In Part I, I discussed an example of an individual being fired for his expression of an unpopular political opinion on a personal platform. As I mentioned there, this is a recent phenomenon of great concern to Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley. as expressed on his blog and elsewhere, such as his recent testimony in the Senate about the erosion of free speech and academic freedom in universities . The Ethics Alarms post was originally supposed to highlight examples of this ominous phenomenon highlighted by Turley, and then events overcame both Turley and Ethics Alarms, as another egregious example arose that Turley hadn’t yet covered.
Since I offered Part I, Turley’s assault on institutions intimidating individuals based on the content of their speech continued. Here, he objected to Dartmouth’s faculty and student body attempting to silence the Dartmouth Review, and independent campus newspaper that has been a voice from the Right on the liberal campus for decades. He wrote in part,
[O]ver 1000 students and faculty members have signed a letter to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to disassociate the school from the conservative student newspaper, the Dartmouth Review. The letter accuses the newspaper of “hateful ideologies” and “racist” columns, including one cited column objecting to the careless use of the word “racist.” … [T]he reason stated by the organizers to move against the newspaper [was] in part because of a recent controversy involving an alumni who resigned from Fox News…the organizers admit that they decided to move against the newspaper as a way to responding to the controversy surrounding the resignation of a Fox producer with Tucker Carlson. Blake Neff is a 2013 graduate of Dartmouth and Review alumni. He was found to have written a series of bigoted anonymous comments.
…. [T]he idea of the letter to force the Board to prove its antiracism by attacking the newspaper, which had no role in Neff’s misconduct: “We thought, how can the senior leadership of Dartmouth, President Hanlon and the trustees write this letter to every member of the community, and then continue in silent complicity with a publication that since its inception has consistently been an incubator of racist hate and white supremacy?”
…The failure [to] actively target the newspaper is now viewed as de facto tolerance for racism even after the school issued a letter proclaiming its support for Black Lives Matter.
…As a blog committed to free speech issues, the concern over this controversy is obvious. There are routinely over-heated rhetoric in college newspapers including many reckless statements from faculty and students on the left. We have defended many of those speakers and writers. However, the first response of many Dartmouth graduates to the Neff story was to seek to attack the leading conservative newspaper on campus in part for its prior association with Neff.
… What is being lost in such moves is the diversity of thought on campus…. they are seeking to pressure the university to marginalize students who want to participate in these debates from a conservative viewpoint.
This is a theme on Turley’s blog. In this post, he discussed the movement to remove Harvard Professor Steven Pinker, who holds the Johnstone Family Chair of Psychology. He wrote in part, “[H]undreds of academics and graduate students…are seeking his removal from the Linguistic Society of America. [Their] letter is one of the most chilling examples of the new orthodoxy that has taken over our academic institutions. The signatories seek his removal for holding opposing views on issues like underlying causes of police shootings and other research. The cited grievances are at best nuanced and at worst nonsensical. Yet, hundreds signed their names and academic affiliations to try to punish a professor for holding opposing views to their own.”
Earlier, Turley covered the effort at the University of Chicago to punish a contrarian professor, writing in part,
We recently discussed the controversy of posting by University of Chicago Professor Brian Leiter saying that military leaders should “depose” President Donald Trump and jail him. Now another Chicago professor is under fire. Notably, while no one called for Leiter to be fired for wistfully discussing a military coup, there is a chorus of writers and academics calling for the canning of Harald Uhlig, the senior editor of the prestigious the Journal of Political Economy. Uhlig is also the Bruce Allen and Barbara Ritzenthaler Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. The reason is that Uhlig had the audacity to criticize Black Lives Matters and the movement to Defund The Police. Joining this effort is New York Times’ Paul Krugman, who is striking out at someone for giving his opposing view — an intolerant position that now appears to be official policy at the New York Times. It is all part of the new order where writers call for censorship, academics call for removing academic freedoms, artists call for art removal, and politicians call for dismantling police.
(Krugman really is disgusting,and kudos to Turley for saying so. It is signature significance that the New York Times continues to give him—and several others—a forum.)
In another post, Turley exposed the outrageous attack on University of Pennsylvania Professor Carlin Romano because Romano questioned the language of a proposed statement on racism in the publishing industry and even spotted an embarrassing typo. Here, he reported on the extremely troubling conduct of the University of Pittsburgh, which removed Associate Professor of Medicine Norman Wang from his position as Program Director of the Electrophysiology Fellowship. The removal was in direct response to Wang publishing an article in a peer-reviewed journal that questioned the use of affirmative action in medical schools admissions.
Ethics Alarms will do its best to follow Professor Turley in his important and courageous efforts to expose the current assault by the Left on free expression and dissent, in academia and elsewhere.