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Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
4 months ago

Terrorizing people into silence is neither kind nor sensitive. Allowing people to speak their minds, while being allowed to speak yours in response, can be done in a “kind and sensitive” manner. But silencing people because you don’t agree with them? That is tyranny.
Thank You for having the courage to stand up to this.

Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
4 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

A classroom is not a public space, it does not have the same purposes and responsibilities as a political community. It therefore requires different rules to govern and preserve it, 

A severely specious notion. People very rarely spend much time in a “public space” which is not some or other way “private”. If a classroom is not a space for free speech, then your concept of free speech is a nonsense. Which it is. Very far from an excellent article by a liberal- minded person.

harry storm
harry storm
4 months ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

I think a re-read might be in order.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

You seem to have latched on to one sentence in the article and concluded that the author is making the exact opposite case than the one which, I thought clearly enough, he was making! I’m not sure many people are ‘free speech absolutists’ (shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre?) but in the vast majority of occasions, and especially in education, as the author was clearly arguing, free speech and exchange of ideas should be the goal and should certainly override the (presumed) sensitivity of students.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago

I am entirely supportive of the author but is it not ironic that his article can only be published here by suppressing the actual censored word.

It is true that I imagine all the readers understand what the forbidden word is but that is because we are old enough to understand it’s history and context. My son as an innocent 12 year old had no such knowledge when he innocently repeated it because he had heard rappers using it on the radio. Like “Voldemort” the word has magic powers with an elaborate code around who can use it and in what context.

Nor is it the only word that is required to be suppressed here by the algorithmic censor and the human moderator. A whole raft of words are too terrible to utter. Often it can only be discovered what they are by writing them in a comment and seeing it disappear.

And yet Unherd implicitly supports this author by publishing his article about the consequences of uttering this particular magical word in a sensible context while they cling to the comfort-blanket of their own magical word suppressor. They do so I presume not because they are afraid of the magical words themselves but because they know they can only exist to publish interesting articles and comments by accepting the prevailing censorship norms. Thus is life in a censorship society where we have to metaphorically bend the knee to the prevailing gods.

Rob Nock
Rob Nock
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

What word was censored? n****r? Surely it was not censored either in the US or here as n****r is, of course, a word that has been in usage for years and is, I believe, still used frequently by some members of society.
I have just posted this and see, shamefully, that Unherd have autoasterixed my word. I thought Unherd was better than this and am minded to cancel my membership. No point belonging to an organisation which stands for questioning, analysis etc but then bans certain words.

Last edited 4 months ago by Rob Nock
Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob Nock

I think it is not realised but “n****r” is no longer just an insulting word, it is a taboo word, and taboo words cannot be uttered under any circumstances, the context does not matter. If it were merely an insulting term then it would need to be aimed at some one or some group, if it is just read allowed from a text then it is not aimed at anyone in the vicinity, but hearing the word is like to polluting any person present. It used to be so with “f**k”, it is still unacceptable in many places (here for example) but generally it is a word than can, and is, used in pretty much much any context as a verb, adjective, adverb, or noun; for most people it is no longer even connected with its original meaning, this may well happen with “n****r”.

Robin P Clarke
Robin P Clarke
4 months ago

It’s not just a taboo word, it’s only taboo for “white” people. It is one example of many of “anti-racism” being the REAL racism round here – a white person can have their career destroyed by one trivial word, whereas there are no words that non-white have to fear using. Pure refined anti-white HATE.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

Just as the f word was taboo in polite society at one time but it was recognised that those who did not consider themselves to be part of polite society were free to use it so the n word is selectively taboo. It is in many ways a matter of condescension that whites who form part of today’s polite society can be severely sanctioned for breaking the taboo while those who fall outside the ambit of polite society are free to employ it. I suspect white members of mixed race gangs face no sanction for emulating their black members in employing the n word, although I stand to be corrected having no direct knowledge of this.

Of course, as I mention below the enforcement of the n word taboo is also deployed as a quasi- Maoist Red Guard bulling tactic. The fact that its selective taboo is condescending does not matter if you are an ideologue. Any stick to beat an enemy will do.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Robin P Clarke

It’s taboo for white people AND any black people who do not hold the correct identity political views!!

