Weekly News Digest, No. 22

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

Student Discussions

Are you interested in the role of political, social, and racial identity in speech? Do you want to talk with your peers about campus speech, civility, or post-truth conversations?

The Project on Civil Discourse is holding twenty student discussions where a group of 8-10 students and two peer facilitators come together to talk about discourse from a variety of different angles. For a list of discussions and to register, click here.

Upcoming Events

The Global Education Forum, “Hate Comes to Campus,” will be held on Thursday, March 28th. The Forum will feature a 2:30pm panel discussing free speech and the campus community and a 5:00pm panel discussing the radical right and global education. The Project on Civil Discourse is co-sponsoring the Forum and PCD Director Lara Schwartz will be a member of the first panel. For more information or to register, click here.

On Wednesday, April 3rd, Louis Michael Seidman will speak at American University about his work, “Can Free Speech be Progressive?” Seidman is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown Law. Seidman’s talk will be held at 2:30pm in Hughes Hall Formal Lounge and is presented by the Project on Civil Discourse. To RSVP through Facebook, click here.

Debate and Civil Discourse

Several months ago, Facebook filed a patent for a system where people could “meaningfully engage in civil discourse” online. The Verge walks through their patent, highlighting how it could work and discussing how it fits with Facebook’s current identity. Their system focuses on “smaller-scale engagement with local politics” and is “designed to help people come up with political solutions, not formally propose them as laws.”

An editorial in the Las Vegas Sun describes the power of a debate between the UNLV debate team and members of the Brookings Institution over healthcare policy. “Who won and who lost wasn’t as important as the overall message of the event – that divisive issues can be argued aggressively but respectfully.” Richard Reeves, from Brookings, talked in an interview with the Sunabout the importance of listening, bring facts from both sides of the issue together, and divorcing issue positions from identity.

Campus Speech

After President Trump’s announcement at CPAC of an executive order denying federal funding to colleges and universities that do not support free speech, Inside Higher Ed wrote about what this may look like. While the White House’s budget release came and went without further details on this order, it is still possible that President Trump could introduce one in the coming weeks.

After a UC Davis professor refused to retract statements that police should be killed, students are rallying to fire him. The Davis College Republicans sponsored the rally, which featured the mother of a UC Davis graduate who was killed in the line of duty and Assemblyman James Gallagher. Gallagher “turned in 10,000 signed petitions asking administrators” that the professor be fired, but still tried to encourage civil debate and talking to black students who are frequently pulled over by the police.

Incivility and Contempt

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, argues that our problem today is not incivility or intolerance, but contempt. This stems from motive attribution asymmetry, or the assumption that your side is driven by love and your opponent’s side is driven by hate. Brooks writes that we need to disagree better, not less, and commit to never treating others with contempt.

Thanks for reading!

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