The results of the Curmie Award vote are up at Curmudgeon Central, where blogger Rick Jones tracks episodes of supreme embarrassment for his profession, education. I think next year’s winner may have already arrived. It’s not that I can’t imagine worse conduct by an educator—I have a lively imagination—it’s just that the conduct California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) professor Robert Donald Weide is an apt symbol of why U.S. higher education is no longer a solution to anything, but a tragic problem in itself. There is no reason, none, why any school shouldn’t immediately sack a faculty member who behaves like this. If the issue is tenure, then tenure needs to be abolished. Tenure should not shield campus fascists.
What did Weide do? CSULA’s branch of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization, dared to invite Ben Shapiro to give a lecture called “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” about such emerging issues as Black Lives Matter, “microaggressions,” “safe spaces,” trigger warnings and other assaults on free speech on campuses and elsewhere. Naturally, since the topic is an important and legitimate one, many at CSULA are attacking the event and arguing it should be blocked by the university, citing trigger warnings, safe spaces, microaggressions, and, of course, the ever-useful censorship concept of “hate speech.”
Perhaps here is as good a place as any to note that I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to Ben Shapiro, and wouldn’t do so even before his website, Breitbart, decided to shill for Donald Trump. That, however, doesn’t alter the fact that he is every bit as worthy of a campus speaking gig as Lena Dunham, Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, or the Pope. Continue reading