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March 30, 2004

Our Man Behind the Tassled Curtain

Mike Adams's Townhall columns are often simultaneously disturbing and refreshing in the way in which they offer a conservative's inside view of academia. In the current column, he reacts to having been chided for making some of his fellow professors "uncomfortable" by discussing his political views:

When it first hit me that while in the office I could no longer talk about gay rights, feminism, religion, Darwinism, affirmative action, or any issue I discuss in my column, I was outraged. In fact, I got so mad that I raised my voice before storming out of my superior’s office. I never thought that the right of each university employee to feel comfortable at all times would ever actually be enforced against me here in the workplace (a.k.a., the public university).

But after I thought about it for a while, my anger turned to elation. Surely, the power to trump the First Amendment rights of others in response to "discomfort" is available to all employees, not just a select few. Since that must be the case (because our public university is committed to equality), I decided to make a list of every situation I had encountered at UNC-Wilmington where I felt "uncomfortable."

Even as he exposes the vapid laziness that the tenure culture can engender, Adams makes a case for it. The overarching threat of an ideological homogeneity can squelch the will to stand in opposition to it enough without the added cudgel of possible unemployment.

One grimace-worthy response is to actually pursue with all seriousness the return of like for like that Adams humorously feigns. Generally, I'm an idealist on such things, believing that the tool snatched from those who abused it can be a too-tempting possession. Glenn Reynolds, however, makes a good point regarding the leveraging of "hostile environment" legislation to protect the very group that was meant to be restrained by it (i.e., white, male Christians):

I don't approve of such things, but there's no better way to put an end to this asinine speech-suppressing body of law than to start enforcing it evenhandledly.

The danger is still too great, I'd say, that we'll discover that the craven gutterswumps who pushed for the legislation in the first place have long since transferred their devotion from the intention to the mechanism and are perfectly happy to leave the laws in place.

Posted by Justin Katz at March 30, 2004 6:45 PM

I just wonder why free speech only applies to these types of conservatives at Town Hall and other places when it involves spreading hatred of gays or progressive causes. When "liberals" (I'm not a liberal but I'm not a conservative either; these days that word means hating people that have a mind of their own) discuss issues, they are accused of having an agenda. And yet when far-right speakers go around spreading misinformation, making stories up, etc. they cling to freedom of speech. More far-right double standards.

Posted by: Bill at April 4, 2004 4:46 PM

References to free speech and "having an agenda" aren't opposing reactions. People with agendas are free to speak. However, it's critical that others understand that an agenda exists. This goes for both sides of the political universe.

Posted by: Justin Katz at April 4, 2004 8:07 PM