When Free Speech Collides with Impermissible Speech: A Civil Discourse

at the outset I’d like to thank Vice
Chancellor Joan Prince for her excellent work and organizing our panel and
convening this this first event today Joan thank you very much your work on
this today marks an important inaugural event one that for our campus will
kick-off a year-long series and provides a platform for civil discourse for
students faculty staff and others in our community around free speech freedom of
expression these are among the top issues being discussed on campuses
nationwide and in communities in fact just today Professor Enrique showed me
an article in the New York Times and professor Figueroa when we just took a
look at that I think the headline correct me if I’m wrong front story of
the New York Times today is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions takes aim
at campus speech that is that pretty close approximation for that that this
is today this is real time so nothing could be much more relevant in terms of
the timeliness there are additional events student projects and related
programming sponsored by the faculty and departments that are part of this series
and we’ve had a campus committee working on this with faculty students and staff
over the last several months that have been planning these events there’s a
freedom of expression website that we have its UWM edu slash freedom
– expression so once again UWM edu slash freedom – expression of special note is
a student generated symposium for a World Cafe style that will be held in
the spring semester as well as a TEDx event later this fall the planning team
here is led by Warren chair of our inclusive excellence Center Thank You
Warren in advance for your work on that in today’s society we have seen an
erosion of civility and openness to hear ideas our role as educated citizens in a
Democratic Society includes a responsibility to respectfully and
thoughtfully address issues with which we disagree or may not agree at all free
speech is now about screaming and one another when we
disagree it’s not about shutting down those with opposing opinions free speech
is a right and it must be protected especially at UWM and other academic
institutions we have an unwavering commitment to inclusivity civility
equity and respect as a public university we will always be a forum for
the free exchange of ideas even if some of those ideas are disagreeable even a
current and challenging our thinking and sometimes terribly uncomfortable ways
this is not easy there are difficulties and sensitivities with balancing free
speech and speech that marginalized marginalizes as I think we will talk
about in depth today this series though will help us in terms of developing and
providing strategies techniques and opportunities to move discourse in a
direction that is in fact civil inclusive at all of all and in alignment
with our values and the dignity of our campus so this is our opportunity to set
the stage around civil discourse different opinions and how we use our
teaching learning and research agendas in these important discussions this is a
good time for me to now introduce our next speaker please welcome provost and
vice chancellor for academic affairs johannes britz Thank You Chancellor mone and good
morning everybody as the chief academic officer I delighted I think we take the
lead in many cases in discussing this as an open forum on a campus where we truly
believe in freedom of expression freedom of speech where we can have a public
sphere we can exchange our ideas I’ll be very short I just want to acknowledge
the Provost that we invited from the system that are here this morning in
particularly Provost Jon Coker from Oshkosh I know he is here and then also
my Dean fellows over here colleagues that are here this morning I want to
thank you for taking your time to be here this morning and also John thank
you for taking the lead and initiative and also making available mini grants
for our faculty members to work with our students on freedom of expression on
campus we have three awards Leslie Harris I don’t know if Leslie he is here
this morning the issues at the back and also a bulky I don’t know if you’re here
there’s bull at the back there from English and I’ve paid from Social Work
Dave I don’t know if you’re here this morning if you could make it maybe
you’re teaching and then also working with our students on this and Richard
Grusin Richard are you here this morning 21st century oh he’s in Italy okay is
maybe he thought this morning but he is also they have this 50th anniversary of
the Center for 21st century studies this year and part of this celebration will
actually be around freedom of speech freedom of expression and the regulation
there off so I just want to acknowledge that and I’m looking forward to today
and welcome again thank you very much good morning good morning good morning
Thank You Chancellor mone and provost britz
just a few logistics and then on to our panel please know that this event is
being live-streamed and will be available for viewing at a later date on
our website and for any reason that you might have to leave the room we’re going
to ask that you do so quietly at this time it’s the only time you get so if
you would check all of your devices and make sure that they are silent we would
appreciate that as well while there are no live microphones for
today’s symposium please know that several of the questions that will be
discussed by our panel were actually generated by students and they’re
incorporated into the panel discussion and now let me introduce the panel we’ll
start with Daniel Daniel kefka calf kheh is a UWM student who is one of our
military vets he served four years in the Army he is a political science and
Italian major from Milwaukee and would you please help me welcome him and thank
him for his service next to Daniel is dr. Blaine Neufeld
dr. Neufeld is an associate professor in the department of philosophy here at the
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee his research and teaching interests are in
political philosophy and ethics he serves as the director of the
certificate in ethics values and society he holds a PhD from the University of
Michigan and a master’s of philosophy from the University of Oxford
dr. Neufeld is the author of several books and publications and is well known
and highly respected for his work in political liberalism and education and
he came down from Canada for me just for today so I’m really appreciative to him
please welcome dr. new field next to dr. new field is a familiar familiar face to
many of you since 1996 dr. Michelle Bria has served as the chief executive
officer of the journey house a community-based organization on
Milwaukee’s near South Side that empowers families to move out of poverty
by offering adult education workforce readiness youth development and family
engagement programs journey house annually serves more than 6,000 children
and families at six locations dr. Bria has received numerous awards
for her work in the community in March 2016 Donald Driver awarded dr. Bria with
the Donald Driver driven to achieve award for her outstanding community
efforts she’s one of us she received her doctoral
grief from the University of wisconsin-milwaukee and received her
Bachelors of Arts and Masters of Arts from a university across town how’s that
for not naming anything please welcome dr. Brio would you please the next person behind me I’ll skip him
for last so I’m going to skip over to that way Samuel Rogers Sam is a junior
with a political science and global Studies major
he is also a vet having served eight years in the Army he also serves as a
veterans advocacy senator for the UWM Student Association and I would hope
that you would welcome him and again thank him for his service to our country
thank you so much next to Sam is Bridget Bridget Reese is our PhD student in
media cinema and digital studies she was feeling a little under the weather so
we’re really appreciative that you were able to make it and what she will bring
to the table and she’s asked me to specifically emphasize is that she also
teaches in our LGBT studies so Bridget welcome and if anytime you don’t feel
well raise your hand okay thank you would you welcome Bridget please and
next to Bridget is Rick Rick esenberg is the founder and current president and
general counsel of the Wisconsin Institute for law and liberty it is a
conservative libertarian public interest law firm headquartered in Milwaukee Rick
is a frequent columnist in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and commentator in both
