1.12.16

THE PROPER ANSWER TO SPEECH IS MORE SPEECH.

The council of elders at Heterodox Academy raise a principled objection to the new Professor Watchlist.  "Rather than seeking to discourage certain voices on campus, we think the better approach is to encourage a variety of voices—heterodox voices—so that bad arguments can be answered with good ones and scholarly ideas can be tested by the strongest minds on both sides."  Yes, but as I cautioned in noting the social necessity of the list, "The enemies list exists, dear reader, because there are faculty members less conscientious, or perhaps so marinated in the culture-studies hothouses that they can't advance a monarchist or fascist or Marxist argument with any coherence."

That, loosely, is the perspective of Psychology Today's conservative social psychologist, Robert D. Mather.
I agree with the Heterodox Academy that such a watchlist does not facilitate collegial discourse. Indeed, this watchlist is a response to events such as the bias response teams and trigger warnings that have covered many campuses and predominantly silenced conservative but not liberal discourse. For conservative students, speaking in class already registers you on the informal watchlist in the predominantly liberal academy. For conservative professors, offering their perspective does the same. The idea of a watchlist is similar to the informal blacklisting that occurs for conservative faculty. While there may be unpleasant implications of a Professor Watchlist for liberal professors who stifle viewpoint diversity, free speech is a double edged sword and conservative professors have felt the sharp edge of blacklisted ideology for many years.
Or, perhaps, it's simple unfamiliarity with the counter arguments that leads to Tenured Radicals Behaving Badly.  I'll give Rod Dreher the final words.  "The fact that Professor Watchlist exists, and that there is an actual need for it, is evidence of a profound institutional failure, and a failure of trust."  He backs that up, with additional evidence and commentary.  Do go there.

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