Thursday, October 09, 2014

Talk on North Korea Tonight on Campus

See the details here.

North Korea is interesting as the worst of the few remaining Communist dictatorships.   An extreme case, in other words, from which much can be learned.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marquette’s Bizarre “Harassment” Training Getting National Attention

We broke the story here, and it’s been picked up by some national websites:  a Marquette online “training” program that supposedly warms employees about harassing behavior, but in fact tells them not to say anything that anybody, no matter how hypersensitive, might object to.

This was picked up by Campus Reform.

Another article appeared on the website Minding the Campus.

The latter article was noted and discussed at National Review Online.

Some of the comments on Minding the Campus are choice.  One commenter, for example notes that the course cautions people “Be alert to nonverbal clues indicating a colleague might not welcome certain conduct.”  He or she then notes:
At the same time, according to California, it is supposedly impossible for me to tell whether my sexual partner is okay with what we are doing based on nonverbal cues.
Okay, academia.
Another poster notes that one of the “harassing” images is a screen saver of a man who is shirtless, but fully clothed from the waist down.  He responds:
What if I have a crucifix with a shirtless Jesus? Is that offensive at Jesuit Marquette, too? Better investigate the chapel on campus!
This kind of ridicule is fully deserved by Marquette. But given the insular culture of the Marquette bureaucracy — and especially the part that specializes in “diversity” and “inclusion” — the University can be expected to blow this off and continue to do such silly things.

[Update]

Also noticing this fiasco is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which is the premier organization in the nation protecting free expression on college campuses.

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bob Ashmore: Anti-Israel Former Marquette Professor on Foreign Policy

We know Bob Ashmore (but haven’t seen him in quite a while, since he hasn’t been on campus). He’s actually a good guy. But some of his opinions seem to us really far, far out.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

We Should Not Be “Phased” by Misspellings in a College Paper

Yep, a headline in the Marquette Tribune dated today.  We are leaving the name of the reporter in the graphic, since she almost certainly did not write the headline.

Not a big deal, but please, Trib, don’t do that again.

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Marquette’s Bizarre Training on “Harassment”

Like everybody else at Marquette, we have been required to take an online Title IX training session, addressing sexual violence and sexual (and other) harassment.

We’ll leave the sexual violence issue for another post, and for the moment outline what Marquette has to say about harassment.

On the face of it, the rules aren’t too bad. For unlawful harassment to occur, the following conditions must be met. The action must be:

•Related to a protected category.
•Unwelcome.
•Offensive to a reasonable person in the recipient’s position.
•Severe or pervasive.

That would seem to set the bar reasonably high for a finding of “harassment.”

Unfortunately, the content of the online training module makes hash of any and all the reasonable limitations the announced standards imply.

The Politically Incorrect Office

Consider, for example, a picture of an office, included in the module, in which one has to pick out all the potentially offensive or harassing objects. It’s loaded with them.

(You can click on the image to view a larger version.)

First, one that makes sense: an “adult” magazine is said to be out of bounds because it can contribute to a “hostile working environment.” Fair enough. But it goes downhill from there.

A sign saying “men working” is said to be unacceptable because a Kentucky human rights agency ruled it to be discriminatory, implying the exclusion of women. Might a feminist object to this: of course. Might a reasonable woman? No.

The Kentucky agency should knock off for a day and enjoy a little of the state’s excellent Bourbon.

Also out of bounds is a supposedly risqué photo. What does this outrageous, unacceptable picture show?

A couple at the beach in bathing suits. But the legend notes that “harassment complaints have been filed against workers who display photographs of their spouses in swimsuits.” Somehow, the folks who put this together think that attire that would be acceptable on any beach in the country, and indeed at the pool at Marquette’s Recreation Center, is offensive in an office.

Likewise, a computer screen saver showing a man bare from the waste up (but fully clothed from the waist down) may (it is claimed) create a hostile environment.

And while we are on scanty clothing, we are told that “some courts have required worksites to remove sculptures or painting that contain nudity.” Apparently, some other courts haven’t.

