FIGHTING WORDS

THE POLITICS OF HATEFUL SPEECH

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 30, 1996

ISBN: 0-275-95438-2

Page Count: 216

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1996

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THE ABOLITION OF MAN

The sub-title of this book is "Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools." But one finds in it little about education, and less about the teaching of English. Nor is this volume a defense of the Christian faith similar to other books from the pen of C. S. Lewis. The three lectures comprising the book are rather rambling talks about life and literature and philosophy. Those who have come to expect from Lewis penetrating satire and a subtle sense of humor, used to buttress a real Christian faith, will be disappointed.

Pub Date: April 8, 1947

ISBN: 1609421477

Page Count: -

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1947

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Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

COLUMBINE

Comprehensive, myth-busting examination of the Colorado high-school massacre.

“We remember Columbine as a pair of outcast Goths from the Trench Coat Mafia snapping and tearing through their high school hunting down jocks to settle a long-running feud. Almost none of that happened,” writes Cullen, a Denver-based journalist who has spent the past ten years investigating the 1999 attack. In fact, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold conceived of their act not as a targeted school shooting but as an elaborate three-part act of terrorism. First, propane bombs planted in the cafeteria would erupt during lunchtime, indiscriminately slaughtering hundreds of students. The killers, positioned outside the school’s main entrance, would then mow down fleeing survivors. Finally, after the media and rescue workers had arrived, timed bombs in the killers’ cars would explode, wiping out hundreds more. It was only when the bombs in the cafeteria failed to detonate that the killers entered the high school with sawed-off shotguns blazing. Drawing on a wealth of journals, videotapes, police reports and personal interviews, Cullen sketches multifaceted portraits of the killers and the surviving community. He portrays Harris as a calculating, egocentric psychopath, someone who labeled his journal “The Book of God” and harbored fantasies of exterminating the entire human race. In contrast, Klebold was a suicidal depressive, prone to fits of rage and extreme self-loathing. Together they forged a combustible and unequal alliance, with Harris channeling Klebold’s frustration and anger into his sadistic plans. The unnerving narrative is too often undermined by the author’s distracting tendency to weave the killers’ expressions into his sentences—for example, “The boys were shooting off their pipe bombs by then, and, man, were those things badass.” Cullen is better at depicting the attack’s aftermath. Poignant sections devoted to the survivors probe the myriad ways that individuals cope with grief and struggle to interpret and make sense of tragedy.

Carefully researched and chilling, if somewhat overwritten.

Pub Date: April 6, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-54693-5

Page Count: 406

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2009

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