Monday, January 2, 2017

The Folly and Fraud of “Academic Freedom”

If “academic freedom” isn’t the last refuge of a scoundrel, it certainly is a contender. And while academics generally defend the “principle” in principle, one professor who has come to question it is Robert Oscar Lopez.

I wrote about Dr. Lopez and his travails in 2014 and ‘15. At the time he was a tenured professor at California State University, Northridge and was under withering assault for opposing the homosexual agenda, the adoption of children by same-sex couples in particular. He has since resigned from the university after eight years employment, movingly citing a desire to be true to God as his motivation. Now, in a piece provocatively entitled “Academia's Broken, so Why Defend Academic Freedom?” Lopez writes of another epiphany he experienced:

One year ago, I would have called myself a staunch believer in academic freedom — a free speech purist.  I was a tenured professor in California and appreciated the help extended to me by FIRE [Foundation for Individual Rights in Education] and other advocacy groups.

Now things look very different to me. A recent podcast helped me sort through things.  It was with Brittany Klein, my friend who lost work as an adjunct. Academic freedom, I have come to believe, is not a virtue in its own right. The false view of it as an absolute good is an outgrowth of the United States' corrupted tenure system. Tenure gives no protection to adjunct faculty who teach most classes, then handpicks a small number of people to tenure, who are usually chosen because they hold views favorable to their reviewers.

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