It adds, “what might be appropriate for a museum or an art class may not be acceptable for an office.”

Why not?

We can imagine something truly gross that some deranged professor might choose to display, but if a professor of Greek Culture has a model of “Venus de Milo” or a professor of Renaissance Art a model of Michelangelo’s “David,” no reasonable person would complain.

The sculpture pictured seems bland enough.

And how could a student making an occasional visit to a professor’s office and seeing his wife in a swimsuit or a classic piece of sculpture face “severe” or “pervasive” harassment?

Of course, if a conservative Christian student complained about the public display of nude art on a university campus, she would be derided as a narrow-minded prude. But a different standard apparently applies to feminists.

And it’s not the case that feminists are put off by naked genitals. When Marquette’s Gender and Sexuality Resource Center sponsored a program called Femsex, one of the exercises required participants to draw in the Cunt Coloring Book. Yes, that’s exactly what it sounds like.

Other Protected Groups

Of course, the groups who are “protected” (at least in theory) extend beyond women. A sign saying “Over the Hill” is said to “contribute to a hostile work environment on the basis of age.” We are pretty confident that only old guys would ever display such a sign. Can one harass oneself?

And a token nod (more like a head fake) is given to veterans. An anti-war poster is declared unfit because “extreme anti-war postings could contribute to an environment of harassment based on military or veteran status.”


While we like the idea that the doctrine of “harassment” equally covers both politically correct groups and politically incorrect groups, the poster in question is clearly in the area of protected free speech.

Further, on any college campus, military people have doubtless learned to “suck it up” and put up with leftists. So seeking redress is going to be absurdly rare. If they were the sort who whined about every hardship, they would have never joined the military.

Suppose it Isn’t Actually Unwelcome

People working through the module are quizzed: “Jokes welcomed by the recipient are never harassment. True or false?” The answer: “false.”

It is explained: “jokes related to protected categories can still be harassment, even if they don’t offend the recipient.” So you can be harassed without thinking you are being harassed.

Protection for Groups that Aren’t Protected

Finally, behavior that might be tacky, or even gross, is said to be harassing, in spite of not being addressed by Federal law nor directed at any protected category.

For example, we are told that ringtones that involve weapon sounds are “inappropriate.” But people who don’t like loud noises are not a “protected category.” Neither are liberal weenies who don’t like guns. Private employers may have rules about this, but the Federal government does not (yet).


Punishment for Politically Incorrect Speech

One little sequence in the course involves two women coworkers (Becky and Maria) who discuss their opposition to gay marriage. Another coworker (Hans) overhears them and is offended at their opinions. He reports them to Human Resources.

The conclusion of this little tableau is that Hans did not have to participate in the discussion to be offended by it, and the two female coworkers could be guilty of harassment.

Of course, political liberals are not a protected category, and all Hans was subjected to was hearing opinions that “offended” him. But like so many liberals, he believed that opinions he disliked should be shut up.

Thus Marquette University, in this “training,” has endorsed that view. Notwithstanding that the Catholic Church disapproves of gay marriage, merely endorsing Church teaching in a university setting can be harassment.

Would the two women have been able to complain if Hans had been spouting off about how he favored gay marriage?

Fat chance. Even if the rules claim to protect people in an evenhanded way, everyone knows they don’t.

How Far Do We Take This?

Thus employees of Marquette are clearly warned that expression can be harassment even if it’s:

•Unrelated to a protected category.
•Not Unwelcome.
•Offensive only to an unreasonable person in the recipient’s position.
•Not Severe or pervasive.
•Discussion of a political issue

Since just about anything that somebody might happen to dislike seems to be included under the rubric “harassment,” isn’t the logical endpoint that any objection from anybody is sufficient to shut up any speech or expression?

Thus one is not surprised to find, in the course, the following statement:
Liability Avoidance Tip
It is best not to discuss any of the protected categories at work
So you better not discuss the relations between the sexes (a protected category), anything about race relations (protected category), anything about the status of veterans, anything about getting old (age is a protected category), anything about religion (yet another one) and so on.

In short: stifle.

