Chief Justice Warren Burger’s long-forgotten dissent is relevant to a society today that vulgarizes simple conversation while euphemizing or banning its darker thoughts. Justice Burger defended the right of students to criticize their school or government “in vigorous, or even harsh, terms.” But he called the student publication “obscene and infantile.” A university, he suggested, is ” an institution where individuals learn to express themselves in acceptable, civil terms. We provide that environment to the end that students may learn the self-restraint necessary to the functioning of a civilized society and understand the need for those external restraints to which we must all submit if group existence is to be tolerable.”
“Tolerable.” That’s an interesting, old-fashioned word. It’s not quite the same as “tolerant,” is it? As t-words go, I think I prefer “tolerable” to the current alternatives.
Meanwhile, Betsy Newmark writes:
Roger Kimball has a column today about how some universities are turning down grants of money because the faculty doesn’t want to have any sort of curriculum that might break away from the leftist ideology so prevalent on American campuses. They’d rather turn down grants of millions of dollars than chance having some program that doesn’t denigrate western culture and history. His prime example is Hamilton College, a school that has had no problem inviting former prostitutes, a leder of the Weather Underground, or Ward Churchill to come talk or teach on campus. But try to found a center based on the contributions associated with the man whom the college is named after and the faculty balks.
Does anyone still think of colleges, or at least their non-science, non-engineering departments as “institution[s] where individuals learn to express themselves in acceptable, civil terms”?