the local and national media he writes the culture Khan column for Wisconsin
magazine and is a frequent contributor to write Wisconsin his work has been
featured in such publications as The Wall Street Journal the National Review
Online and US News and World Report he holds a JD magna cum laude from Harvard
Law School where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and a BA in political
science from you guessed it the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
please welcome Rick esenberg Rick and since March of this year
Chris OTT has served as the executive director of the American Civil Liberties
Union of Wisconsin he is a Milwaukee native and a graduate of Ozaukee high
school in Fredonia and Brown University in Providence Rhode Island prior to
those two his role to this role excuse me he served as the communications
director for the ACLU of Massachusetts in Boston for ten years and before that
he led the LGBT rights organization fair milwaukee would you please help me
welcome Kris OTT and before I introduce our speaker I would like you also to
acknowledge our to sign interpreters this morning they’re so funny I asked
them their names I got a first name it’s like no you were kind of born with the
first and last name so we need to know that and we really need to thank you for
being here it is my pleasure to introduce Jill Kim chakra Jill and Erin
Johnson Erin thank you and now it is my extreme pleasure before this podium
disappears and it will disappear have no fear to introduce our moderator for this
for this morning actually clearance page clearance page is the 1989 Pulitzer
Prize winner for commentary has but he has been a columnist and a member of the
Chicago Tribune’s editorial board since 1984 his column is syndicated nationally
by Tribune media services and close to 200 papers and he has been based in
Washington DC since 1991 in September of 2014 his latest book culture warriors
selected columns was published by Amazon so make sure you go online and buy it
Paige was a regular panelist on the McLaughlin group until the passing of
the host John McLaughlin he serves as a guest panelist on CBS’s Face the Nation
he is a regular contributor of essays to PBS Newshour and has hosted
documentaries on the Public Broadcasting System he has
also participated in a Chicago Tribune Task Force on vote fraud which won the
Pulitzer Prize he has received public service awards from Illinois and
Wisconsin chapters of the ACLU for his columns educating readers on
constitutional rights he received he began his journalism career I think
that’s important to know as a freelance writer and photographer for the
Middletown Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer at the age of 17 he received
his Bachelor of Science and journalism from Ohio University and he has also
received honorary doctorates from several universities he is married to
the former Lisa Johnson of Chicago and they have one child and it is my extreme
pleasure to present your panel thank you and that’ll be fine with me so I can see
all of you thank you hello nice to see you
I’ve been rustling papers like crazy here because this is such a timely topic
that more material pops up in the headlines just about every day I have
I’m reminded of the lately great Walter Cronkite who described TV News as trying
to put a hundred pounds of information into a five-pound bag that’s what we’re
going to do for the next hour here ladies and gentlemen so I’m gonna try to
move things along as swiftly as possible so you could hear from my magnificent
panel here as well I want to say a few opening words to set the tones the tone
of debate and discussion and then just really have a conversation here about
various aspects of what we mean by free speech these days what is endangering it
and how do we move forward from here this week with the Vietnam series on PBS
I’ve been having flashbacks like crazy to campus life as well as my own
military experience because they’re these same issues were percolating back
then only then I was arguing with my father for example about he felt that we
students were going too far with free speech and you had Mario Savio of course
out of Berkeley here back in 1964 who launched what was called the Free Speech
Movement today we see Berkeley as a scene of violent protests and counter
protesters fighting over who should be allowed to speak there is a different
kind of mood in the air now for now I I am a father now I am living the immortal
parental curse just wait’ll you have children of your own
because I have a young twentysomething who’s in very close friendship with a
number of members of antifa which according to Fox News is second only to
cancer and AIDS as a threat to America’s future and he tells me that free speech
is apparently a right-wing conservative plot and I point out to him the glories
of the founders and of course they are dismissed as dead white males which
aren’t worthy of entering into the discussion and as I assured him well
these are the fathers of our country and thanks to modern DNA tests were able to
see just how much they fathered so the discussion that debate goes on today we
have a young fellow Milo you Napoles staged a free speech week a few days ago
which rather fizzled because it had a very low turnout nevertheless cost the
University of california-berkeley eight hundred thousand dollars in
security because of fears of further violence and Milo is the kind of fellow
who has the kind of speech or gives the kind of speech which I abhor because it
punches down it goes after the weak one of his line one of his slogans is a
feminism is cancer unquote I referred to his gathering as the coachella of
conservatism it was rather less than that
but nevertheless Milo has a right to speak and in fact I’m glad he speaks
because I think he demeans himself by his own speech and he his own argument
is so self-destructive this was what kept me going for many years on the
mawatha group but the great irony of that and I thank you very much for that
for the program I’ve been very gratified by the kind of response we’ve gotten
from viewers around the country I thought this show was what kind of old
hat because everybody shouts at each other on talk shows now but I started
putting my welcome group back in 1988 it’ll be 30 years ago next year and
after his death at the at his funeral I learned something about where the theory
of the show came from one of his friends pointed out that John’s vision for the
show was four or five old friends who meet together once a week at a sidewalk
cafe and they have other favorite beverages and they argue about politics
and current events feverishly getting almost embarrassingly cutting and biting
sometimes but in the end they may part as friends and say see you next week
that little simple concept I think is why after years of being ridiculed by my
friends for participating in quote the shouting show and now I hear people come
up to me and say wait I missed that show you have such civil discussions you had
both right and left on the show not just one side and your talk and you argued
and and you got your words in but they were tight and and concise and in the
end I look forward to seeing you all again the next week that’s the kind of
rapport that you really can’t buy in a store when you put a TV show on and I I
appreciate John so many more ways than I appreciate him back when he was alive I
mean I’ve had so many people say how do you how can you stand doing that program
I say well two reasons fame and fortune I mean I brought when my son was 10
years old we got lampooned and Mad Magazine what
more could a young man ask for in life I was such a hit with the fifth graders
at my son’s school you can’t you can’t buy that anywhere we’re in an age now
where people wonder what’s happened to civility what has happened to our
ability to talk to each other in a civil manner I am it is the obligation as my
son reminds me all the time of younger generations to shock their elders and I
am recently shocked by a survey perhaps you all read about which came from the
Brookings Institution looking at the attitudes of today’s college students
according to this new study there’s a study of 1500 undergraduate students at
four-year colleges found that 51 percent of them thought it was just fine for a
student group to loudly and repeatedly disrupt quote a very controversial
speaker who is known for making offensive and hurtful statements unquote
so the audience cannot hear him or her 1/5 19% of undergraduates surveyed said
it’s okay to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes quote
offensive and hurtful statements unquote and 40% of the students said the First