Conclusion

This, it seems, is the logical endpoint of the bureaucratic mentality. And the bureaucratic mentality dominates the administrative ranks of Marquette University. Like bureaucrats everywhere, they supinely accommodate the demands of special interest groups (feminists, gays and lesbians) and of overbearing government regulators (especially the Obama Justice and Education departments).

They will mouth silly things if they are being said elsewhere in academia. Whatever “initiatives” are fashionable elsewhere, they will mimic.

The current “training” module, for example, is a generic one from an operation called Workplace Answers, which specializes in providing cookie-cutter programs (each one just like the previous one) to places like Marquette. Complete with tacky stock photos.

Bureaucrats don’t much care for free expression, since that creates problems (although they will protect it if failing to creates bigger problems).

What is the Practical Import?

It is not clear how this will play out at Marquette. Perhaps the university is just going through the motions, and reasonable sorts of free expression will prevail.

For example, when some feminist in one of our classes claimed we had sexually harassed her by telling the class that feminists grossly exaggerate the incidence of date rape, the University dismissed the complaint. The fact that we were obviously willing to raise hell at any other outcome might have been the deciding factor.

But when a graduate student in Philosophy posted an innocuous political comment by libertarian humorist Dave Barry on his door, somebody complained to department chair James South. South decided the comment was “patently offensive” and tore it down. The University backed South.

So enclaves of authoritarian intolerance exist at Marquette, and doctrines of “harassment” are a tool they will happily use.

A genuinely Catholic university would be tough on real harassment (and without being bullied by the Federal Government), but would tell the perpetually offended and aggrieved “people are going to disagree with you; live with it.” And it would honestly say so.

But that’s not the Marquette we have.

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Worst Job Description Ever

One of our students recently sent us a request for a recommendation (which we will happily provide) and a description of the job for which he’s applying. Here it is:
Position Summary

As a project manager, you’ll work side by side with our customers to install our software, help them to lead and manage change, and ultimately transform the way they provide healthcare for about 50% of Americans. Project managers develop creative strategies to achieve a common end goal while collaborating with smart and innovative colleagues from all roles. Customers will see you as the face of Epic, and you’ll form long-lasting relationships with your teams. No two days are the same - you’ll never stop learning and growing. You’ll have the autonomy to make important decisions while receiving support and guidance along the way. You bring your intelligence, creativity and curiosity; we’ll teach you the rest.
So the question is: what kind of project does this “project manager” manage? What will the project manager actually do? OK, manage a project. But does the person get to hire and fire people? Does the manager have any say-so over the budget? Does “autonomy to make important decisions” include those things?  How is he going to “transform healthcare?”

Hopefully, our student will find out.

But we would have severe reservations about working for any organization that writes such vacuous prose.

But then, we do work for Marquette University.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

The Indignity of Microagression in Colleges and Universities

Republican Allen West to Speak at Marquette

A fellow worth seeing. This Wikipedia article on him is relatively unbiased and quite informative.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

“White Privilege” Conference In Madison

This has gotten a bit of play in conservative media, but these videos give a vivid and hair-raising look at a narrow, bigoted and intolerant little world of race hustling.



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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

James South and “Girls”

We recently blogged about a male professor in Marquette’s Philosophy Department who was reprimanded by then department chair James South for referring to an event attended by female faculty as a “girls night out.”

The professor contested the reprimand, and got it overturned.

But now an e-mail correspondent brings something to our attention.

On James South’s personal web page, he lists one of his “Top Five Xena Episodes” as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

In fact, it’s listed an number one, his absolute favorite!

So he doesn’t really seem to mind referring to adult women as “girls” so long as he is doing it.

So is it really “offensive” to refer to grown women as “girls?”

This came up in a conversation with a feminist colleague of our (a sensible woman, now retired) and she pointed out that nobody seems to mind The Spice Girls or The Indigo Girls.

But what about calling grown men “boys?”  Well, there are “good ol’ boys,” which a Google search shows to be very widely used.

And the greatest Bluegrass band in history was The Foggy Mountain Boys with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs.  And the Oak Ridge Boys have been a fixture in country music for decades.

