There has been a rising movement in colleges and universities led by professors who are advocating speech regulation and contesting basic values of free speech. The anti-free speech movement takes many forms. I previously voiced my objections to Antifa and its anti-free speech values, including academics legitimizing efforts to violently curtail free speech on our campuses. One of the most recent examples is the writing of University of Tennessee sociology Professor Victor Ray who explained in a column in Inside Higher Ed that diversity of thought is something of a trap and is in reality “a Trojan horse for white identity politics.”
Ray teaches women’s studies and ethnic studies classes and explained that diversity of thought is something of a scam of conservatives:
“Conservative ideas are hegemonic. The (empty) call for so-called diversity of thought is a Trojan horse for white identity politics. It is no coincidence that the majority of people advocating for this position are white men who feel slighted by an imagined diminution of their power. They remain stubbornly at the top of the organizational hierarchy across the landscape of higher education, and their calls for so-called diversity of thought are attempts to extend this lead.”
We have been discussing the rising intolerance and violence on college campuses, particularly against conservative speakers. (Here and here and here and here). Berkeley has been the focus of much concern over mob rule on our campuses as violent protesters have succeeded in silencing speakers, even including a few speakers like an ACLU officials and James Comey. Both students and some faculty have maintained the position that they have a right to silence those with whom they disagree and even student newspapers have declared opposing speech to be outside of the protections of free speech. At another University of California campus, professors actually rallied around a professor who physically assaulted pro-life advocates and tore down their display. In the meantime, academics and deans have said that there is no free speech protection for offensive or “disingenuous” speech. CUNY Law Dean Mary Lu Bilek has insisted that disrupting the speech on free speech was free speech.
Ray writes the “Conditionally Accepted” column at Inside Higher Ed. It appears that his different thoughts are inherently worthy of such publication. However, conservatives offer nothing to an academic or social discourse:
“What is diverse about a body of thought reliably in support of a reactionary status quo? Those people who claim universities are insufficiently open to conservatives often pose as brilliant, renegade outsiders, presenting dangerous knowledge that the politically correct educational establishment has unfairly marginalized. But there is nothing edgy or very thoughtful about denigrating people of color or women, assuming that the natural order of the world is out of order because we had a black United States president or attacking trans students for simply existing. Much of what counts of edgy for folk like Ferguson is simply self-serving masculinist bluster. And much of what counts as dangerous is more accurately described as wrong.”
This type of shallow, jingoistic logic passes for theory in today’s advocacy-based academics. There is an effort to relieve oneself of any obligation to respect the right of others to speak or be heard. You simply declare that their views are “nothing edgy or very thoughtful” and be done with it . . . and them. Indeed, you can run a diatribe against free speech and pluralism in a publication that calls itself Inside Higher Ed.