October 11, 2006

"Wisconsin’s latest speech code, the 'Think. Respect.' program."

Here's an opinion piece in the Badger Herald by Robert Phansalkar, a UW student (majoring in political science and languages and cultures of Asia):
The [“Think. Respect.”] program calls for university students to search for forms of discrimination and harassment on campus, and when present, to download a “bias incident report form” to be submitted to the Student Advocacy and Judicial Affairs unit of the Dean of Students for a potential investigation. Implicit in this reporting scheme is that students who harass will be punished or reprimanded in some way....

Ironically enough, the university’s protection of students against bias includes political affiliation...
Here's a letter in response to that article by UW polisci prof Donald Downs (who wrote this book about campus speech codes):
It was good to finally see that a student journalist has grasped the fact that the program, as presently conceived, poses a threat to honest discourse and privacy on campus. The program encourages campus citizens to report not only acts of harassment or discrimination that constitute official misconduct, but all forms of “bias,” verbal and non-verbal, without that term being defined in a manner that is consistent with First Amendment principles. In other words, the present policy amounts to a speech code, as it encourages people to file reports on other people’s attitudes and speech that informants deem insufficiently senstive.
Here's the University's announcement of the "Think. Respect." program, explaining the logo, which looks like this:



[IN THE COMMENTS: Pastor Jeff says: "It would look great on an armband. "]

Included in that announcement;
Chancellor John D. Wiley says the campus has seen improvements in climate during the past few years. However, an anti-gay incident in University Housing last spring — one of the driving factors behind the campaign — demonstrated that the campus community still has more work to do.

"We are committed to creating and sustaining a campus community that is open, diverse and inclusive," Wiley says. "We want a campus that embraces difference and where respect is rampant. We will not tolerate bias, racism, disrespect or hate."

To counter racism in any of its forms, Berquam is launching a bias reporting mechanism through the Offices of the Dean of Students Web site.
Here's that website:
A bias incident is a threat or act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation - verbal, written or physical - that is personally directed against or targets a University of Wisconsin-Madison student because of that student's race, age, gender identity or expression, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation, veteran status, or other actual or perceived characteristic.
What is a verbal "act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation" aimed at someone's "political affiliation"? What does "other actual or perceived characteristic" refer to? Students who "have witnessed or experienced a bias-related incident" are told to click to this form (PDF) to submit a report. Back to the website:
Students can report anything, from a hate crime to graffiti to verbal harassment. SAJA will attempt to follow up in every instance, contingent on the information provided, to investigate possible misconduct and to provide resources to the victim.

Berquam says that many hate or bias incidents are relayed anecdotally to ODOS staff. The reporting form is one way to quantify how many incidents take place on campus and provide a method for following up.
Students can report anything? And remember Wiley's statement: "We will not tolerate bias, racism, disrespect or hate." We will not tolerate disrespect? You know, I want students to feel good about campus life, but isn't part of campus life having rowdy debates and vigorous arguments? I know from running this blog that there are people who firmly believe that opposition to gay marriage is bigotry. This program should make students worry that anything other than bland pleasantries is going to get them in trouble with the administration. I wonder if you can report feeling threatened if someone made you feel threatened that they were going to report you for making them feel threatened. And what's the good of encouraging students feel entitled to a cushioned speech environment? How does this equip them to live in the real world?

Why doesn't the university have a program that promotes debate about tough issues and teaches students how to express themselves forcefully? No, no, when someone mocks your political ideas, you ought to slink away and go back to your little room and download a report form.

(And, yes, it's incredibly ironic that the university also went to the wall for free speech values when it dealt with Kevin Barrett.)

AND: Don't miss the new post, with the new logo!

111 comments:

tjl said...

Isn't there something inherently creepy about a campus program which encourages students to inform on each other? There's always been a certain Stalinist quality about the PC enforcement mindset, but this really takes it to a new level.

Tim said...

Good morning! Nice weather we're having! Are those new shoes? Anyway, gotta go - I'm late for my "Think. Respect. re-education class."

Have a nice day!

Dave said...

If you want to think the last place you should be is a college campus.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder how many FTEs go in to deciding which of the complaints to follow up on. What an incredible waste of money.

Goesh said...

- but will the budget allow for camps to correct disrespectful thinking??

Gatt Suru said...

Nah, tjl, that's not overly ugly. It would be authoritarian if they had people specifically hired to track down 'disrespect'. The idea of a citizenry policing itself is a tradition dating back to the first laws. I'd hope people would report a kid planning to commit murder, after all.

What's ugly is what they're banning.

It's no real surprise, of course. For the left-wing, there is no such thing as an individual right, only rights given to the public. Freedom of speech therefor protects the right for paid public speakers or newspapers to provide false information, but not for 'unjournalistic' sources to provide information or opinions.

This is just a reinforcement of that.

drew said...

I'm with tjl on this one. There is something creepy about students ratting out other students for what are/could best be deemed to be personality conflicts. If you disagree with someone else's opinion(s), are you disrepectful of that person? Using the UW guidlelines, perhaps this would be a reportable offense.


On another note, how does the University square this program against the support for teaching that the WTC events on 9/11 were an inside job? Isn't it conceivable that someone (or a LARGE group of someones) could view the "denial" perspective as a reportable offense, since it is disrepectful of those who were killed?

This entire item is a speech code, trying to look like something else. When the "investigators" look into the reports, how is the University community supposed to be certain that the investigators' motives are content-neutral, or even gender, race, or perceived characteristic-neutral? This is what you get when University administrators try to do what they personally perceive is "the right thing", notwithstanding the fact that what they think is "right" is often patently "wrong".

Fenrisulven said...

We want a campus that embraces difference and where respect is rampant.

There are some differences that do not deserve respect.

We will not tolerate bias, racism, disrespect or hate."