Amendment does not protect hate speech spoiler alert ladies and gentlemen it
does this study was conducted by John Aviles senior as senior fellow at
Brookings on a public policy professor at UCLA but his is not the first to find
such a trend a 2016 Gallup poll found that 78% of students said schools should
promote an environment that exposes them to a range of viewpoints
however 69 percent believe universities should a respect speech restrict speech
that was quote intentionally offensive to certain groups unquote and a Pew
Research Center survey two years ago found Millennials are far more likely
than older generations to say the government should be able to prevent
people from making offensive statements of
minority groups now these are not insane opinions these are opinions that I
actually are quite rational depending on how you were raised
however it is certainly in the American tradition legally constitutionally and
otherwise for us to believe that the best response to offensive speech is
more speech the best response to speech that you don’t agree with is more speech
give the other side you know alternative views have a real dialogue being able to
come to some kind of synthesis if you will between the between the premise and
the antithesis this is the kind of atmosphere that I appreciate it back
when I was in college and I’d like to see more of that today I think we all
would and I am as a result I’m very happy we having this discussion today I
am going to get things rolling by asking each of our panelists a question to get
their thoughts and then give an opportunity for panels to respond to
each other and hopefully move the dialogue along I’m in that interest of
equal time I am going to turn to well Rick esenberg
can’t think of a better person to follow me and my classic liberal establishment
viewpoint than for you to come and tell me who I am wrong and give us some other
perspective of the question I’d like to put to you is as you just heard
according to my son free speech is now associated with a racist and a right
wing attacks today was this connection purposeful by the right that is I say a
question from one of the students but it’s one that we’ve argued back and
forth in our house and let me ask you what you think of it
well you know it’s interesting because I appreciated your comments about the way
that these issues played out differently forty to fifty years ago when it was a
speech on the left on campus that was attempted to be suppressed and the
problem I have with your your son’s formulation of the issue and I’m sure
he’s a very intelligent young man is that look where you came from the problem is is that our traditional
notions Western notions of freedom of speech are not an effort to entrench
power but they are appreciation of the way in which power can be abused the
notion that error has no rights has a long history in human civilization and
it’s a quite bloody history because human beings have a tendency to come to
believe that everything with which they disagree is Error and so the price we
pay to check power and to check the abuse of power is to tolerate points of
view with which we disagree College is a perfect place to learn how to do that
it’s a place where your presuppositions are supposed to be challenged it’s not a
place where you’re supposed to be safe it’s supposed to be a place where you
begin to encounter ideas that are different than your own and it’s
important that you learn to do that because the world is not a safe space
and and people will not always think like you do and they will not always
believe that that your security and your peace of mind requires them to conform
their thinking to yours but there’s a there’s a caution right there’s a
qualification to all of that and I think it’s a it’s a caution that right
in the present moment I particularly want to repeat to many of my friends on
the right and that is to say that you’re for freedom of speech and to say that
you’re against political correctness is not a warrant for incivility you can’t
enforce civility particularly well by coercion or by a centralized set of
rules but what you can do is contribute a culture of civility one that says I’m
willing to listen to you without calling new names and in exchange for that I
want you to listen to me and as a as a panther class of 78 spent a lot of time
working with the university legal clinic up on the third floor and I have to
admit a lot of time sleeping in the chairs on the second floor I’m really
gratified to see my alma mater hold a discussion like this and thank you for
coming and leading it well thank you for hosting me Rick I really appreciate it
I’m gonna turn to like the Chris up from the dreaded ACLU according to my friend
so much Mott’s news and let’s put the same question to you
why is free speech become associated with the right these days in your
opinion especially about my young people in particular like like my son and a
couple of students who contribute questions along the way hmm I guess I’m
not sure that I agree that it’s become associated with the right and I mean if
anything I think that this is something that has played out for a long time
throughout our history and and you know the ACLU is an organization that’s been
around for a hundred years almost 100 years now and so we’ve seen
this in various forms you know I think that what we’re seeing today
is is sort of multi-varied and and not that much different from debates that
we’ve seen in the past and but I think that the the most important thing to
keep in mind are you know sort of the big picture principles you know we we
take the view that the framers of our Constitution didn’t make it the First
Amendment for nothing you know freedom of expression gives us power to to
defend other rights that that we are all supposed to have as Americans it helped
in the in the creation of our country and our government it’s helped us to you
to correct order to put a stop to some of the worst wrong it’s in our country’s
history including slavery preventing whole categories of people to vote and
and even today in this you know situation that we’re in I mean I hope
that we all feel lucky to feel to be in to live in a time when people are so
inventive in finding ways to use their their First Amendment rights whether
that is taking place online or protesting pipelines or kneeling during
the national anthem before a game and I think there’s just a lot going on and
it’s it’s a it’s challenging and it’s uncomfortable sometimes but I think it’s
really interesting and important does the name Robert Mercer mean
anything to you let me just ask that show of hands just people who know who
Robert Mercer is a few scattered around here and there Robert Mercer Robert
Mercer is a hedge-fund billionaire who along with his wife have funded by Bart
news they funded Cambridge analytics well-known a controversial political
data collection firm and they funded the campaign of a candidate for president
named Donald Trump and have continued to be closely involved with Steve Steve
Bannon now that he’s back over her word right mark and they both BuzzFeed
recently reported and I know this is a new age when I’m exciting a website
called BuzzFeed but they get a lot of interesting scoops one of them is that
Bob Mercer has been heavily funding a million appleís as well as other campus
conservatives or say conservatives who speak on campus or seek to speak on
campus and is’s and was this a all right founder a Richard Stirling is the name
he I’m sorry Richard Spencer I’m sorry Richard Spencer thank you very much I
I’m an old man but the files are up here just takes me longer to go through them
Richard Spencer who’s been on a publicity wave in recent months heavily
funded by a number of conservative benefactors including the Mercer’s and I
think that might be a reason one reason why so many college students who do live
in a world different from us older folks I have come to associate free speech
with the right that you two gentlemen that might have some to do with that you
know I I it’s hard for me to say I I think I would disagree I I would
disagree because I think that and I always say when somebody asked me to
talk about Donald Trump I always say that during the election last year my
team which is sort of the classically liberal conservative movement the one
that was represented by Reagan we didn’t make the playoffs last year we didn’t
really have a candidate in the election and you think about the thinking
conservatives well I would go beyond that because I actually think that what
we’re seeing in the Trump movement is actually an ideological challenge to
what the conservative movement has been traditionally been this is not simply in
