# Barriers to equal opportunity in education

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19 minutes ago, MigL said:

I am suggesting that equal opportunity should be achieved by bringing everyone up to the same level, not bringing the 'have' to the low level of the 'have nots'.

I don’t believe anyone is suggesting the latter. There is, however, opportunity to stop using the system itself to keep further focusing benefits into the coffers of an already extremely benefited few.

Edited by iNow
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What are some of the barriers to providing equal opportunity to every one, within academia? Seeing a lot of ignorant and entitled posting lately, which doesn't even make a point to address this.

Oh absolutely I'd agree with that. I experienced it myself, except it was my mother that left. I was 5 and she walked out on us and was gone for awhile. That being said; she was still a lot more prese

! Moderator Note Vague generalizations disguised as slurs towards a group of people are against our rules. This sort of thinking has been debunked MANY times over, much like crea

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3 hours ago, iNow said:

If history is any guide here, they will simply keep repeating the same ridiculous assertions and responding with the equivalent of “nuh uh!” to any valid criticisms or counterpoints.

You're probably right, this isn't the only comment they have made that has come across as absurd after all. The comment about "All politicians and all scientists" being incompetent was pretty telling. I don't even know why I responded to be honest.

How anyone can not see the irony in rejecting the need for equality, when your username literally has the word "princess" in it, is beyond me.

I'll hold out some hope that this persons account is for satire and reductio ad absurdum purposes, but I won't hold my breath. Pretending that's why the account exists makes it kind of funny at least! Even though it's more likely the account belongs to Karen.

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3 hours ago, iNow said:

I don’t believe anyone is suggesting the latter. There is, however, opportunity to stop using the system itself to keep further focusing benefits into the coffers of an already extremely benefited few.

I'm certainly not and I don't know anyone who uses equality to argue that we should all be in equal amounts of poverty to each other.

I think what MigL is trying to suggest, is that affirmative action in schools is also a barrier to equal opportunity in education. However, when you dig into the claims of parents who believe their children lost a place at Harvard because a "less deserving" took it from them, you find out that it's mostly would be legacy students who did not get in because they were not up to the standard that their parents were when it came to merit. Others are just parents who underestimated just how stiff the competition would be for their child. Being the smartest in a school full of dunderheads doesn't automatically make you Harvard material. There are plenty of people out there who are always going to show more aptitude than you.

The affirmative action controversy has been so stirred up that white conservative activists are even getting the biggest current beneficiaries of affirmative action to speak against it. Asian-Americans. As it is, the demographic make-up of most student bodies in US schools are predominately middle to upper class white and Asian students. The Asian percentage there has increased since affirmative action went into place. This is evidence that affirmative action can work, it currently works slow but we are getting better at applying it. Universities only have so much resources, if they had infinite resources at their disposal I'm sure they'd accept almost any student. As it is, no school has enough resources to accept everyone who applies, even if they want to.

This is why all universities recommend that applicants keep their options open and to have a 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice when it comes to applying for schools.

If parents and applicants stopped getting so hung up on not getting into their dream school, there would be far fewer speaking out about affirmative action.

What are peoples overall feelings about the idea of Ivy League Schools? Anyone else here find it ironic that the name of a parasitic plant comes into play here?

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4 hours ago, iNow said:

I don’t believe anyone is suggesting the latter. There is, however, opportunity to stop using the system itself to keep further focusing benefits into the coffers of an already extremely benefited few.

That comes across as a strong dislike of the already benefitted few.
Let's face it, any system for equalizing opportunity is implemented as a redistribution from those who have, to those who don't, with the Government as the middle man. There is an increasing rate of taxation to go with rising income. The intent should be that this helps pay for education for underprivileged students. Yet it 'disappears' into defense spending ( the US has the biggest, and best equipped, military in the world, yet that is no deterrent as it is always getting into wars ), or it 'disappears' into projects in congressional districts ( because politicians have to be bought for their support ), or it 'disappears' to build walls ( thanks D Trump ), or to bail out big Banks who are too big to fail ( even though they caused the problem in the first place ), etc.