"We will not tolerate intolerance!" :)

Ann Althouse said...

Tim: "Good morning! Nice weather we're having! Are those new shoes?"

I'm sorry, Tim. I'm going to have to report you for calling attention to my shoes, which seems sexist to me. Also, I'm feeling that "Good morning! Nice weather" might be some sort of sly anti-WASP mockery.

Sloanasaurus said...

I laughed my ass off while reading Althouse's post. I was assuming it was an Onion article.

When I found out it was true I felt like puking.

There is a phenomenon of intimidation going on around the world in western socities about criticism of Islam. Frankly, people are scared to criticise it at all because the response is always a threat of violence. Who wants to risk their family in such a debate - let someone else do it. Eventually no one will criticise it.

The same is happening at our Universities. Except rather than violence, we use legal sanctions or the dismissal from the University. Eventually, who will want to risk saying anything... let someone else do it.

I think everything should be allowed. And if someone libels or slanders you, you should be allowed to sue for damages (this should include politicians, who should be allowed to sue the press for slander and libel)

George said...

"Think."

When IBM was a fat, dumb, and happy monopoly, that was it's motto.

In IBM's context, what the motto really meant was "Conform" (Don't make waves regarding the way we do things here at IBM.)

We all know what happened to IBM.

In this context, the word "Respect" following the word "Think" means "Or We Will Punish You."

Kent said...

And if someone libels or slanders you, you should be allowed to sue for damages (this should include politicians, who should be allowed to sue the press for slander and libel)

Politicians are allowed to sue for slander and libel.

They're just not allowed to win.

Ann Althouse said...

Drew: "On another note, how does the University square this program against the support for teaching that the WTC events on 9/11 were an inside job? Isn't it conceivable that someone (or a LARGE group of someones) could view the "denial" perspective as a reportable offense, since it is disrepectful of those who were killed?"

The form makes a big point out of saying you're not allowed to report teachers and administrators. So, please, students, just report each other. For ourselves, the faculty insists on hardcore academic freedom. Surely, you understand.

Fenrisulven said...

...Barrett’s highly controversial personal views on the Sept. 11 attacks on America, in which he asserts the attacks were an “inside job” orchestrated to justify a long-term war in the Middle East.

Ah, here's the reason for the fuss? Calling Barrett an idiot/loon/moonbat is now a hatecrime.

stephenb said...

And just what exactly is the administration going to do with "convicted" offenders? Put them in the stocks? Publish their names in the school newspaper?

And why hasn't anyone said the M-word? McCarthyism.

What with all this running around tattling on everyone. Ann, are you sure you got the story right? Is this really from UW-Madison, or are you still daydreaming about Kindergarten?

MadisonMan said...

Also, I'm feeling that "Good morning! Nice weather" might be some sort of sly anti-WASP mockery.

It's also patently false.

Are there buttons with this cool slogan that I can get? I really think a third line, Inform should be added.

Lawpolprof said...

How sad, especially in light of the strides UW has made over the last several years.

I think the key is the attempt by the administration to appear to be responsive to the anti-gay incident. A lot of these codes are simple cya responses from bureaucrats who abdicate their responsibility to make reasoned choices, and instead are content to point to a policy or a program as their responsiveness. But of course with the "right" sort of administrator in charge of this program, it's the protected classes that would easily fall prey to the code.

Embarrassing.

Goatwhacker said...

You know, I want students to feel good about campus life, but isn't part of campus life having rowdy debates and vigorous arguments?

Exactly right. This program seems like the adult equivalent of running to Mom because your brother called you a name. Normally she'd respond to just ignore him, I wonder what the University will do?

Fenrisulven said...

Also, I'm feeling that "Good morning! Nice weather" might be some sort of sly anti-WASP mockery.

MadisonMan: It's also patently false.

Then you get to go before some board or cmte on hate crimes and prove your innocence. When its all over, the only thing people will recall is that you were somehow involved in some kind of despicable bigotry.

jeff_d said...

There's so much wrong with this. It is obviously the product of reactionary groupthink--someone complained about a bias incident and the University wanted to do something that looks like a big deal but won't actually result in anything but wasted man-hours processing complaints.

Of course, identifying and punishing “disrespect” is both offensive in theory and impossible in practice. The idea of punishing a student for discrimination on the basis of “any . . . perceived characteristic” is so far out of line with any reasonable notion of free speech that it is hard to imagine any serious person has actually thought this through.

I know this kind of thing always gets tagged as left-wing excess, but I think it’s worth pointing out that it isn’t “liberal” in any meaningful sense and it certainly doesn’t advance the ball with respect to encouraging tolerance or awareness. The purported advantage of having a racially and culturally diverse campus is that more learning takes place outside the classroom as students interact. Your administration seems hell bent on stifling this interaction by balkanizing the student body into groups of victims and perpetrators, and making students so leery of offending their peers that any genuine exchange of ideas is not worth the risk.

Students not only shouldn’t have the right not to be “disrespected,” they should have the obligation to stick up for themselves. It is absurd for a student to accept a state-subsidized seat at a major university only on condition that the university police the tone and substance of thought and speech to which such student will be exposed.

Anonymous said...

"You will respect me!" Is anyone concerned that Eric Cartman-types are apparently running UW?

Anti-respect thoughtcrime is double plus ungood.

"Don't be late
For the 2-minute Hate!"

SteveR said...

"or other actual or perceived characteristic" huh?

Seems to me, among other things, you could file a complaint if you are asked on a date or turned down for one.

So instead of encouraging people to have face to face discussions, this will lead to more cyber MySpace/Facebook type interaction.

Like Congress passing laws for everyone else, that they themselves are exempt from, another case of freedom for me but not for thee.

Simon Kenton said...

