Weekly Media Round-up: FIRE’s ‘U.S. News’ Ad a Big Hit, and Harvey Silverglate’s Views on Parody Debated

August 29, 2008

With the publication of our U.S. News advertisement calling out FIRE’s five Red Alert schools, FIRE has rung in the new school year with authority, and people are taking notice. With the help of Eugene Volokh, Phi Beta Cons, a slew of other bloggers, and exceptional word of mouth, FIRE’s ad has increased traffic to our website five to ten times above the normal volume. FIRE’s well-placed ad is bringing welcome attention to the abuses of liberty on our nation’s campuses, as well as a lot of first-time visitors to our site. Be sure to check out our special promo page to learn more about what makes the Red Alert Schools the "worst of the worst" when it comes to protecting liberty on campus, and be sure to read FIRE’s posts on how Brandeis University, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins University, Tufts University, and Valdosta State University can get themselves off FIRE’s Red Alert list and restore the commitments to freedom of speech and individual liberties they profess to hold so dear.

Elsewhere, FIRE Co-founder and Board Chairman Harvey Silverglate’s Boston Phoenix article of July 30 ("Parody Flunks Out," which I blogged briefly a few weeks ago), was given a lengthy treatment by David Giacalone on the Harvard Law School-hosted blog f/k/a. Giacalone’s post gives a thorough analysis of the article, which in Harvey’s words "provoked more of a response than any of my columns in recent memory." Giacalone notes a highly critical blog authored by Philadelphia lawyer Max Kennerly which harshly criticizes Harvey’s piece. Particularly, Kennerly attacks Silverglate’s contention that political correctness and chilling speech regulations have dampened the content of the Harvard Law Review‘s parody issue and the Harvard Law School Drama Society’s annual parody stage production, arguing that "there is nothing political about the show, and it contains no social commentary: it’s harassment, pure and simple."

Giacalone may agree with Kennerly that the parodies have at best questionable social value, but sides with Harvey in arguing that calling such parodies "harassment" is a misuse and diminution of the word. Responding to Kennerly’s contention that Silverglate’s defense seeks to validate attacks on "women and minorities," Giacalone points him to FIRE’s website and Guides as proof that FIRE stands for the protection of all groups, everywhere.

In an addendum to the post, Giacalone notes another blog critical of Harvey’s positions, written by Elie Mystal, a 2003 Harvard Law graduate and three-year alumnus of the HLS parody production. For his part, Harvey noted his appreciation for the thorough treatment his work was given by commenting on Giacalone’s blog. Quipped Harvey: "Most people excerpt a single sentence and then proceed to attack me!"