Paging Stanley Fish – a piece by Paul Horwitz on PrawfsBlawg about incendiary (in both senses) Israeli Apartheid Week posters, academic freedom, normal political discourse, and human rights. He opposes banning the posters:
“The posters, inflammatory as they may be, are clearly standard political speech. They may not be civil, but they’re certainly well within the norms of “civil discourse in a free and democratic society” – or at least the kinds of free and democratic societies that value robust, uninhibited and wide-open debate.”
The kinds we need, even while we make objections to those norms.
He goes on to note a lightness in the student campaigning around free speech:
“The students apparently shy away from the obvious conclusion that the use of human rights codes in situations involving speech are generally suspect; rather, they argue that the “poster depicts a situation that has a factual basis and its intention is clearly to invite people to a lecture series,” so the poster is neither an incitement nor a violation of civil discourse. (I hope they will be equally forgiving of similar posters that meet the same conditions, but with the names reversed!)”
Most importantly in its promotion of a debate about academic boycott, concluding:
“The university is a “community” in some important senses, but it isn’t a democracy, and even to the limited extent that it is, there is no universal suffrage … Academic freedom is a substantive value, and that value includes opposing academic boycotts; academic freedom does not, on the other hand, require democratic deliberation by all the stakeholders in a university.”
I’m new to Stanley Fish on the politics of the university.