Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning: "The End of Academe: Free Speech and the Silencing of Dissent"

   In July of 2015, The Chronicle published our essay suggesting that some of the manifestations of a new moral culture emerging at colleges in this country were incompatible with the traditional academic mission. Since then, it has become clear that this is so. In the last few years, activist students and faculty, sometimes with the support of administrators, have increasingly attacked the ideals of free speech.
   The new activist culture calls for colleges to confront the small, perhaps unintended slights known as microaggressions, to provide trigger warnings for course material that might offend or upset, and to become safe spaces where ideas go unchallenged. It is characterized by extreme moral sensitivity, and in this way is similar to honor cultures of the past where men were highly sensitive to insults and responded to perceived slurs against their character with duels and other forms of violence.
   The new culture is less concerned with slights against individual character than with anything perceived as furthering the oppression of victim groups. In either case, though, extreme moral sensitivity presents a problem in an academic environment. As we warned, "Honest inquiry and communication are bound to offend someone," so if colleges are to be places of inquiry and communication, "they must have a climate where people are less — not more — prone to outrage than elsewhere."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why aren't you focusing on the real problems students face? You know the ones that happen off campus or we are otherwise unable to impact meaningfully. Why on earth would you think that things that may be happening in your department are where the focus should be?

It is like we cannot focus on two things at the same time. The inability to grasp that while "honor culture" hasn't infected every, or even most campuses, that it has a solid grasp on many of the most prominent programs in the country is indisputable. What happens on those campuses impacts the rest of us, many of the Masters of the Universe go through those programs and their ability to drive change through the culture far exceeds the average graduate of Fresno State or Bowling Green, much less a local community college.

4:11 PM  

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