Sydney Kendall Says

Thinking in public about anything that matters.

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Book: The Shadow University

I like to read by topic.

After reading Unlearning Liberty about the strangling of freedom of speech on American University campuses (and the undermining of due process, as well), I’ve now started another book on the topic, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on American Campuses.

While Unlearning Liberty  was published in 2012, The Shadow University was published in 1998.  Both books were written by members of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and organization whose mission is “to defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities”.  If these books are telling it like it is, not much has changed in 14 years.

Here are excerpts of the description of the book on Amazon: “…Universities still set themselves apart from American society, but now they do so by enforcing their own politically correct worldview through censorship, double standards and a judicial system without due process…”

“…The Shadow University is a stinging indictment of the covert system of justice on college campuses, exposing the widespread reliance of n kangaroo courts and arbitrary punishment to coerce students and faculty into conformity.  Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate, staunch civil libertarians and active defenders of free inquiry on campus, lay bare the totalitarian mindset that undergirds speech codes, conduct codes, and “campus life” bureaucracies, through which a cadre of deans and counselors indoctrinate students and faculty in an ideology that favors group rights over individual rights, sacrificing free speech and academic freedom to spare the sensitivities of currently favored groups.”

“From Maine to California, at public and private universities alike, liberty and fairness are the first casualties as teachers and students find themselves in the dock, presumed guilty until proven innocent and often forbidden to cross-examine their accusers.  Kors and Silverglate introduce us to many of those who have firsthand experience of The Shadow University…”

“…The Shadow University unmasks a chilling reality for parent who entrust their sons and daughters to the authority of such institutions, for thinking people who recognize that vigorous debate is the only sure path to truth, and for all Americans who realize that when even one citizen is deprived of liberty, we are all diminished.”

[Links to bios added by me.]

As I read, I’ll report.

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Student Governments Against Free Speech

I’m still reading Greg Lukianoff’s book “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” .  Truly hair-raising.  (Lukianoff isan attorney and the president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, aka FIRE.)

I’ve just finished the section called “Student Government Gone Wild”, about the shocking – but not surprising – tyrannical nature of many student governments at colleges across the USA.  I say that it’s not surprising because, after having read the previous 10 chapters of this book, I can’t imagine that a significant portion of the student body would not have learned how to be tyrants against non-PC points of view.

Here are a couple of excerpts from this chapter:

EXCERPT: “Something that should probably keep you up at night is the fact that student governments, which are often seen as training grounds for future politicians and lawmakers, harbor attitudes towards basic free speech and due process rights that are more akin to petty dictatorships than to the American Founding Fathers…”

EXCERPT: “At the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2009, students organized to get rid of copies of a conservative newspaper that mocked student government officials.  A UMass police officer stood by as angry students tore copies of the newspaper out of the hands of another student.  Rather than distance itself from this effort at censorship, the student government later passed a resolution in support of shutting down the newspaper if it did not apologize for mocking them.  The university eventually rejected the resolution to punish the paper, but only after FIRE stepped in.”

COMMENT: Since student government and student journalism are both rehearsals for real-world government and real-world journalism, the student government should be held to the strictest standards of respect  for freedom of speech and press.

We do not and should not legally punish regular newspapers for editorials mocking government officials.  University administrations should have the sense not to allow student governments to infringe on the right of the student press to mock the student government *or* to mock the university administration, for that matter.

That it took an organization like FIRE  to get the university to do the right thing should be troubling to everyone who understands the importance of freedom of the press.  This is not an isolated incident – the book is rich with examples of tyrannical breaches of freedom of speech and failures to uphold the individual rights of students in other areas as well.   FIRE is overwhelmed with cases that need defending.

I believe that college campuses are among the most important – if not the most important – places to take a stand for individual rights.  This is where young people should be learning about the principles and procedures that keep corruption and dictatorship at bay.  That’s why I’m bugging people to read Lukianoff’s book and – if they agree that it’s an important book – to blog it and Facebook it and tell their face-to-face friends about it.

I’ve been talking to people about the topic of the book, and it looks to me that a lot of people have no idea what’s been going on at colleges in regard to this most important aspect of our liberty.

 

 

 

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BOOK: Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate

I am currently reading “Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate” by Greg Lukianoff.

