Tales From The Safe Space, Part 39 – UC San Diego, The Koala And The Battle To Censor Student Media

Danger Unsafe Space Sign - The Koala - UCSD

Student identity politics cultists and their craven university administration enablers are now gunning for student journalism and the free press

When University of California – San Diego student publication The Koala published this satirical article, they probably had some idea of the reaction that it would inevitably provoke:

Too long have trigger warnings plagued the airwaves. Too long has the no-blacks rule been removed from our campus. Too long have students not been free to offend their hypersensitive peers. “Spam Musubi only $1” and “Holy shit they opened up Starbucks” have replaced the long-gone chants of “Nigger nigger nigger nigger nigger.” Next week, that will all change.

Administrators at UC San Diego are creating an all new, state-of-the-art Dangerous Space for UCSD students who just don’t feel like their needs have been met on campus. In the past few weeks, the lack of dangerous space at UCSD has become increasingly apparent; students have been lashing out with puppy parades, non-violent protests, and other equally safe gimmicks. Safe spaces at UCSD are commonplace, and threaten individuals who do not like feeling safe. The logical next step has been taken by the university in creating a place to fairly support all UCSD students, continuing the university’s theme of inclusion and equality.

Located in the center of Library Walk, the new Dangerous Space is the ideal place for students to do whatever the hell they want. Senior Frank Yu gave The Koala the following statement: “The needs of dangerous-space students have been overlooked for generations, but UCSD is finally recognizing what means the most to 19-year-old Asian nerds: fucking a dead body with a picture of my waifu taped on the face.”

F. Yu isn’t alone. Not only will this new dangerous space allow people of all ethnicities and sizes – even unnaturally large sizes – it will allow for knifes, guns, opinions that might be different than yours, drug paraphernalia, sharp writing instruments, and explicit pornography.

The new Dangerous Space is guaranteed to get students excited for a good time, and will probably end like all good things do, with body mutilation and feelings of remorse.

Not world class humour, you might think, but certainly something that falls well within the boundaries of constitutionally protected speech in America.

(And from this blog’s perspective, an always-welcome attack by students on the illiberal cancer metastasising through the English-speaking Western academia.)

But on this occasion, the publication was not merely the recipient of angry protests and tearful accusations from “triggered” snowflake students. Instead, the entire weight of the university leadership, egged on by vengeful student protesters, came crashing down on the small student newspaper.

From Inside Higher Ed:

On Nov. 18, the university’s administrators responded to student complaints, condemning the Koala in a statement. “We, the UC San Diego administration, strongly denounce the Koala publication and the offensive and hurtful language it chooses to publish,” several administrators, including the university’s president, stated. The Koala responded to the denouncement by publishing a series of profanity-laden and slur-filled fictional emails meant to be written by administrators.

So far, so unsurprising. Just another craven university administration cowering in fear and issuing Stalin-like denunciations of alleged thoughtcrime at the behest of entitled student protesters.

But it gets worse:

In an attempt to starve out a controversial student publication without violating the First Amendment, the student government at the University of California at San Diego voted last week to cease any funding of student media.

The move — which First Amendment experts said does not pass constitutional muster, despite the student government’s maneuvering to avoid targeting a specific group — came after UCSD administrators condemned the most controversial of the university’s publications amid student protests about racism on campus.

In other words, the officious student council was not satisfied with having bullied the spineless UCSD university administration into denouncing humorous free speech, they wanted to starve The Koala of funding, effectively shutting it down.

In Britain, this would have been a slam-dunk. Game over. But in America, the pesky First Amendment makes such blatant retaliation illegal, and so instead the student government had the bright idea of ceasing funding to all student media organisations – essentially killing off an entire campus industry and ruining everyone’s fun in order to punish one organisation accused of causing “offence”.

The political machinations here are so crude that there is simply no disguising them, try as the student council might:

Student leaders appear to have been worried that if they just ended funding for the Koala, and did so based on its content and language, they would be violating the First Amendment. So later that day, the Associated Students Council voted to defund all student media by removing a section from its constitution about financial support of student media organizations.

The Associated Students provides about $15,000 per year, drawn from student fees, to several student media organizations, including student-run research journals and magazines. The twice-weekly student newspaper, the Guardian, is independent and was not affected.

“When this was brought to council floor, I made it a point to address that this issue was not to be tied to any particular organization,” Dominick Suvonnasupa, the student government’s president, said in an email. “The question was whether to fund media at all, and at the end of the meeting, council decided not to. AS decided to discontinue print media funding as it was determined that there were other areas of campus that could better benefit from the limited resources of the Associated Students. All campus media organizations have received suggestions of alternative funding sources.”

Uh-huh. Sure. And of course the Associated Students Council would have come to exactly the same conclusion, independently, had The Koala not published their heretical article back in November of 2015 (funding was withdrawn from all student publications a week later). Right.

Incidentally, these are exactly the same tawdry tactics which were once used by die-hard segregationists during the last gasp of Jim Crow, where some racist whites chose to privatise their school districts and close their public amenities rather than submit to federally mandated integration. Only now it is moralising student activists and their cowardly enablers within academic leadership who would rather burn all student media to the ground than allow one publication to continue posting material which they find “offensive”. But don’t expect today’s virtue-signalling student activists to note the irony.

