Thursday, July 05, 2012

Free speech for dodgy professors, too

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties’, proclaimed the seventeenth-century poet John Milton. To some of my fellow students in the UK, however, it seems this fundamental liberty shouldn’t extend to academics who hold views they dislike.

Last week, Cambridge University students protested against economics supervisor Martin Sewell, who has penned a number of articles on his personal website concerning race, equality between men and women, and eugenics. The dodgy nature of the don’s views on these subjects is fairly clear. For example, in one post Sewell claims: ‘The most likely reason for the high incidence of black crime is blacks’ lower intelligence and greater impulsivity, which themselves are probably biological in origin.’ This is hardly an original claim, and one which has been debunked many times. As well as descriptions of female immigrants appearing to men as ‘exotic fruit’, students have also taken exception to his claims about eugenics, which he says are ‘actually highly desirable: eugenics can help eliminate genetic diseases, reduce personality disorders and increase intelligence via human biotechnology. Time to reconsider.’

Far more problematic than his views, some of which are certainly highly questionable, is the response from the Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU). A CUSU representative argued that Sewell is an individual who ‘cannot remain as a supervisor for Cambridge students’. Sewell himself teaches and researches economics, specialising in land economy. How exactly his views on race, eugenics and sexual equality should impact upon this field of research is not made clear. However, even if they did relate to his specific field of research and teaching, his views should be of no significance. Such veiled calls for the man’s dismissal flies in the face of academic freedom.

Universities should be a place where no idea is sacred, where even the most widely-accepted ideas are subjected to intense scrutiny. Academic institutions such as Cambridge should be a place where all controversial viewpoints can be uttered and debated.



Bird of Paradise said...

To liberal eletists FREE SPEECH is only for them no one else

Anonymous said...

"Cambridge should be a place where all controversial viewpoints can be uttered and debated..."

Except, apparently, the truth.

Anonymous said...

It's finally up to the University authorities who they employ as tutors, not the students. And hopefully they should have more "wisdom" than mere existing students.

Anonymous said...

See Peter Singer at Prinston and other vile leftists.