Saturday, April 27, 2019

Free speech and academia, yet again

I will say this yet again, because it's important.

Academia is (among other things) a place where we separate good ideas from bad. This function requires that academics openly discuss questionable subjects and ideas with a as much dispassion and "objectivity" as we can manage.

However, at some point, academics should and actually do make some decisions: we find some ideas to be legitimately good, and promote those ideas, and we find some ideas legitimately bad, and we deprecate those ideas. And if you want to discuss a bad idea on a college campus, the burden of proof is on the claimant to show that there's something so novel and compelling about the idea that the previous judgement should be suspended.

The idea that women are in any way inherently inferior to or even very different from men (other than reproductive biology and trivial aspects of athletics and heavy manual labor) is one such legitimately Bad Idea. The idea that people of some races are inherently inferior to other races is another such Bad Idea. The idea that people with atypical sexual or gender orientation are in any way inferior to those with typical orientation is yet another. This list is not exhaustive: There are any number of completely discredited ideas that have no place in a university.

With apologies to Monty Python, sexism, racism, etc. are not pining for more critical investigation. They are dead. They've passed on. These ideas are no more. They have ceased to be. They've expired and gone to meet their maker. They are bereft of life, they rest in peace. If racists hadn't nailed these ideas to the perch they'd be pushing up the daisies. They're metabolic processes are now history. They're off the twig. Kicked the bucket, shuffled off their mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisible. They are ex-ideas.

Do I make myself clear?

No one gives a fuck if some dumbass student writes a stupid sexist paper in Comp I or if some mossbacked tenured professor publishes reactionary racist drivel in an obscure journal. De minimus non curat lex.

But it's an intolerable affront not just to the sensibilities of minority students but also to those who take seriously the academic pursuit of truth for an actual university to invite a dumbfuck racist like Charles Murray or a narcissistic poseur like Milo Yiannopoulos to speak, as if these morons could breathe any sort of intellectual life into long dead ideas. The only possible reason to invite people like this is that the university wishes to promote racism, sexism, or some other long-discredited idea.

The history of the most brutal violence to control and oppress women, people of color, etc. ad nauseam means that universities must take bullying and hostility with the utmost seriousness. A campus is not 8chan; it is a professional environment. It should require literally zero thought to hold that the right of Black students to fully participate in academia squashes the right of some Aryan Brotherhood frat-boy jerk to yell "n****r" in the quad.

Good fucking grief. Why is this still an issue?

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