Liberals are reticent to address the issue of student cheating because it reminds them of the fallen nature of man. Utopia requires cooperation and evidence that people tend to cheat undermines the view that they are inclined to cooperate. So liberals would prefer to ignore evidence of cheating in order to preserve a vision of what “society” ought to be and could be if only they were given the means (read: more of our money) to re-engineer it.
But evidence of student cheating has become too widespread to ignore. So the liberals in my department have started circulating articles on the subject coming from reputable sources like the New York Times (sarcasm = off). Some of these articles and some of the faculty reactions to them have focused on what they describe as “a culture of cheating.” Accordingly, some liberal faculty members have started talking about what needs to be done about it. Others have started acting on it. This should be causing cognitive dissonance for several reasons:
1. Merit is irrelevant. Sociology students are frequently fed the liberal line that people do not succeed in America on the basis of their own merits. The old “it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know” maxim is more than just a cultural adage. It seeps into the college curriculum in sociology classes that focus on Marxian conflict theories. Students are routinely taught that wealth, power, and privilege are the keys to success. This tends to denigrate the importance of knowledge. It should go without saying that people are less inclined to rely on their own achievements if their efforts are thus devalued. The connection of such notions to acceptance of cheating is fairly obvious. If we teach people that they cannot succeed through legitimate efforts we will soon see them pursue success through illegitimate means. As always, liberals fail to understand that ideas have consequences. And bad ideas can have very bad consequences.