Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Academic Bill of Rights

You've heard about Horowitz's little pet project -- the one he's whoring himself all over the country to get passed, the one actually being considered, as we speak, by nine separate state legislatures?

Here's a copy of it:

And here's why we don't need it:

Horowitz and the Far Right are arguing, as they have been arguing, that universities are rife with Leftists, and that we are corrupting the young, and making the worse appear the better cause, and teaching everyone to be atheists (hey, where have I heard this before?), not to mention dissing the president, Jesus, the war in Iraq, and Rush Limbaugh. And that this is bad.

David Horowitz has collected a whole website full of complaints about it. Atrios ( has a link to it if you're interested, but basically all the complaints say the same thing: my professor said mean things about (Jesus/Bush/Rush/the war in Iraq) and when I complained my professor gave me a bad grade. And no evidence to link the bad grade to the complaint, may I add, other than the student asserting that the two are linked.

Anyway, Horowitz and the Far Right want Academic Bill of Rights on campuses across America so that more they can get Conservative professors on campus (because they figure that's why there aren't many there -- liberals are conspiring not to hire them: it can't be, oh, that conservatives would rather do something that makes a lot of money, so that they can buy big Hummers and wreck the environment with'em. Nah.) and so that the liberal professors can be restrained from brainwashing impressionable young college students.

Here's the thing: One: college students? Not that impressionable.

Two: We already have academic freedom on campuses and it works just fine. Students who think they have been mistreated have the right to appeal their grades: there is, in fact, already a process in place to deal with instructor abuse. It goes all the way up to suing the university with your trusty lawyer. Mr. Horowitiz, of course, knows this.

Three: Check out the language in this fine document:

4. Curricula and reading lists in the humanities and social sciences should reflect the uncertainty and unsettled character of all human knowledge in these areas by providing students with dissenting sources and viewpoints where make their students aware of other viewpoints. Acappropriate. While teachers are and should be free to pursue their own findings and perspectives in presenting their views, they should consider and ademic disciplines should welcome a diversity of approaches to unsettled quesions.


8. Knowledge advances when individual scholars are left free to reach their own conclusions about which methods, facts, and theories have been validated by research. Academic institutions and professional societies formed to advance knowledge within an area of research, maintain the integrity of the research process, and organize the professional lives of related researchers serve as indispensable venues within which scholars circulate research findings and debate their interpretation. To perform these functions adequately, academic institutions and professional societies should maintain a posture of organizational neutrality with respect to the substantive disagreements that divide researchers on questions within, or outside, their fields of inquiry.

You do get what those mean, right?

Dissenting source = Rush Limbaugh.

"Posture of neutrality"= The university should (at least pretend to) support Intelligent Design.

Well, this is not what universities or scholars do. We don't provide dissenting opinions when those opinions are wrong or uniformed. We don't "provide" disinformation to our students. We exist to enlighten, not to make more ignorant. If students want to study ignorance, let them go to Bob Jones College. They can learn all about how evolution is evil-ition and women should submit to their husbands and Bush is God's Chosen leader there.

On a university campus, they should be learning actual thinking skills, and real science.

1 comment:

zelda1 said...

I am a student at a University in Bubba land. Yep it's true and the thing about Bubba land is they do not want their sons, daughters, or wives to have any kind of thought process that goes contrary to what they think. They do not want their world view challanged. Surprise, it happens no matter where you go, if a person learns by reading, researching, listening to a lecture or any other source ( like Oprah) of infomation there will be enlightenment and that enlightenment will challange, and it is meant to challange, our existing world views. That is learning. And if anyone thinks that a professor can change a person's politics, religion, or even their marital status they apparently haven't been to bubbaland. There are a few who see the light but for the most part the far right stays far right, the leviticans remain leviticans and the little women remain little women while the rest of us try to avoid those who will not open their eyes.