Friday, December 23, 2016

"Free speech group: Lawmakers' push to end UW-Madison course is 'definition of censorship'"

From The Journal

"Warnings from two Republican lawmakers that the University of Wisconsin System’s budget could be affected if UW-Madison does not cancel a planned course on racism amount to an unconstitutional attempt to stifle free speech, according to a national anti-censorship group.

"The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which tracks campus speech policies at colleges and universities across the country and criticizes efforts to limit First Amendment rights, said the statements this week from state Rep. Dave Murphy, R-Greenville, and Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, threaten academic freedom.

"'Of course, legislators — like everyone else — are free to criticize academics as they see fit, but using one’s power as a government official to crack down on speech is the very definition of censorship prohibited under the First Amendment,' Joe Cohn, the group’s legislative and policy director, wrote Wednesday.

"Nass and Murphy have called for UW-Madison to cancel the course, planned for the spring semester, titled 'The Problem of Whiteness.' The course will explore white identity and the role of white people in dismantling racist systems, according to UW officials.

"But Nass and Murphy say the class is inappropriate and a waste of money. They both called for UW-Madison to cancel the course, and said administrators’ handling of it could affect how the lawmakers evaluate the UW System’s request for increased funding in the next state budget.

"Murphy on Tuesday called for the professor leading the course to be fired over posts on social media in which Murphy said the faculty member, Damon Sajnani, condoned violence against police officers."

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"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." - Evelyn Beatrice Hall

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