Just as many British leftists are desperate for Britain to vote to remain in the European Union in the coming referendum because deep down they don’t think that the people are capable of making the “right choices” if proper democracy was restored with Brexit, so these Social Justice and Identity Politics cultists on both sides of the Atlantic seem to think that fellow students are somehow unable to handle free speech, and that it must therefore be withdrawn or highly circumscribed in order to prevent “harm” from occurring.

Fortunately, the San Diego chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is now riding to the rescue. From The Daily Caller:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the University at California at San Diego (UCSD) for defunding a student publication that offended UCSD students.

[..] The ACLU alledges this action runs afoul of the First Amendment.

“The student government violated the First Amendment in two ways,” a statement from the ACLU read. “First, it targeted the student press by stripping it of revenue that remains available to support other student speech. Second, it retaliated against the editorial viewpoint of The Koala, an action that is not immunized by inflicting collateral damage on all student media.”

Although the organization expressed sympathy with those offended, it asserted The Koala piece was “classic protected speech.”

“Trauma is real,” said David Loy, legal director of the ACLU in San Diego and Imperial Counties, “but censorship is not the cure, because it inevitably blows back on those it purports to protect.”

It is good to see the ACLU come down on the right side of this issue and take up the case of this small student-run publication. One does not have to approve of The Koala, or this article in particular, to decry the way that the UC San Diego student government, drunk on power, sought first to shut down the paper and then effectively silence all campus media as a collective punishment for the heretical editorial viewpoint of one outlet.

The ACLU’s case seems quite watertight, and it is likely that the lawsuit will succeed, but student protesters will not take a defeat lying down. If they cannot accomplish their primary objective (shutting down the offensive publication) or secondary objective (suppressing student journalism altogether) they will come back with a third strategy, and a fourth.

These people are relentless. Caving in to their shrill and authoritarian demands encourages them to come back for more, while rebutting them only encourages the snowflakes to shout louder. All of which might be admirable, if only their cause was a just one. But despite the name, there is nothing “just” about the Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics.

On the contrary, it is a poisonous, tawdry ideology which preaches personal fragility, collective guilt, voluntary re-segregation and a rampant culture of victimhood. And as such it must be actively opposed on all fronts.

God speed the ACLU lawsuit, and may The Koala survive to publish many more editions filled with edgy, unapologetically provocative student humour.

 

Safe Space Notice - 2

Top Image: The Koala

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SEMI-PARTISAN SUMMARY

Semi-Partisan Sam’s inaugural summary of new events and commentary that are worth a read today.

CULTURE

The Obama and Romney campaigns paused their respective election campaigns in response to the tragic cinema shootings in Colorado, which have left at least twelve people dead. This did not stop some people from trying to make political hay out of the tragedy, though they were roundly chastised by Slate Magazine.

The Daily Mash takes a sardonic look at the new Batman movie which just received its London premiere. Mocking pundits from left and right alike, who have attempted to find a relevant political statement in the subtext of the movie, they report that “Director Christopher Nolan’s latest epic has prompted intense speculation from critics searching for socio-political meaning behind the images of a man in a costume hitting people and running away from explosions.”

 

BRITISH POLITICS

Robert Halfon MP writes an opinion piece for ConservativeHome, arguing that the Conservative Party needs to work harder to win the respect and votes of trades union members, where necessary reaching over the heads of their ideological, self-serving union leadership. I couldn’t agree more. The average RMT worker has no more in common with the fat, bloated Bob Crow than I have with Matthew McConnaughey, and it is ludicrous that Crow should claim to speak for his entire membership and not be called out for doing so. A point well worth remembering as leaders of the Public Services Union call a strike in the run-up to the Olympic Games, based on a ballot where turnout was less than 20% of members.

Nick Cohen at The Spectator has an excellent piece exposing the cravenness of the British government in handing the Olympic organisers and their favoured partners so much control not just over the Olympic brand, but over the ability to market goods and to exercise free speech itself. In fact, the Olympic organisers are the beneficiaries of a special, bespoke law (the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act of 2006) which gives them special and criminally enforceable legal rights that no other private individual, company or organisation enjoys. This article is a must-read.

An expectant couple were shocked to find a ghostly image of Margaret Thatcher’s head in the ultrasound scan picture of their unborn baby, as Guido Fawkes reports. I really have nothing to add to this one.

Tony Blair would be more at home in America than Britain, or at least would receive a warmer welcome, writes Paul Goodman at ConservativeHome.

A worrying new “grassroots” campaign has appeared, on Facebook and elsewhere, calling for the renationalisation of Britain’s rail network. Going by the name “Bring Back British Rail”, they long for a return to the days of swift, courteous, efficient transport service and a customer-oriented ethos that used to exist prior to…oh wait. Well, the government should just own everything, right? It’s simple! ADDENDUM – I refined my views slightly after a discussion with a respected friend on the Bring Back British Rail group’s Facebook wall.