Arkadian X
Arkadian X
4 months ago

Unless you are Dave Chappelle, that is.

harry storm
harry storm
4 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

Or one of countless other black comedians and rappers.

harry storm
harry storm
4 months ago

If that were true, and I don’t believe it is, then why do black comedians and rappers constantly use the word when performing for mainly white audiences.
Also, context and intent matter. Activist Comedian d**k Gregory’s autobiography — which I read about 50 years ago — was simply entitled “n****r.” Are we not to cite the correct title of a book because some people are too thick to understand that there is a world of difference between the use of the word as a racial slur and its descriptive use, as in the example above. The sensitivity to this word reeks of hypocrisy.
Please note: I wrote the title of d**k Gregory’s book in full. Unherd has censored it because apparently, even book titles by black activists can’t be referred to accurately. Quite pathetic.

Last edited 4 months ago by Vilde Chaye
Aaron James
Aaron James
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob Nock

Need to go to Douglas Adams and his amazing book ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” to find that the most rude word in all the Galaxy is
” Belgium.”
”Less offensive words have been created in the many languages of the galaxy, such as joojooflop, swut and Holy Zarquon’s Singing Fish”.

and yet the Unherd censor lets you use them un-redacted.

”The reason the Earth has been shunned for so long is also due to a language problem. On Earth, Belgium refers to a small country. Throughout the rest of the galaxy, Belgium is the most unspeakably rude word there is.”

It then goes on to explain about a ‘Rory’. — Just putting things in context.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Ta!

Erik Hildinger
Erik Hildinger
4 months ago
Reply to  Rob Nock

There is an interesting discussion of taboo words in Fraser’s Golden Bough, the famous work on anthropology. See Chapter 22, which is dedicated to tabooed words. 
It’s remarkable to think we may be circling back to primitive practices despite all of our vaunted sophistication.

Last edited 4 months ago by Erik Hildinger
Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

can’t even say the letter ‘n’ anymore, in some contexts — you have to say ”emg”

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

It’s stupid that people cannot say n****r. The context and motive of the speaker are what determine the import of its utterance. The creation of a ridiculous taboo is itself helping to keep alive the very thing which it purports to want to defeat.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Including the word ‘Nazi’, however precisely linked to the National Socialist Herman Workers Party and the German government of 1933-45!!

Last edited 4 months ago by Andrew Fisher
Arkadian X
Arkadian X
4 months ago

Thank you and good luck with your complaint.

Aaron James
Aaron James
4 months ago
Reply to  Arkadian X

These teachers; these ones just like the writer and the ones before them are the Twa#s who brought all this on. They taught the dog to bite and are dismayed when it bit them. You can look back to the 1920s Germany and watch this cancer spreading like ink on a wet towel. 1930s and finally1980 Columbia was the home if it, when the Frankfurt School moved there and Critical Theory came out and began to work its plan to destroy the West.

I had to laugh when Bret Weinstein did his Evergreen College tale here, yet he never, even a tiny bit, would admit he was merely hoist by his own petard.

Liberals today – 100% different animals from the Classic Liberals who wrote the Constitution. The modern ‘Liberal’ are just the degenerate product of Weimar Germany, that twisted school of philosophy out of the Goethe Institute – the ‘Frankfurt School’. A philosophy of hybridizing Marx, Atheism, Existentialism, and Freud’s psychoanalysis into Critical Theory. Foucault and Derrida took it and gave us Post Modernism, and with Neo-Marxism was very successfull in its mission to destroy the family, and thus the West – and all just went further and further till it came back to the Universities militarized to turn even on the professors, and so ‘Woke’ is attacking its own. haha

Every modern Liberal Arts Professor is just a collabarator – all their years they went along, from students, good men doing nothing, till it bites them, and then they begin crying out like this guy.

Professor – it is your own Frankenstein which just bit you…….

harry storm
harry storm
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Oh piss off. How do you know what this prof did or didn’t do before he wrote this article. And frankly I’m sick to death of this stupid “hoist by their own petard” idiot argument. What’s going on now is qualitatively and quantitatively worse than what went on 30 years ago. Such simplistic BS.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
4 months ago
Reply to  Aaron James

Pretty much a conspiracy theory! Which is one of the reasons so many commentators of the Right entirely fail to understand or effectively combat the phenomenon of identity politics. The wokies say they are ‘nice’, you confirm through your extreme language that you aren’t! ‘Collaborators’, degenerate’ – such a good provenance that last one!!

All those people, setting out to deliberately destroy Western civilization! No, that is not what happened.

Allies who have (perhaps) changed their views – but maybe their institutions changed THEIRS more, should not be spurned and attacked.
Having different perpectives is a good thing, or do you perhaps wish to impose a stultifying orthodoxy of your own? The state of some of the Right wing opinion in the US is pretty chilling, as Douglas Murray has found out, Catholic integralism perhaps, or maybe the ongoing semi-fanatical belief in Trump as a saviour, have very limited attraction to the wider public and little chance of success.

