Friday, February 18, 2011

The Real Threat to Academic Freedom on Campus: It's Not What the CAUT Thinks It Is

If the CAUT was really interested in promoting academic freedom, (rather than doing the opposite by attempting to stamp out intellectual diversity by harassing small Christian universities), it might consider launching investigations into the shocking and Orwellian squashing of free speech at Canadian universities (that is, the publicly funded ones at which its members actually teach) through the use of unconstitutional speech codes.

Greg Halvorson at American Thinker blog explains how much of a threat speech codes are in his post: "Fighting campus speech codes with FIRE."
Speech-code. Sounds like something from George Orwell's pen or a Stephen King tale, but it's not. According to Adam Kissel, from the Foundation of Individual Rights in Education, two-thirds of college campuses enforce speech-codes, violating the First Amendment rights of their students. Thanks to FIRE, however, codes are being challenged, speech is alive, and awareness is being raised. While two-thirds isn't good, this is down from a shameful nine-tenths, and each day, with FIRE's help, administrators are relenting.
Kissel, at CPAC, explained how codes work. They're all about "diversity," demanding it at the expense of expression. If a student opposes Islam, say, or the homosexual lobby (prominent campus clubs), he can be hauled before a panel with expulsion authority. The affect is to chill speech, of course, but on a larger scale, to destroy education's true purpose.
If no one can be criticized because it may offend - if all it takes is "You annoy me!" to bring censure - this doesn't produce analytic thinkers but instead conformists desperate to "be liked." In place of a wholesome learning forum, colleges become homogenized vacuums in which censorship trumps debate.
But FIRE is fighting back. Here is how it states its mission on its website:
The mission of FIRE is to defend and sustain individual rights at America's colleges and universities. These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience — the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity. FIRE's core mission is to protect the unprotected and to educate the public and communities of concerned Americans about the threats to these rights on our campuses and about the means to preserve them.
Here is an interview with Adam Kissel of FIRE in which he explains how conservatives are the most common victims on today's campuses when it comes to taking away rights to free speech.

The problem is that many people have confused left-wing, paternalistic, moralism and coercive political correctness for respect for individual human beings. Yes, academic freedom, freedom of thought and freedom of speech are under attack in today's universities. But it is not Christian statements of faith that constitute the threat: it is speech codes.

The hypocrisy of the CAUT is breathtaking. If they really care about open debate and freedom of investigation, then why not join with FIRE in the fight against unconstitutional, paternalistic, Orwellian speech codes?

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