In the late 1970s, Angela Davis, a Communist activist, was invited to speak at UMass. The administration — equally at odds with First Amendment freedoms as the current leadership, but leaning to the political right — forced Davis to pay for her own security. It's only a matter of time before what goes around comes around.
There is a certain irony, then, in seeing a faction of the UMass faculty appear to come to the rescue of free speech and academic freedom, knowing that the same faculty cannot be counted on when political speakers whose views they disapprove of are threatened. And so, when dealing with that hotbed of censorship known as UMass Amherst (faculty, administration, and even many students, alas), not to mention the governor and the US Parole Commission, all one can do is hearken back to Shakespeare, who succinctly observed (and we paraphrase): a pox on all their houses.
Harvey Silverglate is a civil-liberties and criminal-defense lawyer and co-author of The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America's Campuses (The Free Press, 1998). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kyle Smeallie is Silverglate's research assistant. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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