University of Connecticut

Don Pesci: Of Anita Hill and Ben Shapiro at UConn

At the headquarters of the  BBC , in London. The wall behind the statue is inscribed with the words "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, words from Orwell's proposed preface to  Animal Farm.

At the headquarters of the BBC, in London. The wall behind the statue is inscribed with the words "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”, words from Orwell's proposed preface to Animal Farm.

“The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges ...” 

-- Anatole France.

Of course, we all know that the rich do not sleep under bridges, and so the law, which in this case enforces the same rules of behavior for rich and poor, is not at all majestic, or merciful, or just. Justice, Aristotle says, treats equal things equally and unequal things unequally.

Let’s begin with an obvious observation: a university talk by Ben Shapiro and Anita Hill are in no sense equal. And we know from bitter experience that opposition to such talks are radically (pun intended) unequal. Susan Herbst, the president of the University of Connecticut, would be hard pressed to cite a case in which a political sermonette by a noted liberal was cut short by audience thugs. But in the case of conservatives invited to speak at colleges, address-interruptus, sometimes violent, always ill mannered, is as common as applause. It would appear then that conservative speakers are in no sense equal to liberal/progressive/socialist/communist speakers; their messages are different, and reception to their messages is different.

Anita Hill was permitted to speak at UConn without enduring the kind of interruptions that have become common when conservatives exercise their First Amendment rights at public universities such as Berkley, where protesters set fires, broke windows, taunted cops and speakers, and engaged in mob behavior reminiscent of Hitler’s Sturmabteilung. In California, a progressive poverty catch-basin that has more homeless people on its streets than Alabama,

Antifa, aligned with other groups that would not protest a college address given by Hill, was successful in closing down an address given by Milo Yiannopoulos, a former senior editor of Breitbart News, a “cultural libertarian,” a gay provocateur in full scale rebellion against the baneful excesses of third wave feminism, radical Islam, political correctness, academic intolerance and weepy students searching for safe places in edenic universities.

Some weeks ago, audience thugs at UConn successfully shut down an address given by Lucian Wintrich the White House correspondent for the Gateway Pundit, provocatively titled “It’s OK To Be White.” Arrested by UConn police, perhaps in order to protect him from the lynch mob in the audience determined to shut him down, charges against Wintrich were quickly dropped. A prosecutor soon brought charges against one of his tormentors, student adviser at Quinebaug Valley Community College Catherine Gregory, who had created a ruckus by stealing notes from the speaker’s  speech. Her charges were later reduced.

That incident produced an administrative policy at the university that, in its majestic equality, forbids both conservative and progressives to attend college addresses at UConn, unless the attendees are UConn students. The university’s precautions censor the audience rather than the text, which is just as objectionable as pre-censoring printed material. Both are forms of prior restraint.

Obvious observation number two: Ben Shapiro is not Yiannapolis – not that there’s anything wrong with being Milo. Neither is he Wintrich or Anita Hill, best remembered in connection with her opposition to the nomination to the Supreme Court of now Justice Clarence Thomas, an African-American associate justice married to a white woman who presumably is non-racist. Nor is Shapiro an alt-righter, as he has been labeled in recent news reports issuing from Connecticut’s inattentive media. In fact, Shapiro is an adamant non-alt-righter.

Listening to Shapiro is a bit like listening to a Gatling gun that speaks English in full sentences. And the dialogues he conducts at the end of his addresses with articulate students who think they disagree with his message, remarkably free of overt and intended provocations, is Socratic in structure and mildly subversive, because Shapiro is entertaining, rational and persuasive, not only to the conservative/libertarian choir that comes to hear him sing, but also to students making an honest and arduous journey between progressivism and conservatism in an age in which conservatives are treated in academia much the way witches were in Cotton Mather’s Boston.

