FIGHTING WORDS by Laurence R. Marcus

FIGHTING WORDS

The Politics of Hateful Speech
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An ultimately creepy look at intolerance on campus and how it should be countered. Like many of the good-hearted, Marcus, a professor in the Educational Administration Department of Rowan College, is captivated by the fallacy that if you can somehow cure the smallest symptoms, you have rooted out the disease. While there is little doubt that hate speech--and the racism from which it stems--is a serious societal problem, hate speech on American campuses always seems to boil down anecdotally to a few dozen frequently told and retold incidents (which Marcus makes sure we go over one more time). Yet he seems to believe that quieting the misled few among the educated, enlightened mass of college students is an important issue. And he gives it both barrels. An extended history of racism is followed by an analysis of the affirmative action debate; other chapters deal at length with such issues as college speech codes. The analysis is rarely original, but it is certainly extensive: Marcus strings together endless pages of quotes and statistics, occasionally pausing for interpolations. Using as his model the disruption caused at Kean College in 1993 by a speech by Nation of Islam's Khalid Abdul Muhamad, Marcus then looks at what colleges should and should not do to reduce hate speech. His solution is a legalistic reinterpretation of the First Amendment that--no matter how Marcus glosses over it--would allow censorship. He also champions classes in intergroup relations and a series of kindly coercive measures to make certain that everyone gets along. Regular ``human relations audits'' will then ensure that everything is working as planned. Occasionally, universities have acted in loco parentis. With these measures in place, they would add another member to the family--Big Brother.

Pub Date: July 30th, 1996
ISBN: 0-275-95438-2
Page count: 216pp
Publisher: Praeger
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996