“Morally and Intellectually Corrupt”: UCLA Professor Resigns in Protest over Viewpoint Intolerance

Anthropology professor Joseph Manson announced his retirement this month with a broadside blog post that detailed the loss of academic freedom and integrity at UCLA. Manson describes many of the things that I have previously addressed as standard measures used to force out dissenting or conservative voices, including the isolation and investigation of colleagues to get them to resign. He is now among that lengthening list of such faculty who have decided to cut their academic careers short rather than work under such intolerable conditions.

     Manson was a tenured professor in the UCLA Anthropology Department, who described in detail how the school made life insufferable for those who raise dissenting voices in research on subjects like racial justice or crime patterns. He wrote “I’m a professor, retiring at 62 because the Woke takeover of higher education has ruined academic life. ‘Another one?’ you ask. “What does this guy have to say that hasn’t already been said by Jordan PetersonPeter BoghossianJoshua Katz, or Bo Winegard?” 

      Manson described how the anthropology department was a healthy and diverse intellectual environmental until the 2000s when things began to change dramatically. It is the same time period identified by others when a critical mass seemed to form on many faculties of professors who began to almost exclusively hire liberal colleagues and shun those with opposing views.

      Among the examples of the intolerance on campus, Manson gave a detailed account of the “defenestration of a colleague,” P. Jeffrey Brantingham. His colleague created software to predict urban crime through simulation models. The research was immediately denounced as being racist and anti-Black.

“In Spring 2018, the department’s Anthropology Graduate Students Association passed a resolution accusing Jeff’s research of (among other counter-revolutionary sins) ‘entrench[ing] and naturaliz[ing] the criminalization of Blackness in the United States’ and calling for ‘referring’ his research to UCLA’s Vice Chancellor for Research, presumably for some sort of investigation. This document contains no trace of scholarly argument, but instead resembles a religious proclamation of anathema.”

What caught my eye was Manson’s description of the shunning by his colleagues:

“Not only was Jeff ostracized, he was unpersoned. None of the faculty talked about him, if they could possibly avoid it. Meanwhile, our department chair opened most faculty meetings by solemnly intoning that our department was a community, a family, and that ‘we’re here for each other.’ In private conversations, I was able to elicit from some of my colleagues an embarrassed acknowledgment that the Woke faction had treated Jeff abominably, and that we strongly resembled a dysfunctional family in denial.”

It is an all-too-familiar account.

      I recently wrote how universities can use course assignments and other collateral means to isolate dissenting professors in an effort to get them to resign. This is particularly the case with tenured faculty.

For many of us in teaching, these cancel campaigns have become a constant, looming threat. There have been drives to fire or discipline faculty who hold dissenting views on issues ranging from racial justice to police abuse to transgender identification to gender statements to pronoun usage to native-land acknowledgment. This includes a recent campaign at Georgetown that successfully secured a law professor’s resignation over a tweet.

      Today, a palpable level of fear and intimidation exists among many faculty members that they could be the next target of one of these campaigns. Most professors are not protected by tenure, and universities can cite other reasons for not renewing their contracts.

The percentage of tenured professors has been declining for half a century. Roughly three of four faculty today are what are called “contingent faculty,” or faculty who work contract to contract.

      The problem is that this contingency often seems to depend upon an adherence to a new orthodoxy on racial justice, police abuse, gender identification and other issues.  It is the subject of my recent publication in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy. The article entitled “Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States.

      Most faculty do not want to face the legal or social costs of directly seeking to strip colleagues of tenure. They recite values of academic freedom while working to make life as hard as possible for dissenting colleagues by shifting classes, keeping professors off academic panels and committees and subjecting them to public ridicule, including citing them as examples of intolerance. Few faculty stand up for colleagues who have been tagged by the mob in fear that they could be the next subject of such a campaign.

      University of North Carolina criminology professor Mike Adams spent years in university proceedings and litigation successfully fighting for his right to express conservative views. The investigations and attacks never stopped. Indeed, they resumed with new fervor after he condemned Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) for his pandemic rules with a tweet that compared eating in cramped quarters with a slave ship. It was a stupid and offensive tweet. But we’ve seen extreme comments on the left — including calls to gas or kill or torture conservatives — tolerated and even celebrated at universities. Adams was hammered incessantly over the tweet until he finally relented and took a settlement to resign. He killed himself a few days before his final day as a professor.

      For Manson, he had enough despite a distinguished career that could have continued for many years. He wrote of his reluctance “But I strongly suspect that mainstream U.S. higher education is morally and intellectually corrupt, beyond the possibility of self-repair, and therefore no longer a worthwhile setting in which to spend my time and effort.”

     That is a loss for UCLA but it is also a loss for the entire teaching academy. Manson is the latest example of the not-so-noble lie that pervades our institutions of higher education. We mouth principles of academic freedom and free speech while allowing colleagues to be hounded and harassed. Most faculty members remain silent as their colleagues are isolated and ostracized. Their departure is silently welcomed because there is less of a reminder of what we have lost in higher education.



151 thoughts on ““Morally and Intellectually Corrupt”: UCLA Professor Resigns in Protest over Viewpoint Intolerance”

  1. So now we have tenured and also unionized public school teachers, who have neither the qualification nor the job responsibility to create new knowledge. Their job is to transmit a predetermined curriculum to a class of students and manage that classroom. And we have contingent workers at the university level, where the real subject matter experts and deep thinkers in various fields are supposed to reside. The structures of our society have been twisted to serve destructive ends.