In remarks preceding his address, White Privilege Microaggressions and Other Leftist Myths,” Shapiro lamented that the beefed-up security was necessary, remarked “that the left is so afraid of open conversation that they scheduled an event at the exact same time,” and regretted that more left-leaning students were not in attendance. He “prefers speaking to people with whom I disagree,” Shapiro said, “ because discussions are useful.” A month prior to his appearance, college administrators circulated a notice to the insulted and injured at UConn that Shapiro would be making an appearance at the university; but not to worry, because empaths at UConn would provide counseling for aggrieved students – signs of the times that show just how far universities have come since Cardinal Newman published his “The Idea of a University,” which should be required reading for all administrators at UConn.

Don Pesci is a Vernon, Conn.-based essayist and a frequent contributor to New England Diary.

 

Chris Powell: Why are we letting in immigrants from the totalitarian, bigoted Islamic World?

 

Maybe the bombings in New York and New Jersey and the mass stabbing at the shopping mall in Minnesota, the former attributed to a naturalized Afghan, the latter to a naturalized Somali, will suggest a few things:

* The totalitarian culture of much of the Islamic world -- a culture that oppresses women and homosexuals and monopolizes religion -- does not wash out quickly but seeps down through the generations.

The suspect in the bombings is reported to have traveled back to Afghanistan several times and to have been “radicalized” there.

Minnesota has thousands of Somali immigrants and refugees, and many of their young men have been recruited by Middle Eastern terrorist groups, though fortunately they have left the country.

* Millions of people around the world are striving to get out of their countries for economic or political reasons and do not come from cultures that despise democratic  and humane values.

* Screening immigrants for the risk of political terrorism is nearly impossible, especially since their native or ancestral country or culture can reassert itself at a great distance in time. 

* Admitting immigrants and refugees is an entirely discretionary matter.

So with so many candidates for admission, why is the United States accepting any immigrants at all from Religious Crazy Land? Who needs the risk? How does it benefit the country?

xxx

SO WHAT IF MALLOY WANTS TO KNOW?: Connecticut Gov.  Dan Malloy's office, according to The Hartford Courant, recently instructed state agency publicists to make a daily report detailing inquiries from news organizations. This has prompted much snickering from Connecticut's ever-diminishing number of journalists that the governor's office is trying to put its spin on everything state government does, the more so since civil-service protections for the publicists were recently removed and their jobs were made political appointments.

But is it really such a scandal that the governor should want to know promptly what news organizations are looking into so he can be prepared or even look into the same things and possibly avert or shorten problems? Is it such a scandal that he should want to oversee the messages being conveyed by the agencies for which he is responsible? Or that he deems himself entitled to have particular confidence in spokesmen for his administration? (After all, the problem with state government is not that too many people can be fired for cause or even fired at all.)

The Malloy administration has not been especially friendly to freedom of information. But then left on their own, state government agencies have not been especially friendly to freedom of information either. So the new procedure of notifying the governor's office won't necessarily diminish transparency. It will depend on how the procedure is used -- on whether the governor's office will use its greater knowledge of journalistic inquiries to facilitate or obstruct or just to prepare to be accountable.

If the choice is obstruction, it will remain the work of journalists to exact a price for it by making a stink about it.

xxx

FAULTY SCHOLARSHIP AT UCONN: Only self-serving nonsense can be expected from Connecticut's liquor industry in defense of its anti-competitive privileges in state law. But more might have been expected from the University of Connecticut professor and the UConn doctoral student who argued in a newspaper essay the other day that the state's minimum alcohol-pricing system saves lives by discouraging consumption of a product that causes health problems.

The professor and his student failed to note that the extra revenue from the pricing system flows only to the liquor distributors, wholesalers and retailers. If higher prices are to be imposed by law in the name of social policy, the government should get the extra money.

Chris Powell is the managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn., and a longtime essayist, mostly on social, governmental and political matters.

Chris Powell: The thought police are prowling

MANCHESTER, Conn. Another college speech code was reported last week, this one at the University of New Hampshire. It was assembled two years ago by university staff and student groups purporting to represent women and racial and sexual minorities and was posted on the university's Internet site.

