Tuesday, February 04, 2003

Patai is speechless 

Latest to sound off on the student watchdog webs is Daphne Patai in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article (reprinted for free offsite at FIRE.)
Marvelous irony here: The very same people who have been eager to promote tattling on faculty members who don't conform to the party line on race and gender are now worried that someone is tattling on them. This, they claim, "chills" free speech. It's akin to McCarthyism. And in what forum is this chilling occurring? On that harbinger of free and easy communication that is unimpeded by geographic boundaries and personal prestige: the Internet.


The controversy caused by the two offending Web sites {NoIndoctrination.org and Campus Watch ---kb} is, in my view, welcome, for it has forced professors not otherwise known for their rousing defense of free speech to sound the alarm. Too bad they can't be bothered to express that same concern when speech that they themselves deplore is targeted for curtailment. Where are these colleagues when professors face accusations of sexual or racial harassment resulting from words uttered in class that offend some students? The selective approach to free speech suggests that today's critics are just hoping to extend their control to independent Web sites of which they disapprove.

Yup. The rest of the article is just as good.