Friday, May 25, 2007

University Thought Police

I mentioned a couple of days ago this girl who is held without bail on a felony charge for distributing flyers that were negative to homosexuality. Here's one of those reminders why I don't think I could ever be employed by a university, even if I managed to get a Ph.D. It's the story of a professor of economics who expressed doubleplusungood crimethink at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas:
Las Vegas prides itself for its tolerance and so does UNLV, its university. At the university, however, tolerance is selective. You may assert that white heterosexual males are responsible for all of mankind's misery, that Castro's Cuba is a great success story, that capitalism means exploitation, or that most university professors are liberals because conservatives are too stupid to teach. If anyone should complain about this, such complaint will be dismissed outright.

And rightly so. After all, the university is committed to academic freedom. Its faculty has the "freedom and an obligation … (to) discuss and pursue the faculty member's subject with candor and integrity, even when the subject requires consideration of topics which may be politically, socially or scientifically controversial. … (a) faculty member…shall not be subjected to censorship or discipline by the University ... on grounds that the faculty member has expressed opinions or views which are controversial, unpopular or contrary to the attitudes of the University…or the community."

None of this applies to professors who dissent from socialist, statist, or culturally left-wing view, however, as I would find out.

In March of 2004, during a 75-minute lecture in my Money and Banking class on time preference, interest, and capital, I presented numerous examples designed to illustrate the concept of time preference (or in the terminology of the sociologist Edward Banfield of "present- and future-orientation"). As one brief example, I referred to homosexuals as a group which, because they typically do not have children, tend to have a higher degree of time preference and are more present-oriented. I also noted – as have many other scholars – that J.M Keynes, whose economic theories were the subject of some upcoming lectures, had been a homosexual and that this might be useful to know when considering his short-run economic policy recommendation and his famous dictum "in the long run we are all dead."

During my lecture no question was raised. (You can hear the same lecture, given some time later, on the Mises Media server.) However, two days later an informal complaint was filed by a student with the university's affirmative action "commissar." The student claimed that he as a homosexual had been made to "feel bad" by my lecture. Based on this "evidence" the commissar, who, as I would find out only weeks later, was a former clergyman turned "certified" gay activist, called me at home to inform me that he would shut down my class if I continued making such remarks.
Eventually, after a series of hearings and actions, and shockingly enough, with the ACLU of Nevada's assistance, he managed to get his status of unperson reversed. But it is a disturbing reminder of the enormous power that homosexuals wield in universities to suppress dissenting points of view.

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