection - which is why I made my argument against FIRE in the first place.

Emmett said...

First of all, allow me to admit I actually wrote some articles for the Review, so I think I speak from rather firm ground when I make my charges against it.

I was a contributing editor. I think I know better.

For all intents and purposes, the Review has seemed at times like it is a step away from standing on the Green with a bullhorn.

You've already asserted this silly claim -- now please defend it. An assertion is not an argument. Are you saying that the mere existence of these written views is intolerable, regardless of whether you read them or not? Are you saying they intrude on you even when they sit, unread, on a dorm room floor, or stacked on a table, or in a garbage bin? If you have the power to avoid them completely, how is it anywhere near as intrusive as you claim?

Your knee-jerk intolerance for views you dislike is breathtaking. You need a stronger stomach for dissenting views; living on a college campus ought to have required that you encounter ideas offensive to you on a regular basis. (If not, then you should go ask for your money back.) Ironically, you yourself are a casualty of the very intolerance you are seeking so desperately to defend. Your arguments are proof positive that Dartmouth needs to cultivate tolerance for free speech -- and soon.

What is wrong with wanting to protect students from this sort of virulent activity? What place does it have on campus? Students wishing to express conservative viewpoints have many proper outlets to do so - from what I know, the Beacon is even back in print.

What's wrong with it? It means you censor, that's what's wrong with it; it means you somehow get to decide what opinions can be expressed and what is the proper way to express them. Do conservatives get to ban pro-choice demonstrators from carrying signs saying "get your rosaries off my ovaries," on the grounds that they merely want to protect religious students from such "virulent activity"? Can they shut down a production of the Vagina Monologues on the grounds that feminist ideas can arguably be expressed in a less provocative way? Couldn't they, just as easily as you, say "what's wrong with that"? Hmm?

Emmett said...

In response, historically weak groups will simply retreat into silence, unless we offer them assurance and protection - which is why I made my argument against FIRE in the first place.

Saying that historically weak groups (which are, as noted, quite strong on Dartmouth's campus) need your "assurance and protection" isn't patronizing? I don't think so....

More importantly: I challenge you to cite one - one - instance at Dartmouth in which this has occurred. After every flap (the Zete papers, the Psi U "wah-hoo-wah" business, the lu'au and ghetto parties), you couldn't swing a cat on campus without hitting someone voicing extreme indignation. Liberals seek to justify censorship on the grounds that, otherwise, their favored minorities would be silenced -- yet they can never show any evidence that people are ever actually silenced. They go so far as to ignore the ample evidence that, at Dartmouth at least, these groups are quite active and vociferous indeed.

Heck, Dartmouth conservatives can point to plenty of instances where they have been subjected to behavior that comes pretty damn close to intimidation. The disgraceful behavior of Professor Cole, the administration's proven desire to go after Review students, its eagerness to punish frats for the slightest infraction, its slavish devotion to political correctness, the hearings over whether Campus Crusade for Christ should actually be punished simply for distributing copies of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity to the freshman class - despite the fact that rainbow stickers are routinely mailed to every Hinman box!) - all these show that conservatives, not liberals, are the ones who should be worried about "silencing."

And yet, I have never heard any conservative commentator at Dartmouth say that liberal speech should be restricted to the degree that they would restrict conservative speech. Funny, that.

Timothy said...

Emmett says: "the hearings over whether Campus Crusade for Christ should actually be punished simply for distributing copies of C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity to the freshman class - despite the fact that rainbow stickers are routinely mailed to every Hinman box!"

Gays and Christians- both trying to convert? Emmett cannot stand it! Equal proselytization for all!

Why does Emmett use the example of gays? Would Emmett's statement above have had the point he wanted to if he substituted in 'anti racial discrimation stickers'?

I don't remember getting a rainbow sticker mailed to me, btw.

Timothy said...

Emmett says to someone else: "Your knee-jerk intolerance for views you dislike is breathtaking."

Heh. I have often said or wanted to say to Emmett something like "Your knee-jerk intolerance is breathtaking."

Emmett said...

Heh. I have often said or wanted to say to Emmett something like "Your knee-jerk intolerance is breathtaking."

Well, best I can tell, I'm the only one saying "free speech for everyone"....

Emmett said...

Why does Emmett use the example of gays? Would Emmett's statement above have had the point he wanted to if he substituted in 'anti racial discrimation stickers'?