that or a style it is not simply a matter of not thinking it’s a matter of
actually supporting a different set of policies which in some ways we’ve moved
the Republican Party to double to the left but I think that the the reason
that free speech on campus has been associated with the right is
the same reason that free speech on campus in the 60s was associated with
the left and that is because the the campuses in the 50s and the 60s were
dominated by the right and they attempted to suppress the speech of the
left campuses today are dominated by the left and they will try to suppress the
speech of the right because this is not because conservatives are bad or
liberals a gourd or vice versa this is because what human beings do when they
have power they tend to abuse it and that is why the First Amendment and I
agreed almost I think I agree with everything you said Chris and this is a
wonderful moment is a sort of star on the calendar for today there’s a reason
that the First Amendment is the first one because it is the most essential
check on the abuse of power that we have to us Nicola sure I mean I think that
you know what you’re what you’re getting at the the money that’s that behind
that’s funding some of these groups and some of these speakers adds adds a layer
to this I mean we’re not only talking about the sort of textbook case of you
know one view versus another people just sort of saying what they believe you
know on their own I mean there are there well financed groups that are making
some of this happen so that’s you know that’s something that requires some
thought certainly and I think that in a lot of ways that the First Amendment
provides an answer to that too because it’s you know when people have the right
to speak and express themselves really they can call that sort of thing out and
and you know would point to the the funding that particular groups or
speakers may get I think that the First Amendment gives us a tool that is still
really you know especially relevant today well let me turn to look to a
budget Keefe’s I’m really eager to hear your response to this you of course our
specialist and LGBT studies that you’ve seen the race diversity issues play out
on campus and elsewhere what are your thoughts when you
here this kind of argument going on about what should be allowed to be
spoken on campus versus what should not yeah so I’m really lucky to work with
the LGBTQ student population pretty extensively so we do tend to be
dominated by thoughts on the left and one of the things that I do when I start
each semester is try to cultivate what I call safe space for dangerous ideas so I
have various games and activities to intended to create a culture where we
feel that we all respect each other that we understand that we’re here to have
civil discourse and if we can create that culture then we can encounter ideas
that are maybe the opposite of what values we think we hold ideas that we
don’t want to encounter ideas that might seem threatening to our morality so
that’s the that’s the culture that I try to craft in my classes but you know my
the concern that weighs heavily on my mind as an LGBT identified person and
someone who works with these students is that I can’t control that environment
outside the classroom so I’ve had students who were doxxed that is their
names and identities were revealed publicly on the web
leading to students being afraid to come to campus because they were identified
as UWM students and they felt that they would be either subject to violence or
harassment once they arrived here students trans students have been dead
named which is their incorrect name was used to identify them rather than the
correct name that corresponds to their true gender identity and it’s really
hard to think that this you know these abstract notions of free speech that I
have that I hold very dear which are not that different than big that we might
politically be really different it’s very hard to hold those idea of an
abstract and actually look at a student who’s been subject to violence and say
you’re just a victim of the First Amendment get over it then that’s the
price we pay you know so that the question that way is really heavily on
my mind how do I look at a student and hey this is this is acceptable well how
do you look at a student tell them this example I mean like like a line I just
supported for from LA Annapolis feminism is cancer not very funny by the way on
me he’s supposed to be a comedian I need a feminism or cancer oh I don’t
know I mean we you know one of the activities that I’ll just pivot and tell
you what I do do okay and so one of the things that I tend to do with the start
of the semester is give out the University of Chicago dean’s letter to
incoming first-year students from last fall which said you know the University
of Chicago does not support the idea of safe spaces or trigger warning that’s
not the culture we want to create here and I asked my students to consider
where that letter might be coming from what climate or concerns to the
administration and have that might be encouraging that and what ways do we
think that they might be misunderstanding the value of creating a
safe culture on campus in order to engage in critical thinking so I try to
strike a balance where we understand that we might hear things we don’t like
but it’s our job as students as scholars to address them with logic and
dispassion and critical thinking well I wish you well with that I’m not sure if
I before they accomplish that I find my logic dispassionate and critical
thinking worked very well with everybody but my own son but that’s something else
again anyway let me turn to Michelle Bria Michelle you deal with diverse
commits a very diverse community and you deal with the loud K through 12
youngsters and much of what I’ve talked about like I said before because I how
you were raised what kind of attitude you have towards free speech or toward
diversity toward people’s feelings etc etc what do you tell young people who
are budding and growing up what what do you
tell them what would you advise we tell them about free speech or offensive
speech well at journey house we partner with the International Association for
human values and a program called yes youth empowerment seminar teaching
advanced breathing to manage stress and I think what happens with free speech is
we’ve developed we don’t teach that art of discourse and disagreement anymore
and so what happens is when a young person art only person you know where
human beings are sensitive and we don’t agree with what up the other person is
saying we’ve come to a society or in our community that if someone’s looked at
the wrong way they could get shot or died you know it’s very intense and
there’s no management of emotions in that if you allow people to push your
buttons and there there’s no knowledge of what that other understanding what
that other person is doing it can lead to very deadly consequences and the
traumatic and so what we do is we really believe in bringing people to that
awareness of you know we button through people and so you even see that recess
like you’re not gonna let someone else push your buttons but what that is doing
is teaching listening is teaching understanding because it’s very easy to
go to the negative and can it’s very easy to condemn someone because they
don’t view things of the way you view all or you know they upset you and so
they’re pushing your buttons and so it’s very easy to go that way but it’s very
hard to have that courage to be compassionate and understand the other
side I really think we live in an era that no matter that cuts across income
class that cuts across all the different isms that we want to and rightly so as
parents checked our children’s feelings but now
that protection of feelings but with that comes not the creation of that
thick skin and you know that’s the sensitivity that can now it’s not just a
young person gets young person this young person against a teacher who’s
trying to teach them and feeling you have the right not only to speech but my
right to like hit a teacher and cross that line to violence and so working
with young people and you know just teaching them how to manage their
emotions and human beings are very complicated and it’s a very complicated
very very complicated situation especially if you’re that’s eighth grade
or whatever if you’re in the eighth grade I think it’s very it’s very hard
as a young person especially in those teenage years but then when you come to
a wonderful campus when you get to everyone has their bubble whether you’re
in the near South Side bubble or you come from whatever bubble you come from