Boulder - the town, not the university - is trying to install a ratline too. It's running into some funding difficulties; most are too intimidated to say they are against it on moral or intellectual grounds, but the money makes a convenient excuse.

If they get it, I intend to file 40 or 50 complaints a day. I just feel ... so dissed .... I mean, I am so dissed. I may form a consciousness-raising circle, if some other rednecks are willing to come out to me, so we can file 400 - 500 complaints a day.

chickenlittle said...

Maybe if tattling and enforcement are evenhandedly applied students will lose interest in thought harrassment. Acts like heckling Jed Smock?
I'm trying to recall the details of an Eldrige Cleaver shout down by the left which occured on campus circa 1980-83. Was anyone here there? What happened?
Thanks

MadisonMan said...

fenris, I'd go before the board and show the statement Nice weather we're having was made on a day in October with rain and temperatures in the 40s. And they'd all agree with me.

Abraham said...

"The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed—would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper—the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you."

JohnF said...

Ann, this is highly disrespectful of Chancellor John D. Wiley.

I am disappointed, but hardly surprised, that you did not post a link to get the downloadable form to report this disrespect. It is here: http://www.wisc.edu/students/pdf/bias%20form.pdf

Even though I am not a student at, or in any way associated with, the University, I feel compelled to rat you out. It might be different if you were disrespectful to a mere student, as, for example, by saying something snide about the state of his or her preparation in class, but this is the Chancellor, for god's sake.

You will be punished.

The Drill SGT said...

OK,

I admit I'm middle aged and not in touch with the latest terminlogy on sex, having given it up when I turned fourty :)...

However, can somebody parse the meaning of the sex reference below. We aren't talking gender, or orientation. Beyond the pregant, does this protect me if I'm having sex with somebody (or by myself) in the Dean's office?

gender identity or expression, disability, national or ethnic origin, political affiliation, religion, sex (including pregnancy), sexual orientation,

Paul Zrimsek said...

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T
Find out what it means to me, or else." --Aretha Franklin

"Never Suspect a Friend. REPORT HIM." --Terry Gilliam

Henry said...

I would encourage students to overload the system. Every day, every student should file a few anti-bias forms.

There's always material.

altoids1306 said...

Hmm... I suspect that most of the school will just laugh it off, and the 10% of the school that actually does use this totalitarian spy-on-your-neighbor form will be widely ridiculed. Tattle-tales are never treated nicely.

Expect to see surges of reports filed while drunk. (Drink! Report!)

I have thought, and the the conclusion is not everything is worthy of respect.

Ann Althouse said...

MadisonMan: Yeah, I took your comment to be about the actual weather here this morning...

Ann Althouse said...

JohnF: I linked to the PDF, which I hope you note says you can't use it on teachers, so nah, nah, nah, nah.

Anonymous said...

the 10% of the school that actually does use this totalitarian spy-on-your-neighbor form will be widely ridiculed. Tattle-tales are never treated nicely.

Ridiculed, no doubt, by their peers, but not by the Administration which is encouraging the creation of a Thought Police.

The tattle-tales will almost surely be petted and rewarded, while the "guilty" will be punished. The school's stated value is: "We will not tolerate bias, racism, disrespect or hate." What will they be willing to do to enforce that standard?

This isn't about self-policing or reporting crime. It's about punishment of disfavored speech.

UW has always been at war with UM.

Icepick said...

The "Think. Respect." Program? Wasn't "The 'Think' Method" part of Professor Harold Hill's scam in The Music Man?

Ann Althouse said...

altoids1306: "Hmm... I suspect that most of the school will just laugh it off, and the 10% of the school that actually does use this totalitarian spy-on-your-neighbor form will be widely ridiculed. Tattle-tales are never treated nicely."

Altoids, you are so going to get reported for that. You are bigoted against tattle-tales, who are covered by the "other actual or perceived characteristic" category.

David said...

Welcome to the world of the EEOC! In our workplace we are tasked with reporting anything said or done that may be offensive to anyone else regardless of whether we thought it was innocent.

Failure to report could result in termination!

The gay incident at UW should have been handled by the police and civil court!

Tibore said...

"I wonder how many FTEs go in to deciding which of the complaints to follow up on. What an incredible waste of money."

No kidding! That's staff funding that could go somewhere else. Stupid waste of money.

What's that saying? "Being unoffended is a skill, not a right"?

This is stupid... just stupid... this isn't going to do anything other than the opposite of what's intended.

mikeyes said...

I don't see this as a "liberal" thing as much as it is an abuse of power by those who are in absolute charge but seem to have no concept of how things will be perceived by higher powers. These rules are so open ended that anyone can be reported for anything. I suggest that the school administrators have their heads in the third area of retreat (as the military says) and as a result are not looking at the long term consequences of this action, which if I know my WI legislature (and even Gov. Doyle) will result in lower funding and a political sh*tstorm. (Which is appropriate considering where their heads are now.)

The obvious action is to overload the system, call attention to it in the press, and call your representatives. Since the local power base is immune to these efforts according to the rules, it makes the school administration look even more incompetent and corrupt.

As a Wisconsin taxpayer, I object!

Unknown Pundit said...

To paraphrase radio talker Dennis Prager, the most spineless creatures in America today are college/university administrators.

Fenrisulven said...

Ann, what justification did they use for applying the speech code to the students but not the staff?

Tim Sisk said...

Setting one's feelings aside about the "Think. Respect" program, I must say the logo is really clever and really expresses its point very well.

Not praising the program, mind you, just admiring the logo--its logo-rithic!

Unknown Pundit said...

jeff_d posted...

I know this kind of thing always gets tagged as left-wing excess, but I think it’s worth pointing out that it isn’t “liberal” in any meaningful sense and it certainly doesn’t advance the ball with respect to encouraging tolerance or awareness.

