We Want Free Speech" ¦That Is, As Long As You Agree With UsWritten by Jacob Prasch
Posted in Doc Blog at 12:14 am
by Calvin Smith
Here"s a good one. On Thursday the Daily Telegraph reports on how academics from the University and College Union oppose government requests to watch out for Islamic fundamentalism on campus and report extreme behaviour to the authorities. According to the Daily Telegraph,Ã‚ Sally Hunt, joint general secretary of the lecturers" union, stated: "Delegates have made it clear that they will oppose Government attempts to restrict academic freedom or free speech on campus" . All very noble, to be sure.
The problem is that this same lecturers' union has just now criticised the championing of heterosexual union (i.e. marriage) within schools (especially faith schools)Ã‚ as anti-gay, even calling for the prohibition of the articulation of such views (also reported in the Daily Telegraph, 31 May 2007).
A somewhat contradictory position, wouldn't you say, whereby they call for free speech while actively seeking to silence views they consider distasteful.
Don't forget this is the same group which just voted to boycott Israeli universities and called for a freezing of European funding for Israeli universities and academics. This is despite the fact that many of the Israeli academics that will suffer the most are actually critics of their own government's policy towards the Palestinians.
It seems you don't even have to disagree with these people to be silenced by them. So it is all very clear: these academics, who claim to want free speech when it suits their purposes, actually call for its prohibition when it does not agree with their ideology or values. In short, such an approach is an academic disgrace.
True scholars not only debate and engage with those they might disagree with, they relish the opportunity to do so, to defend and promote their research. It is the nature of true scholarship and academe. Yet these lecturers who have voted in this mannerÃ‚ seek to silence their opponents by prohibiting any debate in the first place.
Could it possibly be that some of them feel they can't win the arguments and so have to resort to more underhanded methods? Free speech indeed.
Calvin L. Smith, Ph.D.
Principal and Tutor of Theology
King's Evangelical Divinity School
Faculty Page: www.kingsdivinity.org/about/faculty-calvin-smith
Editor, Evangelical Review of Society and Politics
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