when you come on to a campus now you hear a diversity of speeches and maybe
in the neighborhood you handled it in a certain way but on campus or in the
corporate world you’re not going to be able to handle it and so we try to teach
that civility and we teach that civility through kinda relationship building and
building strong relationships and using using incentives such as sports or
athletics or the arts or theater things that young people are interested in to
pull them in so that we can help help well we’ve all done an excellent job of
being very civil I thank you very much I’m going to turn to a genuine
philosophy professor now Blaine I can can you help to well make some sense out
of all this for us here with me on the right track
are we having a right discussion about speech within the boundaries of that
which does not lead to violence or to flip it around the anti-fur question
is violence okay to stop speech that you think is going to be dangerous I don’t
think violence is okay to stop speech well we got better so that’s the easy
question to answer I do think hey you know there’s some borderline cases I
guess if you’re shutting fire and a crowded theater to use a classic example
you can maybe tell us there is a fire everybody forgets that part I do think
though that we need to I think in terms of the debate over free speech we need
to have a bit of a real at reality check and that we live in a world where
there’s never be more free speech people can say whatever they want online
there’s Twitter that’s Facebook that blogs these editorials there’s the
Internet there is a surf fight of speech some of
it very vile some of very aggressive so a bit wonderful excellent so it’s not as
if if there’s an absolutely there’s a lack of speech now on the worry that
you’re raising I think is about controversial speakers invited to
universities and there I do think that there is a First Amendment right at
public universities of free speech for invited speakers there’s no way around
that and it’s a good thing most of the time and so it should be respected but I
do think that simply because you have a right to do something so a student group
has the right to invite someone like Milo Annapolis does it mean that you
shouldn’t exercise that right responsibly so people have a right of
free speech to lie short of fraud people have a right of free speech to insult
others but those aren’t the certain exercises of free speech are not morally
helpful or right and I think we need to situate the university understand it as
an association with a particular mission it’s not Facebook it’s not Twitter it is
not a free-for-all for people to shout and scream and say whatever they want a
university is an association that is committed to the structured
investigation and dissemination of knowledge and so I think that student
groups and other organizations who make use of the public space that the
university provides should exercise discretion in deciding whom they invite
they should invite people who are going to be supportive of the mission of a
university right now they have the right to invite people are going to be
destructive the milos the end Coulter’s people who are not interested in
positively engaging in ideas in discussing views calmly and rationally
with others they have that right but they should
think about how they want to exercise that right they and I would suggest that
they try to exercise that right by inviting people who will engage in
activities like this one who will calmly and civilly discuss ideas I treat each
other with respect and serve the function of the university so if the
university if Milo can’t speak about the university I mean it’s not hard to find
out what he thinks if Ann Coulter is you know cancels her or her talk at Berkeley
it’s really easy to figure out what Ann Coulter herb use our I mean I wish I
could filter them out I try to but it’s not as if there’s a problem in terms of
finding out what these people think rather as a member of a university
community I think we should think about how we exercise the rights we have the
rights to free speech not we have in ways that further than the goals of the
university further intelligent discussion further debate on on
important topics you pressure a little bit there because we’re talking here in
a real world about the speakers who are invited not by the University per se but
very often by student organizations number one should asteroids they
shouldn’t have the right to invite whoever they want to a university
facility including state universities that there are no public property and
should you limit yourself to inviting people whose views you don’t know I mean
you just said we already have other ways to find we I know too much about what
Ann Coulter as far as I’m concerned as well as Milo
and the rest but I still I’m not gonna stand in the way of somebody who wants
to invite them to campus and and in most of the cases I know of it was like the
campus Young Republicans for example or or one of those rare student
conservative groups which are harder to find out in them that might have been in
the past but nevertheless I I personally think they ought to have that right how
do you feel about that sure yes they should have that right and
they do have that right so all I’m doing is imploring them to use that right
responsibly I mean you know people have the right to make up for other
falsehoods right right insult each other that’s all protected but I don’t think
that’s a constructive way of exercising one’s right so yes they have that right
if they choose to exercise it that way then I respect their bad exercise but I
would ask them to think about whether they are furthering the mission of the
university in doing so whether and are they actually doing something that’s
constructive for their own view I don’t think about inviting a provocateur
actually makes others more sympathetic to conservative views I think it has a
precisely the opposite effect so they might want to even from the point of
view of self-interest they might want to think about what they’re doing in terms
of their inviting so I think it’s very important to distinguish between having
a right to do something and exercising that right in a morally responsible way
and it’s a very important distinction well so you advocate the power of
persuasion related with these people who invite these so if you go to an academic
conference as a professor you can insult people you can you can lie you can claim
that you can say oh and whatever you want but you won’t get invited back
right and you’ll have a very poor reputation so these are informal norms
of academic discourse that we maintain that that is conducive to the production
and dissemination of knowledge understanding different points of view
and so I would ask other members of the university so other members of the
university like student groups to think about what they’re on a university as
opposed to simply renting a hall somewhere as members of a university the
they they exercise their rights responsibly as most of the time
researchers do and scholars do thank you very much
I’m going to turn to our two fellow fellow veterans here on the panel as if
somebody decided to separate us which is just as well perhaps after seeing walk
in the room earlier before the program and we were all telling war stories here
mostly me who never went to combat but nevertheless went through the experience
and the experience of coming back and posing you have been following a Vietnam
series like I was drafted late in the war in 69 when everybody was tired of it
and when when we would go off post we would address it in our civilian clothes
because we just to avoid harassment or or or find it easier to to meet girls
excuse me women they were girls in those days but the one thing that gets me is
I’m curious as to for the YouTube what it’s like coming to campus these days in
the kind of liberal environment that we have talked about and where there is no
draft now so the wars themselves for their Afghanistan Iraq or whatever our
farther away from day to day life over here and I would like to know how you
feel as veterans on campus today do you think it’s different than the experience
was in in my era and I want to start with Sam Rogers
over here to my left good thank you so I guess first I want to make it clear that
I’m not speaking on behalf of all veterans despite being the veteran
advocate on campus a lot of times people here at veterans speak they will
associate that viewpoint with the you know 1.5 million current service members
and 70 million veterans and it’s very diverse group so I don’t hold anybody