In Canada we have subsidised education, where you do have some costs, but the Government subsidizes the larger portion.
It works very well ( even though the government subsidies are different in different Provinces ) as it ensures the student puts some effort into it, as it does cost him/her some money. If I had a child, and he/she lived at home, they could attend the local University ( Brock ) for about 8000 can$per year ( about 6000 us$ ). They could earn that in the summer or from a part-time job, without incurring a four year 160 000 $debt at a( cheap ) American university. Then again, is seems like subsidised education is anathema to Americans as subsidised Health Care is. I don't know whether to say 'pity' or 'shame'. As for Affirmative Action... In a perfect world we would not even notice 'features' of different groups that apply for admission. And I think we can all agree on that. In what world, then, does it make sense, that in the case of two equally qualified individuals the tie-breaker is determined by 'features' of whatever group is needed to fill a quota ? Is that not racism to combat racism ? You can pave that road with all the good intentions you want; it still leads to the same place. ##### Link to post ##### Share on other sites 17 hours ago, MigL said: Consider wealth. Is the problem with wealth inequality that some have too much ? Or is the bigger problem that some don't have enough ? As others have mentioned, wealth and privilege are fundamentally different measures. Privilege is a relative assessment, if there is not disparity, there is no privilege. Wealth, on the other hand is an absolute measure. Quote In Canada we have subsidised education, where you do have some costs, but the Government subsidizes the larger portion. It works very well ( even though the government subsidies are different in different Provinces ) as it ensures the student puts some effort into it, as it does cost him/her some money. If I had a child, and he/she lived at home, they could attend the local University ( Brock ) for about 8000 can$ per year ( about 6000 us$). They could earn that in the summer or from a part-time job, without incurring a four year 160 000$ debt at a( cheap ) American university.
Then again, is seems like subsidised education is anathema to Americans as subsidised Health Care is.
I don't know whether to say 'pity' or 'shame'.

The education system in Canada and US seems to be more similar to me than you realize (coming from a third system). Public universities are also subsidized in the US and most of the tuition is actually carried by the states/provinces. You can find truly subsidized systems in e.g. Germany where you basically attend university for maybe 100-300 Euros, which typically also includes a public transit ticket.

Quote

In what world, then, does it make sense, that in the case of two equally qualified individuals the tie-breaker is determined by 'features' of whatever group is needed to fill a quota ? Is that not racism to combat racism ?

And here the question would be what the tie-breaker should be? Typically being a legacy student had the highest benefit, but also simply living in a good school district (as those boost your scores). Likewise being well-off or simply being in an area where you have access to extra-curricular activities increase your chances.

What admission officers do is actually looking into personal backgrounds and folks with high scores but coming from traditionally underprivileged schools get a leg up. That to me sounds like evening the playing field as you mentioned before. What they do not do as some folks think is to bluntly boost folks based on race or ethnicity. Another common twist is to claim that folks actually discriminate against whites or Asians (using them as the well-known model immigrant argument). However, the actually implementation of these measures is that race-based limitations are lessened- to a degree. Universities are actually not allowed to specifically address structural racism (and again, if there are confusion about what that means I am happy to discuss this in another thread). In the US at least there is a ruling that universities are allowed to use a broad range of factors (but never race per se) in order to fulfil certain goals, such as increase diversity on campus,  which has many benefits (and having led research groups and taught students in low- as well as high diversity system has made me a believer).

