Do we have free speech on campus? Should we? Can we tolerate the speech of others? Are there legitimate limits to that toleration?
These are some of the questions that we’ll engage in this class. We will do so in three ways:
I: First, we’ll read the classic works that define the First Amendment Tradition in the US. That tradition includes British precursors (John Milton on a free press and John Locke on toleration), The Declaration of Independence and the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and some of the central legal cases that have defined Constitutionally “protected” speech (like Abrams v US; Masses v. Patten; Whitney v California). What are the legal protections that come with the “academic freedom” of professors?
II: Second, we’ll study a short history of speech on campus:
We’ll begin by considering the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley (1964); and the failed effort to write speech codes for campuses in the 1980s. We’ll also discuss the most interesting recent news stories and commentary upon speech on campuses like the University of Missouri, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth and elsewhere. These protests have raised vital questions: Should those campuses purge the names of the slave supporters of the past? Are safe spaces, trigger warnings, and sensitivity to “micro-aggressions” legitimate ways to limit free speech on campus? Do they build civility, inhibit robust speech, or “coddle students”?
III: Thirdly, each student will do a research project on campus speech at UC and at UCSB. This could involve web and archival research and/or surveys to document student attitude on free speech and toleration on campus.
Requirements: attendance; 2 short 2-page papers; a late mid-term; and a final 5-page paper that you will give to the class in a 3-minute presentation.