Weekly News Digest, No. 20

Welcome to the twentieth installment of the Project on Civil Discourse’s Weekly News Digest, hosted on our Real Talk blog.

Upcoming Events

On Monday, March 4th, Floyd Abrams will participate in a Q&A session about the Supreme Court and free speech at the Washington College of Law. To RSVP, click here.

On Wednesday, March 6th, Tyler Lewis will speak at American University about the importance of conviction and authenticity in value-driven political communication. Lewis is the Director of Coalition Communications and Research at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Lewis’ talk will be held at 11:30am in MGC 200 and is presented by the Project on Civil Discourse. To RSVP through Facebook, click here.

On Thursday, March 21st, the University of California’s National Center for Free Speech and Civic Engagement will host their #SpeechMatters conference at their Washington Center. With a focus on the future of free expression on college campuses, the conference will feature panels on civil discourse and online speech, along with a keynote lecture and other functions. For a detailed schedule and list of speakers or to register, click here.

Free Speech and Students

Christian Watson charges that “controversy for controversy’s sake won’t win the fight for free speech on campus” in an article for The Washington Examiner. Watson pushes back against the typical conservative strategy of bringing speakers that decry safe spaces and intentionally create outrage among students, such as Richard Spencer or Milo Yiannopoulos. Instead, “student groups are better off just inviting respectable right-of-center thinkers to speak – folks who challenge the dominant worldview on campus without spreading controversy just for controversy’s sake.”

The Free Speech Project at Georgetown University reports that both liberal and conservative voices are being suppressed on campuses at about the same amount, contrary to popular belief. Challenges to free speech have moved from college campuses to the high school level recently, with numerous instances where school administrators have censored commencement speeches or school newspaper articles. The Project notes that “the complaints often have less to do with ideology than with avoiding controversy of any sort.”

Civil Discourse

This letter to the editor in the Santa Monica Daily Press lays out a vision for efficient civil discourse, including four rules: agree on the definitions of “fact” and “opinion,” relinquish the need to be right, be willing to listen, and stop finger-pointing. Evan, the author, argues that “it’s our approach that’s hurting us,” noting that we should lead with civility since ‘like breeds like.’

Thanks for reading!

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