the Harvard Crimson university newspaper

The Harvard Crimson has a better alternative to the First Amendment.

In an 18 February 2014 article subtitled “Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice,” Sandra Y.L. Korn argues the criterion of justice should be used to limit freedom of speech.

BUT the notion that justice can serve as an agreeable filter on speech is simply ludicrous — except apparently for those who’ve given up on the notion of truth in preference for the “justice” of pluralism’s wannabe puppet-masters.

Humans differ from animals in that people are inherently truth-seekers. To put it provocatively, animals don’t talk because they have nothing to say.

Humans, however, do have something to say — and the majority of their speech is more or less a search for some kind of truth.

Consider this: If no commencement speaker — not even a satirist — advances ideas that don’t accord with some group’s notion of truth and justice, how then can justice be used to filter any ideas in the name of justice?

Truth is the notion of “justice” will be used within the postmodern university to arbitrarily filter speech based on the preferences of those who get to define what constitutes “justice.

The great irony in all of this is that limitations on speech in the name of justice will be anything but just.


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Korn does not explain the relevance of the First Amendment to speech expressed within the confines of private property (e.g., Harvard). We see at least three angles:

First, the central government arguably violates the First Amendment when it contributes to restrictions on free speech by subsidizing private institutions that do exactly that. Korn would presumably argue Harvard’s restrictions on free speech in the name of justice should not put Harvard’s government subsidies at risk.1

Second, the “Incorporation Doctrine” effectively flips the Bill of Rights from being a restraint on the central government into a club the central government can use on state and local governments. Korn would presumably argue the central government should not use its club on those who restrict free speech in the name of justice.

Third, a substantial, left-leaning cultural sensibility encourages government enforcement of at least some aspects of the Bill of Rights on behalf of individuals over against all social institutions. Korn presumably wants to make that sensibility even more left-leaning by substituting a leftist sense of justice as the criterion for acceptable speech.

In economic terms, Korn’s article represents “rent-seeking” behavior in agitating for a change that would rebound to her benefit rather than to the benefit of those she would advise. The byline describes Korn as “a joint history of science and studies of women, gender and sexuality concentrator” — a generally worthless combination that’s valuable only within a limited number of communities where the idea of using “justice” to filter speech would seem like a good idea. Korn’s article seeks to make those communities larger and more numerous, with the net effect being to make her employment opportunities more plentiful and lucrative. No sale.

1As a minimum, subsidies to Harvard via subsidies to students.

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