But when it was brought to his attention, the university's president, Mark Huddleston, purported not to have been aware of it and forcefully repudiated it, particularly for its assertion that "American" should not be used to mean citizens of the United States because doing so is disrespectful to residents of Central and South America.

"While individuals on our campus have every right to express themselves," Huddleston said, "the views expressed in this guide are not the policy of the University of New Hampshire. ... The only UNH policy on speech is that it is free and unfettered on our campuses. It is ironic that what was probably a well-meaning effort to be 'sensitive' proves offensive to many people, myself included."

Welcome, President Huddleston, to the political correctness that now permeates higher education in (North) America, even in the state whose license plates, bearing the state motto, simply yet eloquently rebuke all speech codes: "Live free or die."

That proscription of "American" in the UNH speech code is the least of it.

Also proscribed are "older people," "elders," "seniors," and "senior citizen," though the latter two are euphemisms of long standing. According to the speech code, "people of advanced age" is preferable, as if no one might take offense at that as well, and as if any euphemism could make people prefer to be 80 instead of 30.

"Poor" is to be replaced by "person who lacks advantages others have," and "people of size" is to replace "overweight," as if these euphemisms will make such people feel better too, as if such people are too stupid to notice euphemism, and as if the assumption of their stupidity wouldn't be more insulting than "poor" and "overweight."

Higher education in Connecticut came down with the PC plague early. Twenty-six years ago the University of Connecticut tried to ban "inconsiderate jokes" and "inappropriately directed laughter," proscriptions that were themselves laughed to death, though the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union, increasingly PC itself, failed to petition the Motor Vehicles Department, as it should have done, for creation of a license plate reading: "Laugh free or die."

But it's not all so funny, for in "1984" George Orwell described the impulse to control language as an impulse to control thought. Orwell imagined a new language for the totalitarian state of the future, a language he called Newspeak for an ideology he called "Ingsoc," shorthand for "English socialism."

"The purpose of Newspeak," Orwell wrote, "was not only to provide a medium of expression for the worldview and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc but to make all other modes of thought impossible. It was intended that when Newspeak had been adopted once and for all and Oldspeak forgotten, a heretical thought -- that is, a thought diverging from the principles of Ingsoc -- should be literally unthinkable. ... Newspeak was designed not to extend but to diminish the range of thought. ..."

A lexicographer who is developing Newspeak elaborates: "The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed. Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Byron -- they'll exist only in Newspeak versions, not merely changed into something different but actually changed into something contradictory of what they used to be. ... The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact there will be no thought as we understand it now. Orthodoxy means not thinking -- not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness."

And now that universities have overtaken churches in the orthodoxy business, they even award degrees for it.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.

Chris Powell: The Conn. higher-education racket

MANCHESTER, Conn. Hearing complaints the other week about the supposed affront to higher education in  Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy's budget proposal, the General Assembly's Appropriations Committee may have set a record for obliviousness.

University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst -- benefactor of a $251,000 honorarium to Hillary Clinton and fresh from a $300,000 raise on top of her $500,000 salary, which accompanies use of two mansions, one in Storrs and one in Hartford -- pleaded the university's poverty and warned that everything the university does might be impaired by the budget. No one on the committee asked Herbst about those grotesque expenses.

Coming along in tow were dozens of UConn students, including a women's varsity basketball player, who all knew that they didn't want to sacrifice anything, who apparently thought that somebody else somewhere does want to sacrifice, and who made no more helpful suggestions than Herbst did.

No one on the committee asked Herbst or the students if they could provide information about instructor course loads and staff salary and benefit increases at UConn or whether the university's refusal to accept oversight by the state Contracting Standards Board might get in the way of saving money.

The whole racket of public higher education in Connecticut was inadvertently exposed at the hearing by Gregory W. Gray, president of the Board of Regents for Higher Education, which purports to run Connecticut's four lesser universities, whose chief executives are paid only in the $350,000-$400,000 range, just 2½ times what the governor is paid for running the whole state. (Herbst soon will be making more than five times as much as the governor.)