But perhaps this is best explained by the United States having a qualitatively different and more polarised political culture than that in Europe. Particularly in the UK because of the common language, we tend always to stretch the analogies too far..Just look at the abortion debate for example, an issue that has simply been settled in most of Europe.

Last edited 4 months ago by Andrew Fisher
N Forster
N Forster
4 months ago

“How then could I have come to utter the forbidden “n-word” in a class knowing full well the distress it might cause in some, or even most, of my students?”
You saying the “n-word” word did not cause distress. The views they (students) held that the word should not be said, caused distress to arise.

Stephen Hayes
Stephen Hayes
4 months ago

Agreed, we have to fight where we stand, even if it gets ugly, or else we are going to look at the calendar and find that its 1984.

Chuck Pergiel
Chuck Pergiel
4 months ago

You need a free speech fire brand to lead a student and faculty strike against the administration and their toadies.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
4 months ago

In the US you can gun down people willy-nilly and there will still be some people willing to defend your actions, but use the ‘n-word’, even in a non-pejorative manner, and you are ostracized for life. I lived and worked in academia for six years in the US and could never quite get used to the childish modes of thinking I encountered there. The fiery independence of early colonial Americans has largely disappeared in the US, and is completely gone in the higher education system which is now more about promoting ‘correct’ attitudes than it is about learning.
On a side note, I encountered a million times more intolerant bigotry in academia than I ever did attending a rodeo, a monster truck rally, or Southern-Baptist church gathering.

Bruce V
Bruce V
4 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Pretty much. Let A={the thoughts (multiple) in your 1st sentence up to the 1st comma} and B={all statements and thoughts after that} and C={the disjoint set of us Americans who believe in responsible gun ownership}. 
{B} => {C} out of fear from what other things {B} can lead to.  
OK, garbled mixed domain set notation but pretty soon it won’t matter in the UK either since rigour will be an ostracized and decolonised concept. Oops, that should be r****r. Please Britain, fight back.

R Wright
R Wright
4 months ago

It’s incredible how a single word has so much power. These people need to be emotionally toughened up.

JP Martin
JP Martin
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I disagree. Behind all their manipulative tears and cries of victimhood, they are emotionally tough. They have absolutely no pity for their ideological enemies and, very cynically, use these prohibited words as cudgels. It would be better if their hearts softened a bit.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
4 months ago
Reply to  JP Martin

Yes they are the young Red Guards of Maoist China. Authoritarian systems are often attractive to the young who have few other means of asserting their power over their elders. It is just another means for the bully to assert him or herself.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
4 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Absolutely. I have for some time now seen these young people as the modern western equivalent of the Red Guards, Young Communists, and Hitler Youth; Orwell warned of them in his 1984.

Jeff Cunningham
Jeff Cunningham
4 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

I have been thinking this for a long time. This whole thing about not even being able to discus a word critically, to analyze it in it’s various usages. It reminds me of that old Hebrew prohibition against pronouncing their word for Jehwah (or however it was spelled). I think the fear was that their god would “smite” them if verbalized. Wow. sonic waves such have such power! Well, the smiting going on now isn’t by a god, it’s by this weird Golem we’ve socially constructed that is lumbering around the social-sphere destroying people’s lives irrespective of where they stand on the so-called issues surrounding a mere word. It’s very humbling to realize we have not advanced nearly so far as human beings as we’d like to think we have.

Tim Luckhurst
Tim Luckhurst
4 months ago

An excellent piece, Christopher. I wish you the very best of good luck with your complaint.

Peter Joy
Peter Joy
4 months ago

A short while ago, I wrote a middling par referencing UnHerd’s suppression of any mention of the ‘taboo’ word in question, which it automatically Bowdlerises, despite the fact that:
a. we all know the word;
b. various homonyms could be typed with impunity;
c. no one here is actually calling anyone a – ‘oooh, N-word’!
Bizarrely, my entire comment has now been disappeared. The irony! UnHerd, giving the persecuted Professor Naden a platform to tell us about this ongoing Maoist coddling of the American mind – but itself guilty of the very offence he so rightly decries. Pathetic!

Last edited 4 months ago by Peter Joy
N T
N T
4 months ago

Well, maybe this is a case where tenure is a good thing. It would be the first one I have ever been aware of, if it is.

