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Cleveland-Marshall College of Law Legal Studies Research Paper Series


hyper-sensitivity, language control, idea of the university, appropriation of cultural identity, insensitivity, university mission, Rule of Law, defending the Rule of Law, freedom of speech, political discourse, factions


The Rule of Law in America is buttressed by the idea of free speech. Universities are supposed to be centers of free speech, dialogue and learning, in the process educating and preparing students to protect and preserve the unique ideal of the Western version of the Rule of Law. This includes the importance of competing factions attempting to achieve compromise through political discourse. There is a rather significant problem, therefore, when the dynamic and often contentious interactions that produce the ability to recognize the potential legitimacy of others’ arguments and the flaws in one’s own are short circuited by political agendas that punish speech rather than engage in true discourse. In that situation, the ability and willingness to hold onto such ideals as are inherent in the Rule of Law are being irreversibly damaged. My fear is that the mission of the university is being altered and in some instances undermined by the heightened sensitivity of feelings among students, faculty and administrators who seem to be hurt or offended by almost anything. While the sensitivity may be real, imagined, part of an aggressive “mob mentality” or faked as a political ploy the “appropriation” and linguistic control movement is remarkable in its scope and import. The truth is that rather than being a legitimate educational strategy in too many instances what is occurring is a ploy to gain and exercise power through the control of language and the ability to accuse others of treating one “insensitively.”

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