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This paper is a modified version of a talk that was given at the Smart Set Forum: Free Speech on the College Campus on April 21, 2016 at Drexel University. The Forum was sponsored by the Pennoni Honors College.

Discussions about free speech on college campuses are made all the more difficult because many of the controversies that ultimately become framed as controversies about speech begin as controversies about racism, racial equality, sex discrimination, sexual assault, and rape. These are not easy issues to discuss – especially when we disagree. And yet the current state of the “Free Speech” debate on college campuses amounts to little more than a fruitless exchange about who is silencing whom, which distracts us from the issues that require our attention.

More… “Space, Speech, and Subordination on the College Campus”

As both an educator and as an attorney Laura Beth Nielsen has spent her career working on the role of law in social change. Her License to Harass: Law, Hierarchy, and Offensive Public Speech provocatively examines how the law can be used to deal with racist and sexist street speech. In addition to being a professor and director of legal studies at Northwestern University, Nielsen also serves as a research professor at the American Bar Foundation.

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This paper is a modified version of a talk that was given at the Smart Set Forum: Free Speech on the College Campus on April 21, 2016 at Drexel University. The Forum was sponsored by the Pennoni Honors College.

Our current controversies over free speech on campus actually represent the second set of battles in a culture war that erupted in the U.S. during the late 1980s and that subsided by the mid-1990s — its cessation probably due to the emergence of the World Wide Web as a vast, new forum for dissenting ideas. The openness of the web scattered and partly dissipated the hostile energies that had been building and raging in the mainstream media about political correctness for nearly a decade. However, those problems have stubbornly returned, because they were never fully or honestly addressed by university administrations or faculty the first time around. Now a new generation of college students, born in the 1990s and never exposed to open public debate over free speech, has brought its own assumptions and expectations to the conflict.
More… “Free Speech & the Modern Campus”

Camille Paglia is the University Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, where she has taught since 1984. She received her B.A. from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1968 and her M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University in 1971 and 1974 respectively. Her six books are: Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (1990); Sex, Art, and American Culture (1992); Vamps & Tramps: New Essays (1994); The Birds, a study of Alfred Hitchcock published in 1998 by the British Film Institute in its Film Classics Series; Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World’s Best Poems (2005), and Glittering Images: A Journey through Art from Egypt to Star Wars (2012). Her third essay collection is under contract to Pantheon Books.

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Just as the controversy over PEN America’s award to Charlie Hebdo recedes into the distance a new issue has erupted over at AWP concerning the placement of Vanessa Place on a subcommittee. A petition at Change.org opens:

“We find it inappropriate that Vanessa Place is among those who will decide which panels will take place at AWP Los Angeles. We acknowledge Place’s right to exercise her creativity, but we find her work to be, at best, startlingly racially insensitive, and, at worst, racist.”

It did not take long for AWP to agree to the demand:

More… “Vanessa Place Vs. AWP, Woody Allen, and more”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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