Indiana Professors: Free speech is good (as long as we agree)

Protesters at the University of Indiana are keen on taking down Charles Murray. It's growing tiresome. (Photo via Nicole Higgins, DeSmet/Free Press)

Protesters at the University of Indiana are keen on taking down Charles Murray. It’s growing tiresome. (Photo via Nicole Higgins, DeSmet/Free Press)

Tuesday evenings on the campus of Indiana University are supposed to be standard fare. But not this Tuesday.

Because this Tuesday, conservative scholar Charles Murray is speaking on campus.

A lot of professors and students are very unhappy about this. So unhappy, in fact, that they wrote a long-winded letter to University President Michael McRobbie. It’s not a good letter.

Here are the three most idiotic quotes.

1) “What it does not sufficiently note…

Deep aggravation by Murray’s book on race and intellect. That’s the illness afflicting these letter writers. Believing Charles Murray’s famous work, The Bell Curve, to be racist and social prejudicial, the protesters want Murray to be purged of any publicity. But there’s a special arrogance to their comment in complaint about the advertisement of Murray’s speech.  When they say “it does not sufficiently note… they imply that if students had been forewarned of Murray’s book, they would not attend his event.

Here is the arrogance of the left: you shall know that which we think you should know, and no more. It’s pathetic. For one, many students would already have known Murray wrote the book. They didn’t need a crayon style marker on advertising boards. More importantly, however, the protesters have no right to write advertisements for events they have nothing to do with organizing. Nor do they have the right to define student moral motivations to attend Murray’s speech.

2) “…. public universities and the institutions within them also have a responsibility to act judiciously when providing venues for speakers, particularly in the present climate of racial tension.

There is a lot of Orwellian language in the above quote. Again, this is the appropriation of morality by the far-left. Still, two specific elements stand out. First off, the implication that public universities must be especially careful to avoid controversial speakers. On the contrary, the opposite is true. After all, public institutions are accountable – by taxpayer interests – to serve the maximal public interest. And in the world’s greatest democracy, the maximal public interest is served by maximal debate on issues of public concern. Charles Murray is a well-known conservative thinker who sometimes proffers controversial ideas. That does not make him a poor choice of speaker for Indiana University students. It makes him a very good choice.

The second idiotic element here is the qualification in the present climate of racial tension. This is the worst kind of fear mongering. The implication is that whenever tensions on an issue are high, we should chill our speech. That is no way to pursue knowledge. Such morose antipathy for intellectualism only helps fester social ills.

3) We, the undersigned, are individuals and members of the intellectual community at Indiana University Bloomington…

The signatories claim service of intellectualism. Nothing could be further from the truth. In seeking to restrict access to divergent points of view, these maniacs would bury the University of Indiana in an abyss of group think and authoritarianism. And in that, they would afflict student graduates with poorly developed intellects and correspondingly inadequate opportunities (who wants to hire an ignoramus?).

I read through the signatures, and one name stood out, Professor Alex Lichtenstein. On his University biographical page, the good professor explains that his work centers on the intersection of labor history and the struggle for racial justice in societies shaped by white supremacy, particularly the U.S. South (1865-1954) and 20th-century South Africa.

One might think a professor on race would welcome the chance to expose his students to different points of view.

Unfortunately, the Professor and his co-signers ain’t great thinkers.


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