CultureWatch

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Academics Declare War on Free Speech

Jun 30, 2011

Once upon a time universities were known as places of free enquiry, openness to various ideas, and above all, a disposition to free speech. If it was hard to get a hearing, one could usually get a platform to speak freely in the academy.

But the theory of academic free speech is just that – a theory. It works just fine if you are a leftist, a secularist, and politically correct. If you fall into those categories you can pretty much say anything you want any time you want at just about any Western University.

Indeed, you increase your chances tremendously of being invited to speak if you toe the PC line and have plenty of anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Christian ideas. That is basically a free pass into any university or college in the Western world today.

But dare to seek to defend pro-faith, pro-family and pro-life values and you will see just how closed our institutions of higher learning have become today. I have documented many cases of this over the years on this site. Indeed, entire volumes have been written looking at this academic censorship.

While a number of authors could be mentioned here, let me focus on just one. David Horowitz was once a part of the militant left, and editor of the radical New Left Ramparts magazine. He has had a change of heart over the years and has left his youthful radicalism.

He has penned at least four important volumes chronicling the leftist stranglehold on our universities. They are all worth consulting on this important issue. There are:
The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. Regnery 2007.
Indoctrination U: The Left’s War Against Academic Freedom. Encounter Books, 2009.
One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy. Crown Forum, 2009.
Reforming Our Universities: The Campaign For An Academic Bill Of Rights. Regnery 2010.

In Australia these trends have been carefully documented in a number of valuable books by education expert Kevin Donnelly. See my review of one of his earlier volumes here:
billmuehlenberg.com/2004/05/21/a-review-of-why-our-schools-are-failing-by-kevin-donnelly/

In addition to these volumes of documentation, many of us would have had first-hand experience of this leftist censorship and indoctrination taking place at our unis. As but one example, I recall some years ago as I was walking through Melbourne’s Monash University seeing large posters all over the place with words to this effect: “Do not let Pauline Hanson speak at our campus”.

And there I thought universities were all about learning, the cultivation of ideas, and openness to alternative points of view! I thought our universities were meant to engender debate, not shut it down. But that is happening all the time in our PC institutions.

The most recent example of this is found in today’s press. Check out this headline: “Academics call for Lord Monckton ban at uni”. Here is how the story continues: “More than 50 Australian academics have signed a letter urging Western Australia’s Notre Dame University to cancel a speech by British climate change sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton.

“He is due to deliver the Lang Hancock Lecture at the university in Fremantle tonight, an event named for the late mining magnate and sponsored by his daughter Gina Rinehart. But a letter signed by more than 50 academics has called on the university to bar the controversial speaker, saying ‘he stands for the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter’. The letter, organised by University of Western Australia postgraduate student Natalie Latter, accuses Lord Monckton of spreading ‘widely discredited fictions about climate change’.

So now a bunch of PC eggheads want to ban Lord Monckton simply because he takes a different stance to their own. Wow, what a brave and open bunch of academics these guys are. Here comes a guy who does not buy the PC line on climate change and these folks want to censor him altogether.

Banning someone always is so much easier than actual debate and a free-flow of ideas. Better the jackboot of censorship than a free exchange of viewpoints. Gee, this really makes an inviting scenario for budding young academics and prospective students.

Lord Monckton of course has been a leading opponent of the climate alarmists. He has challenged their gloom and doomism and their radical big government solutions. He really played a key role in getting the Copenhagen talks derailed. Of course Climategate helped greatly there as well.

I have written up these matters elsewhere, eg.:
billmuehlenberg.com/2009/12/06/climategate-and-copenhagen/
billmuehlenberg.com/2010/02/04/how-the-other-side-%E2%80%9Cargues%E2%80%9D/

And here are two great ten-minute video clips of Monckton’s talk in Melbourne last year:

But for daring to offer unpopular and non-trendy views on the important issues of climate change and government action on it, this man is now treated as a persona non grata. He was criticised just recently for referring to the federal government’s chief climate change adviser Ross Garnaut as being Nazi-like in his presentation on these matters.

