Banned Books Week 2017: For the Freedom of Speech

On this last day of Banned Books Week, we showcase titles that promote free speech. From civil libertarianism, to the 1960s Free Speech Movement, to the current protests at UC Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week“, these titles inspire us to think critically about the impact of #freespeech on our society’s current intellectual landscape.

Get a 30% discount on these selected titles. #BannedBooksWeek #RightToRead #ReadUP

We Demand: The University and Student Protests by Roderick A. Ferguson

“[D]elivers an incisive and sobering account of reaction, of academic complicity in restoring the status quo and its exclusionary, anti-intellectual structures. Roderick Ferguson’s writing on the university is always on time, always urgent, and always aware that the struggle over knowledge is inseparable from the fight for our lives.”—Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

 

 

 

The Essential Mario Savio: Speeches and Writings that Changed America edited by Robert Cohen

“The connections between activism in the South and activism on the Berkeley campus have never been more vividly expressed than in Savio’s own words.”—Paul Buhle, Brown University

“Insightfully contextualized by Robert Cohen, Mario Savio’s letters and speeches … reveal Savio as an activist and thinker who helped inject new meanings into the idea of American freedom.”—Eric Foner, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, author of The Story of American Freedom

 

 

The Activist’s Handbook: Winning Social Change in the 21st Century by Randy Shaw

The firsthand insights here are rich.”—CHOICE

“A must read for grassroots activists, Shaw offers indispensable insights into the strategies and tactics necessary to overcome powerful interests. This new edition significantly expands and updates the original, which is an organizing classic.”—Van Jones, author of Rebuild the Dream

 

 

 

Reflections on the University of California: From the Free Speech Movement to the Global University by Neil J. Smelser

“There is nothing like it in the literature on modern universities.”—Harriet Zuckerman, Senior Vice President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

“This is an important work for the history of higher education and for the University of California by an extraordinary scholar and leader.”—Jonathan Cole, John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University and former Provost, Columbia University

 

 

 

The Free Speech Movement: Reflections on Berkeley in the 1960s edited by Robert Cohen and Reginald E. Zelnik

“This is a superb book. We are well-launched into a new generation of ’60s scholarship, and The Free Speech Movement will be at the center of it. The analysis and personal recollection mix well, arguing persuasively for the never-to-be-underestimated place of contingency in history.”—Todd Gitlin, author of Media Unlimited and The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage

 

 

 

Transforming Free Speech: The Ambiguous Legacy of Civil Libertarianism by Mark A. Graber

Contemporary civil libertarians claim that their works preserve a worthy American tradition of defending free-speech rights dating back to the framing of the First Amendment. Transforming Free Speech challenges the worthiness, and indeed the very existence of one uninterrupted libertarian tradition.

 


Banned Books Week 2017: Promoting Progressive Change

As part of Banned Books Week, occurring September 24 – 30, we’ll be sharing recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. At UC Press, we believe that scholarship is a powerful tool for fostering a deeper understanding of our world and changing how people think, plan, and govern. Our mission is to drive progressive change by seeking out and cultivating the brightest minds and giving them voice, reach, and impact.

During #BannedBooksWeek, get a 30% discount on these selected titles that promote progressive change in feminism, politics, Islam, and free speech. #BannedBooks

What’s your favorite UC Press book that you think should have made the list for Banned Books Week? Let us know in the comment section below.


Berkeley Has NOT Violated Ann Coulter’s Free Speech Rights

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by Robert Cohen, 

Mario Savio leading a rally on the steps of Sproul Hall in 1966 (Photo by Mjolvas/Creative Commons)

Anyone familiar with Berkeley’s Free Speech Movement of 1964 knows what a real free speech movement looks like. And the current Ann Coulter/College Republican free speech charade at Berkeley bears no resemblance to such a movement.