As iNow has mentioned, the way we measure is inherently flawed and measures such as affirmative actions are imperfect measure to address at least some issues, but they have been grossly mischaracterized. It often neglects the structural issues we have by asserting that the way we rank our students without use of affirmative action is objective or (even worse) "normal" but it ignores the history of it and how folks with influence constructed our education system and the way we evaluate academic potential. It is interesting, for example that legacy and athletics (which both happen to be major reason for white student admissions) are not terribly controversial, whereas ethnic background as part of individual histories is. As a real example that I heard, two persons with similar scores, but one coming from a well-off family, with an alumnus parent. Another, resettled as a refugee child, struggling with the English during middle school but working their arse off to graduate top of their class. Sure you can abstract the whole story to a degree where you eliminate things like race or their country of origin. But to me that actually sounds more like the type of sanitary political correctness that some folks like to complain about so much.

2 hours ago, MSC said:

The affirmative action controversy has been so stirred up that white conservative activists are even getting the biggest current beneficiaries of affirmative action to speak against it. Asian-Americans. As it is, the demographic make-up of most student bodies in US schools are predominately middle to upper class white and Asian students. The Asian percentage there has increased since affirmative action went into place.

That is actually not true. Asian Americans were less beneficiaries of affirmative action, but rather they profited by having certain barriers removed that were in place. Of note, the majority of Asian Americans still support affirmative actions for underrepresented minorities, but they are not part of that group (as a whole). This is a whole different can of worms, as often Asians are viewed as a monolithic group but actually exhibit massive disparities within (the largest among all ethnic groups, IIRC). But as the group as a whole is comparatively small they are often leveraged for these types of discussions, whether they like it or not. In fact recent legal challenges against affirmative action have been using Asian Americans as an example why it is unfair (though again, it appears that Asian community is not quite on board with that).

It is also a bit interesting to me that the whole admission process is viewed as if anything other than white is a result of affirmative action. It is kind of based on the assumption that white is the accepted norm and anything else is kind of an ancillary process. But this, again, is yet another can, but closely related to the structural issues mentioned before.

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On 11/22/2020 at 3:38 AM, MSC said:

I can accept that we might never have schools that don't unfairly discriminate, but I don't think I can accept a society where the ability to bring discriminating individuals to justice, is determined by how deep your pockets or your parents pockets are.

I think I'd rather educate discriminating individuals not to discriminate. I don't insist that this is easy, or even possible in each instance, but the same may be said of justice. On the whole I'd prefer the former (education) and nothing says we can't strive for both.

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23 minutes ago, CharonY said:

The education system in Canada and US seems to be more similar to me than you realize

Sorry CharonY.
The only one I'm familiar with is the University at Buffalo, and that seems substantially more expensive than my local universities like Brock or McMaster.

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1 hour ago, MigL said:

Sorry CharonY.
The only one I'm familiar with is the University at Buffalo, and that seems substantially more expensive than my local universities like Brock or McMaster.

On average fees are lower in Canada than in the US, but it is not exclusively due to how the system is financed. There are other differences that may not be universal, such as that in Canada there are often no tuition waivers for graduate students in natural sciences, whereas it is fairly common in the US.

However, both are partially subsidized and both are massively higher than in countries where the costs are entirely or mostly met with public funds.

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2 hours ago, MigL said:

As for Affirmative Action...
In a perfect world we would not even notice 'features' of different groups that apply for admission.
And I think we can all agree on that.
In what world, then, does it make sense, that in the case of two equally qualified individuals the tie-breaker is determined by 'features' of whatever group is needed to fill a quota ? Is that not racism to combat racism ?

I think you misunderstand AA.

The government actively established and promoted a system where whites were favored over blacks. This resulted in a society where (generally speaking) whites have the money and the power, in a self-sustaining system that perpetuates a society where (generally speaking) whites have the money and the power. (i.e. Whites have the money and power to ensure their children get a better education and more opportunities than blacks, and therefore get the better jobs, more money, more power, able to pass that privilege on to their children, and on and on.)

Unless there is some sort of change, this will continue indefinitely or only be changed at a very slow pace. So what to do?

The government decided that they needed to start ensuring that minorities were able to get past the white privilege of money/education/power by ensuring they got a seat at the table, and were able to begin competing on an equal basis in society by getting the same education and opportunities (and thus power and money) and the whites have been getting all along.

