Presentation on theme: "Censorship and Self-Censorship in Public Discourse Some Recent Examples."— Presentation transcript:
Censorship and Self-Censorship in Public Discourse Some Recent Examples
The Case of Lawrence Summers In December 1991, while at the World Bank, Summers signed a memo, an excerpt of which has become known as the infamous Summers memo, which argued that pollution from First World countries should be dumped into Third World countries:Summers memo First WorldThird World "Just between you and me, shouldn't the World Bank be encouraging more migration of dirty industries to the LDCs [less developed countries]?" "I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to it." "I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted, their air quality is probably vastly inefficiently low compared to Los Angeles or Mexico City." The "memo" made him a favorite target of environmentalists and others critical of neoliberal economics, who believe it to be consistent with his attitudes in general and a symbol of "the arrogant ignorance of many conventional 'economists' concerning the nature of the world we live in" (Brazilian Secretary of the Environment Jose Lutzenberger). Summers maintained that the memo was misunderstood, offered as a "sardonic counterpoint, an effort to sharpen the analysis."neoliberalBrazilianJose Lutzenberger
Early Controversy as President of Harvard Summers, a defender of free trade and globalization, has positions on a number of politically-charged subjects that lie to the right of the average members of American academia. This, together with his management style and his call to stress hard sciences in the undergraduate core curriculum, have made him controversial as President of Harvard, particularly among his left-wing colleagues in the humanities and social sciences.free tradeglobalization Early in his tenure, he criticized high-profile African-American Studies professor Cornel West in a private meeting between the two, alleging grade inflation in West's introductory ethnic studies course and criticizing West for devoting too much time to extracurricular pursuits in political activism and "spoken-word poetry." West responded angrily and publicly and later accepted an open invitation to transfer to Princeton University.African-AmericanCornel Westgrade inflationpoetryPrinceton University In 2002, Summers controversially stated that a campaign by Harvard and MIT faculty to have their universities divest from companies with Israeli holdings was part of a larger trend among left-leaning academics that is "anti-Semitic in effect, if not in intent."divestIsraelianti-Semitic
Differences between males and females In January 2005, Summers gave a speech  at a conference in which he discussed possible reasons for the underrepresentation of women at the top in science and engineering. He said that although his remarks were provocative, it was vitally important to study the underlying reasons. These may include social issues, such as willingness to commit fully to a highly demanding career, and biological differences between the genders:January 2005 "So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination. I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong."
The Fallout From Summer’s Gender Comments His remarks generated a media controversy over the question of gender differences, and provoked criticism from Harvard faculty. Though he initially defended his original opinion, in a later statement he claimed that "The issue of gender difference is far more complex than comes through in my comments, and my remarks about variability [in the ability of men and women] went beyond what the research has established."  Although the subject is the widely controversial, intelligence research shows the variance in mathematical and scientific ability is greater in males, meaning there are more male individuals at the high and low extremes. See sex and intelligence for further discussion. intelligence researchsex and intelligence
The Case of Jesse Jackson In 1984, Jackson became the second African American to mount a nationwide campaign for President of the United States. A major controversy erupted during the early stages of the race, when Jackson was reported making remarks in which he referred to Jews as "hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown," remarks for which he later issued an apology. Jackson garnered 3.5 million votes and won five primaries, all in the South.1984President of the United StatesJewshymiesNew York City
Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him James E. Hansen, top NASA climate scientist.
Bush vs. the Laureates: How Science Became a Partisan Issue By ANDREW C. REVKIN The New York Times: October 19, 2004 Why is science seemingly at war with President Bush? For nearly four years, and with rising intensity, scientists in and out of government have criticized the Bush administration, saying it has selected or suppressed research findings to suit preset policies, skewed advisory panels or ignored unwelcome advice, and quashed discussion within federal research agencies. This year, 48 Nobel laureates dropped all pretense of nonpartisanship as they signed a letter endorsing Senator John Kerry. ''Unlike previous administrations, Republican and Democratic alike, the Bush administration has ignored unbiased scientific advice in the policy making that is so important to our collective welfare,'' they wrote. The critics include members of past Republican administrations
From Scientific American Mooney chronicles “science abuse” in the Bush administration which, in four years, has: Rejected scientific consensus on global warming and suppressed EPA backing for that consensus. Stacked advisory committees with industry representatives and the religious Right. Begun deploying a missile defense system without evidence that it can work. Banned funding for stem cell research. Forced the National Cancer Institute to say that abortion may cause breast cancer, a claim refuted by good studies. Ordered the CDC to remove information about condom use and efficacy from its Web site. Exploited a misconception about science common among nonscientists--a belief that uncertainty in findings indicates flawed research. Rightists encourage debate between consensus scientists and extremist naysayers, with the two being given apparently equal weight. It then seems reasonable, Mooney argues, to split the difference or simply to argue that there is too much uncertainty to ban a suspect chemical or to fund a controversial form of research.