He's right, but I would add that this is the problem with liberalism today, it's so illiberal. The Left isn't liberal, it's statist.

John said...

The more things change, the more they stay the same - or repeat.

Once again, the Law of Unintended Consequences has resulted in consequences that we must now correct. (sarcasm)

Wasn't there a time when society just did the right thing without having to be told to, by some edict or program?

We will never solve ALL social ills through some master program. Common sense tells us that some people have done - and will do - stupid things. When programs are designed and implemented, they immediately produce unintended consequences. In writing - and practice - they sound silly and richly deserve the ridicule they receive.

Anonymous said...

Tim wrote: "I must say the logo is really clever and really expresses its point very well."

It is very well-designed -- but in a cynical and deceptive way.

"I think. I respect" is exactly what this program opposes. It's intended to punish the thought crime of "offensive" speech under the guise of protecting people who apparently are too delicate to hear certain things.

It is neither thinking for respectful of anyone involved. It discourages thought and respect, while proclaiming the opposite. It is classic double speak.

Love is hate!

Fitz said...

This is about as scary as one can imagine. It’s so very broad and all encompassing so as to include almost any (perceived?) slight.

Given the ideological make-up of Universities and the leftist campus culture; this is basically a NO Conservative/Traditionalist speech allowed code.

basher20 said...

Does this mean that they are finally going to crack down on the systematic harassment of the College Republicans?

Or is this just the usual all opinions are allowed, but some are more allowed than others?

Anthony said...

This program should make students worry that anything other than bland pleasantries is going to get them in trouble with the administration.

Nah. They'll still be able to rip on (certain) whites, conservatives and Christians without fear of reprisal, as usual (cf., Columbia).

RogerA said...

Could someone in academe 'splain to me what happens when academicians become administrators? do they get lobotomies? IQ liposuction? how can reasonably intelligent and highly educated people turn into complete idiots merely by becoming an administrator?

PatCA said...

To overuse the word once more, this is fascism. Instead of punishing actual criminal behavior, the gutless and all-powerful university decides to put everyone under surveillance to make all students complicit in their system of oppression.

This stamping out of free expression seals the doom for a campus as a place for an exchange of ideas or examination of competing philosophies.

I would hope that the ACLU or FIRE would immediately take this up.

drew said...

Ann: I was away from the thread for a while, and only just now noted your response to my comment at 7:59am. But your response that the rules about respect apply only to the students and not the faculty and administrators, while probably true, is inherently unbelievable.

The original concept of tenure in the academic setting was to prevent academics from being discharged as a result of their teaching or their thoughts. (NB: comments following mine about thought crimes in this thread are dead on in my opinion) As a result, the tenured faculty and staff are largely immune to any repercussions from any perceived (or actual) slight(s), unless they happen to fall within one of the areas where the academy seems to think that the rules were made to be broken (see Lawrence Summers and Harvard, for example).

What this entire "platform" turns out to be is a means of enforcing a narrowly- and ill-defined group of "norms" against a population of "perpetrators" and "victims" who are largely under the thumb of the administration anyway. It calls to mind the line from the movie "Enemy of the State" about "...[W]ell, who's going to monitor the monitors?"

If the University is trying to suggest that this regime will be applied even-handedly across all potential "violations", I have a large bridge that is partially in Brooklyn that I want to sell to the Trustees. Just think of all the toll revenues you would earn in exchange for your purchase price. Oh, by the way, be sure to make out the check to "cash", and make it a bank check that I can easily negotiate at my own financial institution.

I'm almost at the stage in life where I can reasonably be called an "old fart"; however, you better not call me that, or I'll report your comments to the UW thought police.

vnjagvet said...

What ever happened to robust debate, the marketplace of ideas, freedom of speech means freedom for the views we hate as well as those we agree with, and other descriptions of free speech contained in some of our most heralded supreme court opinions?

Those who put this program together are a bunch of pantywastes.

cboygan said...

Last Saturday, I attended the Wisconsin-Northwestern football game in Madison. I was subjected to a considerable amount of harassment based on the fact that I was wearing a purple Northwestern shirt. I guess that I was a victim based on the "perceived characteristic" of being a Northwestern fan! Bad enough that Northwestern lost!

Anonymous said...

One further thing about the excellent design of the logo -- it will look great on armbands.

Anonymous said...

Cboygan -- Go Cats!!


On second thought, is that still safe to say?

JCJim said...

Are they planning on building a wall around the campus so no one can transfer out?

Fitz said...

Liberalism (of the classical kind) can never survive the “new leftist” as typified by identity politics. The pull towards totalitarian control is necessitated by a system that seeks to so radically upend the culture. Saying “think” means “think like we tell you” & saying “respect” means “respecting the dominate authority”

This code is a powerful weapon, as long as it remains in place any ridicule it receives will pale in comparison to the “chilling effect” it is designed to obtain.

This is campus leftists weapon in suppressing undesirable thought. It’s not that it cant have effect on academic speech, its that it already has. Its very existence bemoans an environment were little can be openly challenged, and less discussed frankly.

The modern American campus is the least “free” zone of thought and expression.

Ann Althouse said...

"Does this mean that they are finally going to crack down on the systematic harassment of the College Republicans?"

Let the College Republicans use the forms if they witness incidents within the stated definition. The university promises to deal with it in a timely manner.

Note that the forms are also a device for the university to collect data (completely unscientifically, to our embarrassment). If you don't submit forms, your harassment won't be counted. You don't want the sensitive, passive aggressive types to bias the data, do you?

Ann Althouse said...

"Nah. They'll still be able to rip on (certain) whites, conservatives and Christians without fear of reprisal, as usual (cf., Columbia)."

