Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Let 'em scream 

Sometimes they're their own worst enemy. A faculty member who we'll simply refer to as "Miss Median" does not view our use (as the SCSU Association of Scholars) of the campus announcement email list as appropriate use. This was the announcement Jack put up:
Though political correctness is sometimes characterized as something as benevolent as "respect and tolerance for each other," in fact it is the most serious and consistent attack on free speech and free academic inquiry in our lifetime. Groups such as the National Association of Scholars, the Minnesota Association of Scholars, the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which features Alan Kors, Author of Shadow University, have all worked to defend traditional academic values.

In Tuesday's meeting of the SCSU chapter of the National Association of Scholars at 12:30 in the Primrose Room of Atwood, Dr. Jack Hibbard will discuss the history and effects of political correctness, both nationally and at SCSU.

All members of the academic community are invited.

Miss Median responded thus:
Does the "announce list" allow editorial comments? The local "SCSU Association of Scholars" has been making annoucements laced with political opinion every week for the past several weeks.

Curious as to the mission, goals and objectives of this organization, I opened the website of the "National Association of Scholars" -- the umbrella organization of our local chapter that meets every Tuesday on campus as per Prof Hibbard's weekly announcements to this list.

The NAS main page contained an anti-affirmative action message in large print, regarding the current University of Michigan case. Because the policy of our own campus and of MnScu is to support the Civil Rights Laws, including Affirmative Action, I am posting a NYT article that includes research-based (rather than opinion-based) information on Affirmative Action in state institutions of higher education.

The divine Miss M (with due apologies to Bette) then posts (to the announce list, mind you) a report from the Civil Rights Project, which is an advocacy group based at Harvard.

Miss Median is silly; an announcement for a meeting should give some rationale for why you'd want to attend. What's sad is that we have to explain why free speech is a good thing. The problem isn't the Harvard group -- they get grant money to advocate a view of civil rights, while FIRE gets other money to advocate its view of affirmative action in academia. The problem is that when a conservative group puts up an announcement for a meeting its appropriateness to the list is attacked; when -- as has happened in the last two weeks -- we receive several messages soliciting donations for an anti-war ad in the local paper or for action against a state legislative initiatives to remove the GLBT portion of the human rights amendment, no similar outcry is observed.

One faculty member on the discuss list tried to remind me that the Free Speech movement was started by liberals. True enough. But given the current climate, the question has become, "free for whom?".

I'm saying nothing of this on the campus list, for the screams the likes of Miss Median give us are grist for the mill. As noted by Sofia Sideshow, letting 'em speak is the best cure. If Jack's messages get these people to scurry out into the beam of our flashlights, the light will do the rest.