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History / Sociology

Problems of Free Speech in the Modern University

This post is part of the series The Modern University

Other posts in this series:

  1. Problems of Free Speech in the Modern University (Current)
  2. Ideology and the Modern University

In my last post, I discussed the nature of free speech as it applied to the university. The modern university has several problems in this area.

One of these problems is created by hate speech legislation and rules. While we all know that racism and anti-Semitism are false, the right to free speech does include the right to espouse these kinds of opinions. The best way to defeat racist opinions is with the facts. Doing it any other way just shows that you have something to hide. That is only one problem created by hate speech legislation. Another problem is that legitimate statistics and facts are hidden. For example, it is a biological fact that men are better at math than women, and women are better at languages than men. But some individuals do not like these facts because they claim that they promote racism, or are not ‘real facts’. But there is no reason to believe that. There is a third problem. Sometimes individuals who share these kinds of facts with others are punished for ‘hate speech’. But punishing someone for sharing what they believe to be the facts is contrary to the central purpose of the university. Hate speech legislation is contrary to free speech and the purpose of the university.

Another problem is created by ideological pressure. Many universities promote ideas from the left of the political spectrum. In some cases, individual departments in a university are approximately 95% leftist. If a university were 95% men or 95% white, then the lack of diversity would be corrected. Even if the lack of diversity were not corrected, professors and administrators would be instructed in “diversity awareness”. Neither of these things has ever happened at a modern university with regards to ideological diversity. As a result, conservative students are often discriminated against, their groups receive less funding, and their speech is often curtailed. Peer pressure is an effective tactic for eliminating speech that the ruling (leftist) ideology does not want to hear.

Ideological pressure also permits permissiveness not given to those against the ruling ideology. This means that teachers will promote political ideologies in class, students will substitute political ideology for classwork and the administration will permit students and teachers to miss class for ideological reasons. However, these kinds of permissions will only be given for certain ideologies. Those that are compatible with the governing system will be permitted. All others will have to obey the rules. This is not just contrary to free speech, it substitutes political activism for education!

The final problem concerns the difference between free speech and promoting free speech. If a university group wishes to have a speaker, then they have the right to do so. The university is not obligated to support them in any way. However, the university is also not permitted to deny them entrance, determine what the speaker can say or determine who can be invited. Universities are forums for free speech for the purpose of education.

Next, I will discuss the influence of the publishing industry in modern universities.

Continue reading this series:

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