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Excerpts

University of Chicago, Statement on Principles of Free Expression, July 2012

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“The University of Chicago is an institution fully committed to the creation of knowledge across the spectrum of disciplines and professions, firm in its belief that a culture of intense inquiry and informed argument generates lasting ideas, and that the members of its community have a responsibility both to challenge and to listen…

The University is committed to the principle that it may not restrict debate or deliberation because the ideas put forth are thought to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the members of the University community to make those judgments for themselves.

As a corollary to this commitment, members of the University community must also act in conformity with this principle. Although faculty, students and staff are free to criticize, contest and condemn the views expressed on campus, they may not obstruct, disrupt, or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe.

For members of the University community, as for the University itself, the proper response to ideas they find offensive, unwarranted and dangerous is not interference, obstruction, or suppression. It is, instead, to engage in robust counter-speech that challenges the merits of those ideas and exposes them for what they are. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

As Robert M. Hutchins observed, without a vibrant commitment to free and open inquiry, a university ceases to be a university. The University of Chicago’s long-standing commitment to this principle lies at the very core of the University’s greatness.”

J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy

“Early in my deployment, I attached to a civil affairs unit to do community outreach. Civil affairs missions were typically considered more dangerous, as a small number of marines would venture into unprotected Iraqi territory to meet with locals. On our particular mission, senior marines met with local school officials while the rest of us provided security or hung out with the schoolkids, playing soccer and passing out candy and school supplies. One very shy boy approached me and held out his hand. When I gave him a small eraser, his face briefly lit up with joy before he ran away to his family, holding his two-cent prize aloft in triumph. I have never seen such excitement on a child’s face.

I don’t believe in epiphanies. I don’t believe in transformative moments, as transformation is harder than a moment. I’ve seen far too many people awash in a genuine desire to change only to lose their mettle when they realized just how difficult change actually is. But that moment, with that boy, was pretty close for me. For my entire life, I’d harbored resentment at the world. I was mad at my mother and father, mad that I rode the bus to school while other kids caught rides with friends, mad that my clothes didn’t come from Abercrombie, mad that my grandfather died, mad that we lived in a small house. That resentment didn’t vanish in an instant, but as I stood and surveyed the mass of children of a war-torn nation, their school without running water, and the overjoyed boy, I began to appreciate how lucky I was: born in the greatest country on earth, every modern convenience at my fingertips, supported by two loving hillbillies, and part of a family that, for all its quirks, loved me unconditionally.  At that moment, I resolved to be the type of man who would smile when someone gave him an eraser. I haven’t quite made it there, but without that day in Iraq, I wouldn’t be trying.”
— Except from Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance: 172-173.

Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run

“The Rising had its origins in the national telethon we were invited to be a part of the week after September 11. I wrote “Into the Fire” for that show (it remained incomplete, so I performed “My City of Ruins,” the song I’d written a year earlier for Asbury Park). Of the many tragic images of that day, the picture I couldn’t let go of was of the emergency workers going up the stairs as others rushed down to safety. The sense of duty, the courage, ascending into . . . what? The religious image of ascension, the crossing of the line between this world, the world of blood, work, family, your children, the breath in your lungs, the ground beneath your feet, all that is life, and . . . the next, flooded my imagination. If you love life or any part of it, the depth of their sacrifice is unthinkable and incomprehensible. Yet what they left behind was tangible. Death, along with all its anger, pain and loss, opens a window of possibility for the living. It removes the veil that the “ordinary” gently drapes over our eyes. Renewed sight is the hero’s last loving gift to those left behind.”
— Excerpt from Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run: 886

Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings

“He laughed and asked about my family, about our life in Charleston. When I told him about the house on East Bay and the plantation in the upcountry, his lively expression died away. “You own slaves then?”
“. . . My family does, yes. But I, myself, don’t condone it.”
“Yet you cast your lot with those who do?”
I bristled. “. . . They are my family, sir. What would you have me do?”
He gazed at me with kindness and pity. ‘To remain silent in the face of evil is itself a form of evil.’”

— Excerpt from Sue Monk Kidd, The Invention of Wings: 382

Paul Johnson, Churchill

“He collected and told jokes, too. He liked to sing. Beaverbrook said: “He did not sing in tune but he sang with energy and enthusiasm.” He liked to sing “Ta-ra-ra-Boom-de-ay,” “Daisy, Daisy,” and old Boer War songs. His favorite was “Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers, which Lady Moran, who had a fine voice, would sing to him. He was emotional, and wept easily. But his tears soon dried, as joy came flooding back. He drew his strength from people, and imparted it to them in full measure. Everyone who values freedom under law, and government by, for, and from the people, can find comfort and reassurance in his life story.”
— Excerpt from Paul Johnson, Churchill: 207.