The only difference is that fewer people would have found them objectionable (although they might still be objectionable if they assume a certain viewpoint or are otherwise overwrought or annoying in some way). In any case, though, I would not prohibit it.

Timothy said...

Emmett seemed to largely understand my objections yesterday. But I was reading over this comment thread, and I saw this wrongheaded comment by Emmett:

"Rather, I'm saying that the demonstrable fact that, in the end, Melissa Heaton suffered no tangible harm -- and, indeed, the fact that she turned their insults to her advantage -- really takes the wind out of the College's sails when it comes to justifying such harsh punishment. (And again, I remind you that the main offical charge was, after all, "harassment.")"

Heaton suffered tangible harm. She was harassed. Emmett's main (and presumably strongest) arguments are for no punishment at all, not for minimal punishment. I don't see how *he* can use his free speech arguments to argue for minimal punishment. He has no good argument about why Heaton's supposed statements should decrease the punishment for Zete. There are other women. Heaton herself was initially harmed. Again, Emmett may think that harm should NEVER be punished. But how can he argue that Heaton's supposed moral turpitude and whether she is an angel matters? I think this only makes sense if Emmett is claiming we should not punish harassers for harassing people if the people harassed later get satisfaction after seeking to get their harassers punished (and suceeding).

Timothy said...

Emmett says: "I was a contributing editor. I think I know better."

Emmett- that was a fluff title and you know it! heh.

Timothy said...

Emmett says: "FIRE will of course fight to secure the free speech rights of all minority/fringe groups..."

I love that slash there.... it's sort of forms that big 'other' category

Emmett said...

My choice of example had nothing to do with proselytization, and no such inference should be made. I merely tried to use an example to reflect two common opponents on many issues: religious students on the one hand, and gay students on the other.

Emmett said...

Heaton suffered tangible harm. She was harassed.

No, Tim, you're assuming away the question. I say that Melissa Heaton suffered no tangible harm (or at least, nothing serious enough to satisfy the fairly high requirements of harassment). As I noted, Zete should receive no punishment because its actions should not be punishable. But also, when the harm is at worst de minimis, Zete should receive no punishment because the College should only punish harms that truly deserve it.

But how can he argue that Heaton's supposed moral turpitude and whether she is an angel matters?

Again, Tim, I'm not saying it bears on whether Zete's behavior is culpable or not; I'm saying it bears only on whether, as required, Melissa Heaton suffered some actual harm. When the star witness is cynically taking advantage of the proceedings, it's reasonable to infer that she was not actually harmed. Real victims may fight back, and may even enjoy it; but they usually don't do so cynically, when they really think it's all no big deal.

Timothy said...

Emmett- the reason why CCC was not allowed to mail out the MC probably has something to do with not allowing religious proselytization through Hinman boxes.
CBS for example, does not allow religious organizations to run commercials seeking converts.

Is such a rule a good idea? (And was it even fairly applied in the case of C.S. Lewis?) Maybe not. You can say that not allowing religious proselytization through the mail system is a restriction on speech, but attempts religious conversion have a sordid history and is a line that could be drawn (even if you think that's a bad place to draw the line).

Timothy said...

"Real victims may fight back, and may even enjoy it; but they usually don't do so cynically, when they really think it's all no big deal."

Why then do they fight back? What makes them 'real victims'? And keeps them 'real victims'? And what about the other women?

Timothy said...

"I say that Melissa Heaton suffered no tangible harm (or at least, nothing serious enough to satisfy the fairly high requirements of harassment)."

You said this was a *demonstrable fact*. Please spell out for me now what you mean. Are you saying she was never harassed (wonder why she felt strong enough to go through the garbage), or that her later attitude about mitigates her being harassed earlier (if so, that's a really horrible way for colleges to make desicions about punishment)? Or are you saying the fact that she wanted to get revenge and enjoyed publicity means that she never was harmed in the first place, and that she was cynical from the beginning?
You're so clear on what Melissa Heaton's motives were and how awful they were, so tell us.

Emmett said...

You can say that not allowing religious proselytization through the mail system is a restriction on speech, but attempts religious conversion have a sordid history and is a line that could be drawn (even if you think that's a bad place to draw the line).

Well, I do think that is a bad place to draw the line, since it means prohibiting certain types of persuasive expression based solely on the subject matter of that expression. A policy that prohibits persuasive speech is bad enough; a policy that prohibits only certain kinds of persuasive speech is no better, and may even be worse.

