Kudos to FIRE for helping to repeal the College of William & Mary’s speech code. The College eliminated its “bias incident reporting system,” which sounds very similar to a program recently removed at the Community Colleges of Spokane in an ADF litigated case, and revised its unconstitutional harassment policies. Great work, FIRE!
The media covered these ADF Center for Academic Freedom cases this week, October 5-9:
Campus pro-life victory brings policy change – OneNewsNow
Conservative Christian group fighting higher ed free speech rules – Star-Telegram
Jeremy Tedesco on The Don Kroah Show to discuss the ADF University Project – The Don Kroah Show
Spokane Falls Community College to change speech policy after ADF suit – The Baptist Bulletin
David French on The Michael Gallagher Show to discuss the University Matching Grant – The Michael Gallagher Show
School tosses student paper out with the garbage – OneNewsNow
He began his career as a young McGovernite, but personal experiences led him to reevaluate his political beliefs and he became a conservative. Voicing those beliefs in opposition to all of his colleagues only resulted in a negative impact on his career, so he did what many professors in that position do—he kept his mouth shut. Only then did he receive the promotion he deserved. In the years leading up to his retirement, however, he decided to speak out once more. The reaction from his colleagues wasn’t a vigorous debate, or even a mere discussion. Instead, they essentially ignored him, dismissing his ideas out of hand.
Unfortunately, Professor Lipsman’s experience is all too common. I know I’m not the only one who knew a conservative or Christian professor who dared not speak out until they received tenure. And the ADF Center for Academic Freedom is currently representing Professor Mike Adams, who found out the hard way what happens to a professor who dares to convert to Christianity and speak about it prior to becoming a full professor.
Professor Lipsman’s description of his experience should send chills down the spine of any freedom loving person, conservative or liberal:
I was not the only one failing to make waves. In fact, there were no waves whatsoever. There was no debate, no controversy; just the calm serenity of a campus at peace with its almost universally accepted mind set. I attribute this to three things. First, of course, anyone raising an objection was viewed, as I was, as hopelessly out of it and worthy only of being ignored. This has a chilling effect, perhaps even more effective than derision. Second, I suspect that those who believed as I did were still in lockdown mode — for the same reasons as I was over the years. And third, I believe the liberal brainwash has been so effective on campus — and in the national educational system in general — that many in the liberal majority can’t even fathom that there is anyone who doubts the legitimacy of their point of view.
It is frightening to realize that those in academia—those charged with thinking of new ideas, challenging our assumptions, making new discoveries—are so closed-minded to any ideas outside of the accepted norm on campus that they refuse to even entertain them.
This has serious implications, not just for individual professors discriminated against because of their beliefs, or students who learn only one perspective. As the Supreme Court stated many years ago, “[t]he essentiality of freedom in the community of American universities is almost self-evident. . . . Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization will stagnate and die.” Keyishian v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. of N.Y., 385 U.S. 589, 603 (1967) (quoting Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234 (1957)).
It is not overstating the case, then, to say that free inquiry in our colleges and universities has a direct impact on our democracy as we know it. All of us, regardless of political belief, should hope that colleges and universities soon learn that “diversity” means more than skin color, and embrace their role as the marketplace of ideas once again.
Choose Life, a student organization at McGill University, hosted a pro-life event last night, but the event came at a price. The Students Society of McGill University (SSMU), the student government, voted to make Choose Life “ineligible for funding from the SSMU for the remainder of its existence.” The SSMU also demanded that administrators shut down the event, but to his credit the deputy provost said he would not cancel the event. All this comes in the wake of the University of Calgary pursuing criminal trespassing chargesagainst a pro-life student organization after it held a pro-life rally on campus. Thankfully, in the United States, SSMU’s actions would be unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination under Southworth and Rosenberger. But that does not mean it hasn’t happened.
Next month, The Origin of Species will be distributed to students at the top 100 universities–by a Christian organization called Living Waters. But these copies will include a “special introduction” about Darwin and his theory. Inside Higher Education describes the introductory disclaimer with the following:
Materials being used in fund raising by the group say that the introduction “gives a timeline of Darwin’s life, and his thoughts on the existence of God. It lists the theories of many hoaxes, exposes the unscientific belief that nothing created everything, points to the incredible structure of DNA, and notes the absence of any undisputed transitional forms. To show the dangerous fruit of evolution, it also mentions Hitler’s undeniable connections to the theory, Darwin’s racism, and his disdain for women. In addition, it counters the claim that creationists are “anti-science” by citing numerous scientists who believed that God created the universe….”
I’ve previously argued how evolution disclaimers enhance academic freedom and critical thinking in public schools, and I have no doubt this effort to reach out to college students will bring great value to the marketplace of ideas. In fact, scientific theory is a prime example of the Left’s choke hold on higher education. Students who offer reasonable, but unorthodox views on evolutionary theory are cast aside and mocked for their “childish” views. And don’t even think about mentioning religion….
It will be interesting to see how universities react when Living Waters begins handing out the free books. We’ll be watching with interest, and hope that the academy embraces the debate.