Look, if UW students really believe this, they can test the response by using the system and keeping track of what happens. This is just one more basis for criticism of the system, that they won't treat all forms of bias the same. Well... actually they shouldn't... but I mean, they should treat all comparable bias the same. "He called me wingnut" and "he called me moonbat" should be treated equally.

Actually, I would not report if I were you. You should be afraid of the record the report creates about you. If you read the UW website closely, you can see that they are also trying to get people to identify themselves as victims who need help. You may be regarded as someone in need of psychological services.

Ann Althouse said...

drew: "But your response that the rules about respect apply only to the students and not the faculty and administrators, while probably true, is inherently unbelievable."

The Think.Respect. program is run through the Dean of Students office, and the program relates to student conduct rules.

DaveG said...

"We want a campus that embraces difference...

It's gone this far, then. It's no longer enough to tolerate, now we're forced to "embrace," which is defined as to take up willingly or eagerly.

I think that's demanding a bit much.

Verification: slmtwd. Some recognize me as being a slightly built, concientious shopper. Others just call me a slim tightwad.

Anonymous said...

Think. Respect.

As someone who respects grammar, I feel disrespected by their choice to follow a verb with a noun rather than the adverbial form of that noun.

Think, respectfully. It would still be stupid conceptually, but at least it would be better grammar.

It reminds me of those Think Different ads that Apple ran years ago. Ruined millions in their understanding of the difference between noun and adverbial forms of words and when to use them.

Ironic that Wisconsin would possibly reference an Apple campaign considering that there is a movement afoot for certain folks to feign offense at Apple's disrespect of their symbols.

Ann Althouse said...

XWL: That grammar point has been debunked. It's like "think thin" -- you're being asked to think of a concept, not being told a way to think. A noun is appropriate. But "Think. Respect." has two periods. These are two sentences. Both words are verbs.

Ann Althouse said...

Or an adjective.

Tim said...

"fenris, I'd go before the board and show the statement Nice weather we're having was made on a day in October with rain and temperatures in the 40s. And they'd all agree with me.

Sucks for you all, with promises it will only get worse before the end of March. As for me, it's 52 degrees at 9:45 a.m., with an anticipated high of 82, sunny, humidity at 62% and no wind. It is beautiful.

And, not that I'm tracking this, but I don't recall Ann taking any recent photos of her shoes lately...

Joe said...

Prof. Barrett's course is offensive and disrespectful to anyone with a functional brain. Report him and send him off to the re-education camp.

Mike said...

Pastor_Jeff said: "One further thing about the excellent design of the logo -- it will look great on armbands."

LMAO (if I'm allowed to say that).

When will this wrong-headed attempt to regulate speech stop?

Simon Kenton said...

Warning - minor thread high-jacking. My wife (a professor) told me about the program her university instituted to deal with sexual harassment. They recognized that working together can be erotic - nothing propinks like propinquity. So, to safeguard yourself and your university, if you had an affair with a colleague, you were to go to the head of the department and 'register' the affair. That way when the shit hit the fan in a few years, the university could fish out the form and say that it had been entered. It could have a chance to duck liability, as could one of the original registerers (presumably the other would be the one bringing the complaint).

I told her, "This is great. Suppose I decide to indulge in premature registration. I'll just go in and register all the hotties in the department, just to pre-empt claims by lesser men later. And suppose I find out that somebody has registered you? That could be a bit of an 'issue in the marriage.' What if the word gets out that I'm one of the most active registerers on campus, and curious women begin pursuing me, while others start a punitive registration campaign to weave a web of spurious registrations around me? Eh? What about that?"

"It's supposed to be anonymous."

"Right. Who has the university paid the most recent judgments on? Heads of departments. As I recall, sociology cut a regular swath through the young ladies. And how about that engineer? The department heads will keep it anonymous, you bet. They'll set up search programs to find who's been registered the most, and arrange introductions and accidental meet-cutes."

For really inspissated dumb, neutron-star dumb, dumb where 1 tablespoonful has the mass of a mountain range, it takes high IQs in adminstrative positions.

Matthew said...

PatCA: I would hope that the ACLU or FIRE would immediately take this up.

Actually, Phansalkar (the student quoted in the piece) is one of the leaders of the campus ACLU.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

It's not your father's ACLU (or was that Oldsmobile?).

Daryl Herbert said...

Fall 2001:

3000+ dead, Bush and the Republicans go insane, overreact, trample our civil liberties, enact the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act, and are still looking for more of our freedoms to steal.

Spring 2006:

However, an anti-gay incident in University Housing last spring — one of the driving factors behind the campaign

Sensitive administrators take logical, reasonable steps to protect our freedom. "You're either with us or against us." "Anti-gay bigots hate our freedom."

In 2008, Democrats should launch the first all-University Administrator ticket for the Presidency/Cabinet posts. That would be pure genius. Democrats could finally explain to the rest of us how much smarter they are, without having to feel put-upon about it.

altoids1306 said...

Pastor_Jeff:

Yeah, I think we all recognize the implications of this policy.

Ann:

Yes, I might be bigoted toward tattle-tales, but you must respect my bigotry! I grew up in an environment where tattle-tales were not tolerated, and it is a core part of my cultural and religous beliefs. Back off!
------------------------------
This policy is just going to blow up in their faces. In the beginning, there might be a few "hate" crimes that they will prosecute in a high-profile fashion - drunk groups yelling racial slurs and the like. But eventually, it will slide to the ridiculous - the liberal capacity for "perceived" threats is incredible - and some event, possibly involving squirrels, will force this policy into the media spotlight. Some girl will allege that she was rejected by a sorority because she was fat, or some similar yes-that's-discrimination-but-that's-life case will emerge. Media eats it up, tearful victim, angry parents, indignant rush chairwomen, book deals, Oprah, etc etc...

