The Dartmouth Observer

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Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Check out Dean Larimore's tiresome and banal piece in today's D. (Larry was on to it before me.) Best quote:

As a person committed to fairness, respect and openness, I object to actions that demean or threaten any person. We do not have a speech code at Dartmouth, nor do we want one. So we must affirm on a daily basis the need for people to be accountable for their speech and actions.

So Dartmouth doesn't have a speech code (a statement that is in itself inaccurate, as Emmett Hogan has pointed out), meaning we don't have to worry about what we can or cannot "say." But, but - we do have to affirm, on a daily basis no less (how about an hourly basis?), the need for people to be accountable for what they say and do. This is an instance of the College's Orwellian logic at its most pernicious.

Now check out the principles behind the "bias response system" (what?) Dartmouth has testing for this past year:

* Safety - maintaining safety for all.
* Prevention - early detection, reporting and implementation of follow-up protocols.
* Education - promoting respect and appreciation for diversity.
* Civic dialogue - encouraging dialogue and free speech to strengthen community.
* Communication - coordinating communication to ensure timely and accurate reporting.
* Collective responsibility - mobilizing all the good will and good intentions that exist here.
* Community caring - letting people affected know they are not alone.

No speech codes right? But "early detection" (followed, presumably, by pre-emptive action) and "follow-up protocols" (meaning?) are okay. Free speech? We want it, but we want it "strengthen community" (in other words, we don't really want you to speak freely).

Wrapping up his piece, Larimore says: "Acts of intolerance require a response that asks all members of our community to uphold our shared values and principles of community." So, since "acts of intolerance" (defined as?) require - that is to say, demand - a response, speech codes are then justified, censorship is okay, and the collective moral might of hypersensitive may be harnessed in the service of "shared values and principles of community."

I can't stand it when college administrators - or anyone else, for that matter - write this way. Buzzwords and catchphrases are employed without being accurately defined (bias incident, act of intolerance, shared culture, appreciation for diversity, etc.); logic is abused; good prose goes out of the window.