No doubt in some contexts calling adult women “girls” would be demeaning.  But context matters, and stock phrases like “girls night out” are not offensive. 

Feminists running around looking for a grievance are offensive.

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Marquette Philosophy Professor Reprimanded for “Sexism” for Using the Phrase “Girls Night Out”

Eventually Vindicated

This isn’t new (it happened in the spring semester 2013), but it just got brought to our attention, and it’s too important (and outrageous) to pass up.

It started when the male Philosophy professor and a female faculty member (Susanne Foster), happened to meet, and discussion turned to an event which, by happenstance, was attended by several female faculty members. The male professor referred to the event as a “girls night out.”

Foster apparently took umbrage at the phrase “girls night out.”

And there it all should have ended. Except that Philosophy is one of the most leftist and politically correct departments in the university, and academic feminists are always on the lookout for a grievance.

Taking it to the Department Chair

So Foster contacted Department Chair James South, complaining about the incident.

South wrote a letter to the male professor, accusing him of “sexual harassment,” and placed it in his personnel file. South also apparently reported the incident to Human Resources, noting a supposed pattern of “sexism” on the part of the professor.

Vindication in Two Steps

First, the accused professor filed a grievance with South, giving his side of the story. South agreed to remove the letter from the professors file, and to retract the claims made to Human Resources.

South declined to comment to The Marquette Warrior about this incident, and it’s unclear whether he actually repented of what he had done, or merely came to realize that he had no leg to stand on under university rules. No charge of sexual harassment had been made through official channels, much less adjudicated to be true.

The Money Issue

The professor also demanded that Marquette pay the $1,000 in legal fees he had incurred. The University refused, saying that university procedures do not require that one have legal representation.

This was the position taken by then Arts & Sciences Dean Phil Rossi, and then Provost John Pauly. So the professor appealed to the Faculty Hearing Committee. In May, 2013, it issued its verdict.

On the professor’s request legal fees, the committee concluded “that university policies were violated by the actions taken by Dr. South against [the professor], and that his request for reimbursement of legal expenses is warranted.”

This verdict, communicated to the new acting Provost, Margaret Callahan, resulted in the professor’s legal bills being paid. This was an important action. It established the precedent that someone in a university, faced with charges against them, is not required to master the arcane rules of university procedure and employment law unassisted.

This should have ended it, but even a year later (February, 2014) some faculty members in Philosophy were spreading the story that the professor had been officially reprimanded for sexist behavior. He felt the need to send out a circular letter to faculty and teaching assistants in Philosophy refuting that charge.

So What is Going On Here?

In part, this is simply the political correctness typical of academia, especially from feminists, and especially in humanities departments.

They actually consider the phrase “girls night out” to be offensive. But the entire rest of the world does not.

One can simply Google the phrase “girls night out.”

The search turns out a massive number of results. Events titled “Girls’ Night Out” are sponsored by about every reputable, mainstream organization one can imagine.

Just the uses of the phrase important enough to be mentioned in Wikipedia are:
  • Girls’ Night Out is the name of:
  • Girls’ Night Out (The Judds song), a 1985 number one country hit by The Judds
  • Girls’ Night Out (film), a Korean movie
  • Girls’ Night Out (album), an album by Toronto
  • Girls’ Night Out (album), an album by Candy Dulfer
  • “Girls’ Night Out” (Danny Phantom), a Danny Phantom episode
  • “Girls’ Night Out” (The New Batman Adventures), an episode from the TV series The New Batman Adventures
  • “Girl’s Night Out” is an episode from the fourth series of Ally McBeal
  • Girls’ Night Out, a song by Miley Cyrus from the album Hannah Montana 2: Meet Miley Cyrus
  • Girls Night Out, an anthology by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
Wikipedia defines the phrase as follows: “A ‘girls’ night out’ is a gender-exclusive activity where women meet to engage in social activities.”

It seems that only in the rarified world of academic feminism is “girls night out” a sexist phrase.