Whether this was an appropriate remark or not, one clearly has to ask in this case: is not the action by these 50 academics similar to what took place in Nazi Germany? The Nazis also heavily censored any contrary voices. By seeking to ban Monckton I fail to see how these eggheads are any better.

Indeed it has been noted by many that there is a worrying totalitarian streak inherent in the climate alarmists and their supporters, especially in the MSM. They will shout down and seek to demonise anyone who does not jump on their Chicken Little bandwagon.

I thought the free West fought the Nazis so that freedom, including freedom of speech, could be enjoyed by all of us. Evidently these 50 academics don’t believe this. They prefer censorship to debate; banning to open discussion. Shame on them.

www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/academics-call-for-lord-monckton-ban-at-uni/story-e6frg6nf-1226084792062

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38 Responses to Academics Declare War on Free Speech

  • The simple truth is this – if you are not prepared to defend the right of somebody else to offend you with their speech, you do not believe in freedom of speech, and therefore in freedom in general. It really is as basic as that. Those academics who signed the letter obviously aren’t very bright.

    I may not like what some people say about my Lord and Saviour, but if I want to be able to say I have the freedom to say what I like, then everybody else must have theirs as well.

    To be reminded of just what kind of ideas the warmists support, just check out the clip below for a bonafide campaign that somehow no-one throughout the entire pre, production and post process thought was a bad idea. Just think about the fact that not one person involved with this flagged it as dangerously supportive of chilling free speech. They apologised later, but the real point is that in their blinkered ideology, they were totally oblivious to what they were actually supporting. The same goes for those foolish academics.

    I have recently taken the position that even if the planet were burning up at a rate of a degree a year and seas rose a hundred metres in the next decade, I would still not support the warmist position, because of how they want to impose their ideas onto everybody else. You can hide from the sun and outrun the sea, but you can do neither to totalitarianism. I guess maybe I am more sensitive to this than most because both my parents grew up in Nazi Germany and had stories to tell.

    Warning: Graphic content.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIsritzu1og

    Mark Rabich

  • I wish they would link to the list of names of those in favour of censorship. Without publishing it, these academics get to hide their totalitarian inclinations and of course we can’t even check if there are 50 academics on the list or whether they have any credibility or are just the ‘usual suspects’. (Not that I think it would be difficult to find 50 moonbats in any one of our university faculties).
    Dale Flannery

  • Thanks Mark
    Quite right. Many of the greens are in fact brown-shirts.
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Dale
    Yes they seem to be happy to hide in anonymity – spineless wonders!
    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • There have been problems with free speech in Australian universities for decades. Visiting psychologists Eysenck and Jensen were prevented from airing their views on intelligence by abusive students. The American philosopher Michael Levin was similarly mistreated. I recall the latter case in particular because the local Secular Humanist group, a supposed champion of free speech and free inquiry, declined to defend his right to a fair hearing.
    John Snowden

  • Lord Monckton stands for “the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter’.

    Would not therefore those august and logical minds be better to follow their own advice and use their “duty to counter” in argument rather than censorship? At least the heretic hunters of the middle ages often allowed their opponents to speak (a little).

    It has long been noted that censorship is only for those who disagree with you. What another sad comment on the putrefying mass known as the intelligentsia.

    Lindsay Smail

  • Trouble with most universities and schools today teaching students what to think not how to think, rights instead of responsibilities etc.
    Ian Brinkworth

  • Where do you ever see conservatives engaging in such anti-free speech bullying when an infamous leftist comes to speak?

    Anne Coulter and David Horowitz need body guards when going to a university to speak but Michael Moore and Noam Chomsky do not.

    Recent news too of Glenn Beck and his family getting attacked at a movie theater.

    The left has a monopoly on hate.

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Damien

    And all this hate comes in the name of love, acceptance, peace and tolerance.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill

    Sorry, can’t help myself. Coulter’s article “Glenn Beck vs. the Mob” on leftist cowards in mobs is a must read,

    http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=316949

    Damien Spillane

  • Thanks Damien

    Yes, as always, a great article. Here is a bit from it:

    These brave-hearts know exactly what they can get away with. They assault a conservative only when it’s a sucker-punch, they outnumber him, or he can’t fight back for reasons of law or decorum.

