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June 30th 2011 print

Bill Muehlenberg

Academics Declare War on Free Speech

Once upon a time universities were known as places of free enquiry, openness to various ideas, and above all, a disposition to free speech.But that was then, this is now. Consider the case of Lord Monckton.

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 anytime 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.

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.here and here.

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.