Today, the Washington Examiner published an op-ed by Jennifer Schubert-Akin discussing the consequences of campus cancel culture. Jennifer argues that restrictions on academic freedom threaten academic freedom, scholarship, and knowledge, from which we all benefit. She highlights that the Steamboat Institute is hosting a debate and discussion in Denver on Wedesday between Alan Dershowitz, Harvard Law School professor emeritus, and Robert Post, Yale Law School professor, titled “Making Space for Diversity of Ideas: Should the University Censor Speech and, if so, on What Basis?”
The event takes place from 5:30 to 7:00 PM MT. Register to attend in person HERE. Register to view the live-stream HERE. Online viewers will be able to submit questions to the professors during the live event.
The consequences of campus cancel culture
Georgetown University law professor Sandra Sellers was fired this month for saying in an accidentally recorded Zoom conversation that her black students scored at the bottom of her class. The university also suspended the professor to whom she made the remark for not correcting her. He subsequently resigned.
These comments are controversial and offensive to many. To others, including those who have followed the research of noted black scholars such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and Jason Riley, who have long argued that affirmative action programs at prestigious universities backfire, they are merely inartful. While the substance of Sellers’s remark is debatable, her right to make it should not be. These Georgetown professors are just the latest victims of campus cancel culture, where faculty members are silenced for uttering unpopular views. This censorship threatens academic freedom, scholarship, and knowledge, from which we all benefit.
Colleges are held to a far higher standard of free speech than other workplaces because professors are generally granted tenure, which protects them from dismissal stemming from their political positions. Tenure “serves society and the common good by protecting the quality of teaching and research and thus the integrity of institutions of higher education,” according to the American Association of University Professors. “If faculty members can lose their positions for what they say in the classroom or for what they write in an article, they are unlikely to risk addressing controversial issues.”
The history of human thought and scientific breakthroughs proceed from minority viewpoints becoming increasingly popular. Imagine if the brave academics who challenged once-popular notions such as racism were silenced. Cancel culture threatens the advancement of minority scientific perspectives because it kills nascent theories in their cradle, before they can be studied and proliferated. Consider how difficult it is for today’s academics objectively to study controversial topics such as affirmative action or climate change.