And so, the Entire Thing, which rests on such dubious legal and moral grounds, will just come crashing down, hopefully along with a few administrative careers.

charlotte said...

I think the UN should arbitrate when Johnny calls Mary a stupid girl, not some parochial university committee.

It's a transnational, trans-gendered, trans-grievance and trans-fatty world we live in today.

Tim Sisk said...

Pastor_Jeff:

I'm just admiring the cleverness of the logo...not the program. Part of the cleverness is that it makes the program sound so "respectful".

And it would look great on an armband.

Leland said...

Ann - Actually, I would not report if I were you. You should be afraid of the record the report creates about you. If you read the UW website closely, you can see that they are also trying to get people to identify themselves as victims who need help. You may be regarded as someone in need of psychological services.

This was my thought from the beginning. By reporting, you are identifying yourself to more rational people that you are unable to cope with typical stress. If a person is truly threatened by another's behaviour, then there is already a place to report this: the campus or local police department.

Maxine Weiss said...

Combative students make better entertainment for bored Professors.

Peace, Maxine

cdh said...

president garcia-thompson will do anything to get those PIT-persons kicked off campus......wait, this isn't a thread about PCU?

/weeps for humanity

TallDave said...

I think this program is GREAT! Now instead of just reading Orwell, they can LIVE it!

I'm going to go fill out a double-plus ungood report on Althouse right now. By disparaging our glorious campus leader, she is disrespecting them.

Remember:

LEFT IS RIGHT

FREE SPEECH IS DISRESPECT

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS IS STRENGTH

and never forget:

FRATERNITY BROTHERS ARE WATCHING!

Drew W said...

George said:

"Think."

When IBM was a fat, dumb, and happy monopoly, that was it's
[sic] motto.

In IBM's context, what the motto really meant was "Conform" (Don't make waves regarding the way we do things here at IBM.)


Yeesh. As an adult child of an IBMer, I had no idea that that simple motto invoked such dystopian evil. And if, like me, you grew up in the embrace of Mother Blue, you'd be likely to find notepads, lapel buttons and various little corporate tchatchkes around the house that bore that one-word slogan. I always thought that as a suggestion, "Think" was an arguably positive (albeit abstract) message. And around ten years ago, when I saw a little plastic desk-plaque that said "Think," I bought it out of nostalgia and placed it over my computer at home, where it sits today. How could I not have recognized the Orwellian implications of that word?

Seriously, IBM did have a thing about their male employees wearing white shirts, but I'm not sure they were quite the corporate analog to Aum Shinryko that George seems to suggest. Just saying, is all.

Phew! Now that I got that dark chapter in my upbringing off my chest, I agree that this UW program/slogan is a deliciously self-parodying campus PC gesture. (Which one can see pretty plainly, even without the anti-business teeth-gnashing.)

Freeman Hunt said...

I can't resist. I'm sending in a form.

Anonymous said...

Altoids -- Sorry if I seem strident. This is repugnant.

And I hope I'm wrong, but I don't share your optimism about the inevitable failure of the program. These kinds of "speech codes" keep coming up on campuses, and they're being pushed on kids who have been raised with different ideas about "tolerance" and free speech.


Tim -- Oh, I agree that it's a well-designed logo. I didn't think your comment suggested approval of the program.

Ann Althouse said...

Theo Boehm said..."Ann: "The Think.Respect. program is run through the Dean of Students office, and the program relates to student conduct rules." When do you think they will come for you?"

When they're ready to catapult me into the realm of famous media First Amendment star. I'm ready for my close-up.

Patrick said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Death_Camp_of_Tolerance

'nuff said.

Freeman Hunt said...

My form:

First I was picking out a sweatshirt with the UW on it, and I asked another student which color she thought looked better on me, and she said, “Well with your skin tone, I think that one.” WTF? My skin tone? So because I’m white I look better in certain colors?

Then I was in the admin building and someone from Student Life said, “Can I help you?” He just ASSUMES because of my age that I’m a student? I could have been a mother, an aunt, or an employee. I’m not, but I could have been.

Then in the commons area some dude asked me out! Hello?! Can we say heteronormative sexual harassment?!

My feelings are hurting so bad. Please do something. You can hardly take a step on this campus without some nazi's oppressive bias stomping on your face! I will stay in my dorm room until you send someone to let me know that you made them all shut up.

Peter said...

I think I agree with henry that students should overload the system. The college Republicans or other groups could have a lot of fun with this with some good planning. Get a group of people together and report every single instance of bias and conflict on campus that you can think of. Try to keep records so that every student on campus gets reported at least once. The standards are vague enough that you could probably get away with it.

If anyone complains say you are zealous in your defense of respect and diversity. Then report the person who complains.

www.petetheelder.com

Dick Eagleson said...

I'm guessing the next step will be Committees for the Defense of the Revolution that will suspend your cafeteria privileges or kick you out of your dorm room for counter-revolutionary activities.

Welcome to the UW-Havana.

Derve said...

cboygan: "I guess that I was a victim based on the "perceived characteristic" of being a Northwestern fan! Bad enough that Northwestern lost!"

"That's all right! That's ok!
Y'all be working for us someday."

Mike said...

Barrett, speech codes; how many different ways is the UW administration going to find to embarass me?

Wait! That's a reportable offense!

Cosmo said...

Freeman: Hillarious.

This scheme will either get bogged down by crybabies (hopefully) or, more likely, will be used by factions to intimidate and silence their enemies and settle political scores -- much like interpretations of Mao Zedong-thought were used during the Cultural Revolution.

Campus 'orientations' sound too much like 'struggle sessions,' anyway.

Revenant said...

I am so, so very glad my college career long since over and done with.

Leland said...

From the UW website:
When you report an incident "staff will:"

Review the situation with you
There are mean people out there, and you ought to learn to deal with them on an intellectual level.