I have read numerous books and articles about the quelling of politically “incorrect” , i.e., conservative and libertarian, views at universities for many years now and the reports seem to be getting worse over time. But this book has a difference – while the other books and articles I’ve read on this topic were written by people on the “right”, this one is written by a fellow on the “left”, with plenty of lefty credentials, who is just as concerned about the destruction of intellectual debate and rational rigor as the writers on the right have been (for two or three decades now). He recognizes that universities are *supposed* to foster such debate in an atmosphere that does not punish challenges to the “PC” views, but rather encourages such challenges. He recognizes that freedom of speech is in dire danger and that both high school and university students have been and are being trained to accept a certain point of view without critical examination, and without an appreciation for the necessity of free discourse among thinkers of all points of view.

I am only on the second chapter and I already consider this book to be must reading for everyone. I mean EVERYONE – no matter what country you’re in, no matter what political alliegiance or religious views. High school kids, college kids, parents, grandparents, childless people and orphans – EVERYONE.

Even if people only read as far as I’ve read so far, it would be worthwhile. Even if the rest of the book turns out to be crap.

Here are a few excerpts (I had to type these out because you can’t copy and paste from a Kindle. So any type-os or spelling errors are mine.):

EXCERPT: “You can’t fully understand what lessons colleges are teaching students about living in a free society without knowing what students have learned before they even step foot on campus. The news isn’t good. By the time they graduate from high school, American students already harbor negative attitudes about free speech….”

EXCERPT: “…Lessons taught by example are most powerful, and high school administrators have offered students some of the worst examples of censorship…”

EXCERPT: “Take, for example, this quote from a high school principal explaining his decision to confiscate an edition of the student newspaper because of an editorial supporting marijuana legalization: ‘I feel like censorship is very important.’ He elaborated, ‘Court cases support school censorship of articles. And we feel like that’s necessary for us to censor editorials in the best interest of our program and community.’ I believe this statement reflects the opinion of many other high school administrators: not only may a high school censor opinions, but it *should* do so for reasons ranging from harmony, to patriotism, to convenience.”

EXCERPT: “With high school administrative censors claiming the high ground, it should be no surprise that the Knight study also found that high school students were far more likely than adults to think that citizens should not be allowed to express unpopular opinions and that government should have a role in approving newspaper stories. After all, if protecting everyone from hurt and difficulty of free speech is a laudable goal, shouldn’t the government be empowered to do that?”

“Meanwhile, there is precious little education in the philosophical principles that undergird our basic liberties, which might otherwise counteract these bad examples. Civics has not been stressed in high schools in recent years, and ignorance of the basics of American governance is widespread.”

EXCERPT: “So what’s the big deal? What’s really at stake? Everything.”

 

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More information on the “Sharia lashing”.

It is now believed that unpaid debts, not alcohol consumption, was the reason for the lashing.

Also:

Man accused of sharia law assault called bin Laden ‘soldier of God’

“A MUSLIM man who once called Osama bin Laden a ”soldier of God” participated in a brutal flogging of a man to impose his religious beliefs and his standing in the Islamic community, police have alleged in court…”

And:

“Muslim groups condemned the attack, saying it was misguided if motivated by sharia law. Kuranda Seyit, the executive director of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations, said it condemned criminal actions in the name of religion.

” ‘Anyone who takes the law into their own hands will be dealt with by the Australian judicial system,” he said. ”If these men did what is alleged, then they have no understanding of sharia and should be discouraged.’ ”

Well, that’s good to hear.   I do think that Muslims are supposed to abide by the laws of the non-Muslim lands that they are living in.  (But I also think they are supposed to try to get the laws changed as much as possible to coincide with Sharia, at the very least for their own community.)

But whether this crime of lashing was committed as retribution for not paying debts, or as a Sharia punishment for breaking the Islamic rule against drinking (which I consider to be the more evil of the two motivations), it is a bizarre  and serious criminal assault, and it sounds like the police are taking it seriously, as they should.

Why do I consider the religious motivation to be the more evil possibility?  Because it is a violation of the victim’s rights for having made a personal decision that harms no one.  Non-payment of debts is at least a violation of one’s ethical obligations and *is* harmful to one’s creditor.   But there are legal ways to collect, and physical attack is not an option.

