Nationally respected free speech advocate Harvey Silvergate weighed in on the recent free speech controversy at UMass over the cancelled invitation of a leftist terrorist. Not surprisingly, Silvergate supports the free speech advocates, but also scolds campus liberals for their failure to defend free speech for non-leftists on those occasions in the past when they were shouted off the stage. As Silvergate says in the Boston Phoenix:
If free speech is what gives value to the campus "marketplace of ideas," UMass Amherst would long ago have gone bankrupt....
For freedom of speech to function, its supporters must be willing to apply it equally, especially to speech with which they disagree. Though the Levasseur incident saw faculty asserting its academic freedom rights — as the UMass administration kowtowed to outside pressure — it also exposed the professoriate as one-sided. Defending only controversial speech on one half of the political divide is a formula for hollowing out this time-tested constitutional guarantee and academic axiom.
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.
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UMass put up this display to honor the fall of Germany's Berlin Wall.
It is a rare that we have a chance to test political theories with the same rigorous precision that is used in the hard sciences. However that opportunity emerged after World War II when Germany was divided into two nations, each with the identical history and culture, the only difference being that one half embraced free markets and the other embraced socialism. Forty years later, the capitalist half of Germany was one of the wealthiest and most powerful nations in the world, while the socialist half was a poverty stricken police state.
As it becomes increasingly apparent that the incompetence of the Republicans under Bush is only being surpassed by the incompetence of the Democrats under Obama, the disillusionment and disgust of the public with the two major parties is reaching historic levels. We are hurtling towards the so-called "libertarian moment" when the American people will finally decide, "To hell with the liberals, to hell with the conservatives, let's choose freedom instead!" Predicting the arrival of this happy day is the hiply influential business magazine Fast Company:
If the two-party system is ever going to be seriously challenged, this is the moment. The GOP, the stall-tactic party, is reeling. The Democratic administration is struggling to turn around the economy. And across the country, creative, engaged folks are increasingly feeling politically homeless. More Americans consider themselves independents (39%) than Democrats (33%) or Republicans (22%) -- and the gap is widening.
Who will fill that void? The best third-party contender already exists. The Libertarians, like so many independents and disaffected Democrats and Republicans, are fiscal conservatives and social liberals -- and no one has yet built a lasting coalition out of this growing force....Seize the moment, Libertarians. You're not going to get a better one.
Some tombstones make you wish you knew something about the lives behind the stones, such as this one in West Cemetery.
A quick video scan of the cemetery. This also happens to be my 200th video.
Stone balls hold open the door to a downtown shop.
Wheels on fire.
Street leading to the library.
Radio station broadcasting from campus today.
If you get confused listen to the music play.