else to what I say so I guess my experience is mostly
focused on that I spent my entire adult life in a Mary
institution where there were limitations on free speech that were upheld by the
Supreme Court and some of the effects of that that that despite looking good on
paper a lot of people don’t think about so essentially the things that we take
for granted or that I can now take for granted as a as a college student and
and real people again are the ability to speak my mind in the service you’re not
given really that protection and not only are not given that protection it’s
unlike being at a traditional employer where voicing your dissatisfaction with
your boss or the political persuasion of your CEO it doesn’t get you necessarily
just fired it also carries with it the the threat of force that the government
has that you know could lead to deprivation of your means to provide for
yourself your freedom lots of benefits after being separated from the service
they’re very real threats to that to the supposedly politics free Defense
Department and it’s it doesn’t end up being that essentially what is created
is echo chambers that reflect the your supervisor or your commander your
commander may tolerate viewpoints openly stated that support his or her own and
those who might think differently will have that limits limitation of freedom
of military expression applied to them a good example is a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
policy where essentially the highest executive commander in chief issued a
policy that created created a circumstance where to speak out against
that policy was not allowed right it was speaking out against the commander in
chief executive policy and violated the your limitations military
and what that created I was environment where the opposite was naturally tacitly
encouraged which was anti-lgbt speak and conversations and attitudes and those
things grew there as was seen with a lot of the resistance to the repeal of
don’t-ask don’t-tell and so mostly i I implore people to
think about the second and third order effects of signing a wanting to give
away some of your constitutionally perfected protected freedoms because
rarely do they work out as good as they may look on paper or in your head and I
I like them I’m new to having this and so I really enjoy it a lot it’s a in
that regard I might not be any I’m 30 and I have kids but I may not be that
much different than a 18 year old coming to this institution where I’m excited to
finally be able to participate safely in in politics and free speech and civil
discourse and and I’m not entirely excited about the prospect of that
changing thank you very much Sam Dan Kafka do you feel somewhat liberated now
with with as far as the speech issue is concerned on campus really really
liberating because you can’t like you like you already mentioned you can’t
even speak ill about president you disagree about the president’s views or
what the president is doing that’s your own business to stay at home you don’t
bring that into workspace when you’re in the military so coming out into the
civilian world and coming to school I didn’t come
straight let’s go up I got me on me I went to did the the job industry for a
little while and being in that it was a wake up call like oh you can’t say all
the things that you thought you could say so it’s like it’s it’s not so much
that you are limited but you are limited in the military in the military you’re
limited by free speech because you can’t say things in political nature or the
biggest reason that people want free speech is because they want to be able
to talk about their officials you don’t get that right in
the military but because you don’t have that right the I would say that the
experience of at least a small unit level is that you’re more Cavalier and
what you say you don’t care as much about offending each other because you
know that you’re not truly trying to defend each other and when you come out
of the military suddenly the things that you say or that
you worry about to say in the military are now offensive and you don’t
understand why so I would say that the biggest challenge
besides accepting that freedom getting out of the military is understanding how
not to abused that freedom out how to use that freedom appropriately enough
over the top then coming to university helps you even more a lot of people and
I’m the same as some things that I’m not going to speak for all veterans but I
will speak from what I see for veterans there is still that difficulty trying to
understand what we can and cannot say or allow the states to if I understand what
is protected speech what isn’t protected speech and a lot of times it’s not
explained a lot of people just get mad right away and they tell you that you’re
not supposed to say that they don’t give you a reason why so you just sit there
confused and one of the things I like about UWM
which is the college campus in general is that it is a safe space not in the
way that safe space has been hijacked where you have to you are not allowed to
say anything that’s going to offend me I don’t think that’s what a safe space at
all is I think a safe space what we get here at UWM is the ability to say just
about whatever you want to stay without fear of somebody punching you in the
face or being able to have that civil discourse without having to worry about
it turning into a shouting match but you know it is building dependence so let me
let me pursue it a little bit the military is about the most diverse work
environment you can have yes right right and when when I was in back in the 60s
they became aware well guys that’s a story in itself a diversity in the
military in the early 60s well in the beginning of the Vietnam War the
mortality rate Aki is killed in action among African Americans what was
accidentally higher proportion than among whites this became an issue in
science outside of military the Pentagon took steps to equalize assignments and
risk and it was remarkably effective you know
more seriously the urban riots going on in our cities in the 60s were also
happening in military fashion within the military various major fights the
outbreaks of violence and conflicts the Pentagon tackled this head-on in dealing
with diversity sensitivity promotions fairness etc etc and produce the kind of
environment that we know today I’d like to ask each of you when you talk about
how you feel like this is a safe space here well I know a lot of people in the
military would say well that’s a safe space there but it’ll be that’s a
different kind of a society as you both implied it’s a different society
different standards something about you could say something that folks outside
might find offensive but but you know that within your group everybody
understands I’ve seen more controversies erupt over that when somebody said
something that everybody didn’t understand and next thing you know boom
got a big desktop but I’m just wondering why do you think the military is has
been so effective with managing diversity while we’re still arguing and
wrestling with it so much in the civilian world I think the military has
made great strides in managing diversity certainly and I think it’s always a work
in progress but I think it’s that there’s much more at stake in the
military drives the I mean really it’s the only time anything gets done in the
military as if someone’s gonna die if it doesn’t get fixed and so and so I think
that especially a time of conflict lies we’ve had for the last 16 years I think
that has driven the need for that especially in especially in the
all-volunteer service where essentially you can’t just round people up and have
them do everything people people want a diverse experience it’s
the most it’s the only organization with the closest actual representation of the
American people and every single unit I was fortunate to be and reflected that
and it has a good experience for a lot of people it’s good exposure much like
I’m sure colleges for college students people taken out of their comfort zones
and and learn pretty quickly that there’s not all that many differences to
each other so to me vampa effect well that’s with the handle diversity if they
are handling and well as the fact that at least from the army standpoint
everybody’s green there’s no such thing as the color in the military so you
don’t really have to worry about that too much
certainly there are people that come with their own biases or whatever but
generally speaking when you get into the military because of the volunteer force
there they can’t take everybody they want to but it reflects more of the