Explain the options
You can either be a coward and beg others to protect you, or you can deal with life like everyone else.

Discuss the odds of prevailing in a complaint process
Slim to none, and slim just walked out the door.

Discuss confidentiality and its limits during an investigation
Until the US constitution becomes living, it will still provide the right for defendants to know their accuser, but then you believe this program is really about protecting your self-esteem.

Refer the matter...
... too all sorts of different organizations, none of which is devoted to upholding the law, such as a police department. This is because a police department has to deal with the constraints of the US constitution.

Conduct an investigation, make findings of fact, and issue recommendations to remedy the situation
The University will harass a few students on your behalf before suggesting you attend another school. Then the University will publish a "finding of fact" to promote the notion they are fighting intolerence.

reader_iam said...

...Now, I ask you to consider: if this is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the board of directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I'll tell you something: the faculty are a bunch of employees, and we're the raw material! But we're a bunch of raw material[s] that don't mean to have any process upon us, don't mean to be made into any product, don't mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We're human beings!

[Wild applause.]

There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!

[Prolonged applause.]

Now, no more talking. We're going to march in singing "We Shall Overcome." Slowly; there are a lot of us. Up here to the left -- I didn't mean the pun.

Shanna said...

I can't resist. I'm sending in a form.

I suggest thousands of forms referencing PCU would be the best remedy. If they get enough crap, hopefully they'll realize how stupid this is.

Plus, PCU always deserves more attention.

w. michael murphy said...

I am soon to be sixty one years old. It has been years since I have met anyone under the age of fifty who has ever in their lives been involved in a fist fight. It has been years since I have seen an unsupervised group of kids playing baseball. come to think of it I haven't seen kids playing any sport without adult supervision in a long long time. We now have a generation of children who have no earthly idea how to sort out differences or even choose up sides without adult supervision, without some authority at the helm. Long ago, children picked the best kids first and the worst last. They called the close plays. They worked things out. No more.

Cedarford said...

altoids1306 said...
Hmm... I suspect that most of the school will just laugh it off, and the 10% of the school that actually does use this totalitarian spy-on-your-neighbor form will be widely ridiculed. Tattle-tales are never treated nicely.


I wouldn't poo-poo it too much. You are thinking in context of a single person whose accusation will be weighed by peers and by rational authority or board only interested in right and wrong & "justice"...and the cranks will be quickly weeded out.

In fact, this sort of regulation or code is absolutely perfect for an aggrieved victim's group that is in identity politics and can make it a collective complaint of the many against the one.

"I, Assad Faroul, speaking for over 140 Muslims on this campus who are members of the Al Quds Islamic Student Brigade, who have all urged this complaint to be filed..do formally complain against the bigotry, racism, humiliation and lack of respect displayed by Roscoe Thudbatter - a senior of color. Who nevertheless, in public, in the school union building, had the termerity to question if Muslims can ever form a democracy in Iraq. Thudbatter, oblivious to at least 3 Muslims and one Dhimmi girlfriend nearby, said - words to effect "given elements of Muslim religion and culture are incompatable with democracy - I doubt any such institution will work in Iraq."

"Such was the rage and humiliation of the Brothers against this African-American turncoat on the oppressed peoples, they were unable to speak, and wisely withdrew and complained justly to all of the violation this infidel Thudbatter had deliberately inflicted on all people of the True Peace of Allah, the Merciful.."

"We demand punishment. Suspension from campus, barring the bigot from the Union, and a written apology he must pay for to be published in the campus newspaper. Any less is unacceptable to the large numbers of Muslims who charge UW with correcting this by this coming Friday."


Or it could be the 300-strong Matthew Shepard Project. Or a feminist of the 61 members of the campus chapter of NOW, outraged that a debate on partial birth abortion was even allowed to take place in a classroom.

Now, it can be cast as the group against the wayward, un-PC individual...and school administrators know that part of their job is to keep campus identity groups happy to avoid adverse publicity. And that PR and keeping things smooth socially is far more important than an individual being right or wrong.

The safest course against a group complaint is to ask the individual to repent and accept blame..And the groups love it because winning such complaints help group recruiting and give the group more power and recognition...

The Jerk said...

A little less heavy-handed than the infamous UM speech code but not much. Didn't they run this by UW's counsel?

reader_iam said...

w. michael murphy:

!!!!

altoids1306 said...

cedarford, pastor_jeff:

Hmm...you guys are probably right. I guess I wonder, could it really be that bad? Thinking back to my college years, which, well, were in this decade, I think most students would just start creating jokes about it, in a manner similar to the mandatory humanities classes, and any group that tried to do some collective protest would just be written off as "oh, one of those crazy groups." The school might pay them lip service, but no one would really take them seriously. And this was a blue town in a blue state.

Maybe UW is just much more serious about their political-correctness, but I honestly think the vast majority of students couldn't care less. College is just a set of hoops to jump through to get to whatever it is you want to do.

Ann Althouse said...

The Jerk: In fact, the UW had a speech code that was found unconstitutional by a federal court in 1991. That case resulted in an injunction of the UW Regents, so there is a question whether they are violating an injunction! So they should be unusually risk averse here. It's rather mind-boggling in that light, don't you think? Here's the old case.

The Jerk said...

The injunction appears to have been limited to the particular rule at issue, so they probably aren't violating it. But this certainly makes their implementation of this policy even more inexplicable.

However, based on the University's description, the "bias report" program is apparently just an attempt to collect information about these "bias incidents." There doesn't appear to be any punishment attached unless the incident violates the already-existing code of conduct.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
downtownlad said...

I know from running this blog that there are people who firmly believe that opposition to gay marriage is bigotry.

Yup - that's me! And the funny thing is that when I do inform people that they are bigots, they go ballistic! These are the types of people who would go running to the Dean first.

