Readers React

A policy backing civil discourse

To the editor: Universities should support free expression. On this we agree with UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh. ("UC system going the wrong way on free speech," editorial, June 24)

We disagree with his contention that University of California administrators have failed to protect freedom of discussion. While UC policy supports open intellectual debate, it also supports civil discourse, including the avoidance of expressions that intimidate or abuse; the latter facilitates the former.

Honest expression and civil discourse are not mutually exclusive; where they coexist, society benefits. UC policy best serves us when it sustains our constitutional right to free speech and champions the UC mission of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Freedom of speech is precious. Except for rare instances, such as shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater, we do not wish to censor speech on campus. But do we wish to promote academic discourse that illuminates rather than ignites? We do.

David López-Carr, Goleta, Calif.

Emily Roxworthy, San Diego

López-Carr is a professor of geography at UC Santa Barbara; Roxworthy is a professor of theater at UC San Diego.

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To the editor: During my four years as a student at UCLA, we had speakers ranging from Alabama Gov. George Wallace to communists Angela Davis and Dorothy Healy. At my graduation in 1964, the speaker was the shah of Iran, which prompted a near riot.

These people all offended many by speaking on campus, but their presence also opened the door to discussion and debate of the issues of the day, both inside and outside the college classroom.

What's happening to the “marketplace of ideas” that the University of California system was once rightly known as?

Alan Miller, Santiago, Chile

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