  2. Restricting the ranks of tenured faculty to numbers that are easy to monitor and control is a time-tested method for keeping out scholars with unacceptable points of view. The last thing you want when granting freedom of academic inquiry and freedom of speech to the employees in your department is that they will exercise those freedoms.

  3. Dear Friends,

    It may be that a centrally supported institution like tenured professorship was always going to be vulnerable to this kind of “takeover”. It was of value in defending the truth for a time and context, and the times and context are quite other than those now.

    The Buddhist doctrine of impermanence and Sunnyata comes to mind. If we start believing anything in this world has an intrinsic and independent essence or existence, not at all conditional on the variables around it, then we are guaranteeing a faster corruption and usurpation of the values it claims to represent, through the backdoors such hubris opens.

    For the West and Westernised, “dysfunctional family in denial” because the solidarity and support of roots and loyalty to them is desperately sought, even as we don’t know how to stop running from it, does seem to be the rule with few exceptions.


  4. Sorry, but I can’t take a professor seriously who uses the phrase “Woke takeover.” At this point, “woke” is primarily used as a pejorative by many conservatives to broadly describe anything they feel is “following an intolerant and moralising ideology”, as The Economist put it. Anything conservatives feel is overly righteous in terms of social justice, and the word “woke” as an insult comes out now. That isn’t to say that there aren’t valid criticisms, but the term is so overused as a pejorative by conservatives at this point for things that aren’t really valid criticisms (but instead for things that can credibly be argued as positive social changes that they just disagree with), that it’s hard to take anyone seriously who is using it but is claiming to try and make some kind of intelligent and grounded argument. At this point, it’s like people who use the terms “libtard” or “cuckservative”, for example. Ultimately, the irony is that, except for a few valid criticisms, conservatives are actually the ones who are, more often than not, being intolerant.

    He just seems like another overly sensitive, over offended conservative who can’t handle the fact that society evolves and changes.

    1. Social justice is a myth. Justice is delivered upon a wrong that has been properly proven and credited to those who committed it in defense of the victims. To collectivize all of society as both plaintiffs and defendants is a Marxist attempt to divide and conquer for the sake of pushing for Utopia.
      The very notion of “social change” does not take into consideration the individuals upon which this change is foisted. The unintended consequences of the social engineers are readily apparent in a country where a congressman can be excoriated for declaring a man cannot get pregnant, but parents can be removed from school board meetings for reading books from a school that are published by the “men can get preganant” crowd.

    2. Academia has been has been thoroughly taken over by self avowed leftists who have succeeded in suppressing alternative perspectives (allegedly right wing) and destroying the careers of those expressing such alternatives but you would have everyone believe it is the conservatives who are the intolerant ones. Yeah. Sure. Right.

    3. I read your comment and thought wow! You think people shouldnt be calling other people Woke? Grow up! People get called names everyday. Who gives a shit? Woke, rasist, transfobe, bigot, ect… Only a person who with no life would consider being called a name is Not a real problem for real grown up people. Mosquitos bother me more!

    4. Your reply just serves to show how you ‘woke’tards are completely ignorant of reality. Typical braindead leftist drone…

    5. Ok, so what do you call it when someone is denounced as a counterrevolutionary for correctly pointing out that black people in America commit violent crimes out of proportion to their share of the population? I mean, whether you want to chalk it up to socioeconomic factors or something spicier like HBD, the facts are the facts. I would call it left illiberalism, but society has settled upon the shorthand “woke.”

    6. Sorry Brian, but it appears you haven’t been paying much attention over the last several years or you are a hack. Professors have literally been fired or pushed out of their jobs as a result of using the ‘n-word’ in the context of ‘Don’t say ‘n-word.” with no regard for context or circumstance of usage. This is indeed woke insanity. Dozens and dozens of such obvious examples can be recited by anyone here off the top of their head. Brushing it all aside by claiming that conservatives are just mad because ‘society is changing’ seems like a desperate and pathetic attempt at a comeback.

  5. Anonymous the Stupid. You are using the censored email account that harmed many others on the blog. You want to whine about your post’removal from the list. You are always trying to garner sympathy based on lies and spin.

    As I said, learn to read and behave. Your bile causes you to make mistakes. I told you that the drug turned out not to be Fentanyl, but you are too intent on finding others wrong even when they are right.

    I posted this article to warn others of the danger, not to debate the subject with a fool like you.

    deleted post from ATS follows:

    “Stop overreacting. You’re the guy who often complains about others lobbing insults, but you’re clearly unable to see the same behavior in yourself.”

    1. ATS responded: “”Blah, blah, blah…”

      It was a post to those who get email and used an address intended to be deleted. This is the ranting of a jerk. It shows exactly who Anonymous the Stupid is, but recently we are seeing what happens when Anonymous the Stupid changes his drug doses too fast.

  6. Turley most definitely permits anonymous comments whether or not they are mean and nasty towards himself or anyone else. That is a good point about Turley, a decent person promoting decent things.

    Turley’s character means he will permit a polar opposite personality to occupy his blog, people that are mean and nasty. Though Turley is an intellect, he allows you, Anonymous the Stupid, the banalest form of humanity, the ability to respond.

    How do you thank Turley for his generosity? Your actions tell us how and I am sure it isn’t pleasant to him or anyone else.

    (This was to another self-deleted post by Anonymous the Stupid)

    1. Mr Anon, I’ve got some beach-front property in Nebraska; interested?

    2. Mr anon, I’ve got some beach-front property in Nebraska; interested? I knew you would be.

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