This Week in Berkeley: The New Free Speech Movement?

Attention all Bay Area Power Line readers: As Ed Sullivan used to say, this week I’ve got “a really big show” for you. This Wednesday and Thursday I am executing an Inchon landing behind the lines, with a two-day program starting with a late afternoon (5 pm) lecture on “The Metaphysics of Free Speech” from Harvey Mansfield, Harvard’s most well-known conservative. (Click the link to get location and RSVP information.)

Then on Thursday afternoon starting at 1 pm, I’m hosting two panels about current free speech controversies and the problem of intellectual diversity (or lack thereof) on campus today.  Here are the descriptions and personnel appearing on the panels:

Panel 1 (1 – 2:50 pm): The Blurred Lines Over Free Speech, Hate Speech, and Academic Freedom

In recent years college campuses have been at a boil not seen since the 1960s, over issues of identity, safety and security, and the acceptable limits of provocative speech acts. Administrators here and elsewhere are struggling to find a stable policy that honors the traditions of academic freedom as well as the laws protecting free speech. This panel will deliberate about several flash points, including Title IX, hate speech, and the limits of campus expression.


Larry Alexander, you may recall, is the co-author along with Penn’s Amy Wax of an op-ed article about bourgeois values in the 1950s that sent the left into a bender, and Lindsay Shepherd is the young Canadian graduate student who had to submit to a Maoist re-education session for the thoughtcrime of showing a five-minute video of Jordan Peterson in one of her classes. Shep Melnick has a new book coming out about Title IX, and George Thomas will present findings of a recent survey of student attitudes about free speech issues.

Panel 2 (3:10 – 5:00 pm): Is Intellectual Diversity Essential to Academic Excellence?

Does the current understanding of “diversity” actually generate narrow conformity? The number of conservative academics in the social sciences and humanities has been in steep decline over the last 25 years, and some research suggests the trend of increasing homogeneity may be contributing to campus polarization and ideological isolation.


All of these events are free and open to the public, and are being held in the Banatao Auditorium in the Sutardja Dai Hall on the north side of campus off Hearst Street. The weather forecast is ugly for Wednesday and Thursday unfortunately, but it would be great to have some Power Liners there to assist in the invasion. I’m thinking it’s the start of a new free speech movement.