New UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ issued a powerful statement on the value of free speech on campus to students, faculty, and staff. Many points echo both the mission of Heterodox Academy and the sources we use as inspiration.
After the events in Charlottesville, free speech is again in the news. Chancellor Christ cites its importance to both those on and off campus in saying, “The public expression of many sharply divergent points of view is fundamental both to our democracy and to our mission as a university.” She then quotes John Stuart Mill for justification. As we write this, we are in the final stages of preparing an illustrated version of Chapter 2 from On Liberty that we believe will help forward both Chancellor Christ and Heterodox Academy’s shared vision for dialogue as an antidote to current discord.
What makes the Chancellor’s essay of particular note is her strong defense of the need to hear views with which you disagree:
Nonetheless, defending the right of free speech for those whose ideas we find offensive is not easy. It often conflicts with the values we hold as a community — tolerance, inclusion, reason and diversity. Some constitutionally protected speech attacks the very identity of particular groups of individuals in ways that are deeply hurtful. However, the right response is not the heckler’s veto, or what some call platform denial. Call toxic speech out for what it is, don’t shout it down, for in shouting it down, you collude in the narrative that universities are not open to all speech. Respond to hate speech with more speech.
May her words ring out on every campus.