    Liberals don’t get that when you’re outnumbering the enemy 100-1, you’re not brave.

    But they’re not even embarrassed. To the contrary, being part of the majority makes liberals feel great! Honey, wasn’t I amazing? I stood in a crowd of liberals and called that conservative a c–t. Wasn’t I awesome?

    This is a liberal’s idea of raw physical courage.

    When someone does fight back, liberals transform from aggressor to victim in an instant, collapsing on the ground and screaming bloody murder. I’ve seen it happen in a nearly empty auditorium when there was quite obviously no other human within 5 feet of the gutless invertebrate.

    People incapable of conforming to the demands of civilized society are frightening precisely because you never know what else such individuals are capable of. Sometimes – a lot more often than you’ve heard about – liberals do engage in physical violence against conservatives … and then bravely run away.

    That’s why not one person stepped up to aid Beck and his family as they were being catcalled and having wine dumped on them at a nice outdoor gathering.

    No one ever steps in. Never, not once, not ever. (Except at the University of Arizona, where college Republicans chased my assailant and broke his collarbone, God bless them.)

    Most people are shocked into paralysis at the sight of sociopathic liberal behavior. The only ones who aren’t are the conservative’s bodyguards – and they can’t do anything without risking a lawsuit or an arrest.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Hello Bill

    Just got back from Notre Dame Uni (UNDA) Fremantle and the lecture from Lord Monckton. I have seen him speak in Perth once before – last year. He is by all accounts a reasonable and articulate man and obviously well read. I would also say that he is a very decent and humane man. He said he will be issuing his talk tonight in a printed form together with references for all to check.

    As a past student of UNDA – and I am looking at going back there in the near future as it gets in the blood – I can attest that that university and the lecturers are fair, friendly, reasonable and well balanced and after previously attending another WA university the UNDA is a pleasure to attend. The whole point of this note is to reassure you that not all universities are a lost cause regarding free speech, openness and fair exchange. Perhaps if you could attend the UNDA for even just one semester your views may soften – and I would love to show you around.

    Bill Spence

  • Thanks Bill

    But you apparently have missed my point. I did not say that every single university today was a basket case. I of course specifically had in mind the great bulk of the secular public universities in the West. I obviously did not have in mind particular private Catholic universities such as UNDA. I am sure it is a very nice place.

    Thus my point remains: most secular unis today are hotbeds of radical leftism where it is hard for other points of view to get a fair hearing. So your rather obvious exception to the rule does not negate my main contention.

    And I am glad you got to hear Monckton again.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Real teachers encourage ‘free thinking’ and abstract thought in students. These are not ‘teachers’ ~ they are ‘programmers’ with the main goal of ‘indoctrinating’ students – no ‘free speech’ allowed. We need to take back our schools from the Federal Government and the teacher’s union or the quality of our school system will continue to decline. We will have to send OUR children overseas to receive a decent education and learn to think for themselves.
    Cynthia Napolitano

  • I work at a university in teh US. Unfortunately we also have a lot of libtards in administration and as faculty. Our director, (at the department I work in) is a liberal. If you are staff here and conservative, you cannot voice your opinion even off campus. I have had bad reviews by his assistant (who is a know-nothing, but is an administration favorite) write me up because she said she heard something I said off-campus that was denigrating to the university. No times, dates or examples given, when I tried to get HR involved because I considered this to be an example of toxic work environment, they checked my files. Couldn’t find any evidence of wrongdoing to merit an Administrative Complaint, but they did not help me at all. They recommended that I just shut up. Our chancellor has the mayor and the city council in his pocket and has been allowed to take over what used to the State Fair Grounds and make it into an innovation campus. Never mind that they already have an off-site location that is only 1/3 full of tenants. The low-income kids can no longer attend the State Fair because it got moved 100 miles away. I can not voice my opinion because it is too conservative. I am so fed up, but need to keep working as I am 68 and cannot find another job that pays the same, after 22 years I am making the princely sum of 13.91 an hour while the incompetent directors assistant (who couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag) is making $70,000 a year. I will try to keep working until the end of the next fiscal year, then I am going to resign and let them know exactly what I think of their mismanagement. They are so worried about the staff making too much, they have literally eviscerated the clerical staff and now the professors have to do everything. It’s no wonder that the kids are not getting a decent education. TOO MANY ADMINISTRATIVE WORKERS, SOMEBODY IN POWER HAS A NIECE, A NEPHEW, A BROTHER-IN-LAW ETC. and they get to cherry pick who gets the job. HOW IS THAT EVEN CLOSE TO FAIR. TOO MANY LIBTARDS ARE IN CHARGE. A POX ON THEM ALL!
    Elaine Connelly, US