Gray seemed most upset that the governor's budget neglected to appropriate for remedial education for university students -- that is, students admitted to college without ever mastering high school work, though they have been given high school diplomas anyway, academic standards in high school having been abolished.

Five years ago a state survey found that two-thirds of the university system's freshmen had to take remedial math or English courses or both. While the General Assembly and governor were horrified by this, they enacted legislation not to fix the problem but to hide it -- to outlaw remedial math and English courses and require university instructors to provide remedial help to students individually, so that there might never again be such a revealing survey.

No one on the committee questioned the premise and policy that everyone in Connecticut should be given a college education at public expense even if he has failed high school.

Nor was Gray questioned about his board's recent promotion to full professor of a Central Connecticut State University teacher while he was in jail and the university's persistence in that promotion despite his subsequent arrests and general irresponsibility.

Of course nothing better could be expected of Herbst and Gray, self-serving bureaucrats reflexively defending their burgeoning empires. It's their job, at least as they see it.

But a few critical questions from legislators on the committee might have made an impression on some of the students and encouraged them to aspire to become more than they were that day, mere props and tools for the government class.

Indeed, a few critical questions from legislators also might have made an impression on the news reporters who attended the hearing, prompting them to convey to the public more than the bureaucrats' predictable whining, to convey some of the choices that are made in state government all the time without ever being articulated --  such as salaries vs. services, actual learning vs. mere self-esteem, and efficiency in government vs. the educational inflation caused by the collapse of standards, whereby Connecticut now pays for 16 years of education but doesn't receive what it once got from 12.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, based in Manchester, Conn.

Chris Powell: Clinton's vast fee and UConn Foundation slush fund

  MANCHESTER, Conn.

Hillary Clinton,  ex-presidential spouse, former U.S. senator, secretary of state and likely presidential candidate, came to the University of Connecticut a few weeks ago and prattled about equality -- for which the university's foundation paid her $251,000.

As the extraordinary speaking fee has come under criticism, the university's defense has been that Clinton wasn't paid with state tax money or even with the university's own, that the foundation used money donated for a speakers program by a family in New Haven with various business interests. This defense is pathetic:

-- While the foundation is nominally separate from the university, it consists largely of university administrators and former students and the university pays it $8 million a year for fundraising. The foundation does nothing  that the administration doesn't want it to do.

-- The foundation exists only to use the university's name and to support its mission. If the foundation does something that can be defended only by purporting to separate the foundation from the university and state taxpayers, it disparages the university as well.

-- Somebody at UConn decided that paying Clinton $251,000 for one banal presentation was better than paying $50,000 each for five lecturers or $25,000 each for 10 or $5,000 each for 50. Since UConn President Susan Herbst spent much time on the stage in conversation with Clinton, it's a fair assumption that the decision ultimately was Herbst's and that her vanity figured in it.

-- Exactly for whom was it better for UConn to use all that money for just one speaker? Was it better for UConn's students, to whom the event was limited, giving them a look at the likely Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, as if presidential candidates don't eventually hold many campaign events in public?

Or was it better mainly for the university administration, Connecticut's Democratic state administration, and Fusco family business interests, all of which got to ingratiate themselves with someone who has a good chance of becoming president, just as investment houses like Goldman Sachs and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts have ingratiated themselves with Clinton, paying millions to her and her family's foundation as advance bribes?

After The Washington Post reported this month that she recently had taken extravagant speaking fees from eight universities, including UConn, Clinton told ABC News that she had donated all the money to her family's foundation, "so it goes from a foundation at a university to another foundation."

That is, the money went from a foundation Clinton did not control to a foundation whose disbursements she  can control, a foundation she can staff with her friends and campaign associates, a foundation that can be used in part as political patronage.

Clinton's speaking fee at UConn is still more evidence that the UConn Foundation is largely a slush fund for university officials, the mechanism by which they get to do what they wouldn't dare do with official government money.