United States and given that the United States isn’t doesn’t have I think as big
the problems as far as that’s not the right way to say that I don’t think that
some of the problems that are shown in the civilian sector as a media are s as
big as they’re made to BL and especially when you get military since we sample
from essentially every demographic background in the country you really see
what America is really like in the military I love what Americans are
really what you see you see of Americans at their worst time being their best and
it’s really it’s a really fantastic thing so I would go back to that great
thing it’s just the fact that we’re all in the same room we all know that we’re
fighting for the same purpose when you select the people you’re not selecting
people that are trying to get out of being in the military like what was
happening in Vietnam you’re selecting people that want to be in the military
that at least have someone are sending the constitution are imparting to
protect that constitutional right whether that’s what they end up doing or
not in the military is a different story but that’s usually why they start
joining the military in the first place so I think that adds to it a lot you
said the it’s important that the command come down from the top down and the sets
the standard for how people are going to behave with each other yes and no
I would say that it’s always had the standard is always set from the top so
in that way I would agree with you but since the top is usually not there in
the military I can’t say that the standard where the practice is enforced
or anything from the top I think the standard is just relayed by the top and
they say this is how we expect you to act and then it’s lower enlisted
soldiers that do the police car or airmen or whatever branch it might be
that do the policing up the roam of their own people and they make sure that
they’re walking the line that they’re supposed to walk so it’s a lot more
community driven efforts to make sure that we’re doing what we’re supposed to
be doing to make sure that we’re being emblematic of the uniform that we’ll
learn things like that it’s not necessarily the fact that we know that
from the top down we’re getting in trouble that does have don’t have you
know as well it definitely has an effect going in that top might come down and
get you but largely selfies Justin we have told corporate managers that it’s
like one thing the Pentagon taught me was that when the order does come from
the top down you will get along people get along yeah yeah but if it come from
the bottom up who knows what’s gonna happen you know some some platoons I get
along better than other platoons will I want to throw out another question that
was given to me by a student and I wanna throw this out to the whole panel
whoever wants to respond the Republican and Democratic parties appear to be in
shambles what can we do as a nation moving forward to bring all sides to the
table in unity the far right the far left we’ll all have to meet in the
middle at some point how do we even begin to do this if we can’t talk to
each other decently who wants to take that on something like this is a good
way to do that okay because I don’t know I knew some of the political persuasions
of people coming up here because they had told me but largely I didn’t know
and I think that would help the conversation if you come into the
conversation and you know and you’re like I’m out I’m out left I’m alright
well you’re probably not going along because you already think that you’re
diametrically opposed but if you come to the table when you haven’t told anybody
what the political persuasion is and you just want to listen now you have the
opportunity to actually talk but as long as you want to throw labels on it and
throw labels all around there’s not a single conversation you can see on
Facebook right now from out of the other that doesn’t say the
rights doing this the less doing that that’s just ridiculous it’s more it’s
more likely the case that it’s not just the right of lab that it’s across all
inspection to the United States that doing so I think the best solution to
have the conversation is to not bring up a little appreciation or in the first
place and then have the conversation afterwards if you want to tell each
other oh by the way I’m a socialist or by the way I’m a libertarian or
something like that that’s fine you’ve already on the conversation then you can
go hate each other later I guess we’re good
who else was fond of that before I start calling names Rick yeah I would say this
is sort of a rule of thumb life is paradoxical and if you believe that the
people who disagree with you are either ignorant evil or crazy you could be
right it might be but the odds are that they’re not right the overwhelming odds
are that you’re probably wrong about assuming that and so I might disagree
politically with with Clarence or with Brigid but I have an obligation to try
to understand why you feel the way you do and it it won’t be perhaps easy
because I’m committed to my perspective it I’m I struggle with confirmation bias
the same way that everybody else does boy I ought to try to do it and it turns
out that it’s not that hard it doesn’t mean I’ll change my opinion
but it means that I might be able to engage you more sympathetically and I
hope that we should follow that rule and try to assume that obligation towards
each other indeed uh you think well Chris do you think it is actually
profitable for the media or for political parties to keep us divided
that they for parties it’s a better fundraising tool and for the media it’s
a better audience builder if they can get people to show more conflict than
cooperation well that’s a good question I mean it probably is and you know
looking out on our polluted today I would I would say I would have
to say that it’s probably working but I but I also think that that there that
there’s hope right I hope that there’s hope in the in the sense that the the
ACLU is a non partisan organization and you know to prove it we’ve you know
we’ve caused problems for every presidential administration reformed but
but I see something going on today that I’ve certainly never seen in my life
before which is I think that there that people are you know some of the the
almost hourly insults that we’ve seen from the President of the United States
on Twitter combined with the actual injuries that
we’re seeing coming from the White House and and from elsewhere you know against
potat whole groups of people immigrants LGBT people people of color women you
know I think that this is jolting people out of a sense of complacency that may
have existed before and you know certainly we have ACLU have never seen
anything like the surge of support that we’ve seen over the last ten months or
so which were very grateful for I think people are sort of realizing that there
are fundamental American values and ideals at stake and they are kind of
rallying to defend them so I hope that that is what prevails or the true sense
Election Day or do you just sit before well the we definitely saw it before the
election but we really thought after the election you know we saw we saw it’s in
the days immediately after the election and then when for instance when the
White House announced the Muslim travel ban we saw people you know web traffic
to our sites like we’ve never seen before we saw people spontaneously going
to nerve woods to just sort of rally and show their opposition to the Muslim
travel ban to this kind of religious discrimination I don’t know in fact
gives me hope well on the flip side then I said headline recently about the ACLU
will no longer defend gun rights or gun rights cases well no
that we you know there has been a little fake news I think probably what you’re
referring to is that you know after Charlottesville
when we took a you know sort of traditional First Amendment stand and
you know we did defend the right of the the person who applied for the permit in
Charlottesville but then given you know how that actually played out the the
violence that we saw there you know I think that we we are going to take you
know where we’re probably going to continue to take that stand we always
have we probably always will but I think that we’re gonna take a closer look at
these kinds of situations in the future and in Charlottesville it wasn’t
actually gun violence that took someone’s life but we’re gonna look at
that in in the future I mean we are in this you know there’s a we’re in this
situation now where so many states have open carry laws and guns and other
weapons bring a new element of danger and volatility to this question and it’s