Once blacks are able to compete with whites on an equal basis to get their kids in the better schools, etc., this self sustaining system will then include whites AND blacks.

Unfortunately as there are a limited number of opportunities, if you guarantee a spot for a black person, then someone who may be more qualified (or at least equally qualified) has to suffer. Is that fair to the white person who gets passed over? No, it is just as unfair as it was for the black person who used to get passed over. But this is not about individuals, it is about what is best for society.

Basically the government said, "we screwed up society for minorities and are choosing a less than perfect option for righting the ship".

So "In what world, then, does it make sense, that in the case of two equally qualified individuals the tie-breaker is determined by 'features' of whatever group is needed to fill a quota ?"

Answer: In a world that screwed up society by favoring the "white" feature, and are trying to make amends by favoring the "black" feature for a while until things are the way they should have been without our interference way back when.

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2 hours ago, Area54 said:

I think I'd rather educate discriminating individuals not to discriminate. I don't insist that this is easy, or even possible in each instance, but the same may be said of justice. On the whole I'd prefer the former (education) and nothing says we can't strive for both.

That is included in my definition of justice, as justice has to be restorative and reformative. The debates on the form justice, makes education part of the process and includes it in the conversation.

I agree with you though, education should be at the forefront of justice. Where do you think deterrence comes into play though? You can educate the discriminating party, but that might not be enough to solve the problem of deterring the discriminating behaviour from happening again.

2 hours ago, CharonY said:

This is a whole different can of worms, as often Asians are viewed as a monolithic group but actually exhibit massive disparities within (the largest among all ethnic groups, IIRC). But as the group as a whole is comparatively small they are often leveraged for these types of discussions, whether they like it or not. In fact recent legal challenges against affirmative action have been using Asian Americans as an example why it is unfair (though again, it appears that Asian community is not quite on board with that).

They are not viewed that way by me. That being said I should have made it clear that Asians against affirmative action are in fact a minority and I did not intend for what I said to be construed as my inferring the existence of a ethnic or cultural monolith.

2 hours ago, CharonY said:

What admission officers do is actually looking into personal backgrounds and folks with high scores but coming from traditionally underprivileged schools get a leg up. That to me sounds like evening the playing field as you mentioned before. What they do not do as some folks think is to bluntly boost folks based on race or ethnicity. Another common twist is to claim that folks actually discriminate against whites or Asians (using them as the well-known model immigrant argument). However, the actually implementation of these measures is that race-based limitations are lessened- to a degree.

2 hours ago, CharonY said:

It is also a bit interesting to me that the whole admission process is viewed as if anything other than white is a result of affirmative action. It is kind of based on the assumption that white is the accepted norm and anything else is kind of an ancillary process. But this, again, is yet another can, but closely related to the structural issues mentioned before.

I agree with you and was not trying to portray it this way. This is why earlier I mentioned class and caste based discrimination. Most forms of affirmative action are given on the basis of means testing.

That being said I didn't take that into account when claiming that asians are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action evidenced by student body percentage increases over the past few decades. As you suggest, those increases can be applicants who required no affirmative action to get a place.

3 hours ago, MigL said:

In what world, then, does it make sense, that in the case of two equally qualified individuals the tie-breaker is determined by 'features' of whatever group is needed to fill a quota ?

Equally qualified or showing equal aptitudes, does not equate to equally supported, nor does it equate to having equal means.

There are many other 'features' that can be factored into and not all of them are decided by things like racial or ethnic demography.

I'd be interested to hear peoples thoughts on Ivy league schools. Are some schools better than others and what truly makes an ivy league school different from any other?

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6 hours ago, MSC said:

If parents and applicants stopped getting so hung up on not getting into their dream school, there would be far fewer speaking out about affirmative action.

