Friday, April 13, 2007

2nd SMU Prof: The Free Speech Defense of Efforts to Shut Down a Conference

In an arguably even more bizarre discourse on free speech rights and academic freedom, John Wise, another SMU professor is asserting that his free speech rights give him the right to use his political clout to shut down a conference in which his academic peers were scheduled to speak. (my previous post is here.) I am not sure that that is what he meant to say, but, if not, his position is hard to grasp.

He apparently fails to see the simple and crucial distinction between 1. speaking out against a conference and 2. using his power as a professor at a university to shut down a conference and keep it from ever happening. The writers to whom he is responding clearly were condemning the second and not the first. It is hard to understand how a reasonably educated person could have understood otherwise, or fail to see the distinction between 1. and 2.

As previously noted in the Dallas Morning News:
Science professors upset about a presentation on "Intelligent Design" fired blistering letters to the administration, asking that the event be shut down.

No one is saying that he does not have a right to speak out in the marketplace of ideas. However, he should not have the right to shut down the marketplace.

Are these two professors the best and the brightest at Southern Methodist University? Is anyone stating that they do not speak for the full faculty?


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