You said this was a *demonstrable fact*. Please spell out for me now what you mean.

I have been doing just that; I have been explaining how her public actions, and her comments to me, suggest that she was not harmed.

Or are you saying the fact that she wanted to get revenge and enjoyed publicity means that she never was harmed in the first place, and that she was cynical from the beginning?

It doesn't mean it, but it does suggest it. At least as it played out in this specific case.

Michael (01) said...

Heaton suffered tangible harm. She was harassed. Emmett's main (and presumably strongest) arguments are for no punishment at all, not for minimal punishment. I don't see how *he* can use his free speech arguments to argue for minimal punishment. He has no good argument about why Heaton's supposed statements should decrease the punishment for Zete. There are other women. Heaton herself was initially harmed. Again, Emmett may think that harm should NEVER be punished. But how can he argue that Heaton's supposed moral turpitude and whether she is an angel matters? I think this only makes sense if Emmett is claiming we should not punish harassers for harassing people if the people harassed later get satisfaction after seeking to get their harassers punished (and suceeding).

Excuse me for interrupting.

Tim: you may have some compelling arguments back there hidden among the histrionics, but this one definitely fails.

One. Melissa Heaton was not "harassed."

Two. None of the other women was "harassed" either. Nor were they threatened. Maybe they were defamed. But the speech was not directed at them, because...

Three. Emmett is right, Heaton did what she did because she had a vendetta against Zeta Psi. She slept with half the house and she was banned because she would go over there drunk, engage the brothers who wanted her banned, have a total meltdown and refuse to leave. Safety and Security was called multiple times. She was told that if she ever set foot on the property again, the fraternity would get a restraining order against her. (The only reason that the fraternity had not already obtained one was that she did have a few sympathizers in the brotherhood, who wanted to give her one last chance. You see how she repaid them.)

All that is important because if Zete had been posting their comments publicly, you would be right -- it would have been sexually harassing those women. There is no doubt about that. But to be harassment, speech has to be directed at someone, not just spoken.

So to sum up this syllogism:
1. To be harassment, speech must be directed at the victim.
2. Harassment is behavior; speech is not behavior.
3. Zeta Psi never intended for its words, however, offensive, to see the light of day. Heaton dug them from a dumpster, partly for vengeance, partly for fame.
4. Tim is wrong that there was harassment here.
5. Since according to President Wright, Dartmouth only punishes behavior and not speech, it wrongly de-recognized Zeta Psi.


Two final points. As a civil liberties watchdog group, FIRE is no less entitled to intervene in the affairs of private institutions than a British media outlet was to intervene in the US election by sending "Please don't vote for Bush" letters to Ohio voters. It's not a perfect analogy, but Republicans' response there was similar to yours here. And I suspect you disagreed with them.

Harassment is addressed at a victim. Though under-litigated, is an offense when it is addressed to anyone, whether it's a basketball player or your secretary. Defamation does not need to be addressed to a particular person; saying false things causes harm. But defamation is a much more powerful tool because it invades the speaker's privacy. Hence there are carve-outs for public figures, semi-public figures, arguably true speech, etc. Dartmouth says it respects the First Amendment. If so, it should leave ALL speech discipline to courts. If Zete harassed or defamed, a million dollar lawsuit would shut its doors in a flash (and confiscate its property, which Dartmouth cannot do). Dartmouth, as opposed to courts, cannot be trusted to be objective in the face of hundreds of angry women kicking in Zete's front door. Hopefully FIRE's spotlight on the administration's shady practices will make President Wright realize that the folly was not in the punishment outweighing the crime, but in there being a "crime" for this in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Hey, nice work, Michael 01. By defaming Melissa's character with the classic line of misoginy ("she slept with half of the house") you attempt to delegitimize her very serious charges against Zete - charges that I and many others upheld as entirely valid grounds for derecognition.

I do not believe that Zete deserve recognition again, unless you think that a foul thing like the Zetemouth has any place on the Dartmouth campus, your self-righteous, specious and shrill arguments for freedom of speech aside.

Emmett said...

Who's self-rightous, Anonymous? You're the one who's trying to censor speech you dislike. That's the height of arrogance.

Emmett said...

By defaming Melissa's character with the classic line of misoginy ("she slept with half of the house") you attempt to delegitimize her very serious charges against Zete.