James South, remember, is the fellow who ripped down from a graduate student’s office door a quote from libertarian humorist Dave Berry.

 The quote read:
“As Americans we must always remember that we all have a common enemy, an enemy that is dangerous, powerful, and relentless. I refer, of course, to the federal government.”
South insisted this was “patently offensive” and that “hallways and office doors are not ‘free-speech zones.’”

But It’s More Complicated Than This

The Philosophy Department has been riven by a deep divide between more traditional scholars and a more trendy, leftist and politically correct faction.

The latter group (which includes South and Foster) have generally been in control. Increasingly, they have a voting majority of faculty since, after all, they control hiring, and hire people like themselves. When they have lacked a majority they have often engaged in manipulation: votes have been taken, and if the vote turns out the “wrong way” it is declared to be “inoperative.”

With some frequency, the Arts & Sciences Dean’s office has intervened to dictate decisions, and impose the desires of the politically correct faction.

In one recent case, such an intervention had the Philosophy Department on track to have two experts on Buddhism, but no expert on Plato! Happily, this fell through.

The professor changed with sexism has been among the group critical of South and his allies, and this looks for all the world like a form of retaliation for the professor’s opposition in departmental politics.

Vindicated, but So What?

One of the more disturbing things about this incident is that both South and Foster now have positions in the Office of the Dean of Arts & Sciences. Which suggests they have the ear of Arts & Science Dean Rick Holz. Our interaction with Holz suggests that he’s an intelligent and competent technocrat. But does he have the savvy (and the vision) to avoid being manipulated by his staffers to intervene in the affairs of the Philosophy Department to move the department further in a direction contrary to what should be the norm in such a department in a Catholic university?

Time will tell.

But at the moment, internal politics in the Philosophy Department is a mess. An external search for a faculty hire to come in an take the job of Department Chair is underway. Under better circumstances, departments can reach a fairly easy consensus on a current faculty member that faculty trust to take that role.

But Marquette’s Philosophy Department is an example of what happens when traditionally Catholic universities are infiltrated and then taken over by the dominant ideologies of broader academia.

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Friday, July 04, 2014

Anti-Christian Bigotry in Canada

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Global Warming Alarmism: A Blast from the Past

From the New York Times:
PICKING up where a high-school chemistry class might end, “Nova,” the public-broadcasting science series, offers the nonmatriculating viewer an advanced course in worrying. The cause of the concern is all the carbon dioxide that’s being pumped into the industrialized and motorized air. The hourlong broadcast is called “The Climate Crisis: The Greenhouse Effect,” at 9 tonight on Channel 13.

The conclusion, conveyed with great authority by several big-league climatologists from government and private research organizations, is terrible: by the year 2000, the atmosphere and weather will grow warmer by several degrees and life - animal, plant, human - will be threatened. The experts say that melting ice caps, flooded cities, droughts in the corn belt and famine in the third world could result if the earth’s mean temperature rises by a mere two or three degrees.
This described a NOVA documentary broadcast in 1986.

It seems the “big-league climatologists” were all wet. But we have no evidence that they have ever been called to account for the nonsense they were spouting

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Saturday, June 07, 2014

“Fair Trade” Hurts Third-World Poor

We’ve never been impressed with the self-righteous moral preening of the “Fair Trade” crowd. Simply paying a few cents more for some politically correct coffee doesn’t sound like much of a sacrifice to us.

Further, the “Fair Trade” crowd typically has certain political views — opposition to free trade and to globalization, for example — that are sharply adverse to the interests of poor people in the Third World. It’s long been clear that the real path to a better life for Third World poor lies in market-oriented economic development. Impeding that does vastly more harm than “Fair Trade” schemes can even begin to repair.

But now the evidence is becoming clear that “Fair Trade” actually does little (if any) good.

Thus we have a large study, funded by the British government and conducted with a high degree of academic rigor. The results are summarized on the website of the University of London.

Research finds Fairtrade fails the poorest workers in Ethiopia and Uganda


24 May 2014

Fairtrade certified coffee, tea and flowers do not improve lives of the very poorest rural people in Ethiopia and Uganda, according to a four-year research project conducted by leading development economists at SOAS, University of London. The project studied rural labour markets in areas producing crops for export, under different institutional conditions that included, in some research sites, Fairtrade certification.

