​Prof: ‘Freedom of speech is implicated in racism’

In a recent speech, one North Carolina professor told students that the existence of racism can be attributed in large part to “freedom of speech,” something he says has “contingency” in bigotry. 

According to the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor gave a lecture on free speech as part of a two-day lecture called “Tribalism, Voicelessness, and the Problem of Free Speech.” 

In an audio recording of this speech, Eric King Watts can be heard quoting Steven Cocken calling Robert Muller’s report “an unambiguous ethical indictment of Trump’s campaign and Presidency.” He also refers to “the ongoing radicalization of the Republican party.” 

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Watts later alleges Trump was thrilled about Russian interference and quotes Cocken saying that Trump supporters believe in conspiracy theories. Watts goes on to explain how free speech lends itself to racism. 

“Democracy means free speech, but it is increasingly vulnerable to excesses,” he says. 

“I will first set forth how freedom of speech is implicated in racism by linking its historical contingency to the production of blackened flesh,” Watts says. “I will demonstrate how racism produces its uneven distribution of capacity and debility….” 

“The very idea of freedom, postulated in universalist terms in the 19th century, and serving as the ontological structure for the First Amendment, doesn’t allow the black,” Watts insisted.

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“This exclusion is not legal, nor paralegal; it is brokered by the psychic structure and pseudoscience responding to the biopower imperatives of racism,” he explained

Campus Reform reached out to Watts and despite the speech having been recorded he denied equating free speech with racism, saying “I did not say free speech is racist; I said that racists also have freedom of speech.”

The university has not responded to requests for comment. 

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