Earlier we talked about the problems of Roger and Buck. Buck is in the most recent post. You can go look it up if you like. Now we see what should happen when the shoe is on the other foot. Ann Althouse has a nice report on a course called The Problem Of Whiteness taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Ann is a law school faculty member there. A Wisconsin lawmaker is angry:
UW-Madison must drop the class, Murphy said. “If UW-Madison stands with this professor, I don’t know how the University can expect the taxpayers to stand with UW-Madison.”
Ann approvingly quotes FIRE (send them a few bucks before the end of the year) and they are exactly right that:
Thankfully… the university offered a robust defense of free speech on campus when “Provost Sarah Mangelsdorf said the university ‘supports the First Amendment rights of its students, faculty and staff, including their use of social media tools to express their views on race, politics or other topics, in their capacity as a private citizen.’”
We cannot be entirely supportive of Ann and FIRE because universities are not known for their robust defense of free speech. We wish they were but we can predict when they will support free speech fairly effectively. Try reading the 12 student demand in this article to see what students think about free speech. Ann quotes Connor at the Atlantic:
Uniting against illiberalism on the right and left is the best course.
Again, we agree with Ann and Connor. The problem is that we are not choosing the best course. Or perhaps somebody thinks this is not illiberal:
In one tweet, posted at 10:36 p.m. the day the officers were killed, Sajnani [the faculty member of the course in question] included a photo of news coverage and wrote, “Is the uprising finally starting? Is this style of protest gonna go viral?” Earlier that night, Sajnani had tweeted a link to a song on YouTube called “Officer Down” and wrote, “Watching CNN, this is the song I am currently enjoying in my head.”
Madison came out for free speech but didn’t seem to care about content. We are all for more speech as the solution. Try tweeting “Viva President Trump,” and see what happens. Let’s bring John Derbyshire to Madison. Let’s have him teach a course there. It will not happen. Instead, taxpayers will conclude that universities can’t administer themselves and need to be either starved or micromanaged. Both are bad outcomes. We wish that we were on the road to free speech at the university but we don’t think so. We still support free speech and wish that everyone did.