December 26, 2013
MORE ON KANSAS’S DUMB ACADEMIC CENSORSHIP SCHEME:
The event that likely precipitated the policy change was one incendiary tweet in the wake of yet another mass shooting. David W. Guth, a tenured journalism professor at University of Kansas, unleashed a 140-character rant that insisted the “blood [was] on the hands of the #NRA.” Opinionated, but not necessarily objectionable, but then he went on: “Next time, let it be YOUR sons and daughters.” Oof. After a highly predictable and not wholly undeserved reaction, Guth was temporarily suspended.
The new Kansas policy, though, makes good and sure that any similar blunder would result in its author being permanently fired—in this case for “inciting violence” (though most believe Guth was not being literal). And that’s by far the least objectionable of the policy’s clauses. The regents seem to have milked the Guth incident for maximum possible censorship, and now the verboten also extends to statements that are “contrary to the best interests of the university” or anything that “impairs discipline by superiors or harmony among coworkers.”
It’s unconstitutional. But it’s also dumb as dirt. But it’s also the logical endpoint of the culture of political correctness that academics have permitted — and, often, championed — for decades. It would have been better to defend free speech, even if it doing so might have occasionally benefited a Baptist or something.