This year’s annual Constitution Day lecture at Princeton University was titled “F%*# Free Speech: An Anthropologist’s Take on Campus Speech Debates” and maintained that “the academy has never promoted free speech as a central value.”
According to an article in Campus Reform, the lecture was given by the chairwoman of the Department of Anthropology and director of the Program in African Studies, Carolyn Rouse.
In the lecture, Rouse stated that we should “rethink academic freedom and academic values” and that “the way in which free speech is being celebrated in the media makes little to no sense anthropologically.”
“Put simply, speech is costly,” Rouse said. “So, contrary to the ACLU’s statement on their website regarding the role of free speech on college campuses, the academy has never promoted free speech as its central value.”
Rouse might want to rethink this. After all, in the wake of the election, Rouse has been seeking submissions for her “Trumplandia” project — “a virtual space for documenting the impact of Trump’s presidency on the world” — something she says was inspired by her belief that “the changes promised by the president-elect to ‘make America great again’ were authoritarian and racist.”
The irony is as rich (and sickening) as a mayonnaise-covered chocolate truffle: This professor actually has the nerve to knock those who value free speech on campus, while using her position as a campus leader to spearhead a project that openly calls the president “racist” — an obvious example of the kind of speech that some might want to censor.
To be fair, it doesn’t seem that Rouse actually went so far as to say that there was anything wrong with the First Amendment in itself. Rather, according to Campus Reform, she seemed to define “free-speech absolutism” as the idea that all opinions should be considered equally, without, as Campus Reform puts it, “reference to any peer review process or any system of credentials,” e.g., a skeptic without any experience in climatology being free to call climate change a hoax. Rouse also argued that academia is a “semi-autonomous social field,” and that all “semi-autonomous social fields” have the right to make their own rules for themselves.
Image: YouTube/Princeton Univesity