South Korean-born UO prof ‘physically abused’ over anti-government views fights Bias Response Team

By Jennifer Kabbany of The College Fix

If you’ve been forced into military service and beaten up for anti-government views, you know all too well the extreme preciousness of freedom of speech, thought and expression.

That’s why the efforts by Kyu Ho Youm, a naturalized U.S. citizen and currently the Jonathan Marshall First Amendment Chair professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, that criticize and call for scrutiny on his university’s now infamous Bias Response Team must be lauded and shouted from the rooftops.

First, a bit on Professor Youm, who grew up in South Korea in the 60s and 70s, when it was a far more oppressive environment run by an authoritarian rule. Youm, in a recent speech, told his audience of his days as a student dissident who demonstrated for democracy. For that, he was “drafted” into the military for some re-education. There, he was “beat up” for reading Western publications such as Time or Newsweek, he said, adding such magazines were considered “seditious.”

Youm toldMedia Asia in 2013 about his past: “Maybe it is because of my background as an American who was born in South Korea, and someone who was physically abused because of some kind of anti-government views or activities, I have a real-person perspective.”

“I am looking at freedom of expression as a real-life issue rather than as an academic exercise,” he continued. “Therefore, when some people say that freedom of expression is being abused and that’s why it should be restricted or suppressed, I usually don’t buy that kind of argument. To people who say that sometimes too much freedom is destructive to society, I say that there is no such thing as too much freedom.”

With that as a backdrop, we come to an op-ed Professor Youm recently wrote that has been published in a couple Oregon newspapers. In it, he points out that those “who understand that free speech versus cultural sensitivity is not a zero-sum game should scrutinize the BRT in an uninhibited, robust and wide-open way.”

The column went on:

“While discussing cultural sensitivity under international public relations codes of conduct, I asked my strategic communication law students in May: “How many of you might feel uncomfortable if I said, ‘America remains the land of freedom and opportunity?’” One student raised his hand.

As he explained why my comment about the United States, my adopted country, might discomfit him, I wondered, albeit for a fleeting second, whether the University of Oregon’s Bias Response Team (BRT) would call me for an “educational conversation.” Yes, if someone filed a possible micro-aggression complaint.

Since 1999, the BRT has sought to “provide targets of bias a safe space to have their voices heard, to promote civility and respect, to effect change around these important issues in a quick and effective manner, and to ensure a comprehensive response to bias incidents.” The BRT and its annual report have attracted national media attention recently, including from The Washington Post and the National Review. The headline-grabbing attention has been highly critical, given the BRT’s overreaching responses to a number of frivolous complaints.”

Read the entire article at The College Fix

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