  • Thanks guys

    Here is even more eco-fascism at work. Another group has canned Lord Monckton:
    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/broncos-bolt-from-climate-controversy-20110630-1gt4f.html

    Please ring and complain
    a) the Broncos Leagues Club Venue Feedback Ph: (07) 3858 9003 or e-mail [email protected]
    b) The General Manager Geoff Kuehner Ph: (07) 3858 9000

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • I recall attending a “peace rally” some years ago with a banner which quoted Mother Theresa; “Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace”. We were spat on by some of our fellow “pacifists” and required a police escort after the rally.

    Peter Coventry

  • @Elaine, my mother (now passed) worked at the Uni of Newcastle for 20+ years before being forced into retirement at 65. She saw the Uni go from being a conservative academic institution run by academics for the student’s best education, to a political organisation run by liberal administrators earning up to twice as much as the professors who manned the place. It was a shocking descent into mismanagement and lowered academic outcomes, but administrators were never the ones to blame. It’s a real shame when our educational institutions are ruined from the inside out.

    Garth Penglase

  • Thanks Bill.

    Complaint sent!

    Damien Spillane

  • @Bill, have emailed the Broncos Leagues club asking why they lack courage and took the politically correct avenue and curtailed freedom of speech because some vocal members disagreeing with it.

    Garth Penglase

  • Email to Geoff Kuehner just sent:

    Dear Mr Kuehner,

    I have seen a news report (Sydney Morning Herald online) that a meeting which was to be hosted at your club has been refused permission to continue, thus forcing a change of venue.

    I understand the reason was that you received a large number of complaints about Lord Christopher Monckton, who was to speak on a subject of great public interest.

    In the interests of public transparency on matters of public concern, could you please be specific about how many complaints you received from club members, and what proportion of the total membership this represents?

    Could you explain how you identify complaints from members, and distinguish them from those of non-members?

    Could you also identify the event which resulted in the next largest number of complaints, and the number lodged on that occasion?

    I await the outcome with some interest.

    Best regards,

    John Angelico

  • Ten minutes later a follow up:

    My ISP tells me:

                   The mail system
    

    info@broncosleagues.com.au: host mx.broncosleagues.com.au[203.201.152.182]

    said: 550 5.1.1 User unknown (in reply to RCPT TO command)
    

    They have taken down the email address – the electronic equivalent of blocking their ears!

    John Angelico

  • Could it be that students aren’t taught to think for themselves anymore and so the Uni’s can’t afford to expose them to anything they don’t want them to believe?

    Kay Symons

  • Bill

    That email got knocked back because I was an unknown. I guess I might be ringing or writing to them.

    Damien Spillane

  • This is not a “freedom of speech” question. Mr Monckton is neither a scientist, nor an academic, nor an economist, yet he purports to speak authoritatively on this complex issue. He is also not a “Lord”, yet he uses that title. He is not, nor has he ever been, a member of the House of Lords, although he describes himself as a “non-voting member” and a “politician”. He has illegally appropriated the official emblem of the House of Lords to adorn his slide presentations, despite requests from the UK Parliament to desist. He might have the gift of the gab, but many of his claims about himself are false or exaggerated.

