The New Morality Police: P.C. Liberals
A writer for the Harvard Crimson wants to curtail academic freedom in the name of bigotry. Her name is Sandra Korn.
This is amusing if only because the religious and conservatives of America have used similarly moralizing arguments against gay rights and women. It is fascinating the way the same argument gets re-canned and re-canned again, used by forces described as good and evil. Morality and justice, it would seem, are easily co-opted into any cause, even opposing ones.
The gist of the article is that ‘reason’ and ‘academic freedom’ have been smokescreens behind which racist and other bigoted policies or information have been legitimized and therefore we need to censor inappropriate material in the name of justice.
Justice, like morality, is an abstraction and it is one open to a wide variety of often whimsical interpretations. How Korn would have us decide what is just and what is unjust I have no idea though I am sure it would rely heavily on her feelings.
While it is certainly true that science has been used to legitimize all manner of bigoted attitudes it is also true that it has corrected itself time and time again, and has even advanced equality. Peer review and time is the great culler of scientific bosh. Korn uses a paper from more than four decades ago to evidence her stance, as though nothing has happened between 1971 and 2014. As though time doesn’t matter. She might as well have quoted notes from Mengele and called it a day.
People like Korn are the reason the left has become philosophically diabolical. In their well-meaning attempt to create an atmosphere of respect and understanding they’ve managed to actually demonize free speech. And if there are any doubts that academic freedom is a component of free speech, let me make it clear that it is. If students are not allowed to discuss, debate or even study a subject because someone might be offended that is a form of censorship and indeed, acting to curtail free speech.
Academic freedom is not as carte blanche as Korn would have people believe, nor is free speech for that matter. We have slander and libel laws to protect us from lies. And we have guidelines and even laws of ethics that prevent unreasonable exercises of study and commentary within specific fields.
In essence Korn wishes to be the moral police. She has transformed into the very people she likely swore to protect us from. She gives absolutely no clear rubric for how to determine when her idea of academic freedom has been breached. I suspect though that her opinion and the opinions of her disciples would be considered enough, enough to administer their idea of ‘moral’ and ethical behavior. She might as well just say that anything that offends her is off the table.