I'm called a pedophile, a threat to civilization, fag, etc. - and it's all just water off my back. And any college that is trying to protect people from these types of attacks is not preparing their students for the real-world.

The only thing that drives me mad is when people use these anti-gay slurs and then deny that they're anti-gay bigots. Of course they are.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
amba said...

What is a verbal "act of bigotry, harassment or intimidation" aimed at someone's "political affiliation"?

Moonbat? Wingnut?

Sean Kinsell said...

downtown lad:
"I'm called a pedophile, a threat to civilization, fag, etc. - and it's all just water off my back. And any college that is trying to protect people from these types of attacks is not preparing their students for the real-world."

Well, honey, your college doesn't seem to have done such a hot job of preparing you to debate ideas substantively instead of dismissing those you don't like as bigotry, so I'm not sure what alternative you think you're offering...though I suppose that at least your approach, which omits the paperwork submitted to the dean, cuts out the middleman.

Elton said...

I would first just like to clear up a few facts which have been misrepresented in the press. The THINK campaign and the Bias reporting mechanism are two separate and not linked programs. The THINK campaign is a student idea, developed by students who were concerned about the type of discourse being used on campus in some instances and more importantly on it's impact on communities here on campus. It's purpose is not to stifle anyone's ideas, thoughts or speech but to encourage university community members to try and find ways to articulate those ideas in ways that take into consideration their impact and if at all possible to say them in ways that respect the dignity of all. There is no code or any mechanism of enforcement or anything but students using their right to free speech to encourage people to think before they speak. I find it odd that the discourse being espoused in support of free speech would like to shut down free speech because you don't like it or because you fee afraid about it's connotations. I may or may not agree with it but those students have a right to ask this community to speak respectfully and you have the right to reject that idea.

I work in the Dean of Students Office and just for the record would like to say that we whole heartedly support free speech. These are not just words, last year when many were upset about the cartoons in the Badger Herald that many thought were racist, Dean Berquam organized a forum of free speech to discuss the issue. In general we encourage students to utilize their rights to free speech to respond to speech they don't like and we believe that one of the ways in which we support the academic mission of the institution is to encourage students to take personal responsibility by using their rights to free speech to respond and to teach them the mechanisms appropriate for a university culture.

Now regarding the bias reporting mechanism. That is our idea. We developed largely because we are in unusual times right now. With the elections around the corner, and issues such as gay marriage, illigal immigration, the war in iraq, the threat from North Korea etc and just the general culture of fear that surrounds all of this. We anticipate that the time is ripe for the chaneling of emotions around these issues targeted toward people believed to be members of the group discussed. Since most of you probably don't have to deal with having to respond to these issues, this isn't a problem for you, but our office is one of the offices that responds when incidents occur. For us it is helful to have the information sooner rather than later and to be able to gather more information if we need to and then to see how we need to respond. It may be that we need to have a meeting with LGBT students to talk about the attack a student just had (Hypothetically) and about safety in the community in general. Or we may need to meet with them to encourage them to respond using their right to free speech as well. The main point for us is finding out what happened and then seeing what needs to be done. We are not interested in a speech code and frankly I think that people need to be allowed to say some of the dumb things they say and deal with the consequences.
I'm sure that nothing I say will persuede those of you that are operating from a purely ideological perspective. But the realities of administration are that institutions often have to respond to events when they occur or they spin out of control. This is simply a tool to help us do so faster.

Elton J. Crim Jr. Ph.D.
Interim Associate Dean of Students

Fitz said...

“With the elections around the corner, and issues such as gay marriage, illigal immigration, the war in iraq, the threat from North Korea etc and just the general culture of fear that surrounds all of this. We anticipate that the time is ripe for the chaneling of emotions around these issues targeted toward people believed to be members of the group discussed.”

Politically protected groups (designated so by the campus left)

“Since most of you probably don't have to deal with having to respond to these issues, this isn't a problem for you,”

White Males

“but our office is one of the offices that responds when incidents occur. For us it is helful to have the information sooner rather than later and to be able to gather more information if we need to and then to see how we need to respond.”

We are the information hub for collection & dissemination of Anti-P.C. crimes.

“It may be that we need to have a meeting with LGBT students to talk about the attack a student just had (Hypothetically) and about safety in the community in general. Or we may need to meet with them to encourage them to respond using their right to free speech as well. The main point for us is finding out what happened and then seeing what needs to be done.”

We decide to take our dogs off the leash.

“I think that people need to be allowed to say some of the dumb things they say and deal with the consequences.”

How ominous is that. (bark, bark)

Theo Boehm said...

Dr. Crim is trying to clear things up and reassure the public that these programs are for the best.

But his last paragraph is scary as Hell.

That may only be to this cantankerous 1971 University of California grad. Perhaps younger people are used to being supervised by adults.

We didn't need in loco parentis hand-holding, and, in any event, UC had long since learned its lesson about trying. Perhaps UW needs "tools" these days to help situations from getting "out of control." Just one more reason I thank God that I went to school when and were I did.

Kev said...

I'm late to the party, but I have an answer for this question:

"Could someone in academe 'splain to me what happens when academicians become administrators? do they get lobotomies? IQ liposuction? how can reasonably intelligent and highly educated people turn into complete idiots merely by becoming an administrator?"

It's because they become out of touch with the real world; it's probably worse in the public schools. The "ivory tower" is real, and it really needs to be torn down.

When someone becomes an administrator, it usually means that they're no longer a teacher but instead a politician/bureaucrat. In most cases, the work they do is farily useless, so they come up with idiotic programs to make it look like they're Doing Something. The UW speech code is a product of this mindset.

Part of the solution? Administrators Must Teach. I doubt that anyone has the courage to implement this program, but it would go a long way towards the destruction of that Ivory Tower.