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The Lighthouse is the weekly email newsletter of the Independent Institute.
Subscribe now, or browse Back Issues.

Volume 7, Issue 10: March 7, 2005

  1. Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus
  2. U.N. Must Be Held Accountable for Abuses
  3. Supreme Court Ends Juvenile Executions

1) Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus

In 1965 the Free Speech Movement was born at the University of California, Berkeley, resulting in the lifting of the school's ban on student-organized political speech. Forty years later, however, many students and teachers at several universities have found themselves facing disciplinary measures for violating university speech codes enacted since the late 1980s and 1990s.

But all hope is not lost for advocates of open discourse and free speech on American campuses.

Just as campus activists of the 1960s organized effectively to achieve their goals, so today's proponents of free expression can organize effectively, too, explains Donald Alexander Downs in his new book, RESTORING FREE SPEECH AND LIBERTY ON CAMPUS (Cambridge University Press for The Independent Institute).

"My hope in writing this book is to show how liberal principles of freedom and individualism can be restored in a way that adds integrity to the pursuit of diversity in the contemporary university," Downs writes in the book's preface.

Downs knows first hand of what he speaks: "Because I have been a leader of the University of Wisconsin free speech and civil liberty movement, my observations and perspectives are part of the story," writes the UW professor of political science, law and journalism.

After discussing the rise of ideologies against free speech and liberty, Downs presents four case studies in the politics of civil liberty on campus. Two of the case studies (Columbia University and UC Berkeley) show how the absence of political mobilization on behalf of liberty principles leaves these principles without support when campus political pressures run in the opposite direction. The other two (University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Pennsylvania) present positive examples of constructive resistance and change.

RESTORING FREE SPEECH AND LIBERTY ON CAMPUS tells the story of how some of our institutions of higher learning have retreated from their commitment to free speech -- and how to make them once again shining examples of open discourse and truly liberal education.

To order RESTORING FREE SPEECH AND LIBERTY ON CAMPUS, by Donald Alexander Downs, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=57

For more information, see
http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=57

For information about FAULTY TOWERS: Tenure and the Structure of Higher Education, by Ryan C. Amacher and Roger E. Meiners, see
http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=14

For information about THE ACADEMY IN CRISIS: The Political Economy of Higher Education, edited by John W. Sommer, see
http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=16

For information about THE DIVERSITY MYTH: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus, by David O. Sacks, Peter A. Thiel
http://www.independent.org/publications/books/book_summary.asp?bookID=38

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2) U.N. Must Be Held Accountable for Abuses

A United Nations commission on the status of women is currently meeting to review the progress made toward meeting the goals of the Beijing Platform, a 1995 declaration of women's rights promoted by the Clintons.

The Bush administration has signaled that it will refuse to renew an unconditional commitment to the Beijing platform, ostensibly because the declaration supports abortion rights. But even pro-choice feminists should reconsider their support for the U.N., according to Independent Institute Research Fellow Wendy McElroy, editor of LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century.

The United Nations' recent scandals -- in Bosnia, Iraq, the Congo, and the agency's own office in Geneva -- show that the U.N. has no real interest in making itself accountable for the abuses of its personnel, McElroy argues.

The TIMES OF LONDON has called the "sex-for-food" scandal in the Congo -- where about 50 U.N. personnel have been accused of 150 acts of sexual abuse, most of them with children -- "the United Nation's Abu Ghraib." Even after the scandal broke, U.N. peacekeepers were shown to be violating the mission's new curfew and ban on fraternizing with prostitutes. U.N. peacekeepers are not accountable to the agency, and the agency has not taken its problem seriously.

"If there is a structural 'incentive' to abuse, then abuse could be minimized by changing the structure," McElroy writes. "But reform requires the one thing that the U.N. seems determined to avoid: taking responsibility."

See "U.N. Wrong Forum for Women's Rights," by Wendy McElroy (3/2/05) http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1471
SPANISH TRANSLATION:
http://www.elindependent.org/articulos/article.asp?id=1471

To order LIBERTY FOR WOMEN: Freedom and Feminism in the Twenty-first Century, edited by Wendy McElroy, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=43

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3) Supreme Court Ends Juvenile Executions

The United States became the last country to abolish capital punishment for juveniles last week, as the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5 to 4 that the punishment was unconstitutional.

Although the Court noted mounting international criticism of the U.S. for allowing minors to face the death penalty, "rising world opposition to the death penalty is not the best reason for ending it within U.S. borders," argues Ivan Eland, senior fellow and director of the Independent Institute's Center on Peace & Liberty.

The Supreme Court, Eland argues in his latest op-ed, "is following enlightened trends in popular opinion." In recent years, some reports suggest, the public has become increasingly opposed to capital punishment -- even for adults convicted of capital crimes -- because of government incompetence leading to wrongful convictions and therefore wrongful executions.

"DNA tests of inmates on death row have exonerated a sizeable number of individuals," writes Eland. "Add to this the disproportionate and unfair sentencing of African-Americans to death. Finally, rigorous studies have shown that the death penalty does not deter future crimes."

But wrongful conviction via government incompetence is not the only reason to rethink the wisdom of capital punishment, according to Eland. As governments become powerful, prosecutors will find it easier to seek -- and win -- wrongful convictions for political reasons.

"If you think this possibility is remote in the United States, just think about political pressures after 9/11 to do something about 'terrorists.' The Bush administration jailed people indefinitely without charging them, giving them access to a lawyer, or trying them in an independent court that would give them due process...

"Yet significant numbers of people held after 9/11 without due process have already been released because they ultimately were not found to be terrorists. Therefore, in the wake of a future 9/11-style terrorist attack, if the death penalty has not been abandoned or ruled unconstitutional, many innocent people could be rounded up and executed for political reasons -- that is, to show the public that the government is 'doing something' about terrorism."

See "Ending the Death Penalty for Juveniles Is Not Enough," by Ivan Eland (3/7/05)
http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1472

To purchase THE EMPIRE HAS NO CLOTHES: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=54

To purchase PUTTING "DEFENSE" BACK IN U.S. DEFENSE POLICY, by Ivan Eland, see
http://www.independent.org/store/book_detail.asp?bookID=19

"The Way Out of Iraq: Decentralizing the Iraqi Government," by Ivan Eland
http://www.independent.org/publications/policy_reports/detail.asp?type=full&id=16

Center on Peace & Liberty
http://www.independent.org/research/copal/

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