It’s also possible that the lashing was motivated by the combination of the unpaid debts and the fact that the guy had a few drinks with friends.  Finding out that he’s out drinking like a kafir (and spending money on sin instead of saving money to pay his debts) might have been the ‘straw that broke the camels back’.  Or maybe the guy is a drunk and behaves badly when drinking.   As Prodos suggested to me yesterday, maybe while he was drinking he felt up somebody’s Muslim sister.

Anyhow, time will tell us more…

Follow-up story from February, 2013

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Sharia Law Lashing

I am extremely interested to see what happens with this case – how the legal system deals with it, how local Muslims respond to it.

A recent convert to Islam (whose name allegedly is “Christian”,  funnily enough), woke in his bedroom to find four Muslim men from his Mosque standing over him, and they proceeded to hold him down and lash him with an electrical cord for about  half-an-hour.

One article says that “Representatives of Sydney’s Muslim community have condemned the attack.”  But it doesn’t say who those representatives were or what they said about it.

This is the kind of thing that is alarming those Australians who worry about making any kind of concessions to Sharia law in the West.  At present, some Muslims are asking for parts of Sharia to be allowed for Muslims in  non-Muslim countries, such as parts of Sharia family law and Sharia finance.  Some countries already allow this.

I need to do more research on the subject.  But I’m leery of making concessions to Sharia.  Proceed with caution.

It’s a worry that these four Muslim fellas felt free to mete out this punishment.  I wonder if they’ve done this before to Muslims born to the religion, who would be less likely to rat on them to the police because of family pressures?

I am aware that not all Muslims in the modern world want to live under Sharia (but from what I’ve read of the primary books of Islam, that’s not very Muslim of them).  What is likely to happen if your non-Muslim society has a growing number of the Sharia-upholding Muslims coming to live?   People who believe they SHOULD be living under Sharia, and who are willing and ready to take Sharia law into their own hands and defy the law of the non-Muslim land for the sake of Allah?  How long will they tolerate not being able to live under Allah’s laws?  And will they just go home to a Sharia land, or keep trying to change things in the land of the kafir, bit by bit?  If they don’t get their way, what will they do?

In the case at hand, will the law actually prosecute the four who flogged the newbie against his will?   If so, will the radical Muslims use it as a test case to push for ‘multicultural’  and ‘tolerant’ bending of Australian law in this matter?  Will the four – including the middle-aged man – get leniency because of the religious beliefs involved?  Or will they be treated like any Australian who broke into someone’s house, held him down, and beat him with an electrical cord?

And if they are treated just like any other Australian, what will other Muslim radicals do?   Will there be a publicly-viewable schism between the Sharia Muslims and their Westernized brethren over this case?

Below are my two sources for the lashing story.

Man charged over ‘sharia law’ lashing

Men charged over Sharia law lashing

Follow-up story, February 2013

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Non-Objective Law and the Economy

Rob Tracinski comments on the Dodd-Frank finanacial reform bill.

Tracinski is not in favor of the bailouts or the “stimulus”, but points out that stimulus spending usually has a short-term success before the bubble it creates bursts – a success which isn’t happening.  This article is his take on why it isn’t happening.

I’ll tell you what, the stimulus here in Australia isn’t doing much for the shops on the main shopping strip in our suburb of Richmond.  So many shops are up for lease.   So many businesses are closing down.    I’m buying less, and yet my money is disappearing faster than ever.    Is Australia making the same kind of errors as the USA?  (Eh… I suppose some different kind of errors would suffice to screw up recovery.)

Aside from the above article by Tracinski, I’d also like to recommend a book I’ve recommended before, Thomas Sowell’s The Housing Boom and Bust.  If you get the book, be sure it’s the one in the blue cover, not the yellow one.  The blue one is the revised edition.  It contains all the same information as the original edition, plus extra information that has come to light since the first was written.

If you believe the financial crisis was caused by a too-free market, you need to read Sowell’s book.   And if you read it, you’ll see why I’m disgusted by any attempt by Barney Frank and Chris Dodd to pose as saviors of our economy, when they contributed so bloody damned much to the housing bubble that has exploded into such a friggin mess.    These two guys either know nothing about how markets work, don’t care to know, and are merely opportunistic politicians, or they’re trying to undermine the economy.   