Interestingly, if economic inequality wasn’t so bad in our country, then it wouldn’t matter quite so much who scores those select few slots in the pinnacle education institutions for a leg up on others.

4 hours ago, MigL said:

seems like subsidised education is anathema to Americans as subsidised Health Care is.
I don't know whether to say 'pity' or 'shame'.

Yes. It is indeed very much both.

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11 hours ago, zapatos said:

And I think it is either willful ignorance or naiveté to the extreme to suggest this never happens.

Perhaps you should read up on Operation Varsity Blues.

Where have I suggested it doesn't?

It does and is one of the properties of the object you are looking at. Depending on conditions internal to that object.

But you are looking at it subjectively, in relation to yourself and your perceived privilege. It is not subject to your privilege or your self.

Its parameters move independent of your privilege.

Its external to  your "self.' Its relativity is in its common purpose. Not the similarity of its parts and conditions.

Environment makes demands. We either meet them, or we don't.

Making demands of your environment seldom works to do anything other than reduce  available available environment and responsibility.

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11 minutes ago, naitche said:

Where have I suggested it doesn't?

In the quote of yours that I responded to.

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2 hours ago, zapatos said:

Is that fair to the white person who gets passed over? No, it is just as unfair as it was for the black person who used to get passed over.

So we are in agreement, then, Zap ?
Racism to combat racism ?

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5 minutes ago, MigL said:

So we are in agreement, then, Zap ?
Racism to combat racism ?

No. Affirmative Action is not racism, and its purpose is not to combat racism.

I guess I did a poor job  of explaining what is going on.

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You did a fine job, but there’s so much nuance and emotion and history and baggage around this topic that 3 people reading the exact same words will come away with 3 different interpretations.

I don’t think it’s fair for MigL to describe affirmative action as a continuance of racism, but I also know where he’s coming from and why it might appear that way to some.

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26 minutes ago, iNow said:

I don’t think it’s fair for MigL to describe affirmative action as a continuance of racism, but I also know where he’s coming from and why it might appear that way to some.

I find people to be selective in what they find to be racist (or sexist for that matter). For a long time health studies were done predominately on white men which was really unfair to blacks and women as the lack of equal study put them at a disadvantage. But no one complains that it is racist or sexist to now spend limited research dollars on health studies on blacks or women which excludes white men. They recognize that we've caused a disparity and need to make adjustments. But if what you are proposing is going to impact my relative position of power, then it must racist!

Title IX did nothing more than ensure that there is no discrimination based on sex in education programs that receive Federal financial assistance. No one has a problem with that concept unless you are a guy and your sports program is cut back because funds are needed for a women's sports team. But as with Affirmative Action, Title IX is looking at the big picture and what is the greater good for society going forward.

Like with many things, people's perception of 'fairness' changes when it impacts them personally.

Edited by zapatos
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This discussion of affirmative action being a type of racism reminds me somewhat of the paradox of tolerance where ostracizing others for being intolerant is described as itself being a form of intolerance.

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1 hour ago, zapatos said:

In the quote of yours that I responded to.

No I didn't. I said it was lazy to make that assumption.

I don't believe minority is the problem either.

Minorities exist because of conditions that affect all of us, as a collective. Thats why they are relative and why we should care to improve.

Minority is an act of division from our commonality.. And can be an effect of those conditions.

Again. Neither Minorities or privilege are  subject to our 'self'  conditions. They are conditions of our shared environment and when minority is a problem, there are reasons separate from minority itself as an entity and common to 'our' whole.

This is what the language says in combination with accepted biological law. It does not negate your perspective in any way.

It just says you are not seeing the whole object/environment/condition for all it contains. Its parts.

You are seeing  it as subject to your 'owned' environment.   Its relative. Not subjective.

There is more to the 'problem' than your own perspective allows if minority is all there is to it.

You have identified a division/minority. Fine. You've set it aside.

But you still haven't identified its sum. The division is not helpful in recognition of a whole.