hard to exercise your First Amendment rights when you’re staring at people who
are heavily armed Bridger do you think we have well that they would have a
better job now of recognizing different groups on campus and enabling for a free
speech or are we starting to get into our cocoons that’s a great question I
mean I’ve been playing the higher ed game for about 10 years now and it does
feel like there’s been a shift in that time so I’d be curious to get the
opinion of a colleague around longer to see if they feel like it’s even more
entrenched I don’t want to build on what Rick was saying though about this
unwillingness to encounter the opposite because you see the opposing side as
immoral or evil and I think that’s true but I also think that part of it is
we’re afraid that by encountering the other side it will weaken our own
opinion and I think one way to sort of solve this problem is by from an
education standpoint again making it clear to students
that actually when you encounter someone whose value system doesn’t align with
yours that doesn’t make yours weaker it
actually helps you sharpen your own political views your values your
religious beliefs because you know what to ping them off of right so I think the
more that we can teach people that you have to have a contrast to understand
your own values I think the more willing we will be to listen to each other and
arguing effectively helps you to sharpen your own argument more and become more
knowledgeable and effective right right that’s what I learned in my membership
on the Tribune editorial board does it does help and for that matter McLaughlin
group too so we we also should be so fortunate as to have such educated
people are you with well what do you think about that
I just asked up in terms of of different groups are we getting pulling back into
our cocoons more now at the community level in the neighborhood level yeah I I
really think going back to all these questions that the bottom line is that
relationship building and learning how to listen and listen without defense you
know to really hear what other people are saying and to we have so much work
to do in our community you know it’s heavy lifting and we have amazing
amazing bright shining stars that have so much energy and inspiring and we
needed positive adults that are just circulating and supporting them but we
have to help adult we always say we have to develop our adults to develop our
kids because our kids are gonna do what they see not always say and so it’s
really important to have those positive role models through our coaches our
mentors our teachers our instructors and the more the more you know if anyone’s
looking for something to do there’s plenty we have thousands of kids but really
it’s really those positive adults that are circling them every day and building
those relationships and listening without defense because in teenage years
when it does speak no matter who they are no matter what party they just hear
the wah wah wah wah and when you can teach them to listen in it sometimes you
need to hear 100 things from a hundred different people that’s where we’re
gonna build in it in you know we talk a lot about this a journey house they’ll
steal from coach Brown it really is a national defense issue we need to do we
need to build our community we need to build our young people because our but
you know the stronger would make our neighborhoods the stronger would make
our community stronger Milwaukee stronger Wisconsin stronger United
States very good Blaine I got a question here that from from a student that seems
to be tailor-made for you free speech is an ethical tool how do we define ethics
when it appears no one knows how or what political ethics are no one knows I mean
this reminds me of President Trump saying who knew health care would be so
complicated so what was the question again how do we define ethics I think
what they mean is how do we act on ethics or behave ethically when it
appears that no one knows what political ethics are well I think that lots of
people know on political ethics are but they choose not to comply or conform to
them we know what it is to treat people with respect we know what it is to be
polite to listen to respond to the substance of what they say even if we
end up disagreeing these things are pretty straightforward but it’s we live
in a world facilitated by wonderful innovations in technology but in a world
where these norms are where there’s a certain thrill to violating norms of
mutual respect a certain exhilaration to trolling one’s opponents to being a
provocateur now hopefully this will eventually die down
I don’t know maybe uh 10,000 years from now but the novelty of violating norms
of civil discourse will perhaps subside and this this is not a new thing right
if you go back if you look at the history of political life you’ll see
times when it’s very respectful and and people engage with one another in a
civil manner and you see times in which people start violating these norms and
being rude saying outrageous things mocking people denigrating them and so I
hope that eventually that will we’ll see a movement back towards norms of
civility norms mutual engagement one thing that I think could help is having
is using institutions to Phyllis a facilitate respectful debate right so I
have a kind of a debating background you know when I was asked for I engaged in
parliamentary style debates and what I loved about those exchanges that you had
two opposing teams but you had rules structuring how long they could speak
they could rise some points of order points of personal privilege if they
were being insulted you had a speaker to adjudicate these disputes but then the
aim of the debate was to respond to the substance of the arguments of your
opponent right and so the rule is actually the discipline of those rules
actually facilitated the free exchange of ideas the evaluation of arguments so
I wish I mean certainly a you know I think a university is uniquely qualified
to promote those kinds of activities to invite visitors who are willing to
engage in a formal debate with one another on opposing sides now it’s not
necessarily at the end of the day that one is one side is going to convince the
other but at least there’ll be a deeper level of mutual understanding sometimes
people are convinced so I don’t want to rule that out I’ve changed my view once
so it’s possible but I do think that it’s important that using institutions
the problem with things like Facebook and Twitter and inviting provocateurs
who are simply going to identify individual students and mock them and
things like that so there’s no discourse there’s no structure to the to the
exchange of ideas you’re simply screaming and trolling and insulting one
another so if you have rules like the Parliament
a style debates where you you advance position is the position of our team of
the government the X and you provide a number of reasons for it and then the
opposition gets up and repute tries to refute those reasons then I think that
is a way to promote the free exchange of ideas without prejudicing or being or
censoring the content of the ideas in any way very good
I’m getting the whistle blown on me here which is only appropriate I want to
thank our panel I want to thank all of you in our audience today for joining us
and and somebody’s folks are going to hang around so we get a chance to chat
more informally after the program I just want to close by reminding us of why we
are all here to hopefully build a better society hopefully help us all to work
together more a goal which reminds me of what dr. Martin Luther King said about
50 years ago just before he was taken away from us that we all have a task and
let us all go out and do it with a divine dissatisfaction now let us be
dissatisfied as long as there’s a wealth of creeds and a poverty of Deeds let us
be dissatisfied as long as the inner city of outer city of wealth and hope is
separated from the inner city of poverty and despair let us be dissatisfied until
a lion can lie down with the lamb and none shall be afraid let us be
dissatisfied until that day when there’s no white power there’s no black power
but there’s only God’s power and human power but those words have kept me going
over the years especially when I I think about how the lion does need to lie down
with the lamb but the lamb won’t get much sleep that’s kind of where we are today so
with that in mind others remember what the country preacher said that we’ve
matured your heart can believe your body can achieve so keep your eyes on the
prize hold on thank you very much you

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