Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Fight for Academic Freedom Heats Up

It is not clear why the number of academic freedom cases seem to be increasing. Is it because the iron hand of ideological conformity is squeezing professors more tightly? Or is it because more subjects of attack are fighting back in court?

I tend to think it is for both those reasons. Socially acceptable views in academia tend to run from the left to the far left. More traditional, conservative viewpoints are regarded as simply wrong. It occurs in field after field. We see it on many aspects of the evolution debate and issues pertaining to bioethics. Academic freedom policies are adopted by universities, but then selectively applied. They probably were written to protect left wingers in dissent, so when a right winger tries to appeal to them, administrators regard the appeal as bizarre. Freedom of dissent is for liberals, not conservatives.

But groups like the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) have been established in the past decade precisely to answer the cries of professors and students who are discriminated against on ideological grounds. As a consequence, some professors may be more willing now to sue...

(Bruce Chapman, "Academic Freedom Cases Increasing," Discovery News)