    Why should such an individual be treated with any respect, or accorded any courtesy?

    Freedom of speech is not absolute. People who claim to speak from authority need to have appropriate education and professional experience and recognition. We don’t allow unqualified people to perform medical procedures, build bridges or fly aircraft. Mr Monckton is unqualified to speak on climate science, and therefore should not be represented as being an authority on the subject. A US Congressional Committee recently dismissed him out of hand as a fake.

    Scientists must conform to strict professional standards in order to gain recognition and status, and need to back up their findings with empirical data and technical analysis that is subject to independent professional review.

    Why then should an unqualified person be permitted to pose as a climate “authority” and misrepresent the experimental data with impunity? If this is the best that climate denialists can offer, their case is without substance and bereft of any credibility.

    Bill Richards, Brisbane

  • Thanks Bill

    Spoken like a true eco-fascist.

    Bill Richards believes he is completely qualified to tell us that Monckton is completely unqualified to speak, and therefore our visiting guest must be banned from speaking. Hitler would be proud of such a strategy.

    Well, to follow suit Bill, I have now decided that I am fully qualified to determine that you are fully unqualified to speak on these matters, so this will be your last rant on this site. I am sure you will approve of my adopting your practice here. You must of course approve, otherwise you would be guilty of gross hypocrisy.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,
    You deride Chris Monckton for being a fraud (not a Member of the House of Lords, not a climate scientist etc. etc.) yet you fail to state some pertinent facts, which are not in dispute:
    Monckton may not be a “climate scientist” (whatever that is – it is becoming increasingly evident to me that one of this breed is, for starters, by definition one who accepts the AGW theory), but he IS an expert mathematician, and if you know anything about the precise sciences (e.g. physics, oceanography, the space sciences) you will know that mathematics is the indispensable handmaid to science. So he DOES have a right to speak. Moreover, on this score, the infamous ‘hockey-stick’ graph, which was paraded as the cause celebre and knockout proof of the AGW theory even a few years ago, has been quietly dropped from discussion more recently, as also from the 4th Report of the IPCC in 2007. Why? Because a mining geologist, with skill in mathematical statistics, found the whole thing to be so seriously flawed as to be worthless. One could get a ‘hockey-stick’ from a purely random set of data by applying the methods which Michael Mann used! By your reasoning Stephen McIntyre, the geologist/mathematician in question, had no right to speak either. But no-one appeals to the ‘hockey-stick now, or haven’t you noticed?

    Your whole diatribe above is nothing but a string of abusive ad hominems, not all of them true, and to the extent that they are they are just as “cherry-picked” as you accuse Monckton and others of doing. As Andrew Bolt remarked this morning:
    “Monckton may be right in his criticisms of warming theories and predictions, or he may be wrong. But anti-science he is not. His arguments are drawn from science, and the respectable way to counter them is not to ban Monckton but disprove him. ”
    This you do not even attempt to do, but content yourself by various stratagems to deny him the right to a hearing. As Bill remarked, “Spoken like a true eco-fascist”. You warmenistas arrogate to yourselves the exclusive right to speak with any authority on the issue of AGW. You are the elite. I call conceit, snobbery, and effete arrogance by their names!

    In fact, let me go further: the last visit by Viscount Monckton was such a resounding success you on the warmist left determined on damage control, and that next time round you would pull out all stops to delegitimise him by any and all means, especially abuse and smackdown ad hominems. It’s all straight out of Saul Alinsky’s handbook “Rules for Radicals”. Whether you have read that volume or not, its content and methods have been widely disseminated, and here we see its principles in action.

    Murray R. Adamthwaite

  • Afraid of a different point of view? May be they are losing the battle.

    Carl Strehlow

  • The level of ad hominem and outright character assassination taken against Monckten by the likes of Richards is testimony to just how desperate his interlocutors are getting.

