“personal responsibility to promote an atmosphere of civility”
When you place these types of restrictions on speech, someone has to be in charge of deciding what qualifies as mean or nasty.
Ashe Schow reports at the Daily Wire:
University Speech Code Bans ‘Mean’ Speech
We’ve moved on from using the term “hate speech” to describe wide swaths of speech we don’t like and have moved on to banning subjectively “mean” speech – at least at one northwestern university.
The University of Montana Western has been featured as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE) “Speech Code of the Month” for its supposed commitment to “civility” by banning subjective speech.
“The ‘Statement of Responsibility’ from the university’s Student Code of Conduct explains that all members of the campus community ‘have the personal responsibility to promote an atmosphere of civility,’ and that discussions ‘should never become mean, nasty or vindictive,’” wrote FIRE’s policy reform program officer, Laura Beltz.
Of course, this raises the obvious question of who gets to decide what speech is considered “mean, nasty, or vindictive.” If I were to take a guess, based on how speech and other matters are disciplined at other universities, I’d have to say the person who decides is the person most offended, rather than a reasonable person.
Intent, in these situations, is never important to colleges and universities. One student may say something to another without any ill intent, yet the second student may take it the wrong way and consider it “mean” or “nasty.” The second student is wrong, but that doesn’t matter, all that matters is their feelings.
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