Before the foundation paid Clinton's extravagant fee, it was employing two presidents at once, the old one being paid nearly a half million dollars per year while the salary of the new one was kept secret; it was spending $600,000 to buy a mansion in Hartford for Herbst so she might continue to schmooze and overawe state officials when inviting them to the president's mansion on the Storrs campus a half hour away might seem too burdensome; and it was even paying for Governor Malloy's international travel.

The foundation should be deprived of its exemption from Connecticut's freedom-of-information law and its board should be separated from university officials and made more independent.

Or else the foundation should start offering Republican presidential candidates a quarter million dollars to speak. At least some of  them might be politically incorrect and thus interesting or even outrageous rather than merely banal and corrupt.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.

Conn. vs. Fla. may be equal contest

alligators
By CHRIS POWELL 

MANCHESTER, Conn.

With snowstorms seeming to arrive every few days, little room left for stacking 
the snow, road-salt supplies nearly exhausted, state and municipal snow-removal 
budgets in deficit, and the Connecticut General Assembly reconvening, many people in 
Connecticut feel that they have had enough of the state. 

It's little consolation to them that Connecticut may have the best snowplowing 
operation in the country, with the state's major roads almost always kept 
passable throughout even the heaviest snowstorms. For besides the extra snow, 
Connecticut's economy and standard of living are still declining, which may be 
the cause of most of the surliness here; the snow just makes people feel their 
resentments more keenly. 

As a result many of them look south enviously, especially to subtropical 
Florida, to which many Connecticut residents already have fled, either 
permanently or just for the winter. Indeed, when the University of Connecticut's 
basketball teams play colleges in Florida, the crowd often seems to favor the 
visitors. 

But while it may be harder to appreciate Connecticut after shoveling snow or 
falling on ice, Florida has its own climate disadvantages. In the late summer 
and  early fall Florida can be crossed by as many hurricanes as Connecticut suffers 
snowstorms in the winter, and the resulting property damage in Florida is far 
greater than that inflicted by snowstorms in Connecticut, just as 
weather-related electricity outages in Florida can last longer. 

Because of bad weather a few weeks ago it took three days and several flight 
reschedulings for a recently retired couple from Connecticut to escape the state 
by air for their new winter home in South Florida, one of those tightly 
regulated condominium complexes that forbid admission to anyone under 55. The 
couple had hardly begun breathing the state-income-tax-free air when a line of 
thunderstorms stalled overhead for 24 hours and dumped 14 inches of rain on 
them, flooding their new neighborhood, closing its roads, and incapacitating 
sewer lines and toilets for a couple of days. 

It wasn't a snowstorm; it was  worse. 

Not long after the couple got dried out and settled, some university researchers 
reported that alligators, which which infest South Florida, not only swim stealthily 
but also climb trees, in part for better surveillance of their prey. 

Told of the study, the new arrivals from Connecticut refused to be 
concerned. While they had not yet read their condo association's many rules, 
they figured that, in addition to excluding people younger than 55, there was 
probably one against alligators climbing trees on the property and eating the 
residents. 

They shouldn't count on it. Annoying as Connecticut's snow has been, at least it 
also has gotten in the way of the state's own many predators, both those with 
four legs and those with two. There's never much crime in bad weather. 

* * * 

Two executives of the Metropolitan Transit Authority came to Hartford last week 
so Gov Dan Malloy could reprimand them in front of the television cameras about 
the MTA's mismanagement of the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, whose many recent 
disasters have impaired service from New Haven to Grand Central Station in New 
York. The MTA executives duly promised improvements soon. 

But while the governor got to look tough, he really didn't increase 
Connecticut's leverage with the MTA, a New York state agency paid by Connecticut 
to operate the state's rail lines into New York. To gain such leverage 
Connecticut needs a plan, just as Metro-North needs a plan to improve rail 
service. 

Connecticut's plan might include demanding representation on the MTA's board, 
the renegotiation of Connecticut's contract with the MTA, and a study of how 
Connecticut could take over the management of its rail lines into New York. 

Until Connecticut has a rail-service-improvement plan that goes beyond scolding 
MTA officials on television, the MTA may assume that it can take its time about 
improving service here. 

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Conn.

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