My opinion: they pushed for the expansion of housing loans and bad policies out of political opportunism and economic ignorance, and now they’re trying to deflect attention from their own implication in the boom and bust.

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Dissident Cuban Bloggers

I’ve been reading the blogs of Cubans who risk their freedom (or what they have of it) and physical well-being in order to put their thoughts into cyberspace.   The best thing you can do to help keep these bloggers safe is to read their blogs and post on them, and tell others about them.  Help to build an online following.   One of the bloggers, Yoani Sanchez, writes:

“Link to the blogs and place them on the search engines or platforms where they can have greater visibility. Each person who reads us, protects us, so we need to strengthen the shield formed by readers and commentators.”

With that in mind, I offer these links:

Generacion Y

Octavo Cerco

Sin Evasion/Without Evasion

Re-Evolution

Laritza’s Laws

Those are just a few of the blogs.  Most of them have a list of other Cuban blogs down the right-hand side of the websites.  It’s a fascinating and deeply moving world to explore.  Better yet, we can help spread their fame and thus help keep them from serious harm while giving them a great sense of connection with the outside world.  Let them know they aren’t risking beatings and prison for nothing – for speaking out to a world that doesn’t hear.

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Racist to Disagree?

Walter Williams has something to say about those who smear Obama opponents as “racist”.

Is Disagreement with Obama Racism?

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Tea Party Time

OH_NO_signedHave you happened to catch members of the media and some politicians making out that the “Tea Party” protesters are racist or are an “angry mob”?

If you’re firmly convinced that government botches up more than it heals when it steps outside its proper role as protector against fraud and against the initiation of physical force, you know very well that those Tea Parties have nothing to do with Obama being black or with any other racial concern.  You know that the principles of individual liberty and of reducing government to that specific role is what the fuss is all about.  It’s a color-blind issue.  It just so happens that the president that is in charge of creating a raging deficit, pushing for giant bail-out funds and a “stimulus” package and attempting to entrench government even deeper into our medical system happens to be black.

So what?

What I care about is the status of my freedom in relation to those in power, whatever color they may be.

I’ve been convinced of my political principles for about 50 years, more or less, and as I questioned those principles and tested them over the years against my experience and my growing body of information, I have only become more firmly convinced than when I started.

Here’s a link to Rob Tracinski’s article entitled:

It’s the Liberty, Stupid

I couldn’t have put it better, myself.

At the link for the photos of Tea Party placards, I like Rob’s sign that says “Brother, you ain’t my keeper!”

I also especially like the ones that say: “Read the bills or get off  ‘The Hill’.”

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Financial Crisis: More Links Defending the Free Market

From the Objectivist Camp:

Is Rand Relevant? –  by Yaron Brooke – March 14, 2009

Excerpt:

“[Rand’s] magnum opus, ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ is selling at a faster rate today than at any time during its 51-year history.

“There’s a reason. In ‘Atlas,’ Rand tells the story of the U.S. economy crumbling under the weight of crushing government interventions and regulations. Meanwhile, blaming greed and the free market, Washington responds with more controls that only deepen the crisis. Sound familiar?”

$$$$$$$$$$

Who is to Blame? – Interview with Yaron Brooke

Excerpt:

“What we need to do is really make the case to the American people—and I think it’s an easy case to make—that this is not a failure of free markets, this is not a failure of capitalism, but this is a failure of the exact opposite. It’s a failure of the regulatory state. ”

$$$$$$$$$$

America’s Unfree Market – by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins

Excerpt:

“Decades of “deregulation” and a “hands-off” approach to the financial industry, we are told, have unleashed Wall Street greed. The free market has proved itself incapable of policing the financial sector—a fact so obvious that even Greenspan, the alleged arch-defender of capitalism, could not deny it.”

$$$$$$$$$$

Let Them Fail – By Amit Ghate

Excerpt:

“… in a free market business failures are not just normal, they’re crucial for the best products and ideas to emerge. Most restaurants fail in their first three years because customers have other preferences. Many mom-and-pop grocers go out of business because Walmart offers better selection and lower prices. Even whole industries–think typewriters, 8-tracks and horses and buggies–vanish because new inventions and competitors arise.

“None of these failures are a problem, nor do they threaten the system. On the contrary, they are an inherent part of the progress which only capitalism makes possible.

“So why would failures in the financial industry be any different?”

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