Thursday, July 24, 2003


Randy Barnett has been guest-blogging for Glenn Reynolds on his MSNBC/LSMFT site, and this post on whether the Left has some particular problem with factual arguments got a lot of people's undies in a twist. "The Right does it too!" they exclaimed, which is somewhat true. Who does it more isn't my point. I recall this post from Jack on the topic, and I think that sums up my view as well. I was struck by Prof. Barnett's correspondent at the Volokh Conspiracy, who says that academia lives in a cocoon.
Conservatives, including myself, regularly complain about liberal bias in the media, Hollywood, academia, etc. The silver lining to this annoying reality is that conservatives cannot avoid the world views and arguments of their political opponents. In other words, it is much easier for a liberal to escape confronting conservative views than it is for conservatives to escape confronting liberal views. The consequence is that conservatives are not allowed, particularly by the media, to "make things up". In a strange way, the liberal media forces conservatives to strive to be more careful and honest because conservatives know they will be challenged. ...

In addition, I think the typical liberal not-for-profit worker or college professor can, if they choose, live and recreate in something of a politically correct cocoon. When I used to be more liberal in my early 20s in Washington, DC, my liberal/left friends would talk in shocked tones if a conservative showed up at a party or social function.

That strikes me as very true. I do get to go to a number of university functions, but it's rare that any other libertarian or conservative is even in the room. And the discussion at these things are always full of pleasantries and platitudes, never of serious issues. One of our younger faculty was at a first-year mentoring program -- often just mixers for new faculty to meet and know other new faculty, and a chance to get face time with the dean -- and discussion turned to a serious issue, our democratic citizenship program. The fellow is asked for his views, and he starts with, "Well, in a democracy..." and before he can even finish the sentence another first-year snorts "You think we live in a democracy?" Chastened, the young man didn't speak again, according to his account.

This blog was set up first to keep other members of SCSU informed on what was happening on campus, because the email lists on campus (now under threat) were either mealy-mouthed administrative missives or bilous screeds of leftist thought. That is, when you try to prick the cocoon, they simply try to build more walls. Numerous faculty come up to me and say, "I don't read your email" or "You post too much". And, as Jack notes often, even the faculty who are not committed to the Left are silent as well. And so it will continue until more of them remember to stand up.