A report from The Sun yesterday adds ballast to what many had long suspected: that pro-Hong Kong materials are being vandalized on campus, with Snapchat screenshots suggesting that students were responsible for vandalizing stickers stuck to a footbridge railing. It harkens back to dark memories two years ago when pro-Tibet human rights posters on Arts Quad were similarly stolen. The repetition of such an act of grave immaturity and irresponsibility puts into question the conscience of those perpetrators, widening the chasm within the larger Chinese community between the mainland Chinese and Hong Kong people. But one question lingers: why? Why would someone destroy materials meant to support those protesting an overbearing state?
President Trump last week signed an executive order that links federal research and education grants for colleges and universities to their unwavering commitment to “[promoting] free inquiry.” Translation: The long-standing progressive censorship game at colleges and universities is now over. Universities and colleges will immediately cease shutting down, impeding or permitting the disruption of conservative speakers, or now risk losing billions of federal research dollars that are generously given away each year to these institutions of higher learning. It is unfortunate that such an order has become a confrontational stance on America’s campuses, but academia has sadly reached that point. Young America’s Foundation, for instance, favorably settled a lawsuit over this precise issue with the University of California, Berkeley last December. UC Berkeley, facing a constitutional challenge to its speaking protocols, agreed to abolish its “high-profile speaker policy” and speaking fee schedule while implementing a policy that ensures that heckling protesters will no longer be permitted to shut down speakers on campus.
“Parental Advisory: Explicit Content.” It’s a phrase that has embedded itself deep down in the consciousness of modern music audiences, loudly asserting itself in that black-and-white rectangle of moralism on the bottom right-hand corner of all your favorite albums. These days, that little box garners about as much attention as the signature at the bottom of a painting, but its early years sparked a fair share of heated debate regarding freedom of expression, the role of censorship in art and good ol’ family values. Our story begins in 1985, when one Mary “Tipper” Gore purchased Prince’s Purple Rain for her 11 year-old daughter, only to be taken aback by explicit references to sex and female masturbation on the song “Darling Nikki” (“I met her in a hotel lobby/Masturbating with a magazine”). Bewildered by her failure to protect young Karenna from the Purple One’s ode to consensual S&M, Gore (married, at the time, to future Vice President Al Gore) took it upon herself to co-found the Parents Music Resource Center, which aimed to lobby for industry regulations that would increase parents’ control over their children’s access to music. Founded almost entirely by women, the 22-person group became known colloquially and in the media as the “Washington wives” — a reference to the fact that their spouses included 10 U.S. Senators, 6 U.S. Representatives and a Cabinet Secretary. Sexist nicknames aside, this undeniable clout brought instant attention to the cause, resulting in a Senate hearing for the PMRC just five months after its formation.
A lot of discussion has taken place recently about the merits of “trigger warnings” in academic environments. We can see that students, professors and administrators are all now part of an important conversation which deals with trauma and its role in the classroom. Some are fans of trigger warnings. Others, like President Elizabeth Garrett (to reporters at the Cornell Club), say that “there shouldn’t be any limits on the substance of freedom of speech at a university.”
And on a tangential note, any casual observer of the Cornellian social media scene will also see that a related division of opinions has happened on the oh-so-exciting “Overheard” group. The typical incident usually goes like this: A makes a joke in poor taste.
After four years of waiting, seven former editors of Ithaca High School’s newspaper received some good news from federal judge Norman Mordue on Mar. 24: their lawsuit against the Ithaca City School District for infringing on students’ First Amendment rights is now officially going to trial.
In 2004, The Tattler, IHS’s student-run publication, printed some controversial pieces, including one that criticized their Principal, Joe Wilson. The ICSD promptly imposed an unprecedented set of guidelines on the Tattler, which, among other things, gave the administration veto power over any proposed paper content. Rob Ochshorn ’09, The Tattler’s editor-in-chief at the time, resorted to publishing and distributing the paper underground for several months.