Tuesday, April 05, 2005

A Cure Worse than the Disease

Academia is dominated by the left, and that’s a problem. But I can hardly think of a worse solution than this:
TALLAHASSEE — Republicans on the House Choice and Innovation Committee voted along party lines Tuesday to pass a bill that aims to stamp out “leftist totalitarianism” by “dictator professors” in the classrooms of Florida’s universities.

The bill has two more committees to pass before it can be considered by the full House. [Whew! – GW]

According to a legislative staff analysis of the bill, the law would give students who think their beliefs are not being respected legal standing to sue professors and universities.

Students who believe their professor is singling them out for “public ridicule” – for instance, when professors use the Socratic method to force students to explain their theories in class – would also be given the right to sue.

“Some professors say, ‘Evolution is a fact. I don’t want to hear about Intelligent Design (a creationist theory), and if you don’t like it, there’s the door,’” Baxley said, citing one example when he thought a student should sue. [emphasis added]
This is such a phenomenally bad idea it hardly requires refutation. The prospect of lawyers and judges scrutinizing curricula and syllabi is almost too awful to contemplate. But I can’t resist making one simple response: Viewpoint diversity does not require coverage of all viewpoints within each classroom or course, any more than racial diversity requires that every professor be multi-racial, or gender diversity requires that every professor be a hermaphrodite.

(And just for the record: I also oppose affirmative action for conservatives as a means of promoting viewpoint diversity. Here’s what I’ve said before on the subject.)

Thanks to my friend Ravi for the pointer.


The Language Guy said...

Actually, academia is only partially dominated by liberals. Humanities sorts typically are but business school folks typically are not. I suspect that scientists and engineers flop both ways.

What we have here is the sort of right wing paranoia that claims that the press is liberal. Yeah, right, all the rich dudes who own the newspapers in this country are liberal. If you can believe that you can believe anything.

Tran Sient said...

Maybe all newspaper owners aren't liberal, but the ones that own the NYT and Washington Post certainly are.

I don't know anything about Florida, but it sounds like they are responding to their voters, or at least enough voters to keep them in office. Voters tend to get in a twist when tax funding is used to promote one view over the other. I suspect, since its still in committee, they are just giving lip service to one constituancy and nothing will come of it.

Now that my defense of them is over, I agree that its a horrible idea.

Glen Whitman said...

LG -- the dominance of liberals is not limited to the humanities, although it's more extreme there. According to the study cited by Zywicki (follow the link from "and that's a problem"), liberals outnumber conservatives by 51% to 19% in engineering, and by 49% to 39% in business.

Caliban said...

They should definitely be allowed to sue. And then, after paying the court costs, they should be laughed out of court by the judge.

When you think about it, this situation already persists in public schools, where people sue all the time about the ideological content of the curriculum. Which is why private education is a very good thing.

Don't like the textbook? Go find a new school.