David McKee
David McKee
4 months ago

It comes down to money (as it usually does). Higher education is very big business these days, where the students are seen as consumers of educational services. As the adage has it, “the customer is always right.” So mouthy students who object to – well, whatever takes their fancy – can blacken (ahem) the institution’s name on the educational equivalent of Tripadvisor if they are not appeased.
The solution is for militant moderates amongst the students to make equally loud noises about curtailment of free speech. The $64,000 question is, is ‘militant moderate’ a contradiction in terms?

Che Padron
Che Padron
4 months ago

Yuri Bezmenov predicted the future. The West is 200% demoralized. We are now rejecting the values that made the West great.

David Croom
David Croom
4 months ago

What a fine piece.

Jane Awdry
Jane Awdry
4 months ago

Some years ago a public official in the US was chastised for using the word “niggardly” with reference to inadequate budget allocation. No one appears to have realised that the word has no etymological connection to the word ‘n****r’. (I’m guessing the row of ***s will appear..?)
Philip Roth’s The Human Stain deals with a similar situation.
Despite all the warnings from history (Mao’s Red Guard, Hitler Youth) & literature (1984, Brave New World) we are sleepwalking into the very dystopia they describe.

Last edited 4 months ago by Jane Awdry
Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
4 months ago
Reply to  Jane Awdry

Yes we are participating in and contributing to our own demise.

Maureen Finucane
Maureen Finucane
4 months ago

From teaching in a country emerging from Communist dictatorships to teaching in a country voluntarily entering one. Must be hard to deal with.

Daniel Smith
Daniel Smith
4 months ago

Unlike open society, the military is required to censor certain speech that could support disruptive behavior or disloyalty to the profession of arms. Armed force members can never speak disparagingly of our President and senior leadership. It is rare to witness, but Service members have received the boot as many will recall in 2010 4-star General Stanley McChrystal was relieved of Command by then President Obama for his public criticism of the President.    
How then, can military members attend advanced study programs such as the National Intelligence University and critique past and present leadership decisions without fear of retribution? The answer is straightforward, all faculty and students are required to sign a Non-Attribution policy statement that covers both verbal and written academic work. As such, students and teachers do not concern themselves with reprisals for voicing an opinion contrary to current leadership positions. If civilian educational institutions adopted a non-attribution policy, consider how education and the free exchange of ideas without barriers or impediments would be possible again. 

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
4 months ago

Rather a frightening article. When free speech is constantly attacked, or as the writer says, ignored through boredom, it doesn’t seem like free speech, anymore.
As for all this ‘inclusion, diversity. etc.’, I take heed from Samuel Goldwyn’s words, ‘Include me out.” Crazy? But no crazier than the ‘Woke’ ideas currently flourishing anywhere and everywhere, to the peril of al who challenge them.

Will Cummings
Will Cummings
4 months ago

I recall seeing a copy of Martin Luther King’s speech at a public school where the word “Negro” had been expurgated. Perhaps some school administrator perceived the term as humiliating or shameful, but if the bowdlerization was intended to be sensitive, it was in fact quite disrespectful to Dr. King and a disservice to students of all races.

Last edited 4 months ago by Will Cummings
jack brandt
jack brandt
4 months ago
Reply to  Will Cummings

When the MLK surveillance tapes are finally released (a judge sealed them for 60 years), which supposedly record King slapping around prostitutes in a drunken stupor (something people in King’s inner circle like Abernathy have all confirmed as accurate), the “me-too” movement might expurgate all of his speeches in public schools. If that happens, it would be ironic, considering the fact that almost every King speech was written by Stanley Levison, an actual Communist USA member, and that King’s doctorial thesis at Boston U. was one of the most shameful examples of literary plagiarism, two confirmed facts that did not harm the mythology of King.

Tyler Keller
Tyler Keller
4 months ago

Our colleges teach White students that they are immoral and contemptible if they don’t support the White Genocide that’s being carried out by massive third-world immigration and FORCED assimilation i.e diversity for EVERY White country and ONLY White countries.
Their professors never tell them, “White self-hatred is SICK!!!“
Those professors claim to be anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.
Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

Will Cummings
Will Cummings
4 months ago

It’s interesting that the word “niggardly” is now also taboo, though it’s linguistic origins are entirely separate from “negro.”

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago
Reply to  Will Cummings

The phrase nitty gritty has also become dodgy.

Miriam Cotton
Miriam Cotton
4 months ago

I barely share one tenth of this man’s political outlook but the way he has been treated is despicable. Whether you are a communist or a libertarian you ought to be able to share and discuss your views without censure or censorship. Ideally with civility and intelligence that might include robust criticism and satire.

