March 9, 2012

MORE ON UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER PRESIDENT JOEL SELIGMAN’S ATTACK ON FACULTY SPEECH: “This is elite academia’s brand of free speech and free academic inquiry in action. It’s a double standard.” As I said yesterday, Seligman’s statement will have, and might as well have been intended to have, a chilling effect on the speech of faculty who are less eminent than Steven Landsburg. I understand, however, that Seligman has also gotten considerable pushback from other senior faculty. That’s as it should be.

UPDATE: Prof. Jacobson comments: “Why did the President of the University feel the need to get involved? Is he the thought policeman? Sure, the President of the University is entitled to an opinion, but it’s clear that he was trying to tamp down a dissenting view using the power of his presidency.”

And here is Landsburg’s response:

President Seligman says that the mission of the university is to promote the free exchange of ideas and lively debate, and I agree. That mission is undermined whenever a member of the academic community elevates raw self-interest over the exchange of ideas.

That’s what Sandra Fluke did. She observed that contraceptives are expensive, and therefore demanded that somebody other than herself and her fellow students pick up the tab. She didn’t even pretend to be interested in debating any of the serious issues raised by the question of when some of us should pick up the tab for others’ expenses.

Sometimes we should, sometimes we shouldn’t, and there’s a lot to be said, discussed, and debated about the particulars. An emotional appeal for one’s preferred outcome, ignoring all the substantive issues, is the exact antithesis of the free exchange of ideas that President Seligman claims to endorse.

Indeed. More at the link.