In the free speech controversy of 1964 the UC Berkeley administration closed down the traditional free speech area just outside the campus’s south entrance. This suppression generated mass protest by a wide spectrum of student groups from the Young Socialist alliance to Goldwater Republicans. It took months of negotiations, sit-ins, a semester full of non-violent demonstrations, the largest mass arrests in California history, and the most intensive organizing by thousands of students to win over the faculty to the Free Speech Movement’s central demand – affirmed in a landslide vote by the Berkeley Academic Senate – in its December 8, 1964 resolutions “that the content of speech or advocacy should not be restricted by the University.” In other words, the Berkeley administration, headed by Chancellor Edward W. Strong, had to be forced by a broad student movement and a majority of its voting faculty to open the campus to free speech and political advocacy.

The contrast between the Strong administration of 1964 and today’s UC Berkeley administration, headed by Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks, could not be starker. When a small group of students back in 2014 demanded that UC disinvite comedian Bill Maher from speaking at its graduation ceremony on the grounds that Maher’s humor was Islamophobic, Dirks invoked Berkeley’s free speech tradition and insisted that Maher be allowed to speak – which he was. When earlier this semester student activists and an open letter from some 100 faculty urged him to ban the bigoted alt right speaker Milo Yiannopoulos, Dirks refused to do so, again standing up for free speech. It was only after an ugly riot and arson by non-student anarchists on the night of the Yiannopoulos talk (leaving more than $100,000 in property damage on the Berkeley campus) that the chancellor reluctantly canceled the talk in the interests of public safety.

Fearing a recurrence of the Yiannopoulos violence, the Berkeley administration sought to postpone Coulter’s speech, and in the end asked that in the interest of security it be delayed a week. The administration cited threats it had received against Coulter, which is not surprising given that she is an intemperate nativist. Coulter and her College Republican and Young American Foundation sponsors responded with claims that the administration was trying to stifle conservative speech and that it had caved in to Berkeley’s “rabid off-campus mob” in doing so.

There are very few students on the Berkeley campus who see this week’s delay of the Coulter speech on public safety grounds as a free speech violation. That’s why the lawsuit the College Republicans filed this week against the UC administration had no Berkeley student sponsors other than the College Republicans. Think of the contrast with 1964, when there was a genuine free speech violation and a mass free speech movement; it mobilized virtually every Berkeley student group from left to right and even created a new organization of students, the independents, so that those who had been unaffiliated with any political group could be a part of the Free Speech Movement. In 1964 thousands of Berkeley students marched and hundreds engaged in civil disobedience when free speech was genuinely under threat. Not so today.

No, this is not a real free speech movement at Berkeley today, and that is because there has been no free speech violation by the UC administration. What the Coulter affair really amounts to is a “time, place, and manner” quibble. The settlement of the 1964 Free Speech Movement, as embodied in the December 8 resolutions, included a provision authorizing the university to impose reasonable regulations on the “time, place, and manner of political activity” on campus so that such activity does not interfere with “the normal functions of the university.” The administration has used this “time place and manner” authority in the face of the threats it received, acting on the belief that the time and place for the Coulter talk that would not end in violence and disrupt the normal functions of the university was in early May at a more secure location.

Whether out of a desire for free publicity, concern about her $20,00 speakers fee, or a desire to bash UC’s liberal administration and the Berkeley left, Coulter presented herself as a free speech martyr, and in this she has been joined by her College Republican sponsors. But there has never been a mass “time, place, and manner” movement at Berkeley. And judging by the collective yawn with which the campus has reacted to Coulter’s posturing and the College Republicans’ lawsuit, there is not about to be one.

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Robert Cohen is a professor of history and social studies in NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. He is an affiliated member of NYU’s History Department. His historical scholarship focuses on politics, higher education, and social protest in twentieth-century America. His social studies work links middle and high school teachers with the recent advances in historical scholarship, and develops curriculum aimed at teaching their students to explore history as a critical discipline – and one that is characterized by intense and exciting debate.