Current Events In the light of both the Gilley case (“The case for colonialism”) and the Tuvel case (“In Defense of Transracialism”) I’ve been thinking a lot about what an appropriate response would be to the originators (and signers) of the petitions that called for the retraction of their papers on the grounds that they were defending views that were “offensive”. If you organize a mob to demand someone else’s work be silenced then you have horribly misunderstood your role as an academic–or else you just don’t care about it. (I think you’ve also understood your moral obligations as a rational person, but I’m willing to accept that “activists” might have different duties in these cases than
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Christopher Freiman writes Unicorn Socialism
Roderick Long writes Reign of Fire
Christopher Freiman writes Academic Freedom is a Bipartisan Value
Fernando Teson writes Socialism: What’s in a Word?
First, it would clearly indicate that the institution that imposed this requirement on its “activist” faculty took the free exchange of ideas very seriously.
Second, it would require that the critical faculty member demonstrate that his concerns are legitimate–and that they are recognized as such by the academic peers of the original author.
Third, it would impose some costs on those who demand retractions. The required article would be more time-consuming to write than a petition and would take time to pass through peer-review before acceptance. During this time the faculty member would receive no additional research support–no course release, no conference funding, no technology grants, no research assistants, no sabbaticals.
Fourth, this suggestion would not involve taking anything away from those guilty of misconduct. It would simply withhold (or, in some cases, withdraw) benefits. And the benefits withheld would be those designed to aid in the free exchange of ideas–an enterprise that the faculty member guilty of such misconduct has shown his- or herself unwilling to engage in. This response would this be a fitting one for misconduct of this nature.
Finally, the faculty members thus castigated could not claim that they are being “censored” or “shut down”. They are not. In fact, this approach is the very opposite of silencing–it’s requiring them to express their views in a manner coherent enough to warrant publication.