What Snowflakes Get Right: Free Speech, Truth, and Equality on Campus

Oxford Univ. Oct. 2019. 176p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780190054199. $22.95. ED
Expanding on his 2017 New York Times op-ed, Baer (comparative literature, vice provost for faculty, arts, humanities, & diversity, New York Univ.; Remnants of Song) argues in favor of putting limitations on those invited to speak at college campuses and defends the “snowflakes,” criticized by some as oversensitive students afraid to debate challenging ideas. He asserts that unrestricted speech may have a place in the public sphere but that universities can establish restrictions because they are dedicated to seeking truth and fostering a welcoming environment for all students and faculty. The author contends that women, people of color, and others from marginalized groups should not have to endure hate speech and that the abstract value of unlimited speech should not be allowed to undermine the university mission of advancing knowledge. Drawing upon a career interacting with students and faculty and from a wide reading of academic studies, Baer maintains that the commitment to equality on campuses and in our society justifies excluding extremists spewing racism and hatred.
VERDICT A thoughtful, convincing response to those demanding unlimited access to university platforms.
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