Princeton Course Asserts Conservatives Use Freedom to Excuse Hate Speech

Princeton University, not known for being a bulwark of free speech to start with, has a fall course this year that calls into question whether free speech is being “abused.”

The course entitled “Current Issues in Anthropology: Liberalism, Racism, and Free Speech,” asks if understandings of free speech have changed. It also boldly asserts that “far right activists” employ “free speech” arguments to justify “hate speech.”

It is well known that college campuses are about as far removed from being bastions of free speech as they can be. There is no doubt that spouting radical liberal rhetoric is appreciated and even honored there, but heaven forbid a conservative dare to speak an opposing point of view.

Anything that flies in the face of liberal demagoguery may be smeared as “hate speech” and the speaker is now a legitimate target.

Speech inciting violence is one thing, but how free is speech if it can only be what is favored by those in power?

As for Princeton, the reading list for this fall’s class is a telling sign. It includes “Superior: The Return of Race Science,” “Is Free Speech Racist?” “The Fateful Triangle: Race, Ethnicity, Nation,” and “On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life.”

The course description hails its use of “comparative studies of racist and Islamophobic hate speech” to analyze different cultural reactions to such speech and how rules are challenged.

There is no syllabus available for the course, but the description states that students will “theorize intersections of racism, liberalism, anti-black racism, and feminist theory.”

It warns of the far right in the U.S. and Europe hiding behind free speech to spout racism. The Princeton University course is taught by visiting professor of anthropology, Sindre Bangstad.

Universities were once seen as places to develop differing ideas and express unpopular viewpoints. However, since the days of campus radicalism in the 1960s and 70s, suppression of speech unsupported by the school’s majority is widely accepted as the unquestioned norm.