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Saturday, July 08, 2006

I was very touched by Tigerhawk's eulogy to his father (hat tip Villainous Company) and it seems extraordinarily appropriate to the issues of the day. There's a long history behind the intellectual dead-end we have walked into, and we'll only be able to back out if we understand the way we got here. His father was a historian and a university professor, and here is what his father had to say to his class in 1972:
Because there is such pressure for conformity in a large industrial society, a university has to promote diversity more than ever before. But it cannot offer you diversity of opinion or provide anything more than mere indoctrination unless every faculty member has the fully guaranteed right to say what he thinks is the truth, not simply what one political group wants him to say. This right is academic freedom. Without it, I could not remain in this profession and your prospects for a broad and diversified educational experience would be gone ….
And in 1971, writing to protest the draft Statement on Professional Ethics prepared by the Faculty Council:
[w]hen conditions on campus are abnormal, the threat usually involves a demand for scapegoats, as some tried to make ROTC a scapegoat for last year’s Cambodian intervention. It is at these crucial moments that the first obligation of faculty members must be to act rationally and to stand firmly behind any member of the community whose rights are threatened. Standing firm is a difficult matter, since capitulation often appears to be the only way of averting violence. Nevertheless, every time we sacrifice somebody else’s rights in the hope of avoiding bloodshed we are guilty of unethical and unprofessional conduct and make our own rights less secure and less respected.
What "diversity" means now on campus is that there are untouchable ideas and groups. 1984 wasn't far off, was it? The rot in our society has gone deep. FIRE has publicized an incident at Johns Hopkins in which a conservative campus newspaper got into trouble for expressing certain viewpoints:
Johns Hopkins University (JHU) ended this school year by engaging in shameful viewpoint discrimination and denying its students freedom of the press. First, JHU turned a blind eye to the theft of a conservative student newspaper, The Carrollton Record (TCR), then stifled its right to distribute in dorms while allowing other papers to continue distributing there.
TCR’s May issue contained an article objecting to a recent campus appearance by pornographic film director Chi Chi LaRue. The cover photo pictured LaRue along with members of JHU’s Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (DSAGA) student group, which hosted the event. The pictured DSAGA members were apparently displeased to see their pictures on the newspaper’s front page, and some have filed harassment charges against TCR staffers.
Things used to be somewhat rowdy back in the Pleistocene when I was hanging at institutions of higher learning (and "higher" should really be in quotation marks, given the amount of drugs that were around, and I'm not talking about just the students). I would say that the students back in my day were perfectly capable of having sex without outside assistance, and I truly have wondered what has happened since to impel Ivy League university administrations to believe that student life needs assistance in this area from professionals. Even stranger yet is the apparent belief at some universities that students are unable to figure out whether and which church to attend without the benevolent guidance of the adminstration. Things sure have changed.

I'm intensely curious as to why harassment charges were filed, and whether they were. Johns Hopkins banned the offending paper from dorms, prompting FIRE to write a letter to the administration, which replied admitting that they had removed the paper from the dorms. The letter disputes that formal harassment charges were filed. FIRE posted pictures of another paper still being distributed in a dorm on its usual summary page with the back-and-forth. The latest is that a Maryland senator has weighed in.

It's been a little sluggish here in Phoenix lately (in comparison to last year), but I have to say, it's still on fire. There are so many values to be had here, especially in comparison to other big cities. Tons of value for the money still to be had.
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