    Damien Spillane

  • Further to Bill Richards:
    Viscount Monckton’s response to the allegations against him from certain elements at Notre Dame University in Fremantle can be found here:
    http://joannenova.com.au/2011/07/viscount-monckton-answers-megan-clement-of-%E2%80%9Cconversation%E2%80%9D/#more-15802
    Therein Monckton issues a series of challenges which in effect say, “Put up, or shut up”.
    So, Mr Richards, the ball is in your court. Moreover, if you want to contact Viscount Monckton directly with your allegations you can do so through the organizers, Climate Sceptics, at their website,
    http://www.landshape.org/news/
    and then go to the “Contact” button.

    Murray R. Adamthwaite

  • @bill richard, One obvious error in your argument is that you confuse practising a career with freedom of speech. Anyone has the right to freedom of speech, regardless of their qualifications. Whether they are listened to comes down to their validity in that area, but regardless, they still have the right. If this is the bet argument you can come up with, given that it seems you have no scientific argument to counter Monckton, then it seems that, and the other climate-truth deniers, are indeed the end of their cause. It reminds me of the ‘magic weavers’ in the “The Kings new clothes” – a lie built on a fantasy perpetrated by ego and pride.

    Garth Penglase

  • Bill,

    You don’t allow freedom of speech on your site. You pick and choose the postings that you will allow.

    Why should not the owner of a private venue exercise the same rights?

    Monckton is free to stand on any street corner and say what he likes.

    Roger Lapin, Melbourne

  • Thanks Roger

    Let me call your bluff (as poor as it is). The academics and the football club both have sought to ban Monckton from speaking, pure and simple. That is unmitigated censorship and unwillingness to allow genuine debate. And of course the 50 so-called academics are likely from public, tax-payer funded schools. So you are doubly in error.

    Given that I have thousands of comments from my arch critics here on my site, including yours, your criticism rings quite hollow of course. But when people do not follow my rules, and resort to abuse and profanity and so on, then sure, they do not get on, nor they should expect to do so.

    So spare us your foolishness about ‘freedom of speech’. It is your side which is working overtime to shut down real freedom of speech in this country.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill,

    The problem is that people like Monckton speak on this complex subject without conforming to the high standards of scientific research and debate. Some members of the public don’t understand that the real climate debate happens in the professional scientific environment, not in football clubs.

    If a scientist gets a paper rejected by a professional journal, he doesn’t cry “freedom of speech”. He takes note of the criticisms of his evidence or argument and learns how to do better science.

    It is frustrating that certain elements of the media and the general public are prepared to listen to uninformed dilettantes like Monckton rather than researchers who actually know what they are talking about. To some extent that is an indictment of the ability of scientists to get their message across to the lay public, but even more so it is an indictment of the gullibility, ignorance and scientific illiteracy of a section of the general population.

    The issue of global warming is too critical in its potential consequences to grant any credence to uninformed and unqualified conspiracy theorists.

    Roger Lapin

  • Thanks again Roger

    But this is simply more of the same from you guys. Instead of debating the evidence presented, you simply attack the messenger and think you have somehow contributed to the scientific debate. You simply engage in ad hominem attacks on Monckton, and claim he is unqualified to speak, and therefore should be silenced. But somehow we are all supposed to accept that you are qualified to speak, and therefore you should be given priority here.

    It is always easier to throw mud around and dismiss as a “conspiracy theory” any point of view that differs from your own. So much for “freedom of speech” and free inquiry. Again, we have seen all this before in recent history and it is not pretty.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • The fact that neither Bill Richards nor Roger Lapin can understand that there is a world of difference between refusal to be published and attempts to completely shut down opposing ideas in a public forum is precisely what makes true believers like them so incredibly dangerous.

    They would happily burn books as they smile to themselves convinced of their intellectually and morally superior position. I hope they wake up to the fact that they would do better to imagine how they would feel if the roles were reversed and what kind of freedoms they would prefer to see in Australia.

    Mark Rabich

  • There is a glaring double standard from people like Bill Richards and Roger Lapin, and that is that I don’t notice the climate alarmists attempting to ban people like Al Gore or Tim Flannery from talking on climate science despite these two individuals having no relevant qualifications (especially so in Gore’s case).

    Ewan McDonald, Victoria

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