Free Speech vs Campus Orthodoxy

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You have to hand it to the politically correct, astride their prancing steeds, delivering instructions to the masses. They know more than the supreme beauty and worth of their own ideas: They know the worthlessness of contrasting or conflicting ideas.

And they’ll tell you. Boy, will they tell you, as at the University of Texas’ Austin campus, when the Young Conservatives of Texas tried to make a point about moral equality. Problem was, the whole issue has evidently been decided at UT: Wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow; nothing more to say, nothing more to hear. Not even when the local YCT’s are offering you cookies.

YCT wanted to question the local, pre-decided orthodoxy – the here’s-how-we-do-things-around-here orthodoxy – on affirmative action.

The idea was to offer cookies at different prices for different races and sexes: a buck-fifty for Asian males, a buck for white males,  freebies for American Indians, etc., etc. YCT’s point: that UT, like many another American temple of the Higher Learning, is heavy and deep into racial and sexual discrimination.

The trouble is, YCT’s point bumps up against UT’s, which has been declared (by someone, apparently) true and righteous: alight with the beauty of holiness.  Accordingly, some of the campus’ more excitable inhabitants crowded around the YCT booth to heckle and hiss, admonishing the young conservatives to “Check your privilege.”   The school’s vice president for diversity and community engagement – seemingly committed to forms of engagement other than those at hand – branded YCT’s activities “inflammatory and demeaning.”

Well, yes – insofar as they disagreed with him. How much more “demeaning” can you get? If only they’d violated UT’s own conduct code by waving sex toys around – as happened on campus last summer – to protest a law allowing guns to be carried on campus! UT administrators beamed benevolently at that time, code or no code: “We encourage our students to engage in free speech and debate issues of public policy,” said a spokesman.

Evidently, at UT, not all debates are created equal. Gun policy, fine. Affirmative action, nope. The troubling point here isn’t what UT has decided about guns or admissions policy. The troubling point is the university’s selective disdain for positions offensive to its idea-czars, never mind those free speech rights we once hailed as quintessentially American. Does anybody who hangs around the Forty Acres possibly remember John Milton and his admonition:  “[S]o truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and falsehood grapple; who ever knew truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter.”

Milton, thou shouldst be living at this hour!   Maybe as provost of UT.

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