Ensuring Academic Freedom by Shutting You Up

The University of California Regents are at it again, keeping an eye out for the university’s students by encouraging them to act like infants.

The McGuffin this time is a statement being considered by the regents about principles against “intolerance.” It really can’t be doubted that the regents believe themselves to have good intentions as they go into this latest exercise.

But then there’s that old saw about the road to hell.

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The proposed policy states in part, “Free expression and the open exchange of ideas – principles enshrined in our national and state Constitutions – are part of the University’s fiber. … Everyone in the University community has the right to study, teach, conduct research, and work free from acts and expressions of intolerance.”

So “free expression” in one sentence quickly becomes a right to be “free from expressions” of whatever standard du jour constitutes intolerance.

This is the sort of stuff that gets your grade marked down in freshman composition classes.

It’s crucial to ask what constitutes intolerance in the regents’ view, especially in light of their recently issued pamphlet on “microaggressions,” which includes things like expressing the belief that there is only one race (human), saying that America is a melting pot, or suggesting that everyone can succeed if they work hard.

That’s apparently what the regents deem to be racist. Moving on to intolerance, they’ve assembled another list.

Intolerance, according to the proposed principles, includes:

  • Unwelcome conduct motivated by discrimination against, or hatred toward, other individuals or groups.
  • Acts of violence or intimidation.
  • Threats.
  • Harassment.
  • Hate speech.
  • Derogatory language reflecting stereotypes or prejudice.
  • Inflammatory or derogatory use of culturally recognized symbols of hate, prejudice or discrimination.

Considering that only the person accused of intolerance is qualified to determine if he’s acting out of hatred or a desire to discriminate, I’m sensing there are going to be some difficulties here. Now, violence, intimidation, threats, harassment, etc. on paper all sound like good things to be against.

But I can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen the first time a conservative student stands up for himself and his feelings against something like a gay pride march during which the liberal marchers are hurling epithets at him. Or when a gang of left-wing feminists come after a conservative for expressing a pro-life opinion.

I’m guessing those principles of tolerance aren’t going to be very tolerant of conservative students, as seems to happen with most of these attempts at speech codes.

You know the first time someone shows up wearing a Confederate flag shirt or hat, he’ll be perp-walked to the dean’s office, but Black Lives Matters, the rainbow flag and Che Guevara t-shirts will get a pass.

Supposedly the principles give a wide berth for academic freedom, but you probably can guess how that will work. Academics are free to do their research so long as it supports the Marxist collective agenda. Anything white, Christian or supportive of American traditions or history will be fair game.

I hate to be so skeptical, but I’ve hung around enough college campuses to catch the drift. There are still tenured professors who in all seriousness believe that Columbus proved the world wasn’t flat and then he led a genocide of 90 million people.

There are learned professors who go on about the great feminist pagan past, the Golden Age of Islam and how America’s two major political parties switched membership rolls sometime in the sixties, with all the racists, Nazis, fascists and double-digit IQs going to the Republicans. (Oddly enough, they are content to keep the socialists and communists on their side, which in itself puts the thing about double-digit IQs in a questionable light.)

And if you don’t fit Procrustes’ mold, they’ll make you fit or toss you out.

In the end, what many universities really can’t tolerate is tolerance.


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