Friday, July 16, 2010

Academic freedom versus the entrenched

Now, when gwbjr started the Second American-Iraqui War, it was chancing your job to criticise. Two senatorial heroes, Robert Byrd (†2010) and Edward Kennedy (†2010) spoke powerfully against it, and their voices were not even broadcast. They were, in effect, censored. It turned out the anti-war people were completely right, now many of the war proponents are having memory problems. To exercise the first amendment was not prudent, but necessary. As Pasternak taught us, "every age needs a fool to speak the truth".

In many communities the primary and secondary schools [state or private], and the state of Texas, are subject to 'conservatives' that enforce their party line. In public universities the battles often have different enforcers.

Perhaps, nearly every public university has a 'Gay and Lesbian' association, studies, department and so on. They tend to be quite jealous of their turf. Sometimes it is the administrators that share their opinions. Such is the case at the University of Illinois (Urbana). Kenneth Howell teaches a course on catholicism. He made the mistake to send electronic mail. A 'friend' of a student sent it, and a complaint of 'hate speech', to the department head. The university administration backs the dismissal. Further, Howell was dismissed from the Newman Center, and the Diocese of Peoria stands pat.

Now, there are other groups on many campuses that will mass against a professor that makes a comment they don't like. They have the academic freedom to voice a rebuttal, but that is not enough. They want to silence what they do not want to hear, or silence what is reported to them, that, someone else heard. And they often are vindictive enough to want a firing. I saw it at university more than once.

Howell taught that catholicism teaches that natural law is incompatible with certain sexual practices. And yes, water is wet. Now, some may disagree and disapprove of this teaching, but it is the teaching. So, if he wanted to keep his jobs, should he have avoided the topic? or just not have typed it into the electronic ether. And is the student that tipped off his buddy, not a rat? Well, of course not, if he had no such intent. But every teacher has to have it, at the back of his mind, that some students are informers, whether intentionally or not.

No, academic freedom has been crushed, and a man has lost his means of making a living, because a student not taking the class wanted the head of a professor; and the university was amenable. It was not only that he was sacked for an unpopular view, he was sacked for describing a view that proved unpopular in certain quarters. Now, these assaults on freedom, whether from one faction, or a quite different faction, are against the rights of men, and should be the epitome of 'anti-american' behavior. In this generation they often succeed.

Is arithmetic, perhaps, the only freely teachable subject? Then again, 2 and 2 are always 4 may be to hard to accept by all. Are we forced to be mute unless we side with the momentary powers that be? The tyrants who enforce their agenda in these ways are both disgusting and risible, and all too often successful. Remember, Socrates was sentenced to drink hemlock for corrupting the youth.

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