 

AMERICAN POLITICS

Andrew Sullivan gets there first and does a better job of analysing Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech, which has sparked so much Conservative gloating/fuming. I must admit that when I first heard it, I thought that this was another facepalm moment, akin to Obama’s “clinging to guns and religion” faux-pas, but Sullivan clears things up and demonstrates quite clearly that the “that” Obama is referring to were the roads and bridges and infrastructure which he was discussing immediately before – and which were conveniently left out of the quote. You can still argue that Obama attributes too much success to the collective aspects of American society – the infrastructure, the regulations, and so on – but I think it is pretty ridiculous to argue that the president really believes that entrepreneurs are not responsible for their own success.

Michele Bachmann, the fire-breathing congresswoman from Minnesota, finally stepped over the line with her letter calling into question the character and patriotism of a senior State Department aide who happens to be Muslim. This was too much even for the likes of John Boehner, who was one of several senior Republicans to disassociate himself from Bachmann’s ‘McCarthy-like’ witch hunt.

The General Services Administration (GSA) appear to have failed to learn from the furore that followed their Las Vegas blowout in 2010, or at least decided that blowing taxpayer money on lavish events was a feat to be encouraged and repeated. Which they duly did in November of that year, allegedly spending $268,732 on a venue, drinks and canapés, entertainment and party gifts at a “performance reward ceremony”.

Highlighting an often-overlooked point, Lori Montgomery, writing in The Washington Post, reminds us that Americans actually pay the lowest taxes to the federal government in 30 years. If today’s GOP cared much for the truth, or understood the concept of an objective fact, perhaps they might stop whining about Obama the tax-raising president. But I think we all know that won’t happen.

This controversial piece by Tom Junod caused quite a stir when it was published just over a week ago. Analysing the secret drone strike programme operated by the Obama administration (though its existence is officially denied, apart from a series of fortuitous leaks to let the American people know how successful it is), it should make any right thinking person question the new powers over life and death, due process and standards of accountability that are being claimed by the federal government. It should also make anyone who voted for Obama hoping to put an end to the criminal excesses of the Bush administration feel betrayed and angry about what is still taking place in your name.

Fortunately, the ACLU is now getting involved and suing the Obama administration over these grotesque constitutional overreaches, as Adam Serwer reports at MotherJones.

Growing Up In The Age Of Facebook

Facebook Password

There’s an interesting piece in The Daily Telegraph today about a 12-year-old girl from Minnesota who is taking her school to court because she was forced by the school authorities, against her will and without the expressed permission of her parents, to divulge her Facebook password and allow school officials to read her private messages.

I read this article and my first thoughts were – thank God for the Americal Civil Liberties Union, who are bringing the case on her behalf. Much maligned by the American right wing because they defend those rights that conservatives would actually quite happily squash (flag burning, mosque building, same-sex marriage) while they hypocritically parade around acting like the last stalwart defenders of freedom, you can usually rely on the ACLU to defend the cause of liberty, even if it means holding up a mirror to society and making us ask ourselves some difficult questions sometimes.

The article goes on to mention some additional egregious instances of personal privacy violations by schools and employers, including the following:

“The ACLU recently forced the Department of Corrections in Maryland to stop requiring applicants to provide their Facebook passwords when applying for jobs.”

As if such a practice should ever have been attempted in the so-called land of the free! And:

“In an recent investigation, the TV station MSNBC found that many university sports departments now require students to “friend” their coach, giving officials access to their “friends-only” posts. The University of North Carolina handbook reads: “Each team must identify at least one coach or administrator who is responsible for having access to and regularly monitoring the content of team members’ social networking sites and postings.”

Such actions are a total affront to privacy, and organisations that deal in such underhanded and coercive tactics deserve to be named, shamed and sued. Though many of us now live a substantial portion of our lives online in terms of our Facebook and Twitter accounts etc., this only makes the need to enforce a boundary between one’s personal and work lives even more important. There are many ways that a person can bring their family, church, school or employer into disrepute, but just as your boss cannot invite himself round for dinner to make sure you aren’t complaining to your family and neighbours about work at the end of the day, neither can your employer eavesdrop on the digital footprints you leave on social media. No ifs, no buts – it’s wrong.

But moving beyond this issue, we must recognise that growing up and going through school today is surely more different for today’s generation of schoolchildren than most people can ever appreciate. Facebook and Twitter, and the fact that everyone has a mobile phone from about the age of seven these days certainly makes socialising more fun and exciting, but can also take the damage that is caused by “run of the mill” bullying and increase it exponentially. Sadly there are already cases of teenage suicides precipitated by social media-related bullying, and the problem has attracted enough attention that Facebook and other social networks have had to take steps to make it easier to report such behaviour. Faced with this new threat to the wellbeing of young people you can therefore understand the school’s alarm, and perhaps understand (if not accept) the action that they took in this instance. However, I truly would have expected a story about the forced divulgence of personal passwords and the snooping by authorities on a school pupil’s online identity to have originated from Britain, and not the United States.

And it should not have to fall to the ACLU to argue the blindingly obvious in court – that schools, employers and other such authorities have no remit to spy on a private citizen’s online life.