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Free Speech Can ‘Undermine A Community’s Foundation,’ UC-Berkeley Chancellor Says

Sounding more like a kindergarten teacher than the chancellor of the university that birthed the Free Speech Movement 50 years ago this fall, the University of California-Berkeley’s Nicholas Dirks sent a jaw-droppingly ignorant email to students, faculty and staff Friday that essentially turns free speech into an endless relativist exercise.

Popehat has a very good point-by-point analysis that serves as the main course, but here’s an appetizer from Dirks’ email:

As a consequence, when issues are inherently divisive, controversial and capable of arousing strong feelings, the commitment to free speech and expression can lead to division and divisiveness that undermine a community’s foundation. [emphasis added]

Popehat says:

In today’s competitive publishing environment it is astonishingly difficult to distinguish yourself as an academic by being wrong about free speech, but Chancellor Dirks is equal to the challenge. His email is so very bad on every level — legally, logically, rhetorically, and philosophically — that it deserves scrutiny.

Read the full Popehat analysis here.

h/t Greg Lukianoff

IMAGE: Sam Graham/Flickr

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” Previously he led media and public relations at Seattle’s Discovery Institute, a free-market think tank. Greg is developing a Web series about a college newspaper, COPY, whose pilot episode was a semifinalist in the TV category for the Scriptapalooza competition in 2012. He graduated in 2001 with a B.A. from Seattle Pacific University, where he co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon.

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