Pleas for Civility Meet Cynicism

September 11, 2014 / Phil Lesch

The Chronicle of Higher Education
September 10th, 2014

“Civility” just might be academe’s newest fighting word.

In the past week, pleas for civility at Ohio University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of California at Berkeley have had the unintended effect of provoking harsh attacks on the campus leaders who issued them. All have been accused of seeking to silence speech rather than simply lower its tone.

Among those criticizing the actions of the three universities’s leaders is Henry F. Reichman, chairman of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, who has suggested on the AAUP blog Academe that charges of incivility are being used to silence today’s faculty members in the same way that accusations of communist sympathies were used to silence them during the red scare of the 1940s and 1950s.

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