A Senator’s Racist Gaff? Mississippi Senator Trent Lott "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."Strom Thurmond
The Saga of Lott’s Resignation After President Bush voiced his own harsh criticism of Lott's remarks ("Any suggestion that the segregated past was acceptable or positive is offensive, and it is wrong. Recent comments by Senator Lott do not reflect the spirit of our country. He has apologized and rightly so. Every day that our nation was segregated was a day our nation was unfaithful to our founding ideals"), Lott's position became untenable. It was obvious he would be unable to remain as Senate Republican Leader, although the official White House line was that Lott did not need to resign. Lott later agreed with the President's speech. In the aforementioned BET interview, he said, "Segregation is a stain on our nation’s soul... Segregation and racism are immoral.“soul Under pressure from Senate colleagues, and having lost the support of the White House, Lott resigned as Senate Republican Leader on December 20, 2002. Bill Frist of Tennessee was later elected to the leadership position.Bill FristTennessee
Book of Virtues Author on Aborting Black Babies Bennett defending his remark on Fox News On his radio show, "Bill Bennett's Morning in America," Bill Bennett said: If it were your sole purpose to reduce crime, "You could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down."
The Aftermath of Bennett’s Gaff Many public officials condemned Bennett's remarks. Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) and 56 other members of Congress demanded the suspension of Bennett's radio show, writing that "[w]hile we all support First Amendment Rights, we simply cannot countenance statements and shows that are replete with racism, stereotyping, and profiling. Mr. Bennett's statement is insulting to all of us and has no place on the nation's public air waves." That same day, White House press secretary Scott McClellan stated that President Bush "believes the comments were not appropriate."stated Bennett later attacked his critics, claiming his comments were embarrassing to them because of their support of abortion. On the October 5 broadcast of the nationally syndicated Focus on the Family radio program, Focus on the Family founder and chairman James C. Dobson suggested that the reason "the left has reacted so viciously to you [Bennett] is that their own abortion movement is rooted in racism." Bennett agreed and expanded on these remarks by stating that "this is the sort of thing, I think, that was probably in their minds. On a conscious or subconscious level, that had something to do with the viciousness of the attack."attacked his critics But to many, Bennett's views on abortion were not the issue. As Media Matters wrote at the time: “Of course everyone understands that Bill Bennett doesn't want to abort all black babies. The issue is that Bennett, upon thinking "crime rate," immediately thought of black people. The issue is that Bennett thinks and speaks of crime as an issue of race. wrote Similarly, Conyers wrote in his weblog that "Bennett's suggestion that African Americans are synonymous with crime… is a text book case of stereotyping and racism."wrote
The Case of Pat Robertson After Israel’s Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, suffered a debilitating stroke, Christian broadcaster and former Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson said on his TV program, The 700 Club: “God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible. He says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’” Robertson invoked the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who sought to achieve peace by giving land to the Palestinians, saying: “A terrible thing happened, but nevertheless he was dead.” The White House sharply criticized the statement: “Those comments are wholly inappropriate and offensive and really don’t have a place in this or any other debate,” presidential spokesman Trent Duffy said. Jan. 6: Former Republican Presidential Candidate Pat Robertson Again Causes Controversy with His Public Remarks
Study Ties Political Leanings to Hidden Biases (By Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post Staff Writer, January 30, 2006; Page A05) As the United States has become increasingly politically polarized – red states vs. blue states; pro-Iraq war vs. anti-Iraq war; pro-same-sex marriage vs. anti-same-sex marriage -- social psychologists have grown increasingly interested in studying political behavior using such specialized tools such as sophisticated psychological tests and brain scans. Emory University psychologist Drew Westen put self-identified Democratic and Republican partisans in brain scanners and asked them to evaluate negative information about various candidates. He found both groups quick to spot inconsistency and hypocrisy -- but only in candidates they opposed. Partisans of all stripes found ways to discount negative information about the candidates they liked, Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that "reward centers" in volunteers' brains were activated. The way subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior. Another study explored racial bias and political affiliation, analyzing self-reported beliefs, voting patterns and the results of psychological tests, and finding that supporters of President Bush and other conservatives had stronger self-admitted and implicit biases against blacks than liberals did. Brian Jones, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said he disagreed with the study's conclusions. He also questioned whether the researchers themselves had implicit biases -- against Republicans -- noting that Drew Westen and Harvard psychologist Mahzarin Banaji had given campaign contributions to Democrats.
Restoring the American Community On December 7, 2003 Governor Howard Dean, candidate for Democratic Party’s presidential nomination spoke in Columbia, South Carolina: “In 1968, Richard Nixon won the White House. He did it in a shameful way – by dividing Americans against one another, stirring up racial prejudices and bringing out the worst in people. They called it the "Southern Strategy," and the Republicans have been using it ever since. Nixon pioneered it, and Ronald Reagan perfected it, using phrases like ‘racial quotas’ and ‘welfare queens’ to convince white Americans that minorities were to blame for all of America's problems. “The Republican Party would never win elections if they came out and said their core agenda was about selling America piece by piece to their campaign contributors and making sure that wealth and power is concentrated in the hands of a few. To distract people from their real agenda, they run elections based on race, dividing us, instead of uniting us”
Political Correctness for Governments? U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will press U.S. allies today in London to deprive the incoming Hamas-led Palestinian government of financial support unless it abandons terrorism and accepts the existence of Israel. In a statement released to mark Holocaust Memorial Day, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan described those who questioned whether the Holocaust took place as "bigots". Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been widely criticized for claiming that the Holocaust was a "myth".
When Did the Holocaust Start? Novick shows how the concept of the Holocaust gradually gained ground in public awareness. He notes, by way of illustration, that in the 1950's American Jews tended not to stress the special quality of Jewish suffering, because that might have drawn attention to the fact that many Eastern Jews were sympathetic to Communism.