Faculty in the English Department at the University of Oklahoma have presented a workshop titled “Anti-Racist Rhetoric and Pedagogies.” Originally held in April 2021, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) obtained the video recording.
The hour-long workshop “was intended to teach instructors how to eliminate racist comments and shut down unwanted speech in the classroom without fear of administrative repercussions.” Fair enough, except “the tactics and guidelines set down in the workshop are so broad that they threaten basically any speech that those who might apply them dislike” reports National Review.
Additionally, assistant teaching professor Kelli Alvarez led a presentation titled “Setting an Anti-Racist Tone” where she discussed the expectations she sets in her classes each semester. For example, students are to avoid “Derogatory remarks, critiques, and hate speech.”
She also has her students read “When Free Speech Becomes Unfree” by Ibram X. Kendi. Alvarez claims the purpose of teaching the article is that “there’s no such thing as free speech” and that someone will always be paying for what we say, emotionally and physically.
In the workshop, Alvarez doesn’t cite any Supreme Court cases to back her argument that hate speech is not protected by the Constitution, and simply encourages instructors to tell their students “no, you don’t have the right to say that. Stop talking right now.”
She claims students can and should disagree with one another unless it is “rooted in the oppression and denial of humanity and someone’s right to exist.” Such disagreements are not allowed because that is denying someone “their basic human rights” and “human dignity” which is “not conducive or productive.”
As National Review points out, Alvarez has mastered using “a guilt tactic in her classroom to express her stance on hate speech to get students to comply with her expectations.” Alvarez says, “when we frame it this way if they wanted to push back against that, what’s their response? ‘Oh no, I want to deny someone’s humanity. ‘Who’s gonna say that, right?”