You still don't know what to do with it apart from making up for its deficit else where.

Dispersing the deficit rather than solving it.

Edited by naitche
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31 minutes ago, naitche said:

No I didn't. I said it was lazy to make that assumption.

No you didn't. Otherwise I would have responded differently. It completely changes the meaning what you actually said.

33 minutes ago, naitche said:

Dispersing the deficit rather than solving it.

If you take something from me and I take it back, I have solved the deficit. I don't need to let you keep it and figure out how to get another one for myself.

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How many different barriers have we discussed now? A fair few it seems.

How do people feel about the growth models of Scandinavian schools vs the proficiency models in the US and UK? As just a few examples as I'm less familiar with the systems of other places, although I can also teach a little bit about the history of the development of primary education in New Lanark a few centuries ago.

This question is more about the underlying philosophies of education, the modal form they take and the pros and cons of the differing approaches.

7 hours ago, Area54 said:

I think I'd rather educate discriminating individuals not to discriminate. I don't insist that this is easy, or even possible in each instance, but the same may be said of justice. On the whole I'd prefer the former (education) and nothing says we can't strive for both.

Just thought I'd tag to ask if you've ever visited New Lanark yourself auld yin? The grandkids would love the schoolroom there. It's a really good Scottish Heritage site!

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On 11/28/2020 at 7:38 AM, VenusPrincess said:

If people do not behave in the same way it is because there is a morphological difference between them. That is the fundamental source of inequality. It's also impossible to fix, and there is no reason to either. Should we alter the genetics of the potato so that it will have the same morphology as a dog? Why? Why should organisms be equal? To what end? Give up on this childish dream of equality and accept reality.

Inequality later in life begins with the mother's pregnancy. The embryo receives too low quality food because the mother is poor and unable to purchase all the nutrients she needs, which is common in third world countries. As a result, the brain and body of newborns are not as well developed as they would be if the mother was well fed.

Poor parents are usually not well educated by themselves. They spend the all day on fighting to survive yet another day of life. As a result they are unable to teach their children the everything what child should know. Brain of child should be properly stimulated by knowledge of parents (so they must have it in the first place!), discussions, intelligent toys, games, stimulating activities. Many wealthy parents do similar mistake. They are too busy with their career to spend valuable and fruitful time with their children.

Many times, during walking on streets, I am sad to hear nothing, parents not talking with their little children on streets. There is so many things child has no idea about around him or her, so many reasons for discussions. Instead I hear nothing, or I hear yelling ("don't do this!", "don't do that!", "be nice!" by which they mean "don't do anything, so I have peace and quiet".. which teaches child that preferred state is "lack of activity".. which is exactly reverse of what they should teach!)

Edited by Sensei
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12 hours ago, zapatos said:

Like with many things, people's perception of 'fairness' changes when it impacts them personally.

I've long taken personal exception to the under-representation of old, bald, white men, with questionable bladder control amongst Olympic athletes.

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45 minutes ago, Area54 said:

I've long taken personal exception to the under-representation of old, bald, white men, with questionable bladder control amongst Olympic athletes.

LOL!

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12 hours ago, iNow said:

This discussion of affirmative action being a type of racism reminds me somewhat of the paradox of tolerance where ostracizing others for being intolerant is described as itself being a form of intolerance.

I shouldn't have to post this, because I know where you're coming from, but I will for the sake of good discussion...

rac·ism
/ˈrāˌsizəm/

noun
noun: racism
1. prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.

I will add that sometimes even the majority is marginalized; South Africa under Apartheid.

The point being that you don't get to redefine racism because the end is justified.
Similarly, you don't get to redefine tolerance to only the beliefs you agree with.
Or free speech to only what you want to hear.
No matter how noble the cause.
( yes, I've said the cause is noble, but that doesn't change the fact that arguments can be made against it  )

You and Zap had better grab onto something; that's a pretty slippery slope you're on.

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