Low pay for wage workers, particularly women, and limited access to schools, health clinics, improved sanitation and other social projects in rural areas were among the findings in ‘Fairtrade, Employment and Poverty Reduction in Ethiopia and Uganda’, a report published today.

Teams of highly-trained fieldworkers studied wages and working conditions in twelve areas growing coffee, tea and flowers in Ethiopia and Uganda. As well as reviewing existing studies, the researchers collected new, detailed micro-level comparative evidence from areas producing agricultural exports on how rural labour markets affect poor people’s lives.

The study reveals that wage workers are commonplace on ‘smallholder’ farms in the areas studied, where between a third and a half of listed adults were recent agricultural wage workers. The research also found that these agricultural workers were much poorer than others. Wages were lower on average in research sites defined around Fairtrade certified producer organisations than in sites without Fairtrade certified producers.

Key findings from the report:
  • Most rural people in Ethiopia and Uganda enjoy a much higher standard of living than seasonal and casual agricultural wage workers. In rural areas, manual agricultural wage workers are the very poorest.
  • Where Fairtrade flowers were grown, and where there were farmers’ groups selling coffee and tea into Fairtrade certified markets, wages were very low – especially women’s wages. In fact, wages in other comparable areas and among comparable employers producing the same crops but where there was no Fairtrade certification were usually higher. This was not because the Fairtrade certified cooperatives were in more marginalised, deprived areas.
  • In some areas dominated by Fairtrade certified cooperatives workers in the samples did appear to have greater access to some fringe benefits (e.g., free meals in two sites, or on other sites more access to loans) than workers in areas without Fairtrade certification. Even here, though, other aspects of work conditions were often worse.
  • The findings on lower wages held true even after the effects of scale and other differences across workers and sites were taken into account in detailed statistical analysis, contrary to the claims made in the Fairtrade Foundation’s own statement about this research.
  • Fairtrade publicises its contribution to the funding of schools, health clinics, improved sanitation and other “social projects” in rural areas. From hours of quantitative and qualitative interviews with respondents and others, including in some cases cooperative managers, the SOAS researchers found that the poorest often had no access to these ‘community’ facilities in the research sites, even when they were or had been wage workers on the processing stations or for producer members.
A trenchant commentary on a British website describes the mentality behind “Fair Trade.”
From its very inception, the concept of Fairtrade was rooted in maintaining low ‘sustainable’ horizons for the poor by those who consider people in Africa and other parts of the Third World to be intrinsically different to the rest of us. The movement did not originate with the poor farmers of the developing world, but with Western NGOs and their army of gap-year do-gooders intent on imposing their reactionary ‘small is beautiful’ values on an Africa desperate for change.

According to the Fairtrade worldview, the poor farmers of the world are in fact quite happy with their lot and only desire a stable, if low, price for their produce. Once this is in place, they will be free to enjoy their simple idyllic existence. The fact that Western countries left extreme poverty behind through rapid industrialisation and urbanisation does not apply to Africa, they say. Instead, it is of paramount importance that Fairtrade ‘promotes and protects the cultural identity and traditional skills of small producers.’ They should receive enough money never to be in danger of starvation, but not enough to afford a foreign holiday or to send a child to university or, indeed, do any of the things we in the West enjoy, lest it undermine their cultural identity.
Thus the attitudes of contemporary urban, liberal yuppies begin to look a lot like those of the traditional European nobility. Yes, we want the peasants to live better, but we don’t want them to start rivaling us. So long as our moral and cultural superiority is recognized, we are all for making the peons better off. Noblesse oblige. But only a bit better off. And we aren’t going to be too scrupulous about whether we are really making the poor better off. The key thing is that it makes us feel better about ourselves.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Politically Correct Fascism at Portland State University

Check this article for an explanation of the grievance of the intolerant people who felt they had a right to shut up the speaker of whom they disapproved.


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