Unfortunately, I think DDF is overly optimistic about the eventual results of the Sawicki Report. I read the report looking for evidence freedom of speech was perfectly safe and I didn’t see it. Neither did Jerry Coyne.

As you may know, Coyne is one of our nation’s most influential public intellectuals. He is a Harvard trained evolutionary biologist who is now most well-known as a prominent anti-theist. Along with Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, I think of Coyne as one of the world’s most prominent “New Atheists.” Coyne’s blogsite, Why Evolution is True, reportedly has over 50,000 e-mail subscribers. I’m grateful Coyne has focused attention on the free speech conflict at Williams College. He has been especially supportive of Luana Majora and has used his highly visible blogsite platform to publicize her plight.

Nevertheless, DDF went after Coyne. He went so far as to suggest Coyne is a “fool.” As far as I can tell, DDF believes the Sawicki Report will lead to a rebirth of freedom of speech because,  as DDF notes, the report ties the school’s policies to the standards set by both the AAUP and PEN. The central issue is whether this is enough?

I read the policy statement from AAUP earlier and I didn’t see much safety in it.  It provides an exemption in that speakers “…should be limited to very narrow circumstances that only rarely obtain.” To me, this is the exact standard Adam Falk applied when he reversed an invitation to the race realist author John Derbyshire. Likewise, the AAUP makes an exception for cases where  “…strong evidence of imminent danger justify rescinding an invitation to an outside speaker.” Isn’t that the same exact standard Uncomfortable Learning applied when it revoked its invitation to Suzanne Venker?

The PEN America standards don’t seem all that remarkable either. They appear to be preoccupied with student’s feelings to such an extent it stresses how respect “…entails an obligation to understand what may cause offense and why, and to avoid such words and actions even if no offense is intended.” To me, this is perfectly consistent with the leftist on-campus brainwashing where observing that two sexes is a biological fact can get you pilloried for indirectly causing the suicides of transgender students.

Meanwhile, DDF hasn’t yet addressed Coyne’s primary point. Coyne says the Sawicki Report is so vague it provides no “…guidelines about what speech is to be seen as ‘hate speech’ that threatens ‘dignitary safety’ and therefore subject to institutional action.”

At the root of the unease that both Jerry and I feel is our personal experience of being the target of the left-wing, anti-science mob. As a political scientist, I was attacked as a racist for emphasizing the common sense role a lack of personal responsibility plays in creating poverty. (Coyne is a hard determinist who would dispute my views.) Coyne is an evolutionary biologist like Luana Majora. He understands what it is like for Luana to have her career and livelihood threatened simply because she provide students with a straight forward description of the basic research regarding the genetic influence on IQ or maybe aggression.

I think Coyne is correct to observe it is physically impossible to promote science and at the same time maintain a standard of “inclusion’ which is operationally defined as “not angering or offending anyone, especially minorities.”

I don’t think it is an exaggeration to observe the future of Western civilization is now dependent on the courage and outspokenness of liberal academics like Coyne and Majora. If Coyne isn’t thoroughly happy with the Sawicki Report, then there is good reason to pause and ask why?

John C. Drew, Ph.D., is a former Williams College professor. He contributes to American Thinker, Breitbart, Campus Reform, The College Fix, and WorldNetDaily. He has been an Ephblog regular since 2010.

 

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