A Thought about Book Burning and the Suppression of Dissent

 

This is actually a scene from Berlin in 1930, not from a contemporary American college campus.

 

Intellectual freedom and free speech should rank high, one would think, among the priorities and most sacred values of academics.  And, traditionally, that’s probably been so.  Perhaps not so much these days, though.

 

Ethnic diversity is a big deal, of course, on contemporary American campuses.  As are gender diversity and diversity of sexual preference.  But actual diversity of ideas doesn’t rank nearly so high, it seems.  Ideological conformity blankets much of American academia.   (One thinks of a memorable phrase from the late art critic Harold Rosenberg: “a herd of independent minds.”)

 

Dr. John Gee’s invaluable (and often downright wickedly funny) blog offers a link to a very striking story along these lines:

 

http://fornspollfira.blogspot.com/2013/05/how-administrators-deal-with-differing.html

 

And out of Florida comes word of a classics professor there who apparently believes that public dissent from campus administrative decisions should be a firing offense.

 

Weird.

 

 

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  • JeanPing

    Have you read the new book from FIRE about free speech on campus,
    “Unlearning Liberty”? I’d be interested to know what you thought of it, if so.

    • DanielPeterson

      I haven’t, but I’ve put it on my list. I’m a fan of FIRE.

  • eric norwood

    Kudos for not using a picture of mutilated African American bodies this time.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Peterson/634891356 Daniel Peterson

      Wow, Eric Norwood. Your comment is really, really weird.

      Why on earth would a story about burning books make you think about mutilating the bodies of African Americans?

      Please don’t post such comments on my blog any more.

      • eric norwood

        Oh, Daniel Peterson, surely you jest!
        Just last week you posted images of mutilated African American bodies to this quaint little blog you have here. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/camelswithhammers/2013/05/mormon-apologist-uses-photo-of-the-dead-bodies-of-lynched-blacks-as-a-gag-prop/

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Peterson/634891356 Daniel Peterson

          That’s a bit of a distortion. I posted a photo of a lynching, with no racial point in mind. It turned out to include, in the background, the bodies of two hanged black men. Rather quickly, I took it down.

          But you want to keep talking about the mutilation of African American bodies?

          Why?

          Why would you want to dwell on such things? Why are you seeking to have OTHERS dwell on such things?

          I suggest that you examine your attitudes on this subject. And — seriously — that you consider getting help.

        • eric norwood

          Golly, Daniel C. Peterson. I was simply trying to compliment you for not repeating your decision last week to illustrate a blog post with a disgustingly racist and graphic image. Feel free to disregard my comment commending your restraint, but your insults are unnecessary.

  • GeorgeLocke

    The best explanation for why the professoriat is so liberal is inertia. Liberals know that academia is liberal and, like anyone, they like to work with people like themselves. http://www.pointofinquiry.org/neil_gross_why_are_professors_and_scientists_so_liberal/


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