This is a conclusion, calling for certain assessments to be made about intent. You have to make them.

1. It's not defamation if it's not knowingly false; Michael, of course, asserts this as true.

2. It's not misogynistic to say she slept with half of the house. Isn't it relevant, don't you think, to the question of whether they were parodying a known characteristic of her? Obviously, there's a difference between a totally invented assertion (e.g., Jerry Falwell making out with his mother in an outhouse) and an assertion that makes some comment about its subject (e.g., here); in the latter, it's often harder to say that the person making the statement was acting maliciously.

3. And careful with the imputations of motive there. Isn't calling someone a "misogynist" a little heavy-handed in a simple debate like this?

4. Delegitimize the charges? My dear Anonymous, that is our whole point. Illegitimate charges have no legitimacy, and to "recognize" legitimacy in them is wrong. The charges against Zete are entirely without legitimacy, and so to the extent that they are given legitimacy -- as was most dramatically the case -- they must be delegitimized. That is what we've been trying to do this whole thread.

5. Assuming this is the same anonymous I've been railing against: care to respond to any my numerous points made above?

Anonymous said...

Emmett - Yes, the very same Anonymous who has summoned all of your Reaganite ire. Actually, I knew you a bit in college through Grossman and we had an argument or two of this similar nature.

But let me respond:

1) I did not call the previous poster a mysoginist. I asserted that his claim was one usually used by those who are: attempting to discredit a woman through the description of her sexual history (cf. "The Scarlet Letter").

2) I had inside knowledge of the Zete case, and I can confidently say that the Zetemouth was pure slander. There is no place for the sort of crude mockery that was exhibited there; to call that filth a mere exposition on one's sexual habits, as you seem to suggest, would be like calling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion a comparative study of Judaism.

3) As I wrote back then in an article for the D, the Zetemouth had no purpose outside a malicious intent to cause several women distress. This was accomplished and Zete paid the price.

This simply goes back to my point about FIRE. Allowing organizations like Zete to reign free will cause Dartmouth great harm by driving away individuals who want to know they will be protected against such blatantly offensive behavior (which, before you start fuming, adds no intellectual or cultural value to campus life).

Emmett said...

1) I did not call the previous poster a mysoginist. I asserted that his claim was one usually used by those who are: attempting to discredit a woman through the description of her sexual history (cf. "The Scarlet Letter").

Well, it certainly causes one to ask whether Michael is a misogynist. The statement can be misogynist, but it isn't necessarily, and unless you think Michael is using it in a misogynist way, there's no point in bringing it up.

2) I had inside knowledge of the Zete case, and I can confidently say that the Zetemouth was pure slander. There is no place for the sort of crude mockery that was exhibited there; to call that filth a mere exposition on one's sexual habits, as you seem to suggest, would be like calling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion a comparative study of Judaism.

Not true; at no point have I ever given the impression that I don't think the Zetemouth is offensive. It is offensive. And I have inside knowledge of the Zete case, too; not only was I present at the creation, but I have seen an unedited copy. (I won't say how.) Your analogy is cute but wrong; I am not in any way suggesting the Zetemouth was anything other than tacky, crude, mean-spirited, and offensive.

As I wrote back then in an article for the D, the Zetemouth had no purpose outside a malicious intent to cause several women distress. This was accomplished and Zete paid the price.

This is wrong on the face of it; how can the brothers have intended to "cause several women distress" (and do so maliciously, no less) if they actually intended -- and tried -- to keep it secret? And if what you say -- that they had "no purpose outside" this -- is true, and this "purpose" is so obviously flawed, you should believe that Zete should not be punished.

Your interpretations of what the charges are notwithstanding, it's important to remember that the actual charges were harassment and violation of the Minimum Standards. Those are the charges that you must defend, and they are entirely unsubstantiated.

Emmett said...

attempting to discredit a woman through the description of her sexual history (cf. "The Scarlet Letter").

The Scarlet Letter was about Arthur Dimmesdale's sexual hypocrisy. (And the hypocrisy of puritanism generally.) To my memory, it didn't really touch on discrediting of women through a description of her sexual history. People were not trying to use Hester Prynne's sexual history to discredit her for other reasons; her transgression was her sexual history. Indeed, Dimmesdale too would have been discredited if his part in the whole affair were known (Dimmesdale's attempts to keep it quiet, of course, is the source of his hypocrisy.)

It's not a story of character assassination or anything like that.

Anonymous said...

Emmett, when we are done with this thread, why don't we argue about whether the sky is blue today, or perhaps whether the glass is half empty or half full.

I did not necessarily imply that The Scarlet Letter was a tale of "character assasination," only that it expresses a certain harsh view of feminity that persists to this day. Had I desired to express the point you impute to me, I would have likely referenced Anna Karenina.

But that doesn't get you off the hook with your views on Zete and FIRE.

Emmett said...

Dude, you cited The Scarlet Letter as an example where a woman's sexual history is used against her. That's simply wrong, and the fact that it's wrong is your fault, not mine.

And as for the Zete/FIRE debate -- I've answered everything you've said. You have ignored almost all of my arguments, simply coming up with new ones after I shoot down your old ones. Who's the one on the hook?

David said...

Anonymous... I am on your side here, but you've got to do a little better than that. You have dodged every good argument Emmett has made.

Anonymous said...

David, please feel free to take up the cause. Emmett has made some very good arguments, but he has not swayed me in the convictions I have put forth. If you share them, please speak up.

As it stands, I still believe that he, along with many conservatives, likes to unfurl the banner of free speech whenever a group championed by reactionaries wants to lash out at another, weaker groups. More often than not, the victims of "free speech" are groups that have not had that right until recently, and I see no reason why it is patronizing for us to champion their cause.

Emmett has consistently argued as if oppression/segregation does not exist and has never existed. Were that true, it would follow that no one group needs protection from another.

But at the risk of belaboring the point, I will say yet again that American society is rife with examples that would disprove his point and invalidate his argument. Of course, he is also arguing as if niether society nor jurisprudence has advanced since the ink was fresh on the Constitution, while I am trying to look at the present state of American society, where it is a stark reality that certain groups need more defending than others.

Emmett said...

As it stands, I still believe that he, along with many conservatives, likes to unfurl the banner of free speech whenever a group championed by reactionaries wants to lash out at another, weaker groups.

Yes, Anonymous, I do like to do that very much. But I like to do it for liberal causes, too. If you check FIRE's archives, you'll see that amply demonstrated.

Emmett has consistently argued as if oppression/segregation does not exist and has never existed. Were that true, it would follow that no one group needs protection from another.

Anonymous, you're the one trying to deprive one side of its rights -- remember? Who supports oppression here?

American society is rife with examples that would disprove his point and invalidate his argument.

Generalities won't do; please give me relevant examples of how Dartmouth students have ever been silenced because more speech was allowed. I bet you can't even come up with any examples from recent history, either.

Reagan had a great quote: "the best cure for what ails democracy is more democracy." The best cure for bad speech is better speech.

Of course, he is also arguing as if niether society nor jurisprudence has advanced since the ink was fresh on the Constitution, while I am trying to look at the present state of American society, where it is a stark reality that certain groups need more defending than others.

You do not have to be a strict constructionist to share my point of view. (In fact, Robert Bork -- a strict constructionist, though not a textualist -- thinks the First Amendment only encompasses core political speech. I clearly interpret it more broadly than that.) Furthermore, I'm glad you're so concerned about things as they are, but there's really no excuse for the enforcers of laws and rules to depart from the general principle that people are entitled to equal protection under the law. If you think minority groups need your protection against critics, then argue on their behalf -- don't silence the critics.

Anonymous said...

Emmett, I won't "silence the critics," but I must say the Klan has a peculiar little way of making its opinions known. So do our militant friends in the Midwest, who gave rise to such staunch defenders of the First Amendment as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

Justice Scalia is proud, I am sure.

Emmett said...

Emmett, I won't "silence the critics," but I must say the Klan has a peculiar little way of making its opinions known. So do our militant friends in the Midwest, who gave rise to such staunch defenders of the First Amendment as Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols.

Are you comparing The Dartmouth Review to the Klan and the Oklahoma City Bombers? Please tell me you are.

Emmett said...

Those folks used violence and the threats of violence. I said I wanted an example where people were "silenced" merely because others were allowed to express their views.

Anonymous said...

Just pointing out that not all opinions are voiced over Sanborn Tea.

Have a pleasant weekend.

Emmett said...

Not anymore, anyway.... Sigh....

Same to you.

Anonymous said...

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