Last edited 4 months ago by Miriam Cotton
Alan Hawkes
Alan Hawkes
4 months ago

What I find almost as bad is censorship by algorithm. In a famous saying by Edmund Burke he uses the word, “chink” to describe a noise heard in a field. The Times online automatically rules out this quotation, lest it be thought disparaging of people of Chinese ethnicity. Today the same system took a dislike to the verb, “to tinker” (with housing planning) presumably in case I was triggering bad feelings in itinerant metal-workers.

Magdalena Algarin
Magdalena Algarin
4 months ago

I haven’t finished reading this article, but I will later. Nonetheless, I believe these US universities are getting incentives from the government , and perhaps even from the health agencies e.g. CDC and also drug companies. Though it has already been announced through mainstream media that the vaccine mandates are no longer being enforced, these universities continue to enforce them. Either they are making more money than before the pandemic due to virtual classes, or they are receiving financial benefits or incentives just like hospitals and clinics and senior homes were/are given to push the vaccine agenda— or both. Vaccines that don’t work but injure and kill instead are still being pushed one way or another. Universities have sold out. There’s no free speech out in the open encouraged anymore– only silenced speech if you know where to go (definitely not google, not CNN or mainstream social platforms. That said, I guess the US is still somewhat better than China or Russia– as known in the past. Then again, where will the US end their authoritarian mindset toward its people? Will we go back to the way it was before the pandemic. I hope so, but my realistic/reptilian brain says probably not, as gov and drug companies aren’t giving up their control and power as long as they think they got us exactly where they want us. They will continue to test and push for their next undemocratic move, and for the one after, unless we unite and resist, and/or even fight for our democratic rights.It’s up to us, not the US government, whether you are a democratic or republican. Party lines must join together.

Last edited 4 months ago by Magdalena Algarin
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
4 months ago

As you explain here, your colleagues weren’t correct – this is a hill worth dying on, and the tide is turning now.
Hills not worth dying on are those where there is no hope – such as civilians standing up to Putin in Russia, and getting yourself incarcerated forever.

jack brandt
jack brandt
4 months ago

If Nadon thinks it was college students that chased Yanukovich out of Ukraine in 2014 (the democratically elected Yanukovich), and not the bullets from the Nazi’s in the Azov battalions during Maidan that were funded and supported by the likes of Vicky Nuland, McCain, Schiff, Kerry, and the usual groups of CIA/MI6 spooks that wanted to oust the popular president largely supported by Eastern Ukraine, to install a corrupt NATO/EU friendly puppet that would allow US and UK corporations (and their corrupt Ukrainian partners) to set up shop and the IMF to start their loan sharking schemes, all of which started a bloody 8 year civil war, then perhaps Nardon isn’t as bright as I thought he was in the first few paragraphs.

frigus amarum
frigus amarum
4 months ago

Well; if you ever want to inject some humour into your dour, serious “student” environment you could always read them some of Lenny Bruce’s skits. Everyone will understand, and be de-toxified, I am sure.

Michael McElwee
Michael McElwee
4 months ago

You are following in the footsteps of the two Harrys (Jaffa and Neumann) and one can hardly imagine better company.

Max West
Max West
4 months ago

Didn’t remember any reference to poets in the cave allegory so I read it again. Still can’t find it.

Massimo Presto
Massimo Presto
4 months ago
Reply to  Max West

“Then also see along this wall human beings carrying all sorts of artifacts, which project above the wall, and statues of men and other animals wrought from stone, wood, and every kind of material; as is to be expected, some of the carriers utter sounds while others are silent” (Republic, 515a).
An interpretation that goes back to antiquity holds that “the carriers,” human beings free to move about the cave, are the poets, i.e., the sources of our most fundamental beliefs “the makers” (poets) of those beliefs who are not themselves bound by them. If these are the poets, this would go a long way to explaining the reconciliation of Socrates and Homer in Book X.

Mick James
Mick James
4 months ago

This does not seem to be so much about free speech as a lengthy enquiry into who gets the dubious pleasure of being allowed to utter the taboo “n word”. This is a topic so rife with paradox and with so little to teach us that it deserves to live up its own cul de sac. Is it bizarre that the same student can rail against old white dudes for using the word in the classroom and then blast it out from the stereo in his dorm room an hour later? Yes. Does that mean that old white dudes are racially oppressed? No. If not being allowed to say the N word is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you live a charmed existence.