Asking the wrong question.

Author:Steinberg, Bernie
Position:FREE SPEECH SYMPOSIUM - Letter to the editor

I read Moment's symposium with deep interest. Most of the respondents agree that the short answer is "yes" and detail a rich variety of concrete examples. Yet these examples are embedded in a web of complex issues--identity politics, constitutional rights, the mission of the university and many others. Might the symposium widen its focus to address the broader question: "Is meaningful conversation under fire at the American university?"

This broader question is primarily educational and moral, reflecting, among other things, the precipitous decline of the humanities, the pervasive use of economic discourse to commodify human identity and the growing domination of digital technology, transforming the way we think about ourselves and